A member of a team (often The Lancer) gets into a fight with everybody else and quits, vowing to never, ever return to the people whom that member now hates so much. A threat then comes that is precisely suited to the missing member's talents. The other team members beg the quitter to come back, but with no success. The team head out without their ex-member and are about to all be killed horribly.
Then the ex-member, seeing them about to die, realizes that he still cares about them after all. He leaps in with a Foe-Tossing Charge, just in time to save everybody, and all are reconciled. An Aesop about friendship and teamwork ensues.
Sometimes, the quitter is a character who doesn't seem necessary or even desirable. The episode is thus about giving this character some character development and showing both the audience and the characters why this person was on the team. Common with What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway? characters, but has the danger of falling into a Plot Tailored to the Party.
This goes all the way back to Achilles sulking in his tent in Homer's Iliad (hence the trope name), making it Older Than Feudalism. Although notably, he wouldn't come out until his best friend/cousin/boyfriend was actually killed trying to take his place.
Compare with Just Fine Without You and Holding Out for a Hero. See also Changed My Mind, Kid. Heavily related to We Used to Be Friends. Not to be confused with Screw This, I'm Outta Here!, which is when someone quits an activity out of fear or laziness rather than out of a feeling of having been wronged.
- Mazinger Z: Kouji Kabuto did this -out of all people!- in episode 7. After mobs of people expressed their displeasure in having their hometown leveled by Humongous Mecha battles by harassing him, and after a quarrel with Sayaka, Kouji decided that since nobody wanted him fighting, he would stay home. Of course, it did not last long.
- Tetsuya also did it in the last episode of Great Mazinger. He was so jealous of Kouji he refused to sortie in Great Mazinger to help him when he was struggling.
- Samurai Pizza Cats had an episode like this (No Talent Guido). Speedy and Polly get contracts for a singing career, leaving Guido feeling left out. The Monster of the Week attacks Little Tokyo while Speedy and Polly are recording a song. Guido refuses to fight, saying that maybe he had better things to do, too. Francine sends the rescue team to fight the monster. They do well until the Rude Noise engage them. Guido finally snaps out of it, when he sees the rescue team get blown away. Just as Speedy gets his ass kicked and Polly is reduced to Damsel in Distress Guido makes his grand entrance, dispatches the ninja crows in a cooly executed Foe-Tossing Charge and finishes off the monster. This also served to give Guido some actual Character Development, showing him grow from simply a Handsome Lech to a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- This happened between Agumon and Masaru/Marcus in Digimon Savers. After they fell out, Masaru tried to fight alone. He managed to beat up some jerk ass baseball hooligans, but when the Monster of the Week shows up (a BlackGarurumon) that's when he runs into trouble. Kutamon even lampshades this by saying how GeoGreymon would have been perfect to battle him.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji quits piloting after his Eva is forced to try to kill one of his best friends.
- Ken (also known as Mark) of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman / Battle of the Planets fame made a positive habit of quitting in a snit or going AWOL for his own reasons at the worst possible times.
- An inversion of this trope happens in a sports shounen manga, Fight No Akatsuki (Akatsuki's Fight), in that the leave-taking is actually an admirable and sensible thing. Two best friends, Akatsuki and Kiyo, are on opposite teams. The coach of the Opposing Sports Team orders his players to injure Akatsuki so bad that he can't play anymore. Kiyo hurls a basketball at the jerk's head, says nuts to that, and sits the game out rather than be a part of that. After they fail to stop Akatsuki, Kiyo returns to the game to play against his best friend fairly.
- Chang Wufei spends an entire episode of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing doing this after failing to kill Treize; it takes words of encouragement from future Team Mom Sally Po, and the deaths of her mercenary friends, to snap him out of his funk.
- This happened as early as the original Mobile Suit Gundam - Amuro heard Bright and Mirai talking about how dependent they are on Amuro being Gundam's pilot and, tired of being treated like he was, takes the Gundam and runs off. He does come back an episode or two later and they toss him in the brig for it.
- It also happens in Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory. After wrecking the GP-01 before it could be modified for space combat, a distraught Kou Uraki disappears after one of his co-pilots drunkenly reads him the riot act. He disappears for a while, befriending a Zeon pilot in the process before returning to duty.
- In Gundam Build Divers, Koichi Nanase was one of the top Gunpla builders and players of the game preceding Gunpla Battle Nexus Online, Gunpla Duel. However, when his friends abandoned him and the game in favor of GBN, Koichi is so devastated by it that he ends up retiring from everything and becomes a hikkiomori for four years until Riku and his friends come to him for help.
- One Piece had a downplayed version of this trope play out over an entire two-year-long story arc. Usopp protests when the crew decides to junk their broken-down old ship in favor of a shiny new one, as the ship had been given to them by his girl back home, and was practically one of the True Companions. Told to get over it by Luffy (in a rare scene where he actually issues an order as captain) Usopp chooses to leave the crew instead. Later, our heroes find themselves in huge trouble, so Usopp returns to help out, but, unwilling to face his former comrades, he shows up in an incredibly obvious disguise (which still manages to fool two of the more gullible crewmembers.) Despite helping save the day, he is still not asked back on the crew, (even though everyone really wanted him back) since he went against a direct order from his captain. Only when he apologizes without provocation (and, as it happened, does so very loudly) do our heroes welcome him back.
- This example even adds the second part of this trope, where the character's specific talents become needed. The story was a Rescue Arc, with Robin, the crewmember they were trying to rescue, being carried away by the Non-Action Big Bad. By the time anyone is in a position to stop him, he's too far away for anyone to do so, with the Big Bad having a significant head start over even the guy closest to him. Fortunately, being a sniper, Usopp was able to slow him down from a distance, buying the previously mentioned closest guy time to catch up and administer a more direct rescue.
- In Pokémon, Ash tried to get Pikachu to battle Misty at the Cerulean Gym, though at this early point in the series, Pikachu was uncomfortable battling a friend so Ash had to use his other Pokémon instead. If Pikachu had battled, Ash would have curbstomped Misty, something that Misty and even her sisters know.
