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Who's "we"?

"Sergeant Tyree, I'm ordering you to volunteer again."
Cpt. Brittles, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

A dirty, dangerous, and/or difficult job needs to get done, and nobody wants to do it. The boss is asking volunteers to step forward. No way are you going to get mixed up in a sticky situation like that. Your mama didn't raise no fool. Suddenly you are shoved forward by some of your "friends". The boss smiles. Wait — No! You just got volunteered!

There are lots of different versions of this:

  • As above, but your friends don't even bother pushing, they just say you volunteer.
  • The guy in charge picks people and simply calls you "volunteers."
  • The person who suggested the job in the first place is volunteered.
  • (Usually military) Everyone is lined up, and the leader/commander asks for volunteers to step forward — and promptly everybody except our protagonist steps backwards, making it look like the protagonist stepped forward.
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  • The heroes are faced with the challenge. In unison, everyone turns to look at one person.
  • When one person is out of the room for some reason, the rest have a vote and elect the unlucky absentee to the post.
  • In a duo, one person asks the other to pick a number, and upon hearing their answer immediately declares them the loser.

However it happens, the unwilling volunteer agrees to do it anyways. Maybe because he's just too nice a guy to say no. Maybe he doesn't want to leave people in the lurch. Maybe he really doesn't want to cross the boss—and sometimes, there's a really good reason not to. Or maybe he just doesn't want to be labeled a coward.

Usually played as comedy, although occasionally it's played for drama.

Commonly volunteered in this way: Boxed Crooks, Condemned Contestant, The Bait, and Cincinnatus.


The opposite of Martyr Without a Cause. If it's the Call to Adventure, then the protagonist never got a chance at Refusal of the Call because other people accepted it for him.

Will sometimes result in either a Moment of Awesome or a dying one.

See also Drawing Straws for the "fair" way of picking a "volunteer". Compare Press-Ganged and Conscription.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Almost any anime with an Unwanted Harem is going to have the leading man be "volunteered" for an unwilling date. Ai Yori Aoshi for example has this happen a few times — this is particularly galling as the leading man is secretly engaged to one of the girls — resulting in her having to smile as the other girls trick him into taking them out, making it a use of this trope for both comedic and dramatic purposes at the same time.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
    • Haruhi populates her club with these. It's even Lampshaded that "voluntary arrest" is her term for kidnapping. Yuki, Mikuru, and Kyon all fit the bill.
    • The time travel plots start with the future automatically assuming that Kyon will help. Of course, they're from the future, so they know he will, but he still finds it annoying. Especially the one time it turned out that it was his own future self (albeit from only about a week ahead) who rudely involved him without giving him any instructions at all.
    • During the fight between the SOS Brigade and the Student Council, the Brigade is forced to act like a Literary Club and publish a newsletter. In addition to the brigade members, Haruhi also shanghais Taniguchi, Kunikida, the computer club, and a couple artists from the art and manga clubs to help. Well, and Tsuruya, but she actually genuinely volunteered.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, Kaname volunteers Sōsuke to take out the garbage as a way of getting back at Sōsuke for shadowing her. The fact that no-one else wants to do it helps as well. He's told that it's a tradition for newcomers to handle garbage, after which he doesn't ask about it again and just does it without a word. Much later, he actually incorporates this into his Badass Boast.
    Confused and/or scared Mook: Who are you?
    Sōsuke I take out the garbage.
  • Matsuda is the go-to guy for this sort of thing in Death Note, from making coffee runs to being bait to halving his lifespan with an excellent chance of dying in two weeks. Much to Light's dismay, he's supplanted on that last. As long as he thinks he's being useful, he's a pretty good sport about it all.
  • This is how the Yes! Pretty Cure 5 team got formed; after Nozomi became Cure Dream, she dragged along the others, already deciding that they were to be Pretty Cure - despite the fact that Rin was scared witless of it all and Karen just didn't want any part of it! Nozomi's determined and it pays off!
  • In High School D×D, someone needs to be the partner for Asia in their three-legged race. Kiryuu Aika then tells Issei that he has a hole on his shirt in the armpit region. Seeing as Issei was still in deep thought, he nonchalantly raises his arm, finds that there's no hole and the realization hits him that he gets volunteered to be Asia's partner.
  • In Kokoro Connect, there's a scene in which Fujishima is asking for volunteers to pick up litter. Taichi is about to raise his hand when he and Inaba suddenly switch places, so it looks like she volunteered. Inaba (in Taichi's body) just narrowly avoids decking him before volunteering herself.
  • Bleach: An anime only Running Gag is that Yumichika is the only member of the 11th division command quartet who does any work, which Captain Zaraki views as time-wasting ("play first, work later" is his motto). As a result, Yumichika gets volunteered for things he doesn't want to do on the grounds that he has "too much time on his hands". At one point, even Urahara picks up on this and volunteers him to help members of the fourth and twelfth divisions (two divisions the eleventh division loathes being associated with) investigate arrancar activity in Karakura Town. This results in a Lethal Chef meets Carrying a Cake plotline to solve a ghost's Unfinished Business. Yumichika is not at all happy, especially since he lampshades a giant Plot Hole in the storyline right at the very end of the episode that could have spared him ever getting involved in the first place.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Durning Mahora Festival, an off-shot joke of Negi (disguised as Nagi) about joining a contest gets the attention of the "Make-People-Join-Event" Team, and Negi with Ako are "encouraged" to participate.
  • For being the Only Sane Man in The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, Sorata often have this.
    • In Episode 2, after being fed up with Mashiro's antics, he proposed the entire Sakura Hall to take turns being her Cloudcuckoolander's Minder. Jin and Misaki just assigned that duty back to him like the tradition of this trope.
    • In Episode 9, Sorata was chosen as leader for the Sakura Hall's project come the school festival. Everyone else votes for him as well against his wishes.
  • This is the reason Kimihito in Monster Musume started hosting monster girls. Miia only ended up with him because her coordinator took her to the wrong house, Papi and Mero were likewise dumped into his care and Cerea, Rachnera and Lala forced themselves into his house. Suu is the only exception, since while she just showed up out of the blue, it was Kimihito himself who decided to keep her.
  • Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl: The gardening club is being disbanded due to lack of members, and none of its advertisements have worked. Eventually the president just resorts to grabbing a random passerby (Yurine) and begging her to sign up...and due to The Law of Conservation of Detail, this works. (Later Yurine does the same thing to someone else.)
  • Eyeshield 21 Sena and Karin from Teikoku Alexanders come to mind. Also various people that Hiruma forced to fill the roster. In general Some stay, some leave the American Football game altogether. Sena is former, Karin is the letter.
  • In Assassination Classroom, due to an incident during the Assassination Island Vacation arc, Class E has to infiltrate a hotel. When the only way forward is to unlock a back door past a crowded lounge, the girls are sent through since they would look most natural. When concerns are raised about their vulnerability, Nagisa is Dragged into Drag and sent in as a bodyguard.
  • In I Think Our Son Is Gay, Hiroki Aoyama was nearly named the Class Representative when he first entered the tenth grade because nobody volunteered and he happends to be the first student by alphabetical order. Daigo Shiraishi took up the position by volunteering himself, since he doesn't like people being pushed to do something.
  • In the very beginning of My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, as I Expected, Hirastsuka enlists Hachiman to the Service Club as punishment for his essay, which was him practically bashing youth.
  • Shonan Jun'ai Gumi!: When Makoto's girlfriend Mami becomes pregnant, he doesn't want to marry her, but everyone he meets assumes he does and gives their support (including wedding money). Plus, he's too terrified to admit he doesn't want the responsibility of fatherhood after Eikichi made clear his loathing for deadbeats. It even gets to the point that Eikichi beats up Mami's father, a powerful politician who opposes his daughter marrying a delinquent. When everyone finds out it was a false alarm, Makoto gets quite the beating from his angry friends. He and Mami do decide to stay together anyway, though.
  • Hyakunichikan!!: Shuuto wasn't consulted at all before he was assigned to take care of Chiho, and in fact didn't know she existed until he came home from school one day to find her waiting.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Team Mustang usually volunteer legitimately, since they and Roy are True Companions, but occasionally someone has to be pushed - most notably when Falman is voluntold to be roommates with a suit of Animated Armour inhabited by the soul of a notorious serial killer. Luckily for him, Barry has decided he wants to be the Token Evil Teammate, and he doesn't think Falman would be fun to kill anyway.

    Card Games 
  • The Flavor Text of the Magic: The Gathering card "Goblin Hero" reads: "To be a hero, you don't have to step forward. Everyone else just has to step back."

