This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself
"But if we were to step in now, what will become of Kaien's pride? Even if by going to his aid, you are somehow successful in saving his life, the cost of such an act would certainly be the death of his pride forever... [snip] ...Listen now, and remember these words. There are two types of battles, and those of us who have chosen to be warriors and to fight those battles must always be aware of the difference between the two. There are battles that are fought to protect lives, and there are battles that are fought to defend honor."
Everything comes down to a one-on-one fight between the hero and whoever has been his worst antagonist in the current plot. The hero's friends and reinforcements show up in time to intervene and give the hero a decisive victory with their overwhelming numbers and/or firepower, but they don't — or the hero won't let them — because "This is something he's got to do himself."
This tactic might be a way to counter the ill effects of the Conservation of Ninjutsu
Notable examples can be found in almost every Western
This is the logical extension of It's Personal
, the cousin of Leave Him to Me
, and often stems from Honor Before Reason
. Also see I Work Alone
for denying help from the beginning. There's also Locked Out of the Fight
, where the hero does
want help but circumstances contrive to prevent the helpers from helping. Compare Shoo Out the Clowns
. Contrast In the End, You Are on Your Own
, where the helpers can't be of any help even if they wanted to. See also What You Are in the Dark
. Also contrast Figure It Out Yourself
, where the bystanders could
help, but don't, even if you ask.
Contrast Helping Would Be Killstealing
, for when it's a matter of experience and personal growth rather than honor or revenge.
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Anime and Manga
- This appears in the Munchkin cardgame by Steve Jackson Games in the form of the "Gazebo" card — which bears the text, "None can help you fight the gazebo. You must fight the gazebo alone".
- This is an incredibly common trope in comic books. The comic's titular star will be facing an incredible threat, and it is only logical that other heroes would show up to help. However, that would remove the limelight from the star and make every comic into a "team" book. Therefore, writers are constantly having to invent reasons why a heroes' buddies are not available or cannot participate in the fight. The really lazy ones use this excuse. Notable incidents follow:
- Carried to a ludicrous extreme in Green Lantern: Rebirth. Five Green Lanterns have to battle Parallax, the incredibly powerful, world-destroying embodiment of Fear. The entire Justice League shows up, and is involved in the story, but they let the Green Lanterns fight because they must do this alone.
- One Superman arc involved a battle with the magical powerhouse Atlas. When Superman is on the verge of defeat, Supergirl offers to help. Superman insists he must do battle alone, and asks Supergirl to avenge him if he fails. However, Superman has no problem when Krypto the Superdog shows up and saves the day just a few moments later.
- Done in the climax of The Avengers Story Arc Kang Dynasty: Cap agrees to a one-on-one fight with Kang to conclude the war, with Thor preventing their teammates from interfering, citing this trope. The heroes protest vehemently, claiming that a monster like Kang deserves a group beatdown and not an honorable fight. Thor replies that its one-on-one not out of respect, but because Cap alone would be sufficient.
- The X-Men cover at the top of the page.
- In Scion, Ethan and Bron have a big showdown on the Sanctuary island. The Heron royals and Ashleigh are about to help Ethan, but Skink insists Ethan must face Bron alone.
- During the Silver Age while battling an energy creature that could possess and animated matter the entire Justice League of America sits back in their cave lair while Superman watches and reports back to everyone what's going on, but otherwise they do nothing because 'well he hasn't used his signal device to call us in yet so we'll just sit and watch'.
- Subverted in Blackest Night, wherein Guy Gardner is forced to face his personal demons, or else he dies. Kyle Rayner tries to help him, but Mogo outright tells him this trope. Kyle's response?
- Transformers: The Movie played on this, with Hot Rod and Kup arriving in time to help Optimus Prime against Megatron, but Hot Rod's attempt to help actually made the situation worse.
- Also seen at the tail end of Transformers Cybertron, where even with Prime insisting that the war was over (which it was), Galvatron insists on a final showdown with him, and Prime agrees to face him one-on-one. (He still winds up cheating a bit with some help from the late Vector Prime.)
- Mocked in the Transformers Animated script reading "Bee in the City":
Shockwave: The secondary heroes stand around and watch, calling on their burning spirit and heart of justice to empower the main hero from afar.
Optimus Prime: Mmmm...no, we won't be doing that.
- In the movie Dungeons & Dragons, where Ridley enters a cave to search for the MacGuffin and the female Elf character prevents others from going too, because "he must do this himself". An explanation is attempted with a magical force field that keeps the others from entering.
- Played sort-of straight and simultaneously spoofed in Hot Fuzz. The hero is in a gas station, struggling with the decision of whether or not to return to try and save the village. After some inspiration thanks to seeing Point Break and Bad Boys 2 on DVD, he stops at the counter to purchase some badass sunglasses. The extremely wired-looking attendant asks "Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?" The response, of course, in a deep, gravelly, action-hero voice is, "No... This is something I have to do myself."
- In Labyrinth, Sarah reaches the goblin castle but tells her companions that she has to face Jareth herself, because "that's the way it's done".
