In the middle of a crisis, calamity, or sheer unadulterated apocalypse, something terrible happens (but not, typically, any more terrible than happens in any given episode) and The Hero
completely and utterly gives up. Common lines that go with the phenomenon are "I'm too old for this," "I can't do it
," or "Somebody else can
." May even be the follow-up to a Heroic BSOD
, which is similar but non-consensual.
After some kind of epiphany, often accompanied by a "World of Cardboard" Speech
, the character comes out of retirement and announces that they are back on the job, typically followed by the show's equivalent of a Foe-Tossing Charge
— anything from actual foe-tossing to kicking butt in the school spelling bee. (See also Look What I Can Do Now
, which is similar but involves a character leaving and returning much badder than before.)
See also: Achilles in His Tent
, Conscience Makes You Go Back
, and We Used to Be Friends
. Opposite of Passing the Torch
, where The Hero
seriously hands on the responsibility to someone else. He's Back
is what happens when the character returns to action. Breaking the Fellowship
is the equivalent for a whole group rather than a mere individual.
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Anime and Manga
- Spider-Man did this in a classic storyline during the Silver Age, and since then it's become a standard part of his repertoire. It's lampshaded in Amazing Spider-Girl #1, where he comments that he's quit "more times than I can count."
- After becoming disenchanted with the US government as a result of events in the Secret Empire arc, Steve Rogers abandoned the mantle of Captain America and began freelancing under the name Nomad. He resumed his former position after eight issues (nine including the one where he quits). This trope was subverted by the statement "You thought this would be over after 3 issues, didn't you?"
- Later, he had the mantle taken away by the government, and temporarily became "The Captain."
- In the mid-90s, Steve Rogers again had his Captain America mantle taken away from him after the government believed that he had supposedly betrayed his country by aligning with the Red Skull. As such, he operated in a simplistic red-and-blue outfit and had to use an energy shield rather than his traditional red-white-and-blues.
- In the Ultimate Universe following the death of Ultimate Spider-Man, Steve Rogers quits being Captain America after realizing he let Peter Parker die and getting a massive What the Hell, Hero? from Aunt May. He does end up coming back in style, though.
- In a prequel story to the Age Of Apocalypse, Colossus just sat down in the middle of a fight and decided I Will Fight No More Forever. The other X-Men convinced him that, if he doesn't want to fight directly, he should train the younger mutants.
- In W.I.T.C.H., Taranee quits the team early on as a culmination of a rebellious streak. The reason? She found out that the Heart of Kandrakar was fixing all of the girl's flaws, including Taranee's eyesight and she found that too invasive.
- In BOOM Studio's Darkwing Duck continuation, we find out that Drake Mallard had retired as the titular hero due to Negaduck discovering Darkwing's Secret Identity thanks to Launchpad's choice of laundromats and when Negaduck attacked, Darkwing got so spooked at Gosalyn being caught in the middle, he opted to quit. When Gosalyn learned that was the reason Darkwing retired and he and Launchpad weren't on good terms she let them have it.
- In classic Judge Dredd story Robot Wars there's an interesting case of Early-Installment Weirdness where Judge Dredd quits his job as a Judge in protest against his superiors' refusal to pass stricter anti-robot laws to deal with the threat of a robot uprising. After a while a robot war does break out, in case the title Robot Wars didn't clue you in. When that happens, Judge Dredd comes back to help the city, since he can't stand by and see it go under. In any modern story he wouldn't be able to return just like that, since he'd be banished from the city in "the long walk".
- The Powerpuff Girls #18 (DC, Oct. 2001): "The Trouble With Bubbles" has Bubbles running away from home after Townsville and her sisters berate her for missing her cue in a battle routine against the story's monster. Bubbles returns home for her prized toy Octi and sees on TV the resuscitated monster handing Blossom and Buttercup their collective butts. Suddenly feeling needed (everyone says without Bubbles to help, all is lost), our blue-eyed little heroine flies in to best the beast.
- Superboy suffered this in the lead up to Infinite Crisis. After being controlled by Lex Luthor and tearing apart both The Outsiders and the Teen Titans, Conner opts to leave the Titans, afraid that he can't trust himself anymore. It takes Superboy-Prime coming to his front door and beating the everliving stuffing out of him, Krypto and three other super teams for Conner to get his head on straight and save the multiverse.
- Both Sonics of the comics have quit the Freedom Fighters of said comic and rejoined an issue later. Sonic the Comic Sonic quit because of Johnny's death.
- Wolverine ended up leaving the X-Men following the events of "Fatal Attractions" due to the fact that his healing factor was out of whack and he felt that, without his adamantium, he was useless. He still gets into scraps, but it isn't until he aids Cable, Cyclops and Jean Grey in rescuing the X-Men from the Phalanx that he takes the idea of returning to the X-Men a little more seriously.
Films — Animated
- Flint has one of these in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, after the FLDSMDFR's satellite dish is broken, and the world is about to be destroyed by a giant food. Flint literally throws himself away, but when his dad brings him his labcoat (and makes it clear he believes in him), he is back in the game!