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix:
    • In Asterix the Gaul, the Roman soldiers decide this by a game of Musical Chairs. This trope is also a running joke in several other albums. Basically, no Roman legionary ever becomes a volunteer by his own choice.
    • Asterix in Corsica features an actual volunteer, very much despised and considered an idiot by his fellow legionaries. Tellingly, one of the grunts mentions that he was offered the choice between crucifixion and serving in Corsica.
      Legionary: You know the army: ask for one thing, you get the other.
    • Those same legionaries were chosen for patrol because the governor told the bugler to sound the call to dinner, and the first ten to get there were now volunteers. Note that they were already at dinner when it rang.
  • Kajko i Kokosz: Clumsy gets volunteered by the brigands every time — either everyone else takes a step back or someone kicks him forward.
  • My Little Pony Generations: In Issue 3, the S'monies need to find out more about the party the ponies are planning. Black Belle forces Violet Shiver to infiltrate it, to her chagrin.
    Black Belle: (Pushing Violet Shiver forward) Thank you for your noble sacrifice.
  • A variation from Superman/Batman #4, where the heroes are facing Toyman:
  • Mortadelo y Filemón: Mortadelo and Filemón have found themselves in this kind of situation several times, more often than not when the mission involves Bacterio's latest invention.
  • In the The Smurfs story "King Smurf", King Smurf announces that he's looking for volunteers to build a wooden wall around the village... and those who don't volunteer will be sent to prison.

    Comic Strips 
  • Beetle Bailey, being military comedy that's gone on for ages, naturally does this a lot of times, usually done by Sarge and aimed at Beetle.
    • In the cartoon Cosmo's Naught: Volunteers have to walk the distance of 50 miles. Beetle Bailey, Zero and Cosmo complain how ill they are until Sarge tell them to shut up and that if anyone of the soldiers need to see the doctor they should go. Everyone except Beetle Bailey, Zero and Cosmo immediately run away leaving the three back as the volunteers.
    • "I need three volunteers: You, you and you."
    • Sarge asks for anyone volunteering to raise his hand — knowing that Beetle's arm is in a cast so he can't put it down.
    • Sarge asks which of the soldiers have had college education, then tells them (Beetle and Plato) to follow him, and leads them to work in the kitchen.
    • Once Sarge simply raises Beetle's hand for him.
  • During one election go-around on Bloom County, Opus gets saddled with the Meadow Party VP post because he's "conveniently" away on a snack run when the vote is held.
  • Naturally, occurs in Dilbert:
  • In one Hägar the Horrible strip. "I have good news and bad news! The good news: I just want volunteers for this mission! The bad news: I need four volunteers." (There are just four guys.)
  • In Popeye one of Wimpy's trademark phrases — that he normally uses after wronging a big strong guy who now has come for revenge — is "You want to fight? All right! Let's You and Him Fight!" Then, you guessed it, Wimpy steps aside and makes way for Popeye, who has to fight the big strong guy.

    Fan Works 
  • After managing to impress his teacher in Big Human on Campus by surviving his attacks, Ranma is made his new bitc... aide. Definitely meant aide.
    Ranma: What? I didn't volunteer for nothin'!
    Richard: It's really more of a conscription thing.
  • In A Brief History of Equestria, this was how Smart Cookie became Chancellor Puddinghead's Secretary: the Senate needed somepony to mitigate Puddinghead's insane policies and reduce the damage, but none of them wanted the position. So they 'nominated' the Obnoxious and Disliked Smart Cookie (and nopony else) and proceeded to run the election over Cookie's vocal objections. According to an eye witness, she didn't take it well.
    • History repeated itself when she was elected Equestria's first Premier, even though she didn't want the job.
  • In The Fairy Godmother, Harry is a victim of the backwards-stepping line variant when Hagrid asks for a volunteer to take a closer look at Buckbeak in third-year Care of Magical Creatures.
    • The same thing happens in Two Shall Be As One, only this time Harry is shoved forward by Draco Malfoy.
  • Fantasy of Utter Ridiculousness: Not wanting to be the one to escort Megas's crew through Gensokyo during their second visit, Patchouli's answer to Reimu telling her to suck it up and deal with it is this trope in Fastball Special form.
  • Appears to be one of Mme. Bustier's favorite tactics in Leave for Mendeleiev. Despite Marinette transferring out of her class at the start of the school year, she fully expects her to comply with her 'request' to tutor her longtime bully Chloé. Marinette is only saved from being strongarmed into it by Ms. Mendeleiev's intervention.
    • Bustier pulls the exact same tactic when Chloé throws a pity party for Adrien, barging into Mendeleiev's classroom and declaring that everyone is invited... and anyone who attends will get extra credit, while looking directly at Marinette.
  • In the Ponies of Olympus series, Rarity's former Old Master Lao Wu agrees to having her enter the Atlas Strongest Tournament to fight Scootaloo and prove that his training techniques are superior to Rainbow Dash's — without asking Rarity's permission first. Rainbow Dash has to talk her into it.
  • Ruby Pair: In "Beefus Megabombus", when Tak's Ship needs an Irken PAK to tap into in order to bypass its damaged weapons systems so it can fight the Carne Bees — and refuses to use Zim, because of his Defective nature — Tenn backs away so that it looks like Skoodge has moved forward to volunteer.
  • In Sometimes fangs cut deeper than blades, Robert Baratheon dies during his rebellion. While giving a speech to commemorate Rorbert and inspire their soldiers, Ned Stark is cut off from speaking when Roose Bolton and Greatjon Umber nominate him as their king is place of the deceased Robert, which everyone wholeheartedly agrees to. Ned Stark's response?
    Ned: Fuck.
  • In The Tainted Grimoire, Luso and Villi would unwittingly be roped in as dance partners for Kanin and Adelle when they get Cheney to teach them how to dance.
  • Trade Us for the World: When Maddie admits that there's no room for Marcy to stay with her family, Sprig jumps in and says she can stay with the Planters, much to Hop Pop's surprise.
  • In The Unchosen One, Trixie agrees to accompany Twilight on a mission (she's acquired a strange kind of magic immunity that will be useful, and also Twilight's developing a crush on her). Luna insists on outfitting her with equipment, including a set of royal armor. Then a guard tells Trixie that she's now counted among them and honorbound to protect Twilight, or bring shame on the entire Royal Guard (including a certain former Captain who happens to be Twilight's older brother). Trixie is... less than happy to be conscripted this way. Twilight seriously entertains the idea of keeping her.
  • When their actions indirectly lead to Loki's Disney Death in What If, Frigga "suggests" that Sif and the Warriors Three volunteer for a decades long mission out of Asgard.
  • Harry's preferred punishment for students who annoy him in Wind Shear is to inform them they just volunteered as his demonstration aide in Defense Against the Dark Arts.

