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"Leave Your Quest" Test

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"Look, lady, you're pretty and all, but I really need to get back home."
Odysseus: Stay, Achilles. You were born for this war.
Achilles: A week ago you were right. But things are less simple today.
Odysseus: Yes. Women have a way of complicating things.

Being a hero is never easy, but sometimes it is soul-crushingly hard. For their own particular circumstances, The Hero has been put through the wringer and may even wish out loud for a chance to leave The Hero's Journey behind, or at least get a chance to rest. Well, they get the chance.

The Hero presented with a "Leave Your Quest" Test will be given the chance to lay down their Sword of Plot Advancement and leave the fight. The form this test takes varies quite a bit, but there are a few common variants. A Knight Errant may enter Ghibli Hills and after getting rid of the local crime boss, gets offered a chance to make a home there by the Determined Homesteader. A wise old mentor can invite the hero to become his apprentice and achieve spiritual enlightenment instead of swinging his sword at monsters. Sometimes just making a Love Interest is enough to seriously tempt a hero to abandon their journey; if not, a forthcoming baby may raise the question of whether a new parent can endanger himself like this. Less benign opportunities come in the form of the Bad Samaritan offering the above, with a slice of Lotus-Eater Machine pie and a glass of The Final Temptation. Similar to We Can Rule Together, the Big Bad might offer the hero a clean slate and promises of non-reprisal if they abandon their quest against them. The trustworthiness of these promises varies, of course, but of course, being the hero that they are, they will inevitably refuse the temptation. Reasons include never being safe until the quest is done because It's Not You, It's My Enemies, knowing they would get restless and wander again, or seeing through The Vamp or Big Bad's ruse. A villain attempting this can even inspire the hero with new hope: such an offer would not have been made to someone not deemed a serious threat. Sometimes the hero may not even be tempted if they find the person who invites them to stay unappealing or even outright repulsive (this is often the case with Abhorrent Admirers), and the person in question may even resort to force and coercion.

However, sometimes heroes do give in. In these cases, they usually get a vision warning them to leave, see an injustice and realize they can't stand idly by, they see the pile of cannibalized heroes in the cellar, or their new home gets razed. On the other hand, in a Deconstruction, it may turn out that leaving the quest was actually the better option. For example, a work with a pacifist message can imply that the hero would have been better off living a peaceful life with his Love Interest or becoming an enlightened hermit rather than enlisting in the army to fight a "patriotic" war in God knows what part of the world.

It's worth noting that a hero legitimately at the end of their quest may feel tempted to keep on "Heroing", and be dissuaded in favor of letting someone else pick up the banner so they can enjoy a Happily Ever After or he can keep on with the adventures, which may even be deemed a failure of his part, because he would have done more good in a more mundane but less In Harm's Way life.

See also The Final Temptation, when this is part of a Lotus-Eater Machine used to trap a hero (in which case it could also overlap with Prefers the Illusion), and Cuckoo Nest. This test can come from the villain offering a Last Chance to Quit. For when this occurs at the beginning of a quest, see Red Pill, Blue Pill. In a video game, may lead to a Non Standard Game Over if intentionally included, Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer otherwise. Can be a Secret Test of Character. Contrast Cuckoo Nest, if the hero is tempted to leave their quest by being tricked into believing they were never on a quest to begin with. Can overlap with a Test of Pain if the recipient is urged to give up on the test if they can't handle the torment.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Chainsaw Man, Ambiguously Evil Teen Superspy Yoshida spends Part 2 trying to convince Denji to retire in order to quell the Cult of Personality surrounding him built up by Famine Devil, to the point that he kidnaps Denji's little sister and threatens to kill her. Denji refuses, since being Chainsaw Man got him everything he ever wanted but briefly considers retiring, deciding that he was content with what he had now. However, after seeing his Evil Doppelgänger steal his identity he has a Heroic BSoD from the idea of someone else taking credit for his hard work.
  • In Codename: Sailor V Minako gives one to herself: when she sees Ace in a period of not full enthusiasm about being a superhero and notices he's good at it, she decides to retire, and only changes her mind when she gets the idea to get closer to him.