- Subverted in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, where Indy explains everybody he was told by the skull to return it to its kingdom, a task he's got to do alone. On the next scene, however, we get to see all four sidekicks following him into the cave.
- The final one-on-one fight between Cloud and Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Actually said before the previous fight scene, when Cloud's True Companions rock up in an airship, and then decide to let him do it himself.
- Although arguably they would have just gotten in the way. Especially when Sephiroth turns up ("Tell me what you cherish most. Give me the pleasure of taking it away.")
- This is the reason Picard gives when he goes alone to the Scimitar in Star Trek Nemesis instead of, you know, sending the security chief or someone else more expendable and adept at combat.
- Moreso, since Shinzon is a clone of Picard, Picard feels that it must be he that eliminates this side of him. Too bad, since we end up losing Data because of this.
- Quoted word for word by Frederick (Froederick?) in Young Frankenstein. The monster disagrees.
- Subverted in The Incredibles. Mr. Incredible insists on facing the Omnidroid alone, despite having three family members with superpowers ready and willing to assist. Elastigirl (his wife) is upset, thinking that he just wants to show off, or prove that he's still a powerful superhero. But the truth is that he wants to go alone because he can't bear to risk his family's lives, having recently thought he'd lost them when their plane was shot down.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Harry faces Voldemort alone after Ron gives a "Not me, not Hermione, you!" speech essentially to this effect.
Live Action TV
- Dungeons & Dragons contains the Deck of Many Things. Characters draw cards from it and receive various effects, two of which fall under this:
- The Comet card will cause the character who draws it to gain a level... if he or she defeats the next monster(s) encountered single-handedly.
- The Skull card makes a dread wraith (or, in earlier editions, a "minor death") appear and attack the character, who must then defeat it alone (anyone who helps gets a dread wraith to fight as well)...and if the character loses, he or she is slain forever.
- Some prestige classes, especially those based on gladiator or duelist styles of combat have this as one of their prerequisites.
- Warhammer Fantasy has a rule for this: once two heroic characters declare a duel, only the one character and their mount may attack the other character, and vice versa.
- And as of the sixth edition rules Warhammer40000 has introduced a similar rule. In both cases this covers proper characters and squad leaders.
- In the game Star Fox 64, near the end of Venom, the final mission, Fox will leave behind his teammates to "go it alone" against the final boss.
- The Duel Boss in Tales Of Symphonia between Lloyd and Kratos is one of these, and is set up as one in advance. While either side could easily bring multiple parties into it, neither side wants to because of the personal catharsis involved. Sheena's duel with Kuchinawa is another example.
- In Fire Emblem Path of Radiance, Ike decides to fight the Black Knight by himself but Mist will run in anyway if she hasn't fallen in battle. Then in the sequel Radiant Dawn, both Ike and the Black Knight agree It's Personal, so the Black Knight puts up a big wall in the middle of the battlefield, separating the two from everyone else.
- Ike's weapon is the only weapon that can damage the Black Knight anyways, so it's really a Justified Trope. Also, the main characters of other Fire Emblem games attempt to go alone, but other characters insist on helping out.
- Yuri of Tales Of Vesperia pulls this card; he leaves the rest of the party at Halure to head to Zaphias, where Alexei is holding a Brainwashed and Crazy Estelle. Presumably, the logic is that, since he's proven himself to be a Vigilante Man who won't hesitate to kill when necessary, he's the only one who will have the guts to put Estelle out of her misery. He only makes it halfway when the rest of the party catches up and beats the crap out of him for doing something so stupid. And then he figures out what the right thing to do in this situation is.
- Arguably deconstructed with Judith. Since her father created the deadly Hermes Blastia, she believes that she's the only one who should worry about dealing with them and tried not to get the party involved. This belief is treated as a very bad thing, and in fact causes serious problems for the party at one point.
- Several Persona 2 choices can be made like this. Allowing the interested parties to settle their own accounts at the right moments will net them their evolved Personae, having transcended their issues and unlocking their true potential.
- In Chrono Trigger, if you choose to fight the second battle with Magus and Frog is in your party, Frog insists upon fighting Magus by himself.
- Doubly epic if you use the Masumune (and quite difficult too)
- There is also Robo's fight against Atropos in Geno Dome.
- In Kingdom Hearts II, during the first visit to the Pride Lands, Sora tells Donald and Goofy to hang back from Simba's fight with Scar, asserting that it's something Simba has to do himself. But when Scar comes back from defeat as a Heartless, they're happy to join in.
- Used to Narmful levels in Dead or Alive 4, in Kasumi's ending. Right before the boss fight with Alpha 152, Ryu is standing there, and comments that this is something she has to do herself. And presumably he's still standing there after the jiggly jello totally wipes the floor with you, multiple times. Thanks, Ryu.
- Just before the Duel Boss with Cecil's dark side in Final Fantasy IV, Cecil tells the Twins and Tellah to "Stay back. This is a fight for me, and me alone."