- The Wolf in Hoodwinked 2 gets upset when he thinks Red Riding Hood doesn’t need him as a partner anymore. He retires from HEA to sulk in his trailer then returns just in time to rescue Red.
Films — Live-Action
- Only put in Airplane because the producers requested it. The Zuckers turned it into a good Ronald Reagan joke.
- In Starship Troopers, Rico tries to quit after he is demoted (due to getting a fellow trainee killed because of his desire to win), but just as he is walking out of the base, the bugs Colony Drop his hometown and he promptly forces his way back into the Infantry.
- Peter Parker in Spider Man 2 gave up being a super hero after going through a series of unfortunate events in the beginning of the film. He realises it doesn't pay to save the day and will only continue to ruin his daily life. Soon he realises the people needed Spider-Man and gets back to it.
- Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer), at some point in Batman Forever, decides to give up crimefighting and settle with Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman) (somewhat odd, since Meridian clearly seemed to be quite attracted to both Wayne and Batman). He says "Batman is no more," a line that serves as an unofficial tagline for the film. Batman returns when Two-Face and the Riddler find out about his secret identity and then attack Wayne manor and kidnap Chase, and remembered why he became Batman in the first place.
- Implied with the end of Mystery Team.
- Peter near the end of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. He's back following an enlightening celebrity cameo.
- Robot designer Tak Mashido in Real Steel went into retirement after his robot Noisy Boy, the top contender of his time, lost to the current world champion. Two years later, he was hired by the Lemkovas —- the same people who he lost to —- to design a new robot for them, the result being the film's current champion, Zeus.
- Gary in Team America: World Police. He's back on track after a montage.
- Dylan in Charlies Angels Full Throttle when she worries about endangering her friends. Jaclyn Smith provides the pep talk.
- In She Wore a Yellow Ribbon Nathan Brittles (John Wayne) has to leave the cavalry because he has reached the age of retirement, but at the end of the film the government returns him to service as a (nominally civilian) scout.
- Star Trek: Into Darkness:
- Kirk gets demoted to First Officer of the Enterprise under Pike for violating the Prime Directive at the start of the film, only to regain his command a few scenes later when Pike is killed and Marcus decides to use Kirk as an Unwitting Pawn.
- Scotty resigns from the Enterprise near the beginning of the film thanks to Kirk's sudden bout of obstruction regarding the special torpedoes. He shows up again halfway through the film, and is instrumental in sabotaging the Vengeance.
- The Queen of Attolia: After getting caught and having his right hand chopped off, Eugenides spends a large portion of the book angsting before returning as an even more badass thief.
- Death has tried to retire several times in the Discworld novels (once in Mort, again in Soul Music, and maybe others). It doesn't stick.
- Death is forced to retire in Reaper Man, but this also doesn't stick.
- Vimes in Men at Arms, after he's told to turn in his badge one too many times. Ironically, he was supposed to be retiring anyway, and it still didn't stick.
- Lord Vetinari has himself been subjected to the occasional ten minute retirement, usually by being arrested. Vetinari never fights these, since he knows they'll never stick. None have to date, and he's usually welcomed back with at least tacit relief.
- Sergeant Jack Jackrum in Monstrous Regiment, and he circumvents the 'retirement' part in the most hilarious way imaginable.
- In The Last Continent, after spending an extended period of time stranded on an island with the rest of the Unseen University facility, Ponder Stibbons decides he's had enough of their Insane Troll Logic and stubborn-old-man foolishness. He decides to stay on the island with the God of Evolution who runs the island and hopefully make the universe a more organized place. Ponder quickly rethinks this when the "big project" the God is working on turns out to be the cockroach.
- Jake, briefly, toward the end of Animorphs, although it might make just as much sense to put it under Heroic BSOD.
- Marco in book 5, and Cassie in book 19, also qualify.
- Agent Lucsly in Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock. His faith that the DTI will protect the timeline's integrity is shattered when, on advice from a future agency, he is refused permission to prosecute Janeway for her actions in Endgame. He announces his retirement on the spot, but after a short period of drinking and despairing, his partner Dulmur pulls him out of it and talks him into returning.
- Jared Black from Stephen Hunt's The Court of the Air series wishes to settle down and give up adventuring for retirement; though as fate would have it, he keeps getting dragged along in every adventure the protagonists have, and he is not happy about it.
- The Brady Bunch: The fourth-season episode "Goodbye Alice, Hello" sees Alice take a brief retirement when the kids (unfairly) claim she's breached their trust over a series of minor incidents. Carol sets them straight after Alice leaves and a sterile housekeeper takes over. It is up to the kids to convince Alice they've made the mistake and they're sorry.
- MacGyver had Pete and Mac briefly retire several times each. Each of them reached their Whoopi Epiphany in one case only after subjecting the viewer to a Clip Show.
- Richard Gilmore (Gilmore Girls) took several episodes to reach his Whoopi Epiphany and go back into business.
- Likewise, Mr. Feeney (Boy Meets World) actually retired and moved away for several episodes. His Whoopi Epiphany was a Double Aesop when he convinced Corey to face the changes in his life rather than hide away from the world. He returned not as a teacher but as a college student, only to have another Whoopi Epiphany causing him to return to teaching (as a college professor, as which he was somehow qualified).