  • Digimon:
  • Gantz features an option on the 100 points menu to return to a normal life at the expense of all Gantz-related memories.
  • In K: Return of Kings, when Saruhiko Fushimi infiltrates Jungle, the Green King offers him to opportunity to join them for real, right as he is about to open the gates to the secret base and let his True Companions in. His response? "So then I'll never have to deal with annoying teammates or overbearing superiors giving orders on their whims? Then my answer's clear - no thanks." And he opens the gate.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth features this, literally as a test from major legendary godlike beings.
  • In MÄR, Ginta starts by looking for a way to return home. When Jack agrees to help out and finds that it won't be as easy as they thought, Ginta is overjoyed.
  • The Chuunin Exam shown in Naruto used this trope. The first part of the exam is a written test with 9 difficult questions, plus a secret tenth one that will be given 15 minutes before the end. Before the examiner announces the final question, he gives you the choice to either stay and hear the 10th question, or forfeit the exam. Answering the question correctly is an automatic promotion... but a wrong answer will make you fail and forbids you from ever re-attempting the exam. Forfeiting without hearing the final question will make you and your teammates fail the exam, but you can retry next year - and the rules change every year. The trick here is that staying IS the correct answer: the test is designed to weed out those who would cave in under pressure.
  • Multiple cases in Negima! Magister Negi Magi. One prominent example is the offer by Fate Averruncus to personally escort Negi and his students back to the real world. The first trade offer is rejected and the second is nearly accepted before being shot down by a third party. In this case, it's implied at first that they would have been betrayed, but later events indicate that Fate would not have bothered apart from taking Asuna, which he does anyway. The second time is with Poyo offering first to take everyone home (instantly rejected this time) and second sticking everyone into a copy of Cosmo Entelechia, using the Lotus-Eater Machine mixed version of the trope. Negi does eventually reject it, but it's not easy.
  • Rosario + Vampire gives Tsukune one of these the morning of his second day at Yokai Academy. Granted, up until this point it had mostly been Tsukune trying to Refuse The Call, but then Moka drops the big bomb on him that Tsukune was her first friend. Tsukune is pacing at the bus stop, thinking... and the bus driver pulls up. "Get in, boy." Needless to say, he doesn't do anything of the sort.
  • When Rurouni Kenshin's title character leaves Tokyo for Kyoto at the start of the Shishio arc, there are indications he feels he's just been forced to pass the Leave Your Quest Test. Like on the one hand settling down was irresponsible and wrong, and on the other too good to be true. He adjusts pretty quickly, but then his True Companions chase him down.
  • Trigun: Vash the Stampede winds up in a lengthy 10-Minute Retirement that's basically flunking this with very good reason: 1) the pain is just too much, 2) his evil brother put one over on him again in such a way that he has to consider himself a public menace, and 3) he screwed up and wrecked another damn city; the human race are clearly better off without him putting his foot in it.
    • He gets dragged out of it by his best friend, who apparently just wandered around until he found him. The combination of Wolfwood's call to duty and Vash's foster-family getting kidnapped by the bad guys he was letting run wild and kill people get him to reactivate, and because of his notoriety he can't be Vash and not go Walking the Earth even if he didn't have a Quest. Trope in retrospect seriously messed with because Wolfwood was working for Knives and, whatever hero duty and his private motivations may have had to do with it, the technical reason and way Vash got out of Leaving His Quest was because the villain wanted him to.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • A Child Shall Lead Them (Transformers): Unicron tries this on Pterodactus Prime (aka Swoop), offering to destroy the Matrix for him and letting him go back to the Dinobots instead of serving as the Autobot Leader. He ends up going too far when he drags Grimlock into it, though...
  • The Dark Below: The first time that Izuku intentionally kills himself in order to access the Abyss, he's offered the opportunity to simply die and pass on, warned that this is his only opportunity to do so. He opts to continue on into the Abyss.
  • Dream On You Crazy Princess: Dumplin offers to send Luna back to happier times, back when she and Celestia were still innocent fillies, if she'll let him keep her dream powers. When she refuses, he sends her back anyway, wiping her memories.