- This actually comes up again in Ash and Misty's best two out of three battle to determine who keeps Totodile. Ash picks Pikachu as his first Pokémon, and Misty, knowing she wouldn't stand a chance with a regular Pokémon, actually pulls a pretty underhanded tactic and sends in Togepi, knowing Pikachu will refuse to hurt it.
- In Code Geass, Lelouch has a few moments like this after his various Trauma Conga Lines. The most unfortunately timed one is in R2 episode 19, where because he's in his chambers and not responding to calls after his most recent and crushing one, Schneizel is able to almost completely demolish Lelouch's already-tenuous credibility as Zero and reveal his secret identity and mind control power.
- A couple of cases in Sailor Moon:
- Sailor Mercury is prone to the more benevolent versions of the standard plot; she starts as the only Senshi without offensive abilities and is too nice to storm off. Instead, she's offered a chance to study abroad and further her goals of becoming a doctor, which will remove her from the Senshi. She's about to take it but changed her mind at the last moment so returns in time to get her mid-season power upgrade (which finally makes her more action-geared) and rescue the rest of the team from a monster only weak to ice, and she returns to the fold. Later in the season, she's attacked by a monster that causes paranoia and self-doubt, and she hallucinates that everything everyone says to her is derisive and mean. Eventually, her faith that her friends would never say such horrible things allows her to break the spell and come back to everyone.
- Sailor Venus also has an episode where she decides to leave the Sailor Senshi — not because she's upset, but because she wants time off from saving the world so she can rejoin the volleyball league she was forced to quit as well as get a boyfriend. Who should show up but a Monster of the Week with volleyball-related powers attacking Venus's love interest. After defeating the enemy, she then decides to go back to being a Sailor Senshi, possibly after learning that said love interest already has a girlfriend.
- Sailor Mars pulls this (and it's implied that she bullied Mercury into doing it as well) in the episode titled Restore Naru's Smile: Usagi's Friendship (The Power of Friendship in the English dub). During a discussion, Mars states that she'd make a better leader than Sailor Moon and gets upset when the others point out that Usagi/Serena is getting better. Naru/Molly is missing Nephrite, she seeks the advice of a priest at a graveyard, Zoicite attacks. Usagi/Serena is luckily there and a message is sent to the other scouts for backup. It cuts to Makoto/Lita running through the streets complaining about how Rei/Ray and Ami/Amy refused to come along "Sailor Scouts can't go on strike!"
- In Yu Yu Hakusho's Chapter Black Saga, Hiei, whose helping the heroes had until this point been reluctant, refuses to help them after hearing about the plan to open a portal to the Demon World, which would enable him, a B+ class demon to return there. He returns to help Yusuke against Kaname "Sniper" Hagiri, and is persuaded to help after being offered the Chapter Black tape.
- Brad/Ballad in Zoids does this in one of the beginning episodes, refusing to fight the Backdraft Group because he won't get paid for it. Of course, he comes in at the last minute and saves everyone... because Dr. Toros offered him Bit's next few paychecks.
- Saiyuki has one of these for every one of the Sanzo party apart from Goku (although Hakkai's is anime-only), which results in the rest of them going "fine see if we care" and "we can manage just fine without...."
- When Gojyo stays behind to go after Kami-sama the others eventually go back, the reason they give is he's caused so much trouble they have to go beat him up. Which they do once they get there (arriving at just the right time) however Gojyo realises he needs them; in a slight subversion, however, it is him who manages to save all of them when the building starts falling down.
- In the anime Hakkai ignores all of the others for a while because he's waiting for them to apologize for not tidying up as they promised to (reload filler is odd sometimes), they say "we're not apologizing, we can manage without him" and try to (Hakkai does all the cooking and cleaning and has taken the credit card so...). He breaks when Goku can't stand it anymore and comes and tells him how horrible it is and basically makes the other two apologize.
- Sanzo's one lasts considerably longer than any other separation (they manage without him for longer, and he's more stubborn); he's gone off on his own private agenda for a bit.
- The only time they admit they can't manage without a member is when Jeep goes missing (Hakkai says that it's worse than when Gojyo left, causing the latter to object that he shouldn't place below a car).
- Sound of the Sky. Because of Parental Abandonment issues, Rio Kazumiya spends most of the series refusing her father's requests to agree to an Arranged Marriage that could stop an ongoing war. She eventually yields to prevent further bloodshed.
- A rare villainous version in Fresh Pretty Cure!: when one of the Quirky Miniboss Squad pulls a HeelFace Turn and defects to the heroes, one of the remaining members tries to invoke this trope to bring her back. She turns him down every time, but he keeps trying right up until the end of the series because of the friendship they used to share.
- Occurs in Galaxy Angel when Ranpha has quit the group to get married and settle down. Meanwhile, the Angels are tasked to pilot a giant combining mecha to fight galaxy monsters. Every one of their attempts to make the mecha combine ends in an explosion. Milfeuille remarks that "It seems we're no good without Ranpha." Being Galaxy Angel, the trope is subverted when Ranpha arrives to save the day and the mecha still explodes.
- In Dragon Ball Z, Goku tried to do this in the Buu saga, figuring that the world couldn't always rely on him to protect it and that others should take up his mantle. However, he was eventually forced to return and deal the final blow to the villain.
- In Simoun Neviril stays holed up in her room in a few episodes during her Heroic BSoD after her pair and lover Amuria disappears after they perform the Emerald Ri Maajon. It doesn't help her any that Aer and later Mamiina try to become Amuria's replacement. Later, Dominura experiences her own tent moment after her own Heroic BSoD after looking inside the helical motors and seeing that she is fated to found the Simoun tradition in the first place. She comes out of it in time to perform the Emerald Ri Maajon with Rimone and go into the past.
- Michael from We're Alive spent part of season 2 sulking in his room after Burt took over as leader of The Tower. He comes out of it by volunteering to find medical help for Saul and by the time he gets back he's ready to take back command.
- The Fantastic Four was notorious for this happening, particularly with the Thing.