    Films — Animation 
  • Roman sycophant Lucullus walks into it in Asterix Conquers America when he asks Who Would Be Stupid Enough? to throw Getafix off the edge of the world.
    Caesar: [chuckling] I can think of someone who was made for the task... [serious] You, Lucullus, you'll do it.
    Lucullus: B-b-b-buh...
    Caesar: You'll do it. And I won't take "No" for an answer! All I can say is, Thank Heaven the world is flat.
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: The explorers need someone to talk to Princess Kida and try to get her to convince the king to change his mind and let them explore. Mole enthusiastically volunteers, but Commander Rourke chooses Milo, who is not even paying attention. This is justified, as Milo is the group's Atlantis expert, while Mole is dirty and uncouth.
  • The "everyone steps backward" variant happened in Cars when Sheriff asks for volunteers to be McQueen's attorney. Mater, the one left out, gladly accepts.
  • The Elephants in The Jungle Book try the "step backwards" method, but they all end up volunteered. (One was slow on the uptake and almost got uniquely "volunteered", but catches on and gets in line in time)
  • Mulan features the "stepping back" variant when Yao gets "volunteered" to retrieve the arrow shot into the top of the post by Shang — though this one may have had something to do with Shang nocking the arrow as he called Yao's name. When the guy in charge points an arrow in your general direction, it's generally a good idea to try and remove yourself from the field of fire.
  • Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Dwarfs need someone to go upstairs and check for intruders. They all turn to Dopey, who looks over his shoulder before realizing he's the one being volunteered.
  • Strange Magic: Pare is "volunteered" when everyone steps back to avoid volunteering and he's so big that Sunny can't tell that he stepped back. Pare is too nice to break it to Sunny and reluctantly goes along on the dangerous mission.
  • In The Swan Princess, Odette needs all three of her animal friends to help her steal a map from Rothbart's castle. Jean-Bob the frog is a Cowardly Sidekick who doesn't want to, so Odette says "Our team is shy one green web-footed volunteer!" and Speed steps on his foot so he can't get away.
  • The Little Mermaid: Sebastian ends up with the thankless job of keeping tabs on Ariel in the middle of a rant about how he'd make sure she stayed in line if she were his daughter.
    Sebastian: Hm! Teenagers... They think they know everything. You give 'em an inch, they swim all over you.
    Triton: Do you, er, think I - I was too hard on her?
    Sebastian: Definitely not. Why, if Ariel was my daughter, I'd show her who was boss! None of this "flitting to the surface" and other such nonsense. No, sir, I'd keep her under tight control.
    Triton: You're absolutely right, Sebastian!
    Sebastian: Of course.
    Triton: Ariel needs constant supervision.
    Sebastian: Constant.
    Triton: Someone to watch over her— to keep her out of trouble.
    Sebastian: All the time, I'd—
    Triton: And YOU are just the crab to do it.
    (Sebastian gasps in disbelief; cut to him leaving the throne room, muttering)
    Sebastian: How do I get myself into these situations?! I should be writing symphonies! Not tagging along after some headstrong teenager!
    Sebastian: "Sebastian, you watch over her," he said. I'M TOO OLD FOR THIS! A crab my age should be retired! Getting a tan! Playing sea golf! SIPPING A TUNA COLADA! Not babysitting another teenager!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Dirty Dozen is a sterling example of this trope. Major Reisman lampshades it more than once, first by sarcastically remarking, "I'm volunteering," when assigned command of the mission. Later, at a dinner just before the Dozen parachute into France, he reminds the group that they all volunteered... provoking hearty laughs from everyone present.
  • "That's why he's called Dirty Harry."
  • Zero Hour! (1957) has Ted Stryker openly telling the doctor that it's been a decade since he flew a single prop airplane and can't handle a passenger plane. But as he's the only person on the plane with any flying experience, he has to take over when both pilots fall ill.
    Ellen: Ted, what are you doing? You can't fly this plane!
    Ted: That's what I've been trying to tell these people, Ellen. But they seem to have other ideas.
  • In the film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is "volunteered" to approach Buckbeak as his classmates step backwards (unlike in the book, where he actually volunteers). It actually goes fairly well for him regardless.
  • Inverted in The Last Chance Detectives video "Legend Of The Desert Bigfoot"; while contemplating on what to do in case the Bigfoot came by, Ben suggests that one of them stay behind to call for help. Mike then says that it's a great idea, then promptly assigns Spence to the duty of staying behind and calling for help, much to Ben's consternation. Made even funnier that the look that Winnie has on her face after that clearly reads 'Nice try, Ben'.
  • A Laurel and Hardy short has Ollie facing off with a big bruiser and challenging him to a boxing match - that Stanley is going to fight.
  • Mystery Team. Apparently the task of sticking one's hand in a filthy toilet inside a gentleman's club restroom is a job for the Boy Genius.
  • Inverted in Pearl Harbor, when Doolittle explains the Raid won't do much but be a "pin prick." All the preselected volunteers step forward.
  • Rat Race ended with this trope, portrayed as comeuppance.
  • In Reign of Fire, Van Zan does this to the members of Quinn's survivor group so that he has enough troops to siege the Dragon-occupied London.
  • In SpaceCamp, Kevin tries to use this as an excuse when Andie dresses his down as Commander of the Blue Team after a mission simulation ends with them burning up on re-entry.
  • Speed: "Sir, Harry volunteers to examine the device."
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture:
    Dr. McCoy (to Kirk) (outraged): Your revered Admiral Nogura invoked a little-known, seldom-used "reserve activation clause". In simpler language, Captain, they drafted me.
    Kirk (deadpan): They didn't.
    McCoy (even more outraged): This was your idea! This was your idea, wasn't it?!
  • In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Spock volunteers Kirk to escort the Klingon chancellor.
    Spock: I have personally vouched for you in this matter, Captain.
    Kirk: You have personally vouched...? [...] How could you vouch for me? That's...arrogant presumption.
  • Star Trek: Generations:
    Chekhov: You, and you. You just became nurses.
  • Played for drama in Sunshine: Mace blames Capa for the ship's solar panels being damaged (because he cast the deciding vote that sent them off course), and so "volunteers" him to go outside and help the captain fix them.
  • Chief, from an early scene in The Wackiest Ship in the Army: "I need one volunteer." (Beat) "You." (grabs random sailor and orders him to climb the mast)
  • The Wrong Box: In the aftermath of a train wreck, a military man takes charge in the chaos. "All right, I want three volunteers — you, you, and you!"
  • Sabretooth: Jason and Lola were both ordered to become hiking guides for underprivileged kids by their respective mothers due to Jason's computer game addiction and Lola hanging with a bad crowd. Jason complains about it some, while Lola doesn't seem to mind until the tiger shows up.
  • 12 Monkeys opens with prisoner James Cole being selected for Volunteer Duty, which involves him going up to the virus-infected surface in a Hazmat Suit to gather samples. While ostensibly the prisoners are offered a reduction in sentence, those 'volunteered' either go insane or simply disappear — Cole finds out why when he's asked to join a special program.
    Scientist: For a man in your position, an opportunity not to volunteer would be a mistake...
    Scientist 2: Definitely a mistake...
  • In The Towering Inferno, as the fire rages out of control, Chief O'Halloran is told the only way to stop it is to blow the water tanks on top of the building. There's only two people in the department who have the training to do it and the other one just taken to the hospital. When O'Halloran asks his commanders how he gets down, their stares have him groaning. Lampshaded when he tells Bigelow the plan.
    Bigelow: How are they getting the explosives up?
    O'Halloran: Oh, they'll find some dumb son of a bitch to do it.
  • A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die!: After he collects his 'volunteers' off the gallows, Col. Pembroke opens Sgt. Brent's tunic and yanks the jewelled cross off his neck. He shows the cross to Maj. Ballard, who recognises it as the cross that Pembroke's wife always wore, and therefore that Brent stole it. Ballard then tells Pembroke "Sergeant Brent also volunteers for the mission".