  • Eigengrau Zwei: Die Welt Ist Grau Geworden: While ascending to the New Dream Realm to find Dim, Blackbird is faced with three of these. First, she's offered a vision of living happily ever after with him; when that fails, she's given another where she's reunited with her (deceased) father. When that doesn't work, the Star Maiden entreats her to stop, insisting that Dim has ascended to a place where Blackbird cannot follow.
  • Hakumei: Kiba offers Naruto a chance to return and be accepted back into Konoha, which Naruto immediately rejects. Sasuke gets a similar offer from his mother Mikoto; while tempted more than Naruto was, he ultimately turns it down as well.
  • Maria Campbell of the Astral Clocktower: Knight training starts this way. The squire is pushed to their absolute breaking point to see if they have what it takes to "go beyond death" and truly become a knight. Traditionally, this is done through exhausting and mind-numbing physical training, but Maria immediately realizes that this won't work on Katarina, who has spent most of her life voluntarily doing farmwork and training with a sword on her own. Instead, she forces her to study etiquette and proper manners from a Doorstopper book. It's so bad that Katarina ends up in an Amnesia Loop without ever getting past the first twenty pages. But she doesn't give up, either.
  • Baron Mounty Max of RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse has twice been offered the chance to trade his Barony for a Knight Erranthood. He has twice turned the offer down, even though he'd be much happier Walking the Earth righting wrongs and punching evil in the face, because he knows that he can do more good for more ponies from his current position in the Night Court.
  • Rise Of The Fiendlord: During his Vision Quest, Janus is confronted by apparitions of Doreen, Alfador and Schala. All three beg him to stop, warning that he is reaching the point of no return. Rather than taking these warnings at face value, however, he assumes that he is being tested in this fashion and presses onward.
  • In Sylvia the Sylveon, a large number of these tests are presented to Sylvia. Although tempted by some, she chooses to continue her quest because she wants to decide what she wants to do in life (the premise of the tests) after seeing her family.
  • Tangled Adventures in Arendelle: While attempting to help Anna and Elsa work through their issues, Eugene gets his arm broken by Kristoff, while Rapunzel has a nightmare about Elsa's ice running rampant. The two seriously consider leaving Arendell, but ultimately decide they want to stay rather than running away from the problem.
  • In Trial of Juno, Juno finds himself in a beautiful Utopia, and ends up spending twelve years there before Sinis snaps him out of it.

    Film - Animation 
  • In Barbie and the Secret Door, Alexa has the opportunity to return to her world after escaping from Malucia, but the bond she formed with her friends makes her stay.
  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Bruce Wayne is ready to become a masked vigilante and go down the path of darkness and angst forever, but has found happiness with his Girl of the Week Andrea Beaumont. This leads into a scene where he visits his parents graves and begs them to release him from his promise, apparently not realising they'd like nothing better than to have their son start a family and abandon his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • In Moana, after Moana and Maui's first attempt at returning the Heart and saving the world ends in failure and Maui leaves her, Moana is left completely discouraged and alone, loses all resolve in her mission and gives the Heart back to the ocean, telling it to choose someone else to return the Heart. Then the ghost of her Grandmother Tala appears and tells Moana that if she is ready to go home "I will be with you". This is an interesting variation of the trope in that the scene plays out quietly with a genuine offer instead of a temptation. Gramma Tala is there to provide loving support to insure that Moana is doing what she truly wants. This leads to a further pep talk from Tala, a visit from the spirits of her ancestors, and Moana's own love for the ocean and desire to save her people all combining to encourage her to press on and try again.. This time, she (and Maui who returns) is successful in returning the heart.
  • In Mulan, Captain Li Shang tells Mulan (disguised as "Ping") to "pack up, go home, you're through — how could I make a man out of you?" Mulan decides to prove him wrong by climbing the pole that all the recruits have so far failed to climb. This cements Mulan's place in the army and turns the Failure Montage into a Took a Level in Badass montage.