- Again in Marvel, Namor was rejected by the Atlanteans and later he rejected them. It took the god Neptune giving Namor his trident to change Namor's mind.
- Subverted in Justice League Elite by Major Disaster who suffers a breakdown after his alcoholism gets a teammate killed. When the call comes for him to return, he refuses in an attempt to stay away from the things that drove him to drink in the first place. Vera Black decides to respect this rather than risk pushing him into a relapse. He does answer the call during Infinite Crisis, where he gets killed.
- The Sentry from Marvel Comics tends to do this a lot. The main reason for this, of course, is that he is described as the world's most powerful hero and in all probability could solve any problems of other heroes nigh-instantly. In his first appearance in New Avengers, he effortlessly flies Carnage into space and rips him in half. When his evil counterpart the Void emerges, it takes the entire New Avengers, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four just to hold it off long enough for the Sentry to beat it in a battle in the center of the mind.
- In Judge Dredd, during the First Robot War, Dredd leaves the Justice Department when Goodman refuses to have all the robots in Mega-City One decommissioned. Sure enough, the robots rebel, but Dredd comes back by the end of his retirement strip.
- In Batman: No Man's Land, Batman himself pulls this after he fails to stop Congress from condemning Gotham City. An encounter with Talia al Ghul gets him to shape up and return to Gotham three months later.
- Omega Supreme has lived in seclusion since the Golden Age of Cybertron, only nominally allying with Autobots and generally believing that the Cybertronian race may be beyond salvation. However, after being attacked during the events of The Transformers: All Hail Megatron he returns to save the Autobots on Cybertron and begins to work more closely with the main Autobot army, even holding out hope that change is possible.
- Megatron, following his HeelFace Turn in More Than Meets The Eye, actually becomes a pacifist when he realizes just how much death he has caused throughout his life (it measures in the billions). He violates this vow once: when the Decepticon Justice Division (who are fanatically devoted to his savage former ideals) comes for him, he surrenders himself to save the rest of the crew but then fights back and destroys the DJD when they reject this offer. After this, he renounces violence once more, and this time it sticks; following a Time Skip it seems he is back to fighting as he appears to have his iconic fusion cannon on his arm once more, but this turns out to be a folding medical kit, indicating that he finally achieved his youthful dream of becoming a medic. Note that although he doesn't fight himself, he still aids the Autobots by serving as a field commander, his strategic mind being his greatest asset.
- Zig-zag: The Powerpuff Girls story "Sounding Off" (Cartoon Network Block Party #33, DC run) has Blossom taking a vow of silence as a means to make Bubbles and Buttercup settle their arguments on their own instead of pestering her with them. This vow of silence continues even during a battle with a monster towards the final act, but after the monster knocks away Bubbles and Buttercup, Blossom tries to gain an upper hand but is captured and cannot call for help because now she has lost her voice. Bubbles and Buttercup team up to save her.
- Ultimate Marvel
- Ultimate Galactus Trilogy: Sam Wilson was enjoying the solitude of the Amazon jungle, but will gladly go back and help Nick Fury with his crisis.
- All-New Ultimates: Kitty did not like the way that Jessica drafted her to the team, and initially refused to take part in it. But, as their first mission went badly, she accepted to join them.
- The Ultimates
- Initially, Thor refused to join the Ultimates. When Hulk started his rampage, he said that he would help if Bush increased the budget for foreign aid. They took it as a refusal and started the fight without him. But suddenly, there is a clap of thunder and Thor shows up stomping Hulk under his hammer. Bush had just increased the budget for foreign aid.
- Initially, Tony Stark only minded about his own business, but he suddenly accepted Fury's requests and joined the Ultimates. He later revealed to Cap and Thor that he's Secretly Dying, that he has an inoperable cancer tumor in his head.
- In The Fifth Act Cloud gets Vincent to leave him by telling him where he can find Lucretia's cave so he could speak to her. Vincent leaves so he can get some closure and Cloud no longer has him as obstacle to his plans. He comes back when the Soldiers answer Cloud's PHS in their search for Cloud and helps to remind of Sephiroth of his humanity.
- In Supergirl fanfic Hellsister Trilogy, Kara Zor-El of all people does this. In the course of a few weeks, she has fought several inter-dimensional wars and been nearly killed by the Anti-Monitor, her own evil clone and Darkseid. This, on top of fourteen years fighting crooks and super-villains week after week, has led to a burn-out and a strong desire to retiring. So, when the Legion of Super-Heroes turns up to ask her help again, she turns them down. She reluctantly joins them, though, when they explain Darkseid has the son of two of her worst enemies.
- In The Return-Remixed, Kelly Kelly does this after Jazz gives her a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown for doing a Stinkface during a practice match and none of the other members of the Diva Army did anything. After she leaves, her best friend, Eve Torres offers to take her place. When Eve winds up in the hospital due to a post-match beatdown by DEAR, Kelly ends her 10-Minute Retirement and returns.
- Chat Noir does this in Burning Bridges, Building Confidence, sitting on the sidelines and refusing to help Ladybug fight. He's hopeful that doing so will force her to admit that she needs him so that they can become romantic partners as well. This blows up in his face when Master Fu learns what he's been doing and decides to name another permanent miraculous holder in order to compensate for his inaction.
- Yet another non-combat version: In The Jungle Book (1967) Bagheera throws up his paws in desperation at Mowgli's continued rebellion, only to return when he gets in trouble again. He returns no less than three times: upon Mowgli's initial encounter with Baloo (which turns out to be a false alarm), when Mowgli gets kidnapped by monkeys, and when Mowgli runs away from Baloo.
- Aladdin: The Return of Jafar has Iago try to fly off after breaking the good guys out of prison but before the final confrontation with Jafar.... only to fly back in later and save the day, with a resounding cry of, "HEY, JAFAR! SHUT UP!!!"
- Pinocchio has Jiminy Cricket walk out on Pinocchio on Pleasure Island when he first tries to reprimand Pinocchio for his debauchery only to be humiliated by Pinocchio's new friend, Lampwick. As Jiminy tries to find a way off the island, he comes across the Coachman rounding up a bunch of donkeys. It soon occurs to him that all those donkeys used to be the boys on the island. Realizing he left Pinocchio in the lurch, he went racing back to save him.