- 24; Jack Bauer quits CTU after having to kill Curtis — ten seconds later, a nuclear bomb goes off just a couple of miles away and he's back on the job.
- Eric Camden retires as minister for less than a season of Seventh Heaven.
- Buffy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer hangs up her stake when she overhears the prophecy that she is about to be killed. A year later, after being forced to send her lover to hell, she almost succeeds in retiring for an entire episode. Granted, it was three months in-universe time.
- General Hammond leaves the SGC in one episode of Stargate SG-1, presenting an exceptionally lame excuse about "sending people into danger." When Jack goes to confront him about it, he reveals that he didn't want to retire but someone threatened his grandchildren; finding out the origin of the threat means he can come back to work. A justified Ten-Minute Retirement!
- About ten minutes into the episode 3x18 "Shades of Grey," O'Neill is discharged for stealing a weapons scanner from the Tollans, then takes a job with NID to steal tech full-time. Of course, it was all a ploy to help find those who were really guilty, and he is back at work by the end of the show.
- In the Episode "2010", everything seems to be perfect on Earth until the former SG-1 team discovers the threat from the Aschen. O'Neill has already retired and refuses to help because he "told you so!" He changes his mind in time to save the mission.
- In fact, Jack retires several times, on and off screen. (He was retired before the original movie started.)
Jack O'Neill: I thought I told you I retired.
General Hammond: Oh, I thought you said you were tired.
Jack O'Neill: Actually, I am kinda tired...
- Daniel Jackson quits the SGC in "Forever in a Day" after his wife Sha're (host to Apophis' queen) is killed by Teal'c. However, everything in the episode except Sha're's death was a dream sequence.
- JAG: Harm had his vision impairment fixed and went back to flying Tomcats for a short while, before his new commanding officer convinced him that he was too old to be competitive as an aviator against all the younger pilots, despite his skill, and that he would do the most good as a judge advocate.
- Mac also briefly quit to work for a civilian law firm in season 3.
- Harm worked for the CIA at the start of season 9.
- In the Supernatural episode "What Is and What Should Never Be", Dean wants so badly to stay in his Wish!Verse, even after he realises that Alt!Sam can't stand him. But the call knows where he lives and after a heartbreaking scene at his father's grave, he's back in as the Tragic Hero.
- In another episode Dean and Sam split up and Sam takes a job as a bartender. Some other hunters find him and try to talk him into helping on their current job, but he says he's retired, to get his head together. One of the other hunters says, "What is so important that you can't come back to prevent the apocalypse!?". They then proceed to force-feed him demon blood (of which Sam was staying clean) in a misguided attempt at getting him to fight demons. What actually ends his 'retirement' is the revelation that he is Lucifer's chosen vessel.
- In Yellow Fever, Dean contracts a ghost sickness that makes him terrified of everything and decides to stop hunting life. Of course, in the end, he's cured.
- At the beginning of The West Wing episode "Ellie", CJ declares that she's going to quit three times, but never actually goes through with it.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Father's Day," the Doctor calls Rose a "stupid ape" and leaves her behind after she rescued her father, Pete Tyler, from his pre-ordained death. He returns a few minutes later when the consequences of her actions prove more complicated than originally expected, and makes a Heroic Sacrifice that inspires Pete to do the same, thus repairing the timeline.
- Mr G on Summer Heights High quits his job in the penultimate episode, only to announce (during the school's annual musical, no less) that he's coming back to teach in the finale.
- Early in the third season of Criminal Minds, Aaron Hotchner and Emily Prentiss both retire for about ten minutes. Luckily, Garcia gets Hotch's transfer request and Prentiss's resignation stuck in the system long enough for them to get drawn back into the BAU's most recent case. Gideon's retirement in the same episode is more permanent, however.
- Helena/Huntress does this in the last episode of Birds of Prey—and it was pretty damn annoying, considering they were in the middle of a city-wide crisis. Her Cop Boyfriend convinces her to stop downing shots and confront the Big Bad.
- Wataru, the titular Kamen Rider Kiva, begins the series as a Hikikomori, but gets some Character Development and improves. However, late in the series when everything starts going badly for him (culminating in an attempt to kill a friend while under Mind Control), he shuts himself in worse than before, refusing to fight as Kiva and even locking his living Transformation Trinkets in a birdcage. Only after a dream-vision of his mother does he snap out of it.
- Hercules The Legendary Journeys
- Hercules does this in the pilot episode; given that the impetus was the murder of his wife and young children, it's hard to blame him. It takes his sidekick getting turned to stone to snap him out of it.
- A humorous version occurred at the end of the series where, after saving the world once again, Herc decides to retire. He and Iolaus sit down and rest for about half a minute before they realize it's just not for them and go back to Walking the Earth.
- Xena follows suit in the pilot of her series, briefly burying her armor and weapons before rising to rescue captive villagers.
- In an episode of Merlin, Gaius, Merlin's old mentor and the court physician, is fired by the arrogant King Uther and replaced by a new and "better" specialist who, obviously turns out to be the villain of said episode. Later Gaius comes back because Status Quo Is God.