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish: The Wishing Star deploys this through bending the Dark Forest into obstacles for whoever is holding the map. But instead of testing the holder's resolve in finishing their quest, it's trying to show them they don't need the Star's wish. It tries to show Goldi that the family she's seeking has been in front of her all along, and later tries showing Puss that using the wish to restore his lost lives will only bring him back to the sad, lonely lifestyle he once had.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • In Chocolat, Vianne and her daughter Anouk have Romani blood and are "cursed to wander", just as Vianne and her own mother did when Vianne was a child, which is why they entered the village. At the end, Vianne tries to force Anouk to leave, but in the process she drops the urn containing her mother's ashes and they are scattered to the wind. Depending on the interpretation you prefer, this either breaks a literal spell or reminds Vianne that her mother is dead and cannot control her any more. In any event, subsequently Vianne ignores the North Wind's urging to leave, letting someone else fight the battles to be fought.
  • Cold Mountain. While on a journey back to his One True Love, Inman comes across a lonely and beautiful widow, who although she never asks him directly, clearly wants him to stay. A scout party of Federals intent on Rape, Pillage, and Burn interrupt however.
  • In the Back Story of Cyborg (1989), Gibson Rickenbacker decided to give up working as a slinger, hang up his arsenal and settle down with a family he'd helped escape from the hell of a post-apocalyptic city. As for how that turned out for him... well, let's just say there's a reason he's already hunting the villain when Pearl Prophet runs into him...
  • This happens in Fire Over England, when Cynthia tells Michael Ingolby not to go on a spying mission in Spain, but to retire quietly to the country with her.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Depressed after Ron walks out on them and Voldemort's forces seem all-powerful, Hermione suggests that she and Harry just stay hidden by the river where they're camped out and grow old together. It's doubtful she's serious, but it's a telling moment for this normally driven character.
  • As described below in Literature, The Last Temptation of Christ has not only the temptations offered to Jesus in the Bible, but a final one which nearly undoes him: to live a normal, happy life. He actually experiences a vision of that life and almost refuses the crucifixion entirely.
  • A core element of the original Total Recall (1990): In a world where memories can be implanted at will, how do you tell the dream from reality when someone comes and tells you the adventure you're having is all a psychotic delusion and you have to follow his instructions NOW or be lost in it forever?

  • A common feature in Choose Your Own Adventure novels, where various decisions can be made about either progressing or leaving the main plot line.
  • The Fighting Fantasy entry Creature of Havoc has several bad endings of this sort:
    • In one of them, an unnamed Wizard in red robes puts a Control Creature spell on you, making you his slave for the rest of your life.
    • In another, a witch gives you the Potion of Obedience, after which you come to see her as your benevolent master, and remain with her for the rest of your life.

  • The Aeneid. The goddess Juno tries to get Aeneas to leave his quest by arranging for him to have sex with Dido, Queen of Carthage. He and Dido become involved, leading Jupiter to send Mercury to remind him of his quest to found Rome. Aeneas heeds the vision and leaves Dido behind.
  • In the Animorphs special Back To Before, Jake fails this test and accepts Crayak's offer to free him from the responsibilities of leading the war. It turns out poorly: Visser Three, having gained political ground on Visser One (thanks to Controller!Tobias) and believing the Andalite presence on Earth destroyed, stages a full-scale invasion. Naturally, The Call still knows where they live and everyone but Ax and Jake are shot before Crayak calls off the exercise (because Ax had taken the Blade Ship and was about to go to town on the Yeerks with it).
    • Happened even earlier in book 7 with the Ellimist doing the offering. He explained that due to cosmic restraints, he couldn't stop the inevitable Yeerk invasion of Earth but he could bring a small remnant of humanity (including the Animorphs) to a sort of wildlife preserve on another planet so that all would not be lost. Turns out that the Ellimist was really just using the offer and subsequent vision of the future as a way to help the Animorphs in their fight.
  • In Candide, when Candide and Cacambo spend a month in the golden city of El Dorado. However, Cunegonde is not in this city, and so Candide is ultimately unhappy and decides to leave with an enormous amount of gold.
  • The Chronicles of Dorsa: Joslyn is given one with the offer to give up her quest so she can either rule by Tasia's side or live a humble, happy life. She's tempted, but refuses. It's revealed this was a test of her resolve by the small men, which Joslyn passed.