- Troy. "We stay until Agamemnon groans to have Achilles back!"
- Said in an actual tent no less.
- Parodied somewhat in Team America: World Police, where Gary is accused of this despite the fact that his abilities would have been obviously useless— though, of course, they eventually do need an actor for the final mission.
- Lancelot becomes a partially insane vagrant in the movie Excalibur who blames the king for bringing a pestilence upon the land. At the climactic battle, he returns to fight by the king's side.
- X-Men Film Series:
- The Wolverine: Logan has quit the X-Men for at least a year, and isolates himself within the Yukon wilderness because he is unable to cope with his guilt for being forced to kill Jean Grey.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past: 1973 Charles Xavier gives up on his powers and his role as the leader of mutants, and refuses to cooperate with Wolverine; without his aid, the entire venture is impossible. He's got more justified reasons than in most examples of the trope, having lost hope when many of his students and staff died after drafted into the Vietnam War.
- A non-combat variant of this occurs in This Is Spın̈al Tap. Due to an increasing series of setbacks and personality conflicts, Nigel Tufnel stomps off in the middle of a show (which is going very badly), effectively quitting the band. The band's fortunes continue to get worse, as their venues and audiences get smaller, and they're forced to cut all of Nigel's songs (eliminating the bulk of their set). Finally, in the last ever performance of what's left of Spinal Tap, Nigel returns with an offer to reunite for a Japanese tour supporting their latest album. Rejected at first, he's invited back, as an expression of the The Power of Rock/The Power of Friendship.
- Another non-combat version: Hardy Kruger's character in The Flight of the Phoenix (1965).
- Lola and the Milan fashion show in Kinky Boots.
- In Tall Tale, Paul Bunyan has become a recluse after the logging industry was modernized.
- Star Wars
- In A New Hope, Han Solo leaves after saving Leia, saying that his job is done. At the end of the film he comes back to save the day in the final battle.
- Yoda is doing this between Revenge of the Sith and The Empire Strikes Back. He was so disheartened by his loss to Palpatine and letting the galaxy fall under the control of a Sith empire that he exiled himself to the planet Dagobah in shame. When Luke shows up, Yoda is reluctant to train Luke, because he is afraid of Luke turning out like his father. He is discouraged to such an extent that he doesnt even want to bother with it. While Yoda never returns to the action himself, he does eventually agree to train Luke after Obi-Wan encourages him, making his return downplayed but still important. Obi-Wan himself, despite going into exile during this time as well, avoids the trope because he spent his exile preparing Luke to one day become a Jedi, meaning that unlike Yoda he never really gave up on saving the galaxy.
- Luke himself follows in Yodas footsteps between Return of the Jedi and The Last Jedi. Replace Anakin with Kylo Ren, Palpatine with Snoke, the old Jedi Order with Lukes new Jedi Order, and the Empire with the First Order, and you have the whole story. Then Rey begs Luke to train her, and Luke refuses until his old friend Artoo changes his mind. Just as Luke begged Yoda to train him and Yoda refused until his old friend Obi-Wan changed his mind. And Rey runs off with incomplete training just like Luke did. But events play out differently from here. Yodas force ghost appears to Luke to guide him. Yodas ability to completely relate to Lukes mistakes inspires Luke to rejoin the fight. Though he drains himself and dies after a single battle, he did what Yoda did not and actually returned to the battlefield to save the heroes one last time.
- Named for the famous incident in Homer's Iliad, which fits the formula almost perfectly, with an added touch. Agamemnon tries to coax Achilles back by meeting the demands he originally made before the new threat, but Achilles now refuses them. Also, in stark contrast to modern TV examples, Achilles does not learn An Aesop about teamwork or friendship. He re-enters battle out of pure blood rage, after his best friend and cousin Patroclus kicks the bucket, and winds up forming an Odd Friendship with the enemy king instead of with Agamemnon.
- The Achilles situation is exactly mirrored in the final book of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series: Clarisse, daughter of Ares, refuses to let any of her siblings join the fight because they won a prize in battle that got taken away. Even after they get it back, she won't fight in the war. Eventually Clarisse's new best friend, Silena, daughter of Aphrodite, steals her armor, leads the rest of Ares's children into battle, and gets killed in the fight. Clarisse then rejoins the war, just like Achilles.
- Well, given that the entire series is a big Shout-Out to Classical Mythology, and just about every event is some modernized version of an ancient Greek myth, you knew this one had to turn up sooner or later. Percy even gets the same powers as Achilles in said book by bathing in the river Styx. And Achilles' shade makes an appearance to try to talk him out of it.
- In the same book, Hades refuses to help his fellow Olympians against Kronos.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Ron temporarily storms out of the plot and returns just in time to save Harry from almost certain death.
- The Star Wars Legends featured Garm Bel Iblis, a founder of the Rebellion who left when he felt it was risking becoming a dictatorship as co-founder Mon Mothma started to centralize the command structure around herself, feeling that replacing the Emperor with an Empress wouldn't be an improvement. After realizing his folly (a New Republic is formed after the Emperor's death, and Mothma doesn't seize the throne like Bel Iblis feared), he initially remains in hiding trying to build up his forces so that they would be powerful enough to turn the tide of the war once he makes his return because he can't stand the idea that he would just be crawling back begging Mon Mothma to let him back in. When Han Solo and Lando Calrissian stumble onto his base by accident while investigating possible treason by another New Republic leader, he returns despite not yet having built the grand fleet he hoped for. But he refuses to take command of the New Republic fleet, even while they're being attacked, by an enemy commander that only he is skilled enough to match, and even when Princess Leia (the daughter of his best friend, the late Bail Organa) begs him to do so, saying he'll only do so if Mon Mothma herself asked him. Then Mothma does come to speak with him in person, at which point he realizes he was still being a stubborn fool and takes over defense of the capital.