- In My Hero, George resigns from his superhero duties protecting the Earth after new rules make him so stressed he almost causes the death of his friends by missile. He is replaced by Localman, who is soon replaced by Tempman, who is replaced by Work Experience Boy. When Janet is trapped in the burning Health Centre, Work Experience Boy's attempt to save her goes tits up when he accidentally flies into a bush, but George triumphantly returns as Thermoman and saves her.
- In Chuck, Colonel Casey is fired and stays a civilian for about four episodes (still popping up during his civilian life from time to time to help), and then he barters his way back on to the team with an important prisoner.
- At the end of the third season of NCIS, Leroy Jethro Gibbs retires (after his warnings were ignored, leading to a fatal terrorist attack on a ship). He's back in the very first episode of the next season, but only permanently returns in the third.
- Not surprisingly, Michael Bluth from Arrested Development occasionally becomes fed up with his family and quits. This is most obvious in the season one finale when he intends to move to Arizona with his son. In the season two premiere, he comes back almost immediately. He doesn't even cross state borders.
- He makes it to the Phoenix airport in the Netflix season.
- Ned from Pushing Daisies intends to completely quit waking up dead things in one episode. Emerson and Chuck attempt to solve a murder mystery the old fashioned way, finding their lack of being able to talk to the victims quite a handicap. At the end of the episode Ned changes his mind, wakes up the victims, and solves the crime in a matter of seconds.
- Myka from Warehouse 13 leaves at the end of Season 2 only to rejoin the Warehouse in the Season 3 premiere.
- It's still months versetime.
- Peter on Fringe quits the team after finding out that he is really from the other universe. After a quick trip "over there" he is back to solving Fringe cases.
- Mac Taylor briefly retires from the crimelab in the end of CSI: NY season 7, wanting to work on a project identifying the remains of 9/11 victims. He's back in the first ep of season 8, but only back as team leader an ep or so later.
- Primeval: James Lester is forced into one of these in season three after Obstructive Bureaucrat Christine Johnson takes over the ARC. He's back at the end of the episode thanks to his team's loyalty, a little bit of Batman-Gambit, and Christine's inability to keep her mouth shut. And he gets a standing ovation from his staff.
- In the Season 4 finale of Castle, when Captain Gates puts Beckett and Esposito on administrative leave and has them turn in their badges, Beckett tells the Captain, "Keep it. I resign." This stems from her realization of how her obsession with her mother's murder was destroying her life and keeping her from having the relationship she wanted with Castle. She still has to serve her suspension but she's back on the job in Season 5, episode 2.
- Doc Martin: Martin's replacement at the end of season 4 is so stunningly incompetent he feels he has to take over again.
- Ric Flair. His last wrestling match was supposed to be with Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 24. However, his money issues due to divorce alimony and money mismanagement caused him to jump ship to TNA and continue wrestling, much to his wife's dismay.
- One of the standard Gimmick Matches is the "Retirement Match," where the loser has to retire from wrestling. Lampshaded by Mick Foley in the run-up to a Retirement Match he had coming up - "Most wrestlers who lose retirement matches return six weeks later. I'm not going to do that." Foley lost the match (to Triple H), but was then invited back for a match at WrestleMania. When he came back, he lampshaded again: "I said I wouldn't come back in six weeks, and I told the truth. I came back in four." Though the WrestleMania match was his last one for a good long while. He waited four years before he got back in the ring and even then, only semi-regularly.
- In reality, this trope has been beaten to death in the wrestling business. Terry Funk, for example, has retired many times. It's gotten to the point where nobody believes any wrestler is truly retired — as of July 2010, we're all waiting to see if Shawn Michaels' most recent retirement sticks or if he comes back.
- It's entirely possible that Shawn meant it: when he won a Slammy Award in December 2010, he accepted it via satellite from an undisclosed location because, as he explained, "if WWE ever finds out where I am, they're going to try to get me back here to wrestle again."
- When he showed up to announce his induction to the WWE Hall of Fame, the crowd chanted, "One More Match!" Shawn responded by feigning grimacing and shaking his head no like a kid being told to eat his veggies. Since he actually wanted to retire back in 2009 at WrestleMania 25, chances are his retirement will stick for at least a little while.
- In an interview in WWE Magazine Triple H says that Michaels has no intention of getting back into the ring. Make of that what you will.
- On top of that, any time it is brought up to him on Twitter or other means of social media, he usually won't address it or he'll talk around it rather than discuss it. Since he hasn't wrestled in three years, perhaps he means it.
- A similar angle is when a wrestler is "fired" only for them to come back in no time at all, usually never even leaving TV. Cases include "Stone Cold" Steve Austin after Judgment Day 1998, Mick Foley at the start of the McMahon-Helmsley Era, and John Cena after refereeing the Randy Orton/Wade Barrett match at Survivor Series 2010. When a wrestler gets fired for real, it's not going to happen on TV.
- Canadian ECW wrestler Lance Storm has had several retirement matches throughout his career, yet still occasionally comes out of retirement for one more match. However, he has yet to come back full-time, and only comes back to wrestle his closest friends, or put over newer talent that impresses him.