  • In Robert E. Howard's The Hour of the Dragon, Conan the Barbarian faces a rare dual version. He feels the temptation to leave his quest for the Artifact of Doom and to regain his throne — for the In Harm's Way life of a mercenary. He chooses the "regain the throne" quest instead of the mercenary way of life.
  • The Dark Tower offers several to Roland (and one directly to the reader). In this case, however, it's strongly suggested that by refusing to cry off the Tower, and sacrificing everything he had for his quest, Roland failed. And so did you. Why didn't you take the happy ending? Was the Tower worth it in the end?
  • In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files novel Summer Knight, Harry Dresden was tasked by the Sidhe Queen Mab, the Winter Queen, Queen of Air and Darkness with finding the one who stole something from their sister, Titania. He was tasked because he must prove himself to his people or be stripped of title and be tossed over to the enemy. Eventually he finds evidence to prove the Exact Words of Mab's request but if he continues he would be walking into a battle between the Fae Courts, and to come out he must stop the thief (another Fairy Queen, there are six in total) and save the life of a young maiden. One of the Senior Council, the ruling body of wizards, the Gatekeeper urges Dresden to give up because the task is far too large for him; the Council would never send a single wizard to do it. When he refuses, the Gatekeeper promises him his vote. And says had he walked away, the Gatekeeper would have killed on the spot, since it would be the same effect as voting against him.
  • In Michael Moorcock's expanded The Elric Saga, one incarnation of Elric the Eternal Championnote  is offered a once-in-all-eternity chance to leave the circle of eternal rebirth and go to Tanelorn for eternal rest. It is emphasised that this will be the one and only time this can be offered. Corum still refuses. His wife, in this phase of the Multiverse, then kills him.
  • Phaedria from The Faerie Queene specializes in tempting knights to abandon their duties with her beauty, irrelevant jokes, and a beautiful island where she lures her guests to sleep. The unvirtuous knight Cymochles is easily swayed by her, but chaste Guyon sees past her temptations and only listens to her out of a sense of politeness before leaving.
  • The Fellowship of the Ring. The Lady Galadriel looks each of the Fellowship in the eyes, and during this she tests their resolve to go forward.
    Sam: She seemed to be looking inside me and asking me what I would do if she gave me the chance of flying back home to the Shire to a nice little hole with a bit of garden of my own.
  • In John C. Wright's Green Knight's Squire, Gil faces several, including being in prison and realizing that unless he left the next day he would be utterly unable to make it; his mother's forbidding it; Nerea's trying to talk him out of it (though Gil does manage to persuade her that as the lady of Knight Errant, it's her duty to encourage him); a man telling him it was tantamount to suicide and so a sin; and more.
  • His Dark Materials features a particularly unsettling and disturbing example in the chapter "Vodka". Will, a 12 or 13 year old boy, is traveling alone. He stops at the house of an old priest to ask for directions. The priest pushes him into accepting a drink of vodka, chats in an overly friendly manner, is very touchy-feely, tries to convince Will to stay a while and is just generally creepy. After few pages of this, Will insists on leaving and the man gives him a hug and lets him go. There is no mention of the incident or the old man ever again. Most likely this was a jab at the Catholic Church, referencing their sexual abuse scandals.
  • In Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, Amalthea (the unicorn transformed into a young woman) tries to back out just before the final battle. Her lover, Prince Lir, is an experienced hero and insists that it can't end this way — even though if she stayed human they could marry and be happy together. The same event could also be considered a test for him.
  • The Last Temptation of Christ has not only the temptations offered to Jesus in the Bible, but a final one which nearly undoes him: to live a normal, happy life. He actually experiences that life as a hallucination/dream/alternate reality and almost refuses the crucifixion entirely.
  • Life of Pi has the island covered in delicious, nutritious algae and pools of fresh water. The hero only leaves to continue his quest to return to civilization when he discovers that it eats people...and realizes further that the person it ate probably wasn't even killed by the island but gave up and died of sheer boredom/loneliness/frustration at being trapped on an island with nothing but algae, trees, fish, and meerkats.