- All over the place in Dissidia: Final Fantasy, the heroes always battle their villain alone. If they're accompanied by allies, like Terra and Bartz are, they will directly tell their allies "I'll handle this" and fight alone.
- A similar case happens with Baret in Final Fantasy VII where former friend Dyne attacks the party and Barret tells his friends to back off because this is a fight he has to deal with by himself.
- In one attempted subversion, Squall is attacked by both Ultimecia and Garland, and resolves to fight both of them alone, only for Zidane to charge in and tell Squall to stop showing off and take care of Ultimecia.
- Played with in Siren. Shiro nearly quotes the trope verbatim as he goes to finish off the Onda sisters. However, by this point, he has murdered his twin brother and assumed his identity, making the whole 'Things you have to do for yourself' bit a little ironic...
- Buki of Sudeki takes on a giant spider boss monster by herself because "Like me, he is a Shadani Warrior" (this was actually a game design decision — bosses simply worked better against lone characters)
- Only one boss is fought with your full party, and he acts more like a King Mook than the rest of the bosses. He also brings in swarms of Mooks to back him up.
- In Fallout 3, this is forced on the player at the end, when you're asked to make a moral choice to either save the world and get exposed to lethal radiation, or chicken out and have a heroic woman do it for you. At this point it's possible to have a Super Mutant follower who is completely immune to radiation. If you ask him to do it, he just says that the cunundrum is something you have to work out for yourself.
- Thankfully averted with the aid of DLC.
- Yet you still get called a coward for getting someone else to do it. Luckily, you still survive if you do it.
- The Extended Cut of Mass Effect 3 has Shepard order away his/her squadmates to safety, while they make the run to the portal leading to the Citadel by themselves.
- In Breath of Fire 2, it is possible to choose to solo the fight against Barubary, a demon who is the cause of much trauma in Ryu's childhood. The fight is pretty difficult even with a full party, but your reward for beating him with Ryu alone is an obscure hint as to the location of treasure in his dungeon.
- CJ invokes this trope on Sweet in the final mission in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. CJ insists he takes on the Big Bad alone in order to make up for running out on his gang when they needed him most.
- Parodied in this Adventurers! strip.
- Subverted in The Order of the Stick, where Hinjo calls Roy off so he can try to reason with fallen paladin Miko. That goes about as well as you'd expect, and Miko is about to kill him when Roy says "Screw this" and swats Miko into unconsciousness.
- Gunnerkrigg Court uses the phrase in its tribute to Metal Gear Solid 4.
- In Misfile Rumisiel is explicitly forbidden to interfere in one of Ash's races for this reason.
- Girl Genius sometimes has Sparks personally dealing with challenges and sometimes parodies this:
Doctor Sun: So you're going to handle it all personally?! The idea of having an empire is that occasionally, other people do things for you!
Tarvek: So, Wulfenbach—just checking—is this going to be some kind of macho exercise where you insist on battling a potentially superior opponent alone—in some kind of attempt to "prove" your intrinsic worth?
- In Sonichu issue 9, the titular hero is facing down Big Bad Slaweel the Witch and handily defeats her, leaving her hanging off the platform they were fighting on. However, he ends up saving her and lets her get away because only Chris can defeat her. Which he promptly does in the next issue.
- In the novel Exams of the Whateley Universe, massively over-powered characters Tennyo and Fey insist on Jade fighting two (mediocre) supervillains herself, to prove something important about Jade to Jade: she's not really cut out to be a pacifist.
- Dragon Ball Abridged has a memorable subversion. When Tien's best friend/dojo mate is killed by Nappa, Tien attacks furiously to try to avenge him... and promptly starts getting his butt kicked by Nappa. Gohan, watching from the sidelines, asks his mentor Piccolo if they should help, but Piccolo replies that this is something Tien has to do himself. We then cut back to Tien, who is getting a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Nappa and is frantically screaming for help.
- Lampshaded and subverted during a Global Guardians third year story. Achilles, leader of the titular hero team, discovers the bad guy who has been causing them so much havoc is his own brother. Cue Gunmetal asking "Is this going to end up one of those 'I have to face him alone' things with you?" To which Achilles responds, "Oh hell no. Take his ass down the moment you can get a clear shot."
- In Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, the titular Villain Protagonist refuses an offer of assistance from his henchman because, "The League is watching. This is something I have to do alone."
- This happens in Pooh's Adventures Of 101 Dalmatians in which Pooh decides to take on Jafar himself. Most of the time, Pooh plays the Pinball Protagonist, so seeing him actually putting up a fight is a Crowning Moment of Awesome. Soon, Aladdin pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment and gives Ash the lamp used to seal Jafar, who then gives it to Pooh to use on Jafar.
- The origin of this trope is, perhaps, more historical than legendary. During the Battle of Crécy, King Edward III of England left his son, the Black Prince, and his retainers without reinforcements so that he could "win his spurs, for I want him, please God, to have all the glory." The Prince survived and was gifted with the crest of the defeated King of Bohemia.