  • In Animorphs this is how Jake became leader of the team. Tobias decided he was, and everyone else agreed.
  • A Running Gag in the Aunt Dimity series in reference to Finch's organizer Peggy Taxman (formerly Kitchen), as well as her Colorado counterpart Maggie Flaxman; fall afoul of her and you're likely to find yourself volunteered for one of the dirty or boring jobs at the next local festival. Try to get out of one assignment (as Bill did in Aunt Dimity Digs In), and her alternative "suggestion" won't be much better.
  • Simon of Cyrene in The Bible, making this Older Than Feudalism.
  • In "The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank", Erma Bombeck writes about how she went to the ladies' room during a Girl Scout leaders meeting. When she got back, she found she'd been volunteered to be in charge of the cookie sale. It didn't turn out well...
  • Used unusually in The Book Thief. The commander asked for one man who would stay out of battle that day. Nobody can volunteer without being branded a coward, but if you Got Volunteered... (and Hans Hubermann does).
  • In Bored of the Rings (a parody of The Lord of the Rings), the Fellowship is formed by everyone nominating someone else to accompany the ring. About half of these are revenge for being nominated; e.g., Legolam names Gimlet, so Gimlet drags Legolam along.
  • In For the Emperor, after a riot gone bad, some soldiers under Cain's command are sentenced to death by "volunteering on the next suicide mission". Cain is satisfied with this judgment (he had maneuvered to avoid an execution that would be disastrous for morale) until he's himself required on a very dangerous mission, meaning he has to take them along instead of more reliable soldiers.
  • In The Dinosaur Lords, when Karyl says that he won't train anyone who's not a volunteer, he's quickly presented with forty people. It takes only few minutes for him to find out that all but three of them have been volunteered by their lords. Being The Social Expert, he quickly manages to turn them into true volunteers.
  • Discworld:
    • Nobby Nobbs has such an intense fear of this, he once jumped out of a second story window, when the nobles attempted to "volunteer" him to be the ruler of Ankh-Morpork. This is reinforced by the fact that the only 'logical' outcome he sees is that Commander Vimes will, in Nobby's words, "go spare" and behead him for becoming a king (Vimes's ancestor being a notorious regicide). Even being told that he could have Vimes executed did not reassure Nobby—for good reason ("He'd go spare!").
    • This has happened so often to Rincewind that in The Last Hero he volunteers ("I do not wish to volunteer", followed shortly after by "I'm volunteering. I just don't wish to.") just to get it over with.
      • It's also how Rincewind ends up getting made Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography in The Science of Discworld. The wizards want someone to investigate Roundworld, and have the Dean and the university porters to drag Rincewind up in front of Ridicully, who tells him he's been made Professor. And no, he can't refuse, or resign. He tries running away, but the porters prevent that. From then on, any assignment involving Roundworld has Rincewind automatically chosen because it obviously counts as studying Cruel and Unusual Geography.
    • Inverted in Pyramids when the handmaiden Ptraci refuses to drink poison so she can be interred with the recently deceased king of Djelibeybi. ("It's voluntary, isn't it?" "Well, yes... but she won't do it!")
    • Jingo:
      • Played with when Vimes asks Sergeant Detritus to find volunteers; Vimes is looking for genuine volunteers, but Sergeant Detritus promptly volunteers everyone. ("'sright, sir. They volunteered all right, I saw to that.")
      • Nobby and Colon are volunteered by Leonard of Quirm for the submarine (or rather Going Under the Water Safely Device) mission to Leshp. They try to run away, but Vetinari puts a stop to that.
  • Happens in the novel ''A Ship of the Line''. As his ship was undercrewed, Hornblower had exempted sailors from the merchant convoy he was escorting press-ganged in his crew. When the captains of the convoy protested he said his sailors had misunderstood his orders and that he had sent them to search for volunteers, and that he'd check who was a volunteer and who was pressed... And as soon as the convoy captains return to their ships, he sends the signal "All volunteers".
  • In The Night Mayor, the protagonists get Conscripted to deal with an emergency. Conscription works like this: a government official turns up on your doorstep and informs you that there is a job that needs doing which you are particularly well suited for, and the government requests that you volunteer to do it. Officially, if you choose not to volunteer, you will be required to pay a fine and that will be the end of it; in practice, nobody has ever dared not to volunteer.
  • In Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos, the narrator notes that he never got actually asked if he volunteered.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • In the Novelization of Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan asks the rest of the Jedi Council who will lead the hunt for General Grievous. Everyone else looks straight at him.
  • Subverted in The War Against the Chtorr series. Duke Anderson tells the protagonist Jim McCarthy he does have the option of refusing to go on a dangerous mission, but then he'll be on the first chopper out of here because a soldier who won't take risks is useless to him. It's also made clear there are legal precedents involving the use of soldiers on dangerous missions; if a soldier isn't being properly supported, for instance, he can refuse to obey any further orders.
  • In The Spirit Thief, Miranda volunteers Eli and his entourage to help solve the crisis in Mellinor because they're the ones who inadvertently caused it in the first place.
  • In River of Bones, Dennis Silva volunteers himself, as well as "Gunny" Horne and Lawrence, for what may very well be a suicide mission deep in enemy territory. Later, Horne complains about this trope, to which Silva replies that he did ask Horne to join him for the meeting, and Horne has been a marine long enough to know that if you're not present at a meeting, you should expect this trope to be applied to you. He also added that this mission is extremely critical, so where else would Horne and Lawrence rather be? The two are forced to grudgingly accept that he's right, although Silva's Love Interest Pam Cross is still unhappy with him.
  • In Space Glass, Nicora never actually gets the drive to pursue Marvelous, instead having to go along with the others because she's the pilot.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Band of Brothers sort of subverts this. Maj. Winters asks for volunteers to check out a suspicious house in the forest; although he does "volunteer" two guys, Blithe does volunteer by his own volition, which is even more awesome as he had a nervous breakdown a few scenes before.
    • One could also interpret Blithe's state of mind at that point to be in permanent Got Volunteered. He does not want to be in the war but he does not have a choice. Winters might have asked for volunteers but The War has already volunteered Blithe for the patrol.
    • This is also true of a lot of the men in Easy Company, revealed in the book: they knew the war was coming, they knew they couldn't dodge the draft, and they volunteered for the paratroopers because they were the elite and got paid extra. So essentially, they knew they were about to get volunteered for the war one way or the other, and then volunteered because they wanted to be the best of the best (and be surrounded by compatriots who are the best of the best) to increase their chances of survival. And get some extra cash in the process.
  • On the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Halloween", principal Snyder "volunteers" students to escort trick-or-treaters.
    Xander: Note his interesting take on the word "volunteer".
  • El Chapulín Colorado has an episode where the titular hero is helping two astronauts in a mission to Mars, and at one point they head to their spaceship to escape a Martian who's chasing them. When they decide that someone has to go out and fight off the Martian, the two astronauts step back and send the very reluctant Chapulín to do it.
  • Copper has a dark version of this. After the New York Draft Riots, the Union Army has to once again rely on recruiting volunteers and there are very few of those left in New York City. Desperate, they subcontract the recruiting to civilians and look the other way when the 'volunteer' does so against his will. Once the victim signs the recruitment papers, any protestations that he was kidnapped fall on deaf ears. Corcoran finds the practice deplorable and when he catches the mastermind of the scheme, he shows Cruel Mercy by 'volunteering' the man for the army at gunpoint.
  • Danger: UXB begins with the newly-commissioned protagonist being assigned to a bomb disposal unit, much to his shock. There's a cold pragmatism involved given the High Turnover Rate of such a job; an Ensign Newbie promoted up from the ranks is more expendable than a Sandhurst-educated officer who might feel it's his duty to volunteer.
  • On an episode of Diff'rent Strokes, Arnold gets a letter saying he's been drafted (he's around 10-12 at the time). He later has a dream where he's in the army and the commanding general (Dad) asks for a volunteer for a suicide mission. The other soldiers do the "everyone step backward" routine.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Impossible Astronaut", the Doctor asks Rory if he wouldn't mind checking out some creepy tunnels with River Song. When Rory says "yeah, kinda," the Doctor replies, "Then I appreciate it all the more." Rory just shrugs and climbs down into the hatch.
    • In "Death in Heaven", Kate explains to the Doctor that in the event of worldwide invasion, international law dictates that a president be appointed to command all of Earth's forces. There was only one candidate.
      The Doctor: Oh for crying out loud, that's your answer to everything, isn't it? Elect an idiot!
      Kate: If you say so, Mister President.
  • On Drop the Dead Donkey, in the season 2 episode "Baseball", Gus has to volunteer staff members, including Dave, Damien and George to play in a corporate game of baseball. Alex is offended when she isn't volunteered, being a woman.
  • Happened all the time to Oliver on Green Acres. Typical plot: The town's residents would come up with a Zany Scheme, Oliver would rise to protest and get cut off as everybody thanks him for volunteering to lead the scheme.
  • In Hogan's Heroes, whenever Hogan needed someone to do a dangerous mission, he'd usually single out Lebeau and thank him for volunteering, despite him not saying anything, much to his chagrin.
  • Horatio Hornblower:
    • "The Frogs and the Lobster": The British Army troops lead by Major Edrington are supposed to collaborate with the French royalist troops in France. Captain Pellew thinks they might need someone who would reduce the tension between the two camps, and he suggests his favourite pet of a lieutenant, the up-and-coming Horatio in front of everybody. Now, Horatio really cannot say no to his captain, can he?
    • "Retribution": Acting Captain Buckland needs a volunteer to blow up a Spanish fort. It's a bit of Suicide Mission and not of vital importance, and everybody suspects Buckland tries to pull off The Uriah Gambit. Buckland doesn't name Horatio aloud, but his look says it all and Horatio complies. After he got volunteered, Lieutenants Kennedy and Bush try to offer themselves to help Horatio, and do all they can to abort the mission, but Buckland refuses.
  • In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Charlie gets third-party-volunteered so often that the things he's volunteered for are called "Charlie Work" by the other characters. They call it that to the character's face and he still does it. Charlie reveals in a later episode that he actually doesn't mind the work itself, he just hates being told what to do.
  • Keeping Up Appearances:
    • Hyacinth frequently volunteers Richard to perform disagreeable tasks, such as repairing the church hall electrics.
    • Having willingly volunteered for church cleaning, the Hyacinth accidentally volunteers to clean the church hall toilet, desperate to be picked for something after being rejected for pew polishing, changing flowers, brassware, changing the altar cloth.
      Vicar's wife: This needs quite a bit of work on it. Can I have a volunteer to clean the church hall (Hyacinth puts her hand up) toilet... Mrs Bucket, thank you.
  • In Kim's Convenience, Mrs. Kim volunteers her husband to help their church sell tickets to a Korean singers' concert. A confused and annoyed Mr. Kim asks his wife when he did this, and she cheerfully replies, "When you marry me."
  • Yet another variation: on Lost, Hurley is looking for someone to help him jump-start the Dharma van. Everyone else walks away, except Jin, who doesn't speak English and has no idea what he just "volunteered" to do. Hurley cheerfully acknowledges this fact.
  • In the M*A*S*H episode "Edwina", one nurse was so clumsy that all of the men were afraid to go out with her. The other nurses got together and refused to go out with any of the men unless one of them agreed to go on a date with her. The men drew straws and Hawkeye was chosen to "volunteer" for the job.
    • Multiple Korean characters often have had this happen to them in their backstory, as the South Korean Army often quite literally kidnaps people off the street and says "You're drafted."
  • In Monk, this has happened:
    • The second variant happens in "Mr. Monk and the Captain's Marriage" when Randy is selecting volunteers for a Police Lineup.
    • Another variant happens in "Mr. Monk and the Magician." Monk's claustrophobia prevents him from getting into Torini's Zig-Zag Cabinet to find evidence of drug trafficking. Natalie stands up to volunteer, but Torini immediately picks Monk, who is still sitting down.
  • The Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch "Ypres, 1915" has a platoon of four men approached by their superior sergeant saying that an enemy line can be breached but there are rations only enough for four (including the sergeant). One of the men must take the bullet, so to speak, so it becomes a contest of drawing straws, "dip dip dip, my little ship," rock-paper-scissors, and such. The armless padre finally speaks up and volunteers to sacrifice himself, which has him going into a long-winded speech leading to the Hospital for Overacting sketch.
  • Clifford ended up as the host of Muppets Tonight because he was on the phone when Kermit asked for a volunteer, causing him to miss the cue everyone else used to flee the conference room.
  • Mythbusters Build Team method of choosing a volunteer, Ro-Sham-Bo, generally ends with Tory having two fingers pointed at him.
    • Another method used is for the other two members to say "not it!" before the third even finished explaining the myth.
    • Before blowing up their cement truck, Adam and Jamie wanted to see just how bad the job of removing cement with a jackhammer would be, and volunteered Tory for the task.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide had an episode called "Guide to Volunteering", in which no voluntary volunteering took place, just school-required community service.
  • On Orange Is the New Black, Piper "wins" Healy's vote for the white representative on the WAC board, despite that she didn't enter the election and specifically told Healy that she didn't want the position.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks often finds herself volunteered by Mr. Conklin to do his secretarial, typing or speechwriting work for him; i.e. "Aunt Mattie Boynton", "Public Property on Parade".
  • In one episode of Red Dwarf, Rimmer mentions that Lister once put his name on the waiting list for experimental piles surgery.
    • In another episode, they stumble upon their personnel files. Rimmer's says "There's a saying amongst the officers: if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well. If it's not worth doing, give it to Rimmer".
  • Saturday Night Live: In "The Sinatra Group", an irritable Frank Sinatra heads an angry round-table discussion with Sinead O'Connor, Luther Campbell, Billy Idol, and Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme. When a shouting match with Idol boils up into a fight, Frank yells "Steve — kick his ass!" Steve obediently steps up, and gets curb-stomped.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
    • Sisko, O'Brien, Bashir, and Worf's son Alexander are taking part in the Road to Kal'Hyah, the Klingon bachelor party equivalent. When told about the ritual shedding of blood, Worf asks for volunteers. Collectively, Sisko, O'Brien, and Alexander look to each other and step back, leaving Bashir (who is asleep on his feet and so not paying attention) to go first.
    Worf: I did not expect you to be the first, Doctor.
    Bashir: [looks at others] Neither did I.
    • Bashir's recruitment into Section 31 counts, as Sloan doesn't take "no" for an answer.
    • In between Season 6 and Season 7, Dax's condition went to shit while the USS Destiny was transporting it back to Trill and it needed to be joined immediately, and the only Trill on board was Ezri Tigan, a young Ensign who never wanted a symbiont and was never expecting to be joined. The poor girl's only preparation for the procedure was a fifteen-minute lecture from Destiny's non-Trill CMO, who probably didn't fully understand the procedure because Federation scientists had been aware of joined Trill for less than a decade, and wouldn't have been able to adequately prepare her even if he did fully understand due to the compressed timeframe. After the procedure, what is now Ezri Dax ends up seeking out Sisko because she's completely overwhelmed by the eight lifetimes of memories she just unexpectedly obtained.
    • One episode of Star Trek: Voyager has Tom sound enthusiastic to volunteer for a silly assignment, only to volunteer his best friend Harry for the job. Harry manages to get him back by volunteering Tom for an even more ridiculous and embarrassing assignment later on.
    • In another episode, Tom acquires a slightly used shuttle and volunteers Harry to help him restore it.
    • In yet another episode, Tom needs someone to play Arachnia, Queen of the Spider People in his ''Captain Proton'' holoprogram. Numerous eyes turn to Seven of Nine, but Tom's already decided that Captain Janeway would be a more suitable choice. She is not amused.
    • Tom is also "volunteered" early on to assist The Doctor as a nurse because of his rather minimal medical training. This sort of falls by the wayside for a while because Kes takes on the job (willingly), but ends up becoming a much more major plot thread once Kes leaves the series.
    • Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation has noticed, by the time of "The Emissary", that the cagier the Admiralty gets, the more likely it is that he's going to be drafted to go and do something top-secret and dangerous.
  • In Veronica Mars, Logan volunteers his father to donate money to a soup kitchen. He does so publicly enough and with grand enough reception that his father can't back out without looking like an ass. However, behind closed doors Aaron brutally beats Logan in response.
  • On White Collar, this is how Neal and Jones end up participating in a bachelor's auction.
    Peter: Neal, raise your hand.
    Neal: Do I have to?
    Peter: Yes.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Paranoia encourages PCs to throw their underlings under the bus this way, while pretending that you're doing them a favor ("Suck-R, go disarm that berserk scrubot, you'll probably get a commendation for it"). If the underling seems devious enough to actually pull it off, then you may need to pile on some complications ("oh, but leave your toolkit here, we wouldn't want it to get damaged").
    • And then there are the Mandatory Bonus Duties.

