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If You Won't, I Will

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The Chosen One is confronted with his ultimate destiny. The prophecy is about to be fulfilled.

But the Chosen One doesn't want to. Maybe he's refusing the call. Or maybe he's just sulking. Maybe he's too busy wallowing in his own Wangst, or in the grip of a Heroic BSoD. But for whatever reason, the Chosen One doesn't want to do the job that only he can do.

So his friend goes out to do it instead, saying, "If you won't, I will." This is usually an ultimatum, because everyone knows that the friend can't do it, that only the Chosen One can do it.

This leads to either the hero stopping his friend before he goes to get himself killed, or the hero lets the friend go and get himself killed. The latter usually triggers a Roaring Rampage of Revenge that fulfills the Chosen One's ultimate destiny.

The destiny part isn't really important. It could simply be that the friend is incompetent and the hero knows that he'll get himself killed/captured. And the friend probably knows this as well, so he uses it to spur the hero to action.

A variation is when someone is unwilling to do something or reveal a secret to someone, and someone else finds out and threatens to do or reveal the information themselves if they won't.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • One of the times Shinji considers quitting in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Rei comments that if he does, she'll take over his duties.
    • In the first episode, Gendou threatens to send the grievously injured Rei to pilot in Shinji's place, effectively blackmailing Shinji into being a pilot to begin with.
    • Rebuild of Evangelion: Rei knows it's too much for Shinji, so when he leaves she reasons if she kills the Angels then he will never have to pilot again. Of course this cues her Heroic Sacrifice.
  • An inversion of this occurs in Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon, where Goku ponders to himself, "If *I* don't, who will?!"
  • Ginga Densetsu Weed: After finally defeating Hougen, Weed was given the chance to kill the evil Great Dane. But when Weed refuses, Gin goes forward and goes to kill Hougen, saying he will have to kill him if his son doesn't. Three guesses what happens next.
    • This is also used by Weed when GB backs out from saving Sasuke from a massive guard dog.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Yahiko shouts something vaguely along these lines when finally giving up on Kenshin during his Heroic BSoD in the Jinchuu arc, and a bit later winds up in a one-on-one fight with the guy who has a cannon for an arm. It's not a Curb-Stomp Battle, incredibly, but Yahiko is clearly going to die. Tsubame makes her way into the Ultra-Slum of Doom to tell Kenshin about how hard Yahiko is trying and how much he needs Kenshin now, and that's what finally brings him back.

    Comic Books 
  • The Powerpuff Girls story "Sounding Off" (Cartoon Network Block Party #37) has Blossom invoking this and taking a vow of silence after once too many times Bubbles and Buttercup pester her because Bubbles won't stop crying and Buttercup won't stop bellyaching.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act VI: In chapter 17, after tensions between Mizore and Arial reach their boiling point and Dark sees Mizore beat Arial to near-death in a fit of rage, Moka insists that, even if Arial is sacred to Dark and it would crush him to discover the Awful Truth, Arial's obsession with Dark is out of control and she will tell Dark the truth about Arial if Mizore doesn't. Mizore reluctantly agrees to tell him.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Lion King (1994):
    Simba: Besides, this is my kingdom. If I don't fight for it, who will?
    Nala: I will.
  • In Up, Russell does this to try and get Kevin back when Carl went into his Heroic BSoD.

  • In Robert A. Heinlein's The Puppet Masters, the hero Sam is asked to allow one of the title monsters to take control of him as an experiment. He refuses, and discovers that his girlfriend Mary has volunteered to do it and will be going in his place. He reverses himself and agrees to take part.
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Snape kills Dumbledore because Draco was having second thoughts... and because Dumbledore wanted to prevent Draco from taking that unforgivable step into evil.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Heroes, Hiro panics at having not killed Sylar, so Ando sets out to kill Sylar instead. Sylar kicks Ando's powerless ass with ease and nearly decapitates him before Hiro shows up. This actually happens quite a lot with Hiro and Ando. Hiro gets all whiny, then Ando sets out to do it, the two get seperated and mad at each other. Then Hiro comes to his senses and saves Ando just before he gets himself killed. Then they're all happy, at least, until it happens again...
  • In Babylon 5, Dr. Franklin's stims addiction comes to a head in season 3, affecting his ability to perform, and his friend, Chief Garibaldi, eventually hints to Franklin of this ultimatum: come clean or he'll pull rank and call up his medical files (as Medlab Chief of Staff, Franklin can conceal the records, but as Chief of Security, Garibaldi can search for them). Garibaldi's about to do this when he hesitates. It's at that moment that he notices Franklin come in, and Franklin finally admits he has a problem, so he comes clean to Captain Sheridan and relieves himself of duty until he can get himself back on track.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Giles does this sort of thing a few times for Buffy, but fulfills the trope most clearly in "Prophecy Girl". Buffy, hearing that she is prophesied to confront the Master and die, quits in horror. Giles decides to go after the Master himself in an attempt to save her, but a newly-resigned Buffy knocks him out and heads off, planning to at least take the Master down with her.
  • In Power Rangers Jungle Fury, after Lily gets a sudden personality change, she becomes a complete jerk, wasting time in the pizzeria they work in. Fellow worker Fran, who at this point figured out their secret, calls her down on this behavior. And when Lily refuses to budge, Fran takes Lily's morpher, saying this trope. A Cat Fight ensues.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In "The Dauphin", Anya orders Pulaski to kill a patient with the flu because he might pose a small chance of infecting Salia. When Pulaski (naturally) refuses, Anya says this just before shapeshifting into her mutant-Wookiee form.
    • "The First Duty", Picard uses this ultimatum on Wesley when he finds out that Wesley and the rest of Nova Squadron have been lying about a training accident that got one of them killed.
      Picard: Either you come forward and tell Admiral Brand what really took place, or I will.
  • In the Star Trek: Discovery episode "Rubicon", Commander Nhan returns to the Discovery for this very reason: Captain Burnham has been given orders to hunt down and either bring Book and Tarka or eliminate them before they cause an interstellar war with Sufficently Advanced Aliens by destroying the Dark Matter Anamoly. But, since Book is Burnham's lover, there's a chance that she's too emotionally compromised to make the call, thus if Burnham can't, Nhan will.

  • Related to Achilles in His Tent, as noted above, and in fact the Iliad is a perfect example of this trope: Achilles' friend Patroclus goes into battle in his stead, and gets himself killed. His death spurs Achilles to rejoin the fight.

    Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents!: In "Chin Up!", the Crimson Chin enters a Heroic BSoD after finding out he's a fictional character, so Timmy, as his sidekick Cleft, tries to do his work for him. But after Cleft gets in trouble, the Crimson Chin snaps out of his Wangst to save him.
    Timmy: Fine! If you won't stop the Bronze Kneecap, I will!
    (transition to Timmy strapped to a rocket)
    Timmy: Or not.


Video Example(s):


Big City Greens

When Keys' foot is injured, Gramma decides to take over for him.

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Main / IfYouWontIWill

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