You Can Turn Back
Right before the climatic battle of a story, The Hero turns to his friends and says that they don't need to come with him — if they want to turn back, this is their last chance, and he won't stop them. The hero's friends will often respond with an inspiring speech that how they've come too far to abandon the cause now, how the hero is crazy if he thinks he can do this alone, and so on. A member of the group actually accepting the offer is almost unheard of. This is separate from Line in the Sand, as it is not always an explicit suicide mission, and the hero is not looking for Red Shirt volunteers. Rather, the hero knows he's about to do something dangerous, and doesn't want to endanger his friends if they aren't willing. Can overlap with Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. When the hero's offer is taken, it's Screw This, I'm Outta Here! or Opt Out. See also This Is the Final Battle. Sister Trope to Last Chance to Quit and Line in the Sand.
open/close all folders
- In Demon Knights, as part of their centuries-long quest for the Holy Grail, Shining Knight has repeatedly been told by Merlin that they have the opportunity to quit, and that continuing will always require terrible personal sacrifices. Thus far, Ystin has declined these opportunities.
- In The Incredibles Mr. Incredible tells his family to stay behind before going to fight the Omnidroid Killer Robot. His wife will have none of that. Leads to a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when he admits that he isn't strong enough to lose them again. (Note that their kids had no chance to say whether they wanted to go too before the Omnidroid attacked them.)
- The Serenity example in Line in the Sand also falls under this trope.
Mal: Anybody doesn't wanna fly with me anymore, this is your port of harbor.
- In Street Fighter, there's a "we can go home" speech along this lines.
- In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, after Kirk and Co. bust McCoy out from Starfleet detention and beam aboard the empty Enterprise. Scotty has rigged the ship to be fully automated, and Kirk decides that he will not ask the rest of them to sacrifice their careers. Of course, being the True Companions they are, they refuse.
Kirk: Gentlemen...may the wind be at our backs. Stations please.
- Picard offers a way out (not from the mission itself, but from the court-martial that will almost certainly follow his direct defiance of orders) in Star Trek: First Contact.
Picard: "I'm about to commit a direct violation of our orders. Any of you who wish to object should do so now. It will be noted in my log."Data: "Captain, I believe I speak for everyone here, sir, when I say... to Hell with our orders."
- Pinocchio gives Jiminy Cricket a chance to leave when he goes out to find Geppetto after finding out he had been swallowed by a whale. Jiminy's reply? "Goodbye?! I may be live bait down there, but I'm with you!"
- In The Great Muppet Caper, as Kermit hatches the plan to catch the jewel thieves who framed Miss Piggy, he warns everybody of the possible dangers and gives them a chance to Opt Out. Everybody starts to back out until Fozzie lays in one heck of a guilt trip.
- Toy Story 2
Stinky Pete: It's your choice, Woody. You can go back, or you can stay with us and last forever.
- At the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry tells Ron and Hermione that they don't have to go with him to find Voldemort's Horcruxes. They, of course, turn down the offer.
- This is a call back the the pre-climactic scene of the first book, where right before Harry leaves to follow Snape, he tells Ron and Hermione that there's still time to turn back. Ron and Hermione tell him he's being an idiot. Hermione even references this conversation in the aforementioned scene from the sixth book, saying they've had "time" — five years in fact — to turn back, and they haven't so far.
- In The Bible, Naomi says this to her two widowed daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. Orpah takes her up on it, Ruth refuses.
- Deconstructed in Heretics of Dune, when this is explained to be a common use of Reverse Psychology to boost morale amonge the troops.
- In Proven Guilty, Harry Dresden gives his allies a line like this after he finds out that he has to invade Arctis Tor, stronghold of the Winter Queen for the rescue mission, a much, much more dangerous endeavor than he'd been expecting. He barely gets the sentence out before everyone steps up to go with him anyway.
Harry: A bolt of warmth, fierce with joy and pride and gratitude, flashed through me like sudden lightning. I don't care about whose DNA recombined with whose. When everything goes to hell, the people who stand beside you without flinching- they are your family. And they were my heroes.
Live Action TV
- Subverted in one episode of NCIS, in which Tony asks for volunteers for a dangerous mission, remarking that no one will think less of those who opt out. Palmer asks, "Really?" To which Tony replies, "No, they probably will. At least, I will."
- Played with in "The Five Doctors." When Borusa finally gets to claim Rassilon's immortality for himself, Rassilon appears and asks him if that's what he wants. When the errant Lord President says "yes," Rassilon says, "Even now, it is not too late to turn back." If you read between the lines enough, Rassilon is indirectly and subtly nudging Borusa to turn back. Why? Claiming immortality put him into an And I Must Scream position, in which his face accompanied the many others who came before him, decorating the sides of Rassilon's funereal dais.
- The king's speech before the battle of Agincourt in Henry V would be the most classic of examples.
Rather proclaim it, Westmorland, through my hostThat he which hath no stomach to this fight,Let him depart. His passport shall be made,And crowns for convoy put into his purse.We would not die in that man's companyThat fears his fellowship to die with us.
- Last Scenario.
- Alter AILA Genesis.
- Subverted at the beginning of Maniac Mansion. (If you pick Bernard.)
- Dave:This could be real dangerous. If anyone wants to back out...Bernard:Okay, I'm outta here.(starts to leave)Dave:Bernard, don't be a tunahead. This is Sandy we're talking about.
- Also subverted in Army Men R.T.S., when Sarge tells his troops that if they want to back out now, he won't stop them. Cue Hoover attempting to sneak off and Sarge yells at him to "get back here!"
- Nate Drake of Uncharted attempts to do this near the climax of every game. He sees that he's in way over his head and tells his companions that it would be just fine if they all bailed right then and there. Naturally, the companions refuse and on with the climax.
- Joel from The Last of Us (made by the same company who did Uncharted, attempts to do this with Ellie. After all they had been through to get to the Fireflies, he turns to her in the last leg of their journey and tells her that they don't have to do this ( give Ellie to the Fireflies in hopes for a cure.), the pair of them can turn around and go back to where his brother lives and stay there. Ellie, of course, decides to keep going, otherwise it would have made their suffering entirely pointless.
- Lee Everett does this to his team in Tell Tale's Season 1 of The Walking Dead. Bitten and trying to find Clementine, who had been kidnapped, he tells them that they don't have to come with him. Depending on how you acted around them, they'll either accept and not go, or refuse (willingly or reluctantly) and go anway.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Inverted in "Princess Twilight Part 2". When the Mane Six and Spike venture into the dangerous Everfree Forest to investigate why it's expanding uncontrollably, they are attacked by a Cragodile. After defeating it, Applejack suggests (and the other ponies agree) that Twilight should go back to Ponyville and let the others continue the mission without her, because she is the only princess left in Equestria at the moment and they can't afford to lose her.