  • 1776 contains the musical number "But, Mr. Adams," where each member of the Committee of Five tries to get out of writing the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson, despite his objections that he has to go home to see his wife, ends up with the quill pen.

    Theme Parks 
  • In Universal Studios' Horror Make-Up Show, one of the hosts will pick someone from the audience to be an "unwilling" participant in the show all on his own, not taking any raised hands.

    Video Games 
  • Capsule Servant ends with Shirou wanting to raise Caren-chan into a good person. His first idea is to take her to Cool Big Sis Taiga, but the narrator explains that Shirou took her in himself... and then casually reveals her to have been registered into the Fujimura family anyway, right within earshot of a confused Taiga.
  • If you pick Morrigan for Combat by Champion against Loghain in Dragon Age: Origins.
    Morrigan: Oh, I shall, shall I? Tis so kind of you to volunteer me.
  • In Dragon Quest XI, Prince Faris of Gallopolis is instructed by his father, the Sultan, to go face the Slayer of the Sands. Afterwards, he begs the hero to aid him, as he actually has no knightly skills. Following this, many NPCs you speak to talk of how Faris "bravely volunteered" to undertake such a mission.
  • In Fallout, one of the pre-made player characters has as his back story that he was simply the only one dumb enough to leave the vault (the other two characters were ones who Jumped at the Call).
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII - the party needs to get to Upper Junon and fortunately there's a high-voltage tower that they might be able to get to the top of, if only somebody is willing to risk taking a chance leaping with "Mr. Dolphin" to make sure that option will be alright.
      Tifa: High voltage tower... I guess this means Cloud'll be all right.
      Aeris: Yeah, better leave it to Cloud!
      Red XIII: We're counting on you, Cloud.
      Cloud: Hey!! Wait a second!
      • Later happens to Cid. With Cloud incapacitated and Tifa choosing to stay by his side, the rest of the team realizes they need a new leader to pick up the slack.
        Barret: Every group's gotta have a leader. And that's me! Or at least I wanna be...but I ain't cut out to be no leader. I never knew that till lately. That's what it is. [there's a Beat as he takes a moment to survey the scene before settling his eyes on one particular person]
        Cid: [who has been asleep for the entire scene] ...ZZZZ...hmph? [wakes up] Wha? What's goin' on?
        Barret: You been chosen to be the new leader.
    • During the D-District Prison sequence in Final Fantasy VIII, one of the team has to stay behind to operate the lift that will take the rest of the team to the ground floor of the prison. Quistis and Selphie, by mutual silent agreement, promptly volunteer a dismayed Zell for the job.
  • In Iggle Pop!, Fizzy learns that he was the one to rescue all the Iggles after Doc made all the arrangements.
    Dr. Iggle: Ahh... There you are, Fizzy! I'm so glad that you've volunteered to help me, the Great Doctor Iggle, in out hour of need!
    Fizzy: I what? Volunteer? But I've never even heard of you...
  • While you were out adventuring in the Kingdom of Loathing, your guild had a meeting, and decided that Gorgolok/Stella/Spaghetti Elemental/Lumpy/Spirit of New Wave/Lopez is your Nemesis, so you Got Volunteered for the single longest spanning quest in the game.
    • In an interesting twist, you do have a chance to refuse the call. It's an optional quest, in that you don't need to complete it to finish the game, so you can completely ignore it without affecting the storyline of the game.
  • In King's Quest (2015) Chapter 1, if you didn't take the bravery path, the Daventry guards will ask for a volunteer to find Achaka. If so, the other knights all take one step back, thrusting the responsibility onto you.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, Rean Schwarzer ends up helping out the Student Council because Instructor Sara "volunteered" him for it. He agrees to Sara's request to get the journals from Towa in the Student Council room, but when he gets there, Towa tells him "thank you for everything," and he's confused, she clarifies about how pleased she is that he agreed to help out the Student Council with their work on his free days. Of course, he agreed to no such thing, but upon seeing how overworked Towa already appears, he can hardly refuse.
  • The story to Magi-Nation kicks off when protagonist Foney BonesTony Jones gets 'volunteered' to go spelunking for a cave treasure, by two guys who tried and failed to foist the task upon one of their younger brothers.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Luigi gets drafted into the adventure by Bowser, who takes sending Mario off for volunteering.
  • Mass Effect:
    • One dialogue option in the opening of Mass Effect 2 is Shepard asking the Illusive man if s/he's volunteering or being volunteered. The Illusive Man tells him/her s/he can walk away, but to check out Freedom's Progress first. Shepard wants to take out the Reaper threat too much and no one else is willing to believe and help him/her, so this is more of a case of The Illusive Man knowing Shepard won't not jump at the chance.
    • In the "Overlord" DLC, Dr. Gavin Archer states his brother David 'volunteered' to take part in Project: Overlord. By the end of the story, it turns out this is, unsurprisingly, a complete stinking lie. David was screaming for them to stop from the minute he was plugged in.
    • In Mass Effect 3, Shepard gets volunteered by Anderson at the beginning to seek help from the Council, promptly reinstating their commission and then ordering them to after Shepard points out they technically don't answer to him anymore. After Shepard convinces the various planetary leaders to attend a peace summit, Hackett makes Shepard humanity's representative, despite their protests they're just a soldier and not a diplomat.
  • Metro Exodus: When deciding who will attack the Cruiser:
    Duke: Let me do it, Colonel, Sir!
    Miller: I will be assigning the volunteers around here! Artyom will do it!
  • A lot of the Soviet soldiers sent to 1 Million B.C. in the game Original War are implied to be this. Maybe all: the fact that it is a one-way trip only makes this very likely.
  • Persona 5 Strikers:
    • When Ann brings up that she managed to get a spot as part of the audience for Alice's next show and is only able to bring one person with her, the rest of the Phantom Thieves turn their heads towards Joker.
      Joker: (Inner monologue) I think I was just volunteered...
    • Happens again when discussing how to get around a wall at Alice's Jail, they decide the best plan would be for someone to act as decoy so Futaba would have enough time to hack it. When questioning who should be the decoy, they all wordlessly turn their heads towards Joker.
      Joker: (Inner monologue) I think I was just volunteered again...
  • Portal 2:
    • In companion material, protagonist Chell originally wasn't even intended to be a test subject due to her psychological profile indicating near-pathological tenacity, but a paranoid-schizophrenic researcher who survived GLaDOS' purge altered her records to get her into the testing program. The rest is history.
    • Wheatley's done this too. In the final battle, he boasts that Chell isn't the first test subject he broke out of Cryo-Sleep and sent off to get a portal gun. Just the first to survive. There's a chance he's lying given the circumstances, though.
  • In Quest for Glory I, none of the fairies want to give the hero any fairy dust, so they make a fairy named Mikey do it.
  • In the Ancient Arabia chapter of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, the Cooper Gang, after spying a suspicious Big Door that's heavily guarded by Mooks in the first mission of the chapter, make plans to crack it open in the final mission. During the Chalk Talk briefing for the mission, Bentley pulls up a picture of a Belly Dancer outfit he made, while saying that step one of the plan is Carmelita putting it on and doing a belly dance to distract the guards while the rest of the gang opens the door. Carmelita's reaction to hearing this shows that Bentley clearly didn't fly this idea past her when he made it, something he confirms right afterward.
    Bentley: However, since we don't want to announce our "presence," we need a diversion for the guards. So I have taken the liberty for fashioning an outfit for Carmelita, who will use it to lure the guards away from their post by performing a belly dance.
    Carmelita: What?
    Sly: Possibly your best plan ever, Bentley.
    Bentley: I'm sorry I didn't ask, Carmelita. But you're the only one who can pull this off!
  • In Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic and his friends arrive in the center of Eggman's pyramid base, but they need a key to enter inside. Sonic suggests that Knuckles should find it since he's "the world's greatest treasure hunter", much to his chagrin.
  • In Them's Fightin' Herds, Pom the sheep was the only Sheepkin brave enough to suggest that the Meadow enter a representative for the battle to be Key Keeper, so the rest of her kind declared her "the bravest of all" and made her become a Key Seeker.
  • During a mission briefing in Wing Commander, Spirit volunteers herself and Maverick for a mission.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown:
    • The Volunteer is a psionic trooper you pick to lead a very crucial and dangerous mission aboard the alien Temple Ship. Despite the title, you have to choose a soldier yourself from the ones you have. This implies that every single one of your psi-enabled soldiers volunteered for the duty, so it's up to you, the commander, to break the deadlock and make the final decision.
    • In the Enemy Within expansion, the soldiers you nominate to undergo the gene therapy in order to become Super Soldiers, and those who are cybernetically augmented in order to pilot the MEC Troopers, are also referred to as "volunteers".