- Played with in Tad Williams' Otherland series. In a memorable sequence, the protagonists find themselves in a computer-simulated version of the actual Trojan War, filling the shoes of many of that story's heroes. Orlando is Achilles, but in a subversion, the reason he can't come out to fight is that he's genuinely too ill. The NPCs still treat him according to the storyline, though, forcing Sam (as Patroclus) to don Achilles' armor and confront Hector. In trying to rescue her, the protagonists inadvertently trigger Hector's death and the subsequent sacking of Troy.
- The entire premise of Atlas Shrugged is that the people really important to civilization decide that it's no longer their job to let their skills benefit if they themselves cannot also enjoy the fruits of their labor. Of course, here it's portrayed as the right thing to do.
- An interesting inversion occurs in Aztec, where the protagonist, Mixtli, tends to leave the city and go wandering about whenever he suffers a Heroic BSoD, rather than stay at home. It has the same effect on his friends and companions, though.
- In Septimus Heap, Septimus runs off from the Quarantine laid around the Palace in a fit of anger after having been excluded from the Quarantine Spell.
- In Michael Flynn's Up Jim River, the Pedant does this. More than once.
- In A Game of Thrones Ned Stark recalls how he and Robert had a bitter argument about the murder of Elia Targaryen and her children, and he left King's Landing horrified. The two of them managed to patch things up only after Lyanna's death.
- Don Quixote: Being present in a lot of Chivalric Romance books (Amadis of Gaul, Beltenebros and Orlando did it), this trope is parodied by Don Quixote: When he is at the Sierra Morena forest, he invokes this trope by sending Sancho with a letter to Dulcinea (his imaginary love interest) explaining to her that he will be in the forest until she forgives him
Even when don Quixote has not made anything against her. This madness will force the Curate and the Barber to ask Dorotea to pretend to be a princess and ask Don Quixote a favour to get him out of the forest.
"It seems to me," said Sancho, "that the knights who behaved in this way had provocation and cause for those follies and penances; but what cause has your worship for going mad? What lady has rejected you, or what evidence have you found to prove that the lady Dulcinea del Toboso has been trifling with Moor or Christian?"
- In Animorphs, team leader Jake pulls this towards the end of the series. Though it's more justified than most examples, seeing as how he was grieving over his failure to keep his parents from getting infested.
- Name-checked in C. S. Lewis' The Great Divorce, where George MacDonald, the narrator's guide through the afterlife, explains why some souls voluntarily choose damnation over salvation:
"Ye see it easily enough in a spoiled child that would sooner miss its play and its supper than say it was sorry and be friends. Ye call it the Sulks. But in adult life it has a hundred fine names —Achilles' wrath and Coriolanus' grandeur, Revenge and Injured Merit and Self-Respect and Tragic Greatness and Proper Pride."
- Sammael spends centuries alone in a tower because he gets fed up with the eloim and their ideas of how to live on Earth in Burying the Shadow. Gimel finally manages to bring him back in their hour of need after things nearly go to hell, but it's not as epic as everyone expects.
- In Winter Turning, Winter leaves the group to be with his brother and tribe, saying that he hates them all anyway, but ends up returning when he realizes leaving the Ice kingdom is his only choice besides dying or killing his aforementioned brother, plus having an epiphany about how his friends are more important than their home.
- In The Dinosaur Lords, after Karyl comes to the conclusion that he's a Doom Magnet and his bad dreams are becoming not only a nightly occurrence but also more intense, he completely withdraws from leading his own army. He does come back eventually when Rob finally manages to break it to him that he's the only man for the job.
- In the penultimate book of The Spirit Thief, following Karon's apparent death, Eli locks himself up in Osera's tallest tower and tries to hide from the entire war taking place outside, as while he could save everyone, it would mean giving himself up to Benehime. He leaves once he hits the Despair Event Horizon.
- Waltharius: After being accused of cowardice by Gunther because he warned him of picking a fight with Walther, an infuriated Hagen refuses to participate in the combat and instead just watches from a nearby hill. Though Walther stands alone against Gunther and his eleven remaining champions, the fight goes terribly wrong for the Franks. Only after the eleven others are dead, one of them being Hagen's own nephew Patavrid, Gunther apologizes to Hagen and implores him that the Franks will never recover from the shame if Walther gets away unpunished. This argument finally changes Hagen's mind. The ensuing battle ends with a draw when all three combatants are so severely wounded they can no longer fight. That Hagen is the strongest among Gunther's champions is established by Walther himself, who comments on the approach of Gunther and his troop that Hagen is the only one of them he is afraid of.
- Alias: When Dixon learns the truth about SD-6, and that Sydney's been a double-agent for the CIA for a while, he feels incredibly betrayed. Although he's offered a good position with the CIA, he quits entirely and wants nothing more to do with Sydney ever, nor the intelligence world, nor the team he used to be a part of (who have all joined the CIA). A dangerous mission crops up that desperately needs Dixon's personal knowledge but he refuses to get involved, so Sydney takes his place. When she's captured because of information she lacked, Dixon rushes in to save her life, rebuilds his relationship with her, and joins the CIA.
- In Angel, Wesley left, not entirely of his own volition (he was heavily injured),
afterduring Season 3 and his mistake with Connor, followed by about a season of intermittent contact with the team, during which they sometimes sorely missed his talent. He just sort of drifted back in about mid-season 4 with the whole Cordy crisis.
- In season 5 of Babylon 5, Garibaldi is assigned to monitor intelligence reports and coordinate the peacekeeping forces to prevent a war from flaring up. While he's busy drowning his sorrows, the war escalates and the peacekeeping forces are unable to regain control before Centauri Prime is bombarded from orbit.
- In Between the Lions, Click (the computer mouse) is jealous of Lionel and Leona making a fanclub for the little brown mouse (in the Lion and the Mouse), due to them thinking of her (the mouse) as a hero, and decides to leave. But then she finds out that Cleo is in a trap in the book and needs to be rescued, and returns.