- Hulk Hogan:
- Teased at this in 1990 during his feud with Earthquake. To allow legit injuries to heal and to tend to movie-making projects, Hogan, Jimmy Hart and John Tenta (Earthquake) conceived an angle where Earthquake would sneak attack Hogan during an interview with Brother Love, causing serious injuries to his chest. The trope kicked in when Hogan was distraught over being caught off-guard by a man that had been threatening to kill him off, and that – coupled with an earlier loss to the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI – were enough for him to retire. The WWF's announcers pleaded for fans to send letters and cards requesting his return and to "heal" his fighting spirit, the response was (predictably) strong ... and by the start of August, Hogan had come out of his self-imposed "retirement" to gain revenge on Earthquake.
- TNA played with this trope in a stroke of genius when Hogan pleaded retirement in a last ditch attempt to dodge facing Sting at Bound for Glory and putting his control of the company on the line. Sting, being Dangerously Genre Savvy now and knowing Hogan as well as he does, had a look at surveillance cameras and was able to get footage of Hogan and Bischoff laughing at the fans for actually buying into it. This finally broke Hogan off the deep end to the point he agreed to all of Sting's conditions right then and there.
- The Nostalgia Critic had a breakdown due to the director of My Pet Monster calling him pathetic and realizing that he has no life apart watching nostalgic crap. He gets his resolve back with a parody of "Poor Jack". Which becomes either Hilarious in Hindsight or Harsher in Hindsight after Doug Walker officially retired the Nostalgia Critic to move on to other projects. Only to return a few months later after those other projects failed to be accepted by fans.
- In the first Todd in the Shadows video done for That Guy with the Glasses, he retires within the first five seconds of Ke$ha's (or Ke-dollersign-ha) "Blah Blah Blah" right after a huge thank-you speech, only for him to be self-motivated a few seconds later.
- Zisteau had planned to retire from the Mindcrack Prank Wars after his "grand finale" prank on Guude, but Team Canada left a retirement present for him that pushed him a little too far and drove him to swear vengeance.
- When the Game Grumps discover a glitch in Sonic the Hedgehog that causes Knuckles to jump several feet into the air, then latch onto an invisible wall, Arin immediately storms out of the room while Jon begs him to come back.
- Sean Malstrom swore that he would abandon his blog and gaming after finding out that Nintendo planned to imprint a recycling logo on the inside of Wii game cases. He claimed that a similar alteration to SNES boxes was the catalyst for him forsaking gaming up until New Super Mario Bros. came out. This didn't have any effect on his blog post output or his gaming habits whatsoever.
- A rather mundane example of how it works, from All Grown Up!, "Susie Sings The Blues":
Susie: "I let someone talk me into thinking I had talent, but what she was actually trying to do was talk me out of a thousand dollars. Which she did! No one showed up! No one! There was never any record deal. I got conned, okay!"
Kimi: "Oh no."
Susie (crying): "She picked the perfect person. I was just talented enough for her to trick me into thinking I actually had what it took to make it big."
Kimi: "You still do. She took enough money for one serious shopping spree but she didn't take your talent. You'll feel better when you sing tonight."
Susie: "I'm not singing tonight! Maybe not ever again!"
Alisa: "Well, at least you learned your lesson before this singing thing messed you up. Now you can get on with the important things in life."
Susie: "But singing is an important thing in my life."
Alisa: "I know, and it's a great hobby."
Susie: "Hobby? Singing isn't just some knitting needle book clubbing thing I do in my spare time. It's who I am. It's what I want. And still do. And I'm not gonna let some con-artist in a fake designer suit stop me. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a gig. Dig."
- Timmy's favorite comic superhero, the Crimson Chin, retired for about a few minutes in an episode of The Fairly OddParents, and was shown in a fetal position for an entire comic book.
- In the Grand Finale of Danny Phantom, Danny calls off his duty as a superhero when Vlad's team of ghostbusters easily outclasses him. He returns in time to save the world from an ecto-induced asteroid and is subsequently celebrated as a hero over the world.
- Teen Titans: Cyborg in the very first episode, and again in the third season finale. Starfire also intends to leave the team for an arranged marriage at one point.
- Batman: The Animated Series
- In the episode "I Am the Night", Batman messes up a stakeout, and Commissioner Gordon is shot as a result. In the wake of this, he goes into a deep, irrational depression and nearly gives up the cape and cowl, even when he hears that the gangster has broken out of jail and plans to finish the job. Only when Robin tries to save Gordon on his own does he finally snap out of it.
- In "Chemistry", he gives up being Batman when he finally found the love of his life, preferring to settle down and marry (though Nightwing believed he would be back in the suit in a month). However it is later discovered that she, (along with everyone else's partner on said ship) is a plant person created by Ivy to inherit all their fortunes once they're dead. Bruce is back as Batman to foil her plot.