  • This happens a lot to Avimo in Aquapunk. Too many times to count, almost.
  • Robin in Books Don't Work Here gets "volunteered" in the first page and has yet to be given the chance to back out.
  • Susan and Nanase from El Goonish Shive (especially Susan) during their trip to Paris to kill an aberration.
    • In one of the greatest What the Hell, Hero? moments in history, they got two teenagers to kill someone when it would be easier and faster for them to go to the authorities, more reliable and wouldn't have put two girls in the first year of high school in mortal danger. To summarize how much of a jackass the Immortals were being, see here
  • Fen Quest: It's mentioned early in the Mausoleum campaign that if there aren't enough volunteers for operations to clear an anomaly, lots will be drawn... and only actual volunteers are eligible for death benefits.
  • Pato, from M9 Girls!, gets shoved to the front of the line for radiation treatment, despite being the most skeptical about it.
  • In Questionable Content, this seems to work surprisingly well for Dora as a way to hire new employees, since both Penelope and Emily were actually frequent customers who pretty much got drafted. Both went along with this, and Dora did it to Penelope again by making her assistant manager without inquiring first as to whether she wanted the position (she did take it).
  • In Red String, Miharu's cousin Karen volunteers Miharu to help at the family restaurant, causing Miharu to miss a date.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • In this strip, company lawyer Massey Reynstein demonstrates a knowledge of how to tackle the financial end of a mission, and is promptly volunteered to take care of it since everyone else in the company prefers a more brute-force approach.
    • At another point, the Toughs as a whole get rather unwillingly saddled with the mission to hunt down Breya for Xinchub.
    • Really, at any time there's dangerous bits of a mission going on, the entire crew is playing a game of "Don't Volunteer", which is a surprisingly hard game to play since it's very much easy to do it by accident. Trying to brag is a prime way to get volunteered.
      Tailor: Captain, I can save him. [...] Surgery, obviously, but I have to operate quickly.
      Tagon: Can you operate outside?
      Tailor: Well, yes, but—
      Tagon: SHODAN! Throw Tailor and a field kit out the sally port!
      Tailor: I mean no. I should have told you no. Outside is where the monsters are. Is it too late to say no because I meant no.
  • When Spoorflix ask Vexxarr why he thinks Spoorflix's people didn't expect him to succeed, he responds with "Let's say I know a thing or two about being volunteered for one-way missions."
  • In Wapsi Square, Bud got volunteered to recover an artifact from Ireland.