- The Big Bang Theory: The season five episode The Friendship Contraction. After one bout too many of Sheldon's demanding behavior, Leonard finally decides that he's had enough of Sheldon's self-serving roommate agreement, so signs the form to suspend it. Assuming that the rest of the group would leap at the chance to do Leonard's usual services for a mention in Sheldon's memoirs, Sheldon seeks volunteers and finds that nobody wants to be his personal chauffeur. The episode highlights how much trouble Sheldon has functioning on his own. He even resorts to cutting the entire building's power just to try and bride Leonard into reinstating the "Mutual benefits" of the roommate agreement.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- The premiere of the second season. In "When She Was Bad", Buffy comes back from her summer in L.A. still steaming with issues from being killed for a minute in the Season One finale. When the Master's men steal the Master's bones with the intent to resurrect him, Buffy explodes at Giles and blows off the Scooby Gang's attempts at consoling her. This lasts until Willow, Giles, Cordelia, and Miss Calender are captured by the vampires for the resurrection ritual. In this case, the prompt for her glorious return is less that she realizes that she's needed and more that it's brutally spelled out for her by Xander, who basically gives her an "As a result of this mess I'm completely over indulging your self-pity; get over yourself and do what you should have done in the first place" speech.
- Buffy getting deposed by her own pupils in Season 7, who install Faith as their new leader. One episode and bomb explosion later, and everyone goes crawling back to blondie.
- Doctor Who:
- "The Snowmen" sees the Doctor hiding out in Victorian London with the TARDIS parked on an artificial cloud, claiming to have given up saving the world after being separated from Amy and Rory.
- "The Night of the Doctor" reveals that the Eighth Doctor was this to the Time War, only getting involved in the last minutes before his regeneration, and only when he passed the Despair Event Horizon about said war and realized it had to end ASAP.
- Game of Thrones:
- Kevan Lannister refuses to kowtow to Cersei and retires to Casterly Rock, declaring that the king is free to call upon him at any time.
- At the start of Season 3, Stannis is holed up in Dragonstone and refuses to see or talk to anyone except Melisandre.
- Happens in Glee in the episode Sectionals, when Finn abandons New Directions after learning that Quinn's baby isn't his and that the rest of the club had helped her to keep the secret. Naturally, he shows up to sectionals right after their two competitors finish performing (all of New Directions' intended songs) with new pieces prepared and ready to go.
- A rare non-combat example: the 1980s children's puppet show The Letter People. In an early episode, Miss A gets into a fight with the other letters and quits. Since Miss A was the only vowel in the cast at this point, nobody can form a word without her and they have to beg her to come back. (Since she was also the only female letter introduced at this point, this may have been a sly way to teach feminism to the target audience.)
- In the M*A*S*H episode "The Late Captain Pierce", a clerical error leads to Hawkeye being declared Legally Dead. Tired of the war, and tired of attempting to get the mistake corrected by the Army bureaucracy (and to contact his father back home to let him know he's okay), he takes off with the ambulance that's there to collect his "corpse", just when new casualties arrive. After the ambulance leaves the camp, it stops, and Hawkeye walks back to the 4077.
- A very temporary incident happens in Power Rangers in Space. Carlos loses confidence in himself and leaves the team after a Monster of the Week uses his teleportation to swap himself with one of the other Rangers he was grappling with, causing Carlos to harm them. Encountering Adam and a second chance at the incident gives Carlos the strength to fight on and return to the team.
- In Robin Hood: Robin overpowers Guy and ties him to a tree after realizing that he is the man behind the attempted assassination of King Richard. He gets so wound up that he nearly resorts to torture and refuses to listen to his men who feel that it's more important to stage a rescue mission to save a fellow team-mate that's been captured. After several failed attempts, during which Robin just sits under a tree, the outlaws return unvictorious and it takes Marian to snap Robin out of it and suggest a hostage trade.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Peak Performance", Data loses a game of strategy that he expected to win. Because of it, he loses confidence in his abilities and stays in his quarters, trying to determine what is wrong with his programming. Several crewmembers try to get him out of it and back on the bridge; Dr. Pulaski at one point marches straight into his quarters and demands, "How long are you going to be sulking like Achilles in his tent?" He's convinced that he's not unreliable and takes his place on the bridge in time to assist in a sudden crisis and formulate the plan to save the crew.
- In Star Trek: Voyager, Janeway does this in the episode "Night". The ship has entered a void, no stars, no planets, no gases, absolutely nothing. They slowly go stir crazy and She falls into despair and remains in her quarters, blaming herself for stranding them in the Delta Quadrant. Chakotay tries to get her out of it citing the crew needs their captain, but she ignores him. An alien attack, however, brings her back to protect her crew.
- Ilya Muromets from Russian mythology. In one legend, his break with Prince Vladimir seems to be forever, but actually only lasts until a new threat for their Motherland appears. Reluctant Ilya agrees to go fighting, "not for the Prince, but for the sake of common Russian people". Actually a recurring trope in Russian mythology. A number of heroes acted in a similar way. A similar line is attributed to Alexander Nevsky.
- This trope pretty much defines Sting's career in WCW through the entire year of 1997. Hell, if this was a pro wrestling site this page might be called "Sting In The Rafters", as the sight of him staring down in disdain at feuding parties has become shorthand for many a refusal of involvement or question of allegiance.
- In The Order of the Stick, Roy decides not to help the rest of the team rescue Elan, because Elan is too useless to be worth the risk. He changes his mind the following night after he realizes how much of an asshole he's being. More, he realizes he is being untrue to himself by abandoning Elan — his whole reason for becoming a fighter and an adventurer was to help others. When Roy dies (he gets better), he learns that had he not gone back, he'd have ended up in a rather worse afterlife. Though it also helped that in a later adventure he acted more promptly to save Elan's life.
- Referenced in one Penny Arcade comic in which Gabe asks his Guildmaster permission to try a different MMO. The Guildmaster's response is to purposefully do something that requires Gabe's character.
Gabe: But... that is suicide!
Kiko: Is it, druid? I call it murder.
- In Bob and George, Dr. Light observes they can't manage without Megaman.