- Kim Possible
- In W.I.T.C.H., Cornelia briefly quits the team after Elyon goes to Meridian to be with Phobos, blaming Will for not letting her tell Elyon her true identity until Phobos got to her first. Half an episode later, Cornelia returns to help the team fight off a giant Meridian Mudslug.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): He-Man in "The Problem With Power" after Skeletor tricks him into thinking his actions during a local crisis have resulted in the death of a villager. He-Man even goes so far as to throw away the Sword of Grayskull. Naturally, Skelly takes this opportunity to swoop in and be evil. Also, it turns out that He-Man didn't really hurt anybody, and the whole incident was a Batman-Gambit (and Evil Plan of the week) that Skeletor devised to demoralize He-Man and trick him into giving up his powers.
- The SWAT Kats episode "Razor's Edge" has a similar plot to the He-Man episode cited above. Razor thinks he's injured two elderly civilians, feels guilty, and quits the SWAT Kats, but the whole incident was a Batman-Gambit that Dark Kat devised to demoralize Razor and trick him into giving up crimefighting.
- The same writer who scripted "Razor's Edge" reused the idea on Biker Mice from Mars (in the episode "Modo Hangs It Up") a couple of years later. Talk about a Recycled Script...
- Nicely toyed with in the unproduced "Mopiness of Doom" script for Invader Zim: Dib, tired of his pariah status, stops hunting Zim to pursue "real science" with his father Professor Membrane. With no one to chase him — or take him seriously — Zim falls into a despair, thus largely ceasing to be a threat. However, Dib eventually gets bored with real science and, after a pep talk from his father Gone Horribly Wrong, starts chasing Zim again... which cheers Zim up enough to try and kill him and take over the earth once more.
- Strawberry Shortcake has a Three Minute Retirement in The Sweet Dreams Movie. She blames herself for The Sandman getting captured by the Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak and gives up, saying, "Don't know why I thought I could do it, I'm Just a Kid." But in the span of one song, she's suddenly back to her usual can-do self.
- Lightning Lad from Legion of Super-Heroes left the team for a while to join a group called the 'Lightspeed Van Guard'. They turn out to be heroes who charge for their services and threaten people to pay up. Lightning Lad comes to his senses at the end of the episode.
- Phineas, of ALL people, gets one in "Summer Belongs to You" when he can't think of any way to get off a deserted island before sundown. It takes Isabella indirectly giving him an idea to bring him to his senses.
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
- The Transformers:
- Ironhide had one of these in the episode "The Immobilizer", after the Decepticons were able to ambush the Autobots. He was supposed to be lookout.
- In the episode "The Burden Hardest to Bear" Rodimus Prime (after being turned back into Hot Rod) having felt overwhelmed by the burdens of leadership for some time. Hot Rod at first doesn't try to get the stolen Metrix of leadership back from the Decepticons, until he has a change of heart when he sees people in need of help.
- First Aid also did it in "The Ultimate Weapon," after his pacifism allowed Swindle to steal Metroplex's transformation cog.
- Beast Wars got one too. In "The Law of the Jungle," Tigatron accidentally caused an explosion that killed a tiger he had befriended, causing him to call it quits because he didn't want to be responsible for any more death.
- Krusty frequently retires on The Simpsons, but he always returns due to Negative Continuity. In "Day of the Jackanapes", he is retiring for the fifth and "final" time.
- Mighty Mouse gives up crimefighting in the Bakshi episode "Day Of The Mice" when Petey Pate brainwashes the Mouseville inhabitants to stand up for themselves against cats. When Pearl Pureheart stands against Petey and is subsequently imperiled, three incapacitated cats entreat Mighty Mouse to return to fighting the good fight and return things to the status quo.
- Scooby-Doo quits twice. In the prime time special Scooby Goes Hollywood, Shaggy convinces him to quit his TV show to pursue a career as a dramatic actor. In the 13 Ghosts episode "It's a Wonderful Scoob," he becomes so traumatized by the episode's Big Bad that he goes back home to his parents. In the first instance, Fred, Daphne and Velma lead a rally for Scooby to return to his cartoon show. In the second, Vincent Van Ghoul shows Scooby the future world without him stopping the villain Time Slime.
- Darkwing Duck once briefly hung up the cape in the episode "Duck Blind" where he was blinded by Megavolt. He still did everything in his power to try and catch him, but his actions backfired twice, first nearly killing himself and then nearly doing so to his friends and family. It was this second one that got to him so badly he attempted to quit. By the end of the episode when they all get in trouble again, he finally gets back into action and defeats Megavolt—- notably before he recovers his sight.
- Averted by Nightwing in the second season finale of Young Justice. When Aqualad tells him this is no time to quit, he assures him that he isn't quitting the Team, but that he needs a break after the death of Wally, one of the team's founders and his best friend.
- Brett Favre announced his retirement from American Football twice, only to unretire twice. Michael Jordan and Roger Clemens have also done this, the latter being derided by Stephen A. Smith as a "part-timer" for unretiring in the middle of the season.
- Favre pulled the same stunt during his last four off-seasons with the Packers. But because no "official" announcement was ever made by Favre himself, it didn't get nearly as much coverage outside of Wisconsin. This was partially due to the assumption that the writers who reported his retirement were just opportunistic local guys trying to get some cheap publicity... but also because jerking the Packers organization and his loyal fans around was thought to be well beneath a man of Brett Favre's character... Hilarious in Hindsight, indeed!