    Web Original 
  • Done several times in The Series, usually with perennial Butt Monkeys Luakel or Michael as the "volunteer".
  • Baumgartner Restoration: Julian conscripted his younger brother into helping him build a heated suction table.
    My brother is also trying to convince me that he deserves a very big paycheck for this labor and I'm trying to convince him that he loves me enough that he did it out of the kindness of his heart. That debate is still open. We are working on it and I'll get back to you guys when we do resolve it.
  • In the opening episode of Dragon Ball Z Abridged's second season, fourth wall destroying Humanoid Abomination Mr. Popo abruptly shows up to talk to the heroes and announce that he knows the location of a spaceship that will enable them begin a journey to bring their friends Back from the Dead, and will bring one of them to the ship and show them how to work it. Since he's, well, Mr. Popo, nobody is volunteering to go with him. Bulma says they should vote on who goes to be fair, and the instant she finishes saying that everyone immediately votes for Bulma. She is not pleased by this turn of events.
    • Also happens in the Bardock: Father Of Goku special, when Bardock charges Frieza and declares that he and the Mook army he's fighting are done taking orders from the tyrant.
    Mook: Seriously, we're not with him!
  • Zack is only involved with Tom's show. because the camera equipment belongs to his father and Zack's dad made Tom let him tag along, and Tom put him to work.
  • Hazbin Hotel features Alastor "volunteering" Husk to man the front desk at the Hazbin Hotel. Alastor summons Husk using his Ominous Visual Glitch ability (out of the middle of some sort of card game, that Husk had been winning), and then tells the resentful Husk that he would be perfect for the job. Husk accepts only after being plied with cheap booze.
  • In Thalia's Musings, this happens to Apollo when he tries to get Thalia out of watching eternal adolescent Eros for the day. (She owed Hephaestus a favor.) Hephaestus thinks Apollo is volunteering to help. Apollo is too nice to refuse.
  • Critical Role:
    • Travis Willingham was volunteered to go through a haunted house as one of the stretch goals for the Legend of Vox Machina animated series.
    • Starting with the second episode of Exandria Unlimited, Aabria Iyengar strongarms Matthew Mercer into increasingly hilarious situations for his 'Cozy Matt' post-recording segments. For the wrap-up, his wife Marisha Ray seems like she's going to go soft on him...before telling him he's Going Commando.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Jimmy needs to make a Fantastic Voyage into one of his friends to retrieve an antidote that will cure a virus that is making him and his classmates sick. Sheen raises his hand while saying, "I volunteer...Carl to be the person we go inside."
  • In one episode of The Adventures Of Super Mario Bros. 3, King Koopa has already decided which Koopalings will take part in his latest scheme, and orders them to step forward. What happens is that the rest of the Koopalings step back, while the 'volunteers' remain perfectly still.
  • American Dad! has an episode where Stan decides to revive the high school wrestling program he was part of in school (it was shut down after it turned out that the coach was molesting his wrestlers. He's currently the baseball coach) and when none of the students volunteers, forcibly recruits Steve and his friends. While Steve and Snot predictably underperforms (at one point, Steve loses to a wrestler with no legs) Barry turns out to be a real wrestling prodigy. This comes back to bite Stan in the ass, as Barry starts to close in on his school record of 20 wins in a row, with Stan trying to get Barry to lose becoming the focus of the episode.
  • This is how Robert Freeman ended up as one of the freedom fighters in the '60s in The Boondocks.
  • Casper's Scare School uses the "everyone else steps back" variant in the episode Monster Movie. When Casper needs a volunteer to do the behind the scenes work for his movie (and thus can't get a role), everyone but Quasi (who is busy reading a dictionary) steps back.
  • It's practically a Running Gag in Daria that whatever crazy extracurricular activity is going on at Lawndale High, Daria and Jane will inevitably get roped into participating despite clearly not wanting to go, usually either being coerced by Ms. Li, or Helen will try to convince Daria to participate, either by convincing her it'll look good on her college applications, or she'll just flat out bribe her.
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: In "Too Many Kooks", Dick Dastardly is tired of Klunk's failed plans to capture Yankee Doodle Pigeon and "volunteers" Zilly to come up with their next plan. When Zilly's plan crashes and burns, Muttley is volunteered for the next idea.
  • Doc McStuffins:
    • This happens to Stuffy in "Dragon's Best Friend" when toy pet of some sort named Squibbles takes a shine to him. Stuffy doesn't really like him at first because he finds him annoying because he keeps tailing after him and doing stuff like jumping on him and licking him. But when Squibbles is scared of getting a checkup from Doc, Stuffy is volunteered to accompany him to calm him down because he's the only one that can and then later is volunteered to keep him busy while Doc heads out to put up signs to try to find his owner.
    • Stuffy is also "volunteered" to check things out when the group briefly catches a glimpse of Tigger after first arriving in the Hundred Acre Wood in "Into the Hundred Acre Wood."
  • In the Duck Dodgers episode "The Spy Who Didn't Love Me", Dodgers gets teleported onto a planet and right in front of a group of resistance just as they were asking for a volunteer for a dangerous mission.
    Dodgers: Why is everyone cheering?
    Yoshimi: You just volunteered for a suicide mission.
    Dodgers: ...Oh.
  • On Ed, Edd n Eddy, the Eds need to dig something up from underneath the Kanker's trailer. Edd and Eddy take one look at how disgusting it is before deciding to make Ed dig.
  • The "everyone steps back" version happens to Migs in the Elena of Avalor episode "Realm of the Jaquins".
  • The following exchange in the Family Guy episode "Joe's Revenge":
    Peter: Quagmire and I'll help you bring this guy to justice!
    Quagmire: Peter, what'd I say about you volunteering me for shit?
  • In the episode "When Aliens Attack" in Futurama, aliens invade Earth, so Bender and all other robots have their patriotism chip activated so that he will be forced to join the army and carry out any order that was given to him.
    [Zapp Brannigan presses a button on a remote and activates Bender's patriotism chip]
    • The episode "Where the Buggalo Roam" has this exchange when Amy's parents' Buggalo get stolen, and Kiff volunteers to go look for them:
      Farnsworth: It sounds dangerous. Someone could get killed. Fry, Leela, Bender, I want you to go with him.
      Fry: Aw, man!
    • And later when Amy is kidnapped by Martians and held for ransom:
      Farnsworth:This mission is incredibly dangerous. Someone's sure to be killed. Fry, Leela, Bender—
      Bender: Damn you, old man!
  • The Hair Bear Bunch debut episode "Keep Your Keeper" has zookeeper Peevly taking a six-month vacation, and his replacement is a bruiser named Grunch.
    Grunch: I need three volunteers for the clean-up duty. (Points to Bubi and Square) You, you, (to Hair) and especially you!
  • The "everyone steps backward" variant was used in a Heckle and Jeckle cartoon, featuring the two birds as Canadian mounties.
  • The "stepping back" variant was used in an episode of Histeria!, with Loud as the "volunteer".
  • On The Hive, when Dr. Beetle comes to school for a medical checkup, he asks who wants to go first. Everyone is scared stiff and Buzzbee is called on when he falls over backward out of fright, his movement being mistaken for enthusiasm.
  • In an episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, after Tohru is picked as The Chosen One, the monks state that a great warrior will come forward to protect him until he is awakened. Jade and Uncle push Jackie forward.
  • A Laff-A-Lympics episode has the Yogis do the "everyone steps backwards" when Yogi Bear calls for volunteers for the damming the Zuider Zee event, and only Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy are left standing.
  • In "The Tiglet and Pigger Switcher Roo" from My Friends Tigger & Pooh, Roo's magic trick causes Piglet and Tigger to switch personalities. Piglet was only involved in the magic trick described just above in the first place because when Roo asked for volunteers from the audience, Tigger volunteered himself first and then suggested Piglet, despite Piglet not actually wanting to have anything to do with it.
  • The other ponies do this to Minty in A Charming Birthday.
  • "Stand By Me" from My Little Pony Tales seems to have variant 4 in the classroom trial when a defending attorney is needed for Teddy and everyone except Sweetheart steps backwards. Subverted when she then steps forward and says she'd be happy to do it.
  • The "everyone steps backward" variant also happened in the cartoon Northwest Hounded Police where every member of the mounted police stand back, except for Sgt. McPoodle, alias Droopy, who then has to go capture the villain.
  • Regular Show, "The Last Laserdisc Player": In their pre-fight speech, the Guardians of Obsolete Formats essentially do this by declaring that Mordecai, Rigby, Muscle Man and High-Five Ghost would rather die than give up the last laserdisc without even asking for their input.
  • In the Ren & Stimpy episode "Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen", the Yaksmen chief gives an enthusiastic Rousing Speech in order to get volunteers for their latest dangerous mission. Stimpy is filled with such patriotic fervornote  that he volunteers not only himself, but also Ren, who wanted no part of it.
  • In an episode of Rocket Power, Tito starts spending more time with the kids, and while they have fun at first, the gang start to get annoyed with Tito hanging around them all the time. While privately discussing what they should do, Otto suggests that one of them should talk to Tito and tell him the truth about how they feel. Afterwards, Reggie, Twister, and Sam all thank Otto for "volunteering" and leave.
  • The New Scooby-Doo Movies:
    • Happens in an episode featuring The Harlem Globetrotters. Whenever an unpleasant task needs to be done, Meadowlark Lemon would trick bald Curly Neal into making an implicating gesture, such as asking whether he would like to go ("Who, me?"), or asking whether Curly had grown hair (Curly raises hand to feel head).
      Meadowlark: You're a natural-born hero.
      Curly: I'm a natural-born sucker!
    • Another episode, "Guess Who's Knott Coming to Dinner", has detective Homer Pipsqueak (Don Knotts) asking for volunteers from the gang to lure two ghosts to an anticipated capture. Nobody volunteers:
      Pipsqueak: Aw, come on, squad! Let's see some hands. [Scooby reluctantly raises his paw]
      Shaggy: Okay, Scoob. Like, ya gotta be a hero. [Shaggy raises his hand]
  • In The Simpsons episode "New Kids on the Blecch", *NSYNC shipped JC off to the Navy without his knowledge.
  • South Park:
    • When the kids are desperately trying to find a TV in town they can watch, Cartman tries to get a bar to let them stay with "Butters will give handjobs in the corner for a dollar!" Earlier in the same episode, Butters was volunteered to go to the store for tampons and risk missing the trailer, the excuse being a game called "if your name is Butters you have to go."
      Kyle: Dude, thank god for stupid people.
    • In another episode, Cartman volunteers Butters as a sacrifice to NAMBLA so the other boys can escape by telling him to "take one for them team" (this sort of thing happens to Butters on a fairly regular basis).
      Butters: You expect me to let those horny old men have their way with my fragile person?! Just what team is this anyway?!
      Cartman: Damnit Butters, there's not much time!
      Butters: Oh alright then.
    • In "Die Hippie Die", Randy and the mayor need to explain the problem of the week to the huge crowd outside city hall. The mayor lets him go first... then shuts the door, letting Randy face the crowd alone.
  • Star Wars Rebels: In "Wings of the Master", Kanan volunteers Hera to go get a new ship the rebels need, on the grounds that she's the best pilot.
  • Thomas & Friends: In the episode "The Deputation", the engines propose that Percy be the one to tell The Fat Controller not to send Donald and Douglas away. He was nervous about it at first, but goes through it, and thankfully, The Fat Controller decides that the twins will be a part of his railway.
  • Saw the "step backwards" method used and played with in one Popeye cartoon. And used in one Tom and Jerry, where Spike is a kind of drill sergeant for poor Tom.
  • In Total Drama World Tour, Team Victory does this to DJ for a very unpleasant pinball challenge.
    • Later, Courtney, Heather, and Sierra do this to Gwen, and Owen and Noah do this to Tyler to have them strip down guards.
    • Gwen and Courtney then do this Heather for the torture rack challenge.
    • After being put in a full-body cast, Blainely is put on Heather's team against her will (she can no longer talk and nobody else wanted to support Heather) and is forced to do a challenge where she surfs down an erupting volcano. Luckily for her, Owen helps her out... by using her as the surfboard.
  • When Time Squad met Napoléon Bonaparte, he tried to have them executed for humiliating him (the team had accidentally scared off his army when they arrived, and it didn't help when Tuddrussel thought he was a little kid). When Napoleon asks who wants to go first, Tuddrussel says that it's up to him to "step up"... and promptly kicks Larry into stepping forward.
    Larry: Ugh, whatever! [puts his head in the guillotine]