- In Erfworld, despite his defense of Gobwin Knob being an overwhelming success, Parson distances himself from military strategy at the end of Book 1 after seeing the enormous death toll his command caused for both sides. He spends the inter-book updates and the first third of Book 2 managing the city, which in Erfworld terms means just walking around symbolic buildings to increase their efficiency. He believes this will not cause any moral consequences. Then suddenly Ansom, who replaced him as Chief Warlord, falls into a trap at the Siege of Spacerock, Parson is reappointed Chief Warlord against his will and has to once again save his side from near-certain defeat. This time, however, he decides to join his subordinates at the battlefield and face possible death with them, instead of strategizing from the safety of the war room.
- In Nebula, after a long period of tension, Sun loses his patience with the planets, declaring the entire meeting with them over after a quasi-imagined slight (with Earth not helping their case) and leaving without being willing to do anything to help them about the Humanoid Abomination that's watching them.
- But then when it eventually does attack and the others are incapacitated by pain and begging for his help, he comes back to defend them and ends up saving their lives.
- Deconstructed in Sleepless Domain. After having an argument with one of her teammates, the team's leader Tessa decides to sit out in the hunt that night to try and teach them a lesson. She ends up worrying and goes out looking for them. She finds all but one of her team dead and the survivor quickly fading away. Tessa ends up giving up her own powers to save the survivor.
- In Series 2 of Phaeton Sierra does this when she sees the petrified orphans.
- One of the very first Thomas the Tank Engine episodes written featured Henry trying this in "The Sad Story of Henry". In this case, the episode ended with Henry being locked in the "tent" he sulks in for "Always and Always and Always." and it wasn't until the following episode that Henry got to make up for his wrong-doings and save the day.
- In "Trouble in the Shed" Henry tries it again, along with Gordon and James and once again, it backfires. The Fat Controller shuts them up and gets Thomas and Edward to run the line.
- Kim Possible: Ron quits when he thinks Kim is jealous of his new success at Bueno Nacho. Kim thinks she can do without the goofy sidekick, but it turns out he's vital. Him or his naked mole rat?
- Teen Titans: Cyborg quits after a fight with Robin, then returns just in time to save Robin, and then they save everyone else.
- A couple of times in Theodore Tugboat. In "Guysborough's Garbage" the eponymous Guysborough refuses to collect garbage, resulting in the Big Harbour becoming a big mess. A visiting ship, to whom cleanliness is Serious Business insists on leaving the harbour.
- There was also one time when Hank, feeling that no one respected him because of his short name, changed his name to Henry. After a big mix up, a large barge goes out of control and speeds through the harbour. Hank is the only one fast enough to catch the barge but he ignores their pleas for help until Theodore addresses him as Henry.
- W.I.T.C.H.: Cornelia quits when the team fails to protect her best friend, Elyon Brown, from the bad guys, blaming Will because it was her decision to keep Elyon Locked Out of the Loop that led to her being deceived by Phobos. Without the full team, everybody else's powers are weakened (which strangely didn't happen the last time the girls had to send a partial team), and new monsters attack who Cornelia's powers would have been perfect for. She inevitably snaps out of her funk in time to save everybody. This turned out to be a turning point, giving Cornelia real Character Development for the first time.
- Recess really likes this one:
- In an episode, Gus refuses to take sides in a dodgeball fight, despite being a dodgeball virtuoso at one of his older schools. Upon seeing a younger student getting clobbered, however, he enters rage mode and proceeds to wipe out the opposing team single-handedly.
- Another episode had T.J. depressed after their plan to break in to the Ashleys' clubhouse failed and Gus sprained his ankle. The rest of the group tries another break-in and upon seeing that it's going wrong, T.J. steps in and salvages their plan. As it turns out, the heavy flaws were intentional by the group, in order to help T.J. get his confidence back.
- Another episode features Vince giving up on kickball after he is shown up on the field by one of the Ashleys, only to come back and kick a ball all the way into outer space at the end.
- A variation of this is shown in Beast Wars, where Tigatron does this after he accidentally kills (a non-Transformer)
tiger friendhis mate in a firefight, and only returns after he realizes the bad guys aren't going to stop destroying if he does nothing. Somewhat unique in the fact that the teammate that attempts to coerce him back into the fray is a battle-hungry warrior who attempts to strong-arm him under threat of death, which certainly didn't help matters any.
- Captain Planet had at least two episodes with Ma-Ti angsting, trying to quit the team and having to come back to save the day. Hell, Kwame tried to quit once in the middle of an Heroic BSoD, and he was the de facto leader of the team. There was also a two-parter episode where Wheeler tries to change history so that he never became a Planeteer, only to travel forward in time and discover the world was destroyed by global warming because everyone was DOOMED without him.
- This happened to The Tick in "The Tick Vs. Arthur's Bank Account". Handy the Hand Puppet even points out the allusion.
Handy: Even now he sulks in his treehouse like Achilles in his tent! (beat) Achilles? The Iliad? It's Homer?! Read a book!
- The allusion later gets somewhat mangled by Handy's operator, The Human Ton.
The Human Ton: Your Tick won't come! He's sulking in his tent like a guy from Chile!
Arthur: ...Don't you mean, 'Achilles'?
Handy: You're makin' us look like jerks! I told you: READ A BOOK!
- The allusion later gets somewhat mangled by Handy's operator, The Human Ton.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles used this trope more than once, with more than one turtle.
- The entire TMNT movie could be a variation on this theme. Leonardo has stayed in South America for a year after his training was supposed to be over. While he's gone, Raphael develops some serious anger issues with his older brother, and sort of does the inverted Achilles in His Tent as the team falls apart: he goes out and fights crime solo as the Nightwatcher while his two younger brothers work menial jobs, watch television, and play video games. When Leo comes back, Raph is way too angry to reconcile with him and keeps up his Nightwatcher act until Leo - literally - "unmasks" him. Leo and Raph duel and Raph almost wins but backs off when he realizes he's become angry enough to actually hurt (kill?) his own brother. As Raphael runs away, he hears Leo scream as the Big Bad captures him. He tries to go after Leo, but the bad guys get away. Raphael returns home, where Splinter gives him some Epiphany Therapy, after which he leads the other turtles (with some help) to storm the bad guys' tower and rescue Leo.