- Stephen Colbert was making fun of Favre on his show when he "came to a realization" that doing this only serves to give you celebrity status. He quickly announces his own retirement, immediately followed by another announcement about his return.
- H. Ross Perot in the 1992 US Presidential campaign quit twice, and reentered twice. As did John McCain in the 2008 campaign; that one was a literal 10 minute retirement.
- Happens a lot for female players in pretty much any full contact sport. A lot of doctors, being older men, really don't like the idea of women getting knocked around on the field and will tell them any given injury means they won't be able to play ever again. Most of them come back shortly after seeking a second or third opinion.
- University of Florida football coach Urban Meyer announced that he was stepping down from his position, only to announce the next day that he would be keeping it, though he would take a leave of absence.
- Almost exactly one year later, he retired again, apparently for real. At the very least, he's retired as Florida's coach, since they've already hired his replacement.
- Less than a year after that retirement, he took the head coaching job at The Ohio State University.
- Hayao Miyazaki tried to retire four times, only to get drawn in to new projects.
- The number of times Hideo Kojima has said "This will be my last Metal Gear Solid game" has reached hilarious levels. He's been saying this since MGS2. Now he has promised that Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain will be his last MGS game... for real this time. We'll see what happens after the game is released.
- George Marshall, the man who was deemed too important to command the D-Day invasion of Europe because Roosevelt was terrified of what would happen if he left the country. After managing WWII and its aftermath (you may have heard of the Marshall Plan) from behind the scenes he tried to retire to his garden when the war ended. He was pulled out of retirement after *one* day to become ambassador to China. After retiring *again*, he was later made the Secretary of State to help put the army back together to fight in Korea; Congress confirmed him without any hearings.
- Garth Brooks. He announced his retirement after the Scarecrow album in the early 2000s, but has come out of retirement three times: once to release "Good Ride Cowboy" and a collection of previously-unreleased material culled from various points in his career; once to release "More Than a Memory" and a comprehensive greatest-hits package; and once again to do some shows in Vegas.
- Amanda Bynes announced she was retiring from acting in July 2010, only to change her mind a few days later.
- Dame Nellie Melba's retirement never quite stuck.
- Frank Sinatra put on several lavish "retirement" concerts starting in the early 1970s, but was still booking tour dates when he died in 1998.
- Several years ago, Celine Dion declared that she would retire to spend some time with her husband and have a baby. Although she did explicitly state that the retirement would only be temporary, the period leading up to her sabbatical lasted for more than a year and was jam-packed with concerts and public appearances.
- David Bowie's Sound+Vision Tour in 1990 was a retirement tour for many of his hit songs, rather than himself. As he put it to Life magazine in '92, he was tired of "being expected, or required, to do hit songs that I no longer can do with any integrity or credibility." This stuck longer than most: all the songs stayed retired until 1996, whereupon ""Heroes"" appeared as part of the Outside Summer Festivals Tour and set the stage for most of the rest to return to his repertoire. (In the interim he stuck with new material, both with Tin Machine and as a solo performer, and less-popular older songs that fit in with the new stuff thematically and/or musically.)
- A funny subversion exists in professional tennis, where forfeiting a match due to injury is referred to as retiring.
- A baseball pitcher "retires" a batter by striking him out. The retired player will be back in the game in the next half of the inning, when his team takes the field.
- The Belgian parliament passed a law legalizing abortion in early 1990. The King of the Belgians, Baudoin, had to sign it before it took effect. There was just one problem: the King was a devout Catholic, and any Catholic who facilitates even one abortion is automatically excommunicated. Legalizing the procedure for an entire nation is... frowned upon. On the other hand, Belgium was a constitutional monarchy where the Royal Assent had long become a formality, and the King attempting to unilaterally veto a law was... even more frowned upon. The King got around this dilemma by reaching an agreement with Prime Minister Wilfried Martens and abdicating for a day: he was declared temporarily unable to serve on 4 April, Martens' government as a whole took over as head of state and the cabinet members all signed the law, before Parliament declared him competent to serve again the next day. (Some uncharitable people would have you believe the whole procedure was emblematic of Belgian federal politics.)
- Oprah Winfrey ended her show after 25 years and started a new network, called OWN. She now has another show coming out that is essentially her old show Recycled In Space, with her going to the people she interviews rather than the other way around. She also threatened to retire after 20 years, but decided against it.
- Jesse Jackson announced his withdrawal from activism in 2001, after it became known that he'd had an affair and fathered an illegitimate daughter. Shortly afterwards, he announced that he was returning. Pundit Jonah Goldberg quipped, "One man's 'retirement from public life' is another man's 'long weekend'."
- Paul Scholes retired from all football in May 2011 and almost immediately regretted it, returning seven months later and promptly being talked about for international contention again (he retired from international football in 2004 and has been badgered to change his mind pretty much ever since).