    Real Life 
  • Flemish-Dutch has an expression for this concept: Chinese Volunteer. The expression dates back to the Korean War, where Chinese citizens were forced to fight for the North-Korean side, while still being referred to as volunteers.
  • British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars used to supplement its crews, consisting primarily of volunteers and pressed men, also by the Quota System, consisting of "volunteers" provided by counties. This often resulted in Trading Bars for Stripes deals.
  • "Being volun-told" is common in the US military, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Canadians in civilian life.
  • The US military has a number of sayings for this trope:
    • "Never be first, never be last, and never, ever volunteer for anything."
    • "God hates volunteers."
    • "What does 'NAVY' stand for in the US? Never Again Volunteer Yourself."
  • The Canadian Armed Forces loves this one:
    • One example is to be "voluntold" to do something. Sometimes you're "lucky" and you at least get credit and thanks for volunteering (even though it was mandatory), and sometimes they don't even try and hide it; your sergeant will flat-out tell you he's voluntold you for a task.
    • "Who likes ice cream?" is used to trick new guys into volunteering. Need someone to go shovel snow or be honor guard? Ask the unit who likes ice cream and see which private-basic or ordinary seaman sticks his hand up. There's also "who wants to learn to ride an ATV" or "anyone interested in skydiving", with the real kick to the loins being that there is a small chance of these offers being genuine and riding an ATV is an awesome course that just hurts to miss.
    • Being voluntold is often used to punish "Chit Bags", soldiers who try and get out of work by constantly going to the M.I.R. Once a man or woman is branded as a Chit Bag, he or she will pretty much be voluntold to do every single crappy task there is.
    • On the flip side, being voluntold is often used as a means of rewarding better troops. A good soldier will often be voluntold for better tasks and is likely to be rewarded for doing them with a day off or by being overlooked when crappier tasks pop up.
    • Sometimes this is inverted as well. Need a group to do something? Say you need volunteers and whoever is brave enough to take the bullet and stick their hands up doesn't have to do it.
  • The Boy Scouts of America have Got Volunteered jokes in the same vein, with the most popular being that one was "voluntold" to do something.
    • Bonus points for Scout Staff. They will regularly perform an "Enthusiasm Check", and mention "AND THE BEST PART IS, I DON'T GET PAID!"
  • "Mandatory Fun", an ostensibly voluntary morale-boosting event (an athletic competition, military ball, or other non-duty social event) that everyone is required to attend (whether officially required or merely very heavily encouraged to attend). It hasn't been unheard of for attendance to be optional, but for all non-attendees to be required to perform some particularly unpleasant or monotonous duty as an alternative. Bonus points if the attendees have to pay out of pocket to attend said event.
    • Schools have Mandatory Fun as well. For example, a pep rally that's "optional", but if you don't want to go, you have to sit in the library and can't leave school early. If you have to stay on the school premises anyway, you might as well go to the pep rally (unless you really do get more enjoyment out of curling up with a good book).
  • In the Soviet Union, there was a saying, "Collectivization is a voluntary affair" (original full version: "collectivization is a voluntary affair, choose to opt in or get shot"), which was in essence used as a trope name back before anyone had ever heard of tropes. In fact, so many assignments that were de jure voluntary were de facto obligatory, to the point of inspiring tongue-in-cheek oxymoronic terms like "voluntary obligation".
  • In the Cadet Corps, a call for volunteers means everyone has to raise their hands. The "volunteers" are consequently picked at random (that or they're the last ones to raise their hands).
  • George Washington wrote letters to his wife talking about how he didn't want to lead the Continental Army and how he felt completely inadequate to the task. This was a justified trope back then because no one would pick the person that volunteered so he would show up at meetings in full uniform as a way of suggesting it.
  • Twins Henrik and Joel Lundqvist played ice hockey together as kids. One day, Joel volunteered his brother to play goalie in a pickup game. Henrik is now one of the best goaltenders in the game.
  • This happened to Russian now-writer-then-journalist Vera Kamsha. She made friends with an already famous fantasy writer Nick Perumov, and he kept pushing her to writing fantasy herself. She wrote a book intended as a parody containing all of the most popular fantasy tropes, just so he would see she's not a writer, and sent it to him. Cue phone call from a publisher asking when the sequel would be ready - Perumov sent her book to the publisher and said there would be a sequel. Of course she felt the obligation to write the book and ended up, if many critics are to be believed, as Russian George R. R. Martin. (oh, and the first book, compared to the later ones, was truly horrible... but still better then most of the market. That's talent for you)
  • The term used in some circles is the "Designated Volunteer."
  • So called "Welfare for Work" policies essentially force a person to 'volunteer' for jobs that the groups involved couldn't afford someone to pay. If the 'volunteer' is lucky, they might get a small bonus on their welfare payment. The tasks involved are often You, Get Me Coffee sort of stuff.
  • The Spanish-language pun word dedocracia (a play on democracia "democracy" and dedo "finger") often is used in this sense. You're the volunteer because everybody pointed at you!
  • In certain countries, people were "resigned," as in they got volunteered to quit their jobs. In one case in Fascist Italy, a minister learned from radio broadcast that he had just resigned from his job.
  • A British radar specialist during WWII was assigned to a commando mission to steal parts from a German radar installation. The mission was top secret, so he wasn't told why he'd been reassigned. When the man briefing him started with, "Now this mission you have volunteered for..." the reply was a surprised, "I have?"
  • In the US Army, a piece of wisdom passed on to newly promoted Sergeants is to never ask for volunteers for a difficult or dangerous task. Not only is it an abdication of responsibility, but anyone dumb enough to do so is probably too stupid to carry it out properly. Pick the man you know is best suited for the job, and be sure to reward him later.
  • In 1292, when Rome and the other papal states were under the direct rule of the Pope, the established election process for the position was drawn out by two rival factions of Cardinals from the usual two weeks to two entire years, leaving the papal states leaderless and increasingly issue-ridden. A hermit monk eventually wrote a letter to be delivered to the Conclave, which more or less stated that either the Cardinals got their act together and elected a new Pope, or their eternal salvation would be forfeit. The hermit wasn't campaigning for the position, he just wanted the Cardinals to do their job - which they did, by electing him to be Pope Celestine V.
  • Gene Simmons of Kiss has said this is how he got his fire-breathing gimmick. Early in their career, their manager, Bill Aucoin, brought a magician in to demonstrate it, then said one of them would do it in their live shows. The other guys all said no, so Gene got it and it became one of the highlights of their concerts, even after they stopped wearing makeup.
    • This would also be how Gene got to be the one to be interviewed when they appeared on The Mike Douglas Show. The other guys all said no, so Gene sucked it up and did it. It led to a hilarious moment when comedienne Totie Fields saw through his Demon makeup and said he was "probably some nice Jewish boy from Long Island".
  • A tactic some parents use, especially in families with two or more siblings. One example is a parent asking a child if they "want" to go to this place or that place, or if they want to do this thing or that thing.note  The child refuses, only to be told (some variant of) "too bad, you're going/doing it anyway". If the child questions it, "Because I Said So, that's why!" is often the only reasoning given. In the worst case scenario, especially in more abusive families, this can lead to both sides arguing with each other, or worse. This has been known to happen in schools as well.
  • For figure skating, there is the ISU World Team Trophy. On the surface, it's a fun team event with the intention of encouraging countries to develop top skaters in all disciplines. In practice, skating federations are pressured to send their best, and skaters are pressured to attend on their best behavior. The Trophy also takes place shortly after the end of the traditional figure skating competition season (the World Championships), putting athletes at risk of injury or fatigue after a long season, and giving those who had competed at Worlds little time to practice and rest. The 2021 event was held in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the heels of Worlds, both in places with poor pandemic response and spikes in cases (Stockholm and Osaka).


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Voluntold, Lets Get Mikey, Unwilling Volunteer


Now You're a Part of It

After Jules reveals to the Belchers he plans on stealing his family grill, he tells them they're a part of his plan now since they know what he's doing. Bob is against the idea, but Louise really wants to get involve.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / GotVolunteered

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