- In the second season of the 2012 series, April tells the Turtles she never wants to see them again after their blunder earlier on causes the Kraang's shipment of mutagen to get scattered all over New York and one of the canisters mutates her father into a monster bat. It takes a few episodes for them to reconcile.
- The Simpsons had an episode where Marge buys an SUV, gets road rage, and has her license revoked. The next day, Homer's idiocy causes a breakout of rhinos at the zoo. Chief Wiggum immediately comes crawling back begging her to put her anger to good use, but Marge stubbornly refuses. That is until she looks at the TV and sees her family surrounded.
- Family Guy lampooned this with exterminators in one episode. One of them, named Logan, is having an emotional breakdown because his family was carried off by fire ants. But he shows up just in time to save his fellow exterminators from a flea infestation. Please note that instead of being "exterminators" with insecticides, they're basically a bunch of soldiers with guns and body armor. Also please note that the "Rescue" was shooting one single flea that was approaching three heavily armored men.
- The Powerpuff Girls does this in one episode. Bubbles gets humongous glasses and is teased by her sisters until she flies away, sobbing. Turns out that they need her help to fight a giant ant, and while Blossom and Buttercup's heat vision isn't strong enough, Bubbles' sure is when it's magnified 10 fold by her glasses, killing the monster and saving the day.
- Blossom goes through this in "Not So Awesome Blossom." Her confidence is shot after her strategy against Mojo Jojo's droid army causes collateral damage to the city. Blossom can't do anything right to the point where she runs away from home. Mojo uses this as a bargaining chip against her.
- In one episode of Totally Spies!, Alex quits WOOHP and is replaced by Britney. The former returns to action when the latter and the other spies are captured.
- Regular Show:
Skips: My friends' souls are more important than my secret. You wanna tell them my real name isn't Skips, go ahead.
- In "Prankless", Muscle Man quits pranking after nearly killing Pops. They need him back when a rival park restarts a prank war that Muscle Man succeeded in winning in the past.
- In "Skips Strikes", Skips resigns from his bowling team when Death threatens to reveal Skips' secret to his team if they win. In the end, Skips decides to participate anyway when he learns his teammates will lose their souls if they lose, and before he makes a winning strike he tells Death:
- This happens in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated with Fred Jones in the season 1 finale after he discovers that Mayor Fred Jones Sr. was never his real dad and stole him from Brad Chiles and Judy Reeves so that the original Mystery Incorporated would never go back into Crystal Cove. Fred quits the gang so that he can search for his biological parents, and leaves with the Wham Line.
Fred: Mystery Incorporated is dead.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Equestria Games", after Spike butchers the Cloudsdale anthem, he spends the remainder of the Games sulking in his room pretending to pack for the train ride home. He completes this trope with his Big Damn Heroes moment of melting the cloud iceberg.
- This was in effect for most of Season 2 Iron Man, as Force Works effectively disbands after Tony fakes his death. That stunt was the straw that broke the camel's back for Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Century, and they proceed to leave in disgust, leaving only the Julia Carpenter Spider-Woman and War Machine with Tony. They do come back for the Grand Finale, albeit with Teeth-Clenched Teamwork on both War Machine's and Hawkeye's parts as they are hostile to the other's side after what happened.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- In a season 1 episode, after Aang hides a map to where Katara and Sokka's father (the chieftain of their tribe) is located, he feels guilty and admits the truth. Sokka gets angry and Katara gets disappointed in him, and they leave him behind. But after they hear how Bato (their father's friend) ended up in the same position Aang was in, they decide to find Aang again and apologize. And Aang goes back to his friends after hearing that Zuko is trailing them with a bounty hunter.
- In a season 2 episode, Toph and Katara get into a fight (lack of sleep can do that to you), and Aang tries to settle things down between them. That is, until Toph insults Appa and says that the reason the Fire Nation is following them is because of Appa's shedding fur, and Aang loses his cool with her. Because of this, Toph leaves the group and meets up with Iroh, whose time she spent with convinces her to return to the team just in time when Azula fights Team Avatar.
- Same can be for Zuko, who briefly leaves his uncle Iroh behind at a hot spring in season 1. When he ends up getting captured by Earth Kingdom soldiers, he has to choose between pursuing Aang or rescuing Iroh, and he chooses the latter in a cool Big Damn Heroes moment.
- Larry-Boy often did this a few times in VeggieTales in the House, either because no one appreciates his work (Ichabeezer) or someone takes his identity (Jimmy Gourd). This doesn't last though, as Bob does convince him at the end of those episodes to come back.
- In an early episode of Spongebob Squarepants, Spongebob quickly loses his confidence in his skills as a fry cook when an infamously picky customer claims he left out the pickles on his Krabby Patty. The Krusty Krab falls apart while everyone is trying to get Spongebob back in the game, who has lost his confidence in everything. When Spongebob returns and confronts the customer again, the customer learns his little trick can only work once as Spongebob realizes what happened to the pickles, making the customer flee.
- Steven Universe: Earlier in season 5, after their falling out with Steven over his surrender to Homeworld, its implied Connie and Lion temporarily left the Crystal Gems during their few weeks of estrangement from Steven as Connie didnt show up to train with Pearl or go do gem things with them during that time. Connie and Lion later return to the team after they reconcile with Steven in Kevin Party.
- Some people on message boards do this in an attempt to prove how indispensable they are. You've probably come by more than a few of those "Leaving the fandom, back in five minutes!" types. This is especially prominent in MMORPG message boards whenever a game takes a turn that a player does not like. Of course, many Free-2-Play games subvert this by usually saying "I quit" posts are not allowed and they are free to come back at any time. And then there are people who fake their deaths and return as (often badly disguised) sock puppets to grieve and pile on the "posthumous" praise.
- In the late days of People's Republic of Poland, after the introduction of martial law, many people in the media decided to quit their (well-paid) jobs as way of protest against the regime. Because of the scale, it was an additional hit to the image of the government.