- Elton John announced his "retirement" from the road in a 1977 concert after a period of burnout. He returned to the road with a piano/percussion lineup with Ray Cooper in 1979, famously touring in Russia (he was the first Western act allowed to perform in Russia at the height of the Cold War). He's since made empty threats to "retire" from recording and/or touring throughout his career, to the point a roadie reportedly made a mixtape of all of his "retirement" announcements (which made Elton laugh).
- During the 1960s, actor Dean Stockwell took a break - getting into the hippie subculture with pals like Dennis Hopper. Upon returning to acting, however, his luck was running out. He eked along from 1965 to 1980 taking whatever work he could get (like dinner theater), but in the end, he found it so embarrassing that he decided to throw in the towel and move on. Thing is, he announced his retirement in a goodbye ad in Variety - which got him noticed by casting directors. In the face of renewed offers for movies and television (including a particularly successful one involving a future Star Trek captain and time travel), he gladly went back to acting almost immediately after 'retiring.'
- George Washington stated he would come out of retirement and lead the US army against what appeared to be inevitable war against France. Thankfully subverted since the war never came.
- Alan F. Horn was the head of Warner Bros. Entertainment from 2001-2011, and he was most famous for overseeing mega projects like the Lord of the Rings films, the Harry Potter films, and the Dark Knight trilogy. He was forced out of the company in 2011 by the Time Warner bosses and announced that he was "done" with Hollywood... but then a year later was named the head of the Walt Disney Studios.
- When Dave Mustaine suffered a severe hand injury that could potentially have paralyzed his left hand, he announced he would be disbanding Megadeth due to his incapacitation. However, despite his doctors' fears, he ultimately recovered and recorded The System Has Failed with a radically different lineup; it was originally intended to be a solo album but the record label demanded it released under the Megadeth moniker. Dave and his revolving door of musicians have been releasing subsequent Megadeth albums ever since.
- Fear Factory's "official" 2003 breakup was cut alarmingly short by a reformation with bassist Christian Olde Wolbers replacing former guitarist Dino Cazares and the release of Archetype in early 2004.
- Jay-Z is notorious for claiming he's going to "retire" and then not doing so, often making more music a very short time later. His first time "retiring" was back in 1996 after his first album debuted. He's had 10 albums since then, not counting collaborations and guest appearances...power
- Mark Martin has become the epitome of this in NASCAR. In 2004, he announced that 2005 would be his last year on the Sprint Cup tour. In the seven years that have passed since this first deadline, he's never raced fewer than 24 of the 36 races in a given season, and has actually raced more full-time seasons (four) than part-time (three). Initially, Mark had to extend his retirement tour into 2006 after his planned replacement in the 6 car, Carl Edwards, was called onto the Sprint Cup tour shortly after Martin's original announcement as an emergency replacement for just-released Jeff Burton, with his performance in the 99 leading to a full-time ride in that car for 2005 through to the present. Martin departed Roush Racing after 2006, when it was decided David Ragan was ready to take over the 6, but rather than fully retire, he moved to Ginn Racing, splitting time in the 01 with Regan Smith. When Ginn folded into DEI later that year, Martin moved there as well, and took over the 8 car in 2008, splitting time with Aric Almirola. Then, Hendrick Motorsports convinced Martin to take over the 5 car full time in 2009. Martin ended up having a very strong year in '09, winning five times and finishing runner-up to new teammate Jimmie Johnson, which led to Hendrick re-signing him for 2010 and '11 as well. 2012 saw Martin leave Hendrick, but once again, he only semi-retired, signing a two-year, 48 race deal with Michael Waltrip Racing and the 55 car.
- Ozzy Osbourne announced in 1993 that he'd retire from touring and called his would-be final tour "No More Tours". He was back on the road in 1995 with "The Retirement Sucks Tour" and has been on the road more or less ever since.
- First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson pledged to step down in early 2010 after it came out that his wife had been fooling about with a 19-year-old and then taken out loans for the boy without reporting it to the proper authorities—and that Mr Robinson, the First Minister, knew about it. A few weeks thereafter, an official made it clear that even if wrongdoing was found he'd get no more than a reprimand, and he returned to his post.
- Longtime ABC college football announcer Keith Jackson retired in 1999, then was persuaded to return to the booth the following year. He retired again, this time (presumably) for good, in 2006.
- New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens announced his retirement in 2003, then came back the following year with the Houston Astros, ostensibly for "just one season". He stayed with in Houston through 2006, re-announced his retirement, then came back with the Yankees midway through the 2007 season. He retired yet again at the end of that year, this time for good. (At least, until 2012, when at the age of 50 he signed with an independent minor-league team in Sugar Land, Texas.)
- Tennis player Martina Hingis retired and unretired multiple times over the course of her career due to being plagued by injuries (and accusations of drug-taking later on). Justine Henin also infamously retired out of the blue in 2008 (in spite of still being ranked No. 1 at that time), only to unretire a year later after Kim Clijsters made her own successful unretirement. She then retired for good two years later after being hindered by injuries.
- Trent Reznor disbanded Nine Inch Nails in 2009 after a farewell tour and a string of "final shows." He spent only a couple of years working on soundtracks and side projects before putting out a new NIN album in 2013. By contrast, there were five years between NIN's first and second albums, five more between their second and third and six years between their third and fourth.