  • The Odyssey:
    • The Lotus Eaters. "They lived in a land that was always afternoon." A warm, kind afternoon. The fruit of the land provided all their needs and grew abundantly, wine flowed freely, and no work needed to be done. It would be so easy just to stay...
    • The sorceress Circe turned Odysseus' crew into swine and asked him to bed, but he overpowered her and managed to free his men. Nonetheless, he stayed with her for one year.
    • The nymph Calypso, though that one had a shipwreck involved. She cared for Odysseus, tended his wounds, and even offered him immortality if he stayed. He remained with her for seven years, but eventually pined for Penelope and left.
  • The ancient Indian collection on fables the Panchatantra has a pretty nasty one in the Fifth Book, aptly titled "The Consequences of Hasty Actions". In the overall story arc, four poor young men initially attempt to observe penance for a long time to obtain wealth as a boon. A sage appears before them and gives each one a tablet. He instructs them to trek up the Himalaya mountains and keep going till a tablet breaks. He advises them that when a tablet breaks, it indicates that a treasure is nearby. When one tablet breaks, the men search the area and find a large lode of copper. One man suggests that there is more than enough copper here to set them up comfortably for the rest of their lives. The other three tell him that he can have all that copper if he wishes, but there are still three tablets left; thus something more valuable may be available further ahead. A second tablet breaks and the three men find a silver lode. Again, one of them seems content with the silver, but two others go further, hoping to find something even more valuable. A third tablet breaks and the remaining two men strike gold. One guy exclaims that surely there is enough gold for both of them to live lavish lives; but the other guy continues on, hoping to find something even more valuable. The remaining treasure seeker keeps on trekking uphill for days until he hears someone wailing in agony. He follows the noise and finds a man with a disc rotating on his head, bleeding profusely and screaming in agony. At that moment, the final tablet breaks and the rotating disc transfers onto the treasure seeker's head, inflicting intense pain on him. The disc's former victim states that decades prior, he too came all the way here, driven by greed and was cursed to be immobilized, unable to die but experiencing only pain until a different greedy treasure hunter would show up and bear the curse instead.
  • In the fourth Percy Jackson and the Olympians book, Calypso offers Percy the chance to be immortal with her and let another demigod bear the weight of the prophecy.
    • Thalia Grace was given a choice whether to bear the burden of the prophecy, she chooses to hand it off to the next in line and becomes a huntress for Artemis.
    • Similar to Hercules before him, Juno offers Percy a chance to live a quiet and peaceful life or to continue on his quest of being a hero. He chooses finishing his quest, even though he has no memories of his past.
  • The Snow Queen:
    • The Snow Queen captured Kai (who was already corrupted by the mirror shards in his eye and heart) and convinced him to abandon Gerda and stay in her palace. This actually triggered the whole story of Gerda's journey to rescue him. Downplayed, since Kai didn't have any "quest" to begin with.
    • The old sorceress wanted Gerda to remain with her forever in her magical garden of eternal summer, which is why she made her forget Kai. However, once Gerda saw a rose on the sorceress' hat, she was reminded of Kai and escaped the garden. It was already autumn by then, implying that Gerda spent several months or even several years with the sorceress.
    • The robber girl also asked Gerda to stay with her as her friend, but Gerda wasn't even tempted because of the Values Dissonance between them.
  • In the second Star Trek: String Theory novel, Tuvok is given a shot at reaching a Vulcan philosophical ideal...but he'll have to die as a result. He is so attached to the idea of his transformation that he offers his farewells to Janeway and the others, intending to remain how he now is rather than work to save himself and continue Voyager's journey. Of course, Foregone Conclusion and Status Quo Is God are both in play here, given that this is set mid-way through the series. He therefore survives, doesn't reach the ideal state of being, and recommits to the journey home with the others.
  • In Taran Wanderer, the fourth book of The Chronicles of Prydain, Taran is on a quest to discover who his parents were (and in so doing, who he himself is). Early in the journey he visits his friend King Smoit, who offers to preempt the quest by adopting Taran and making him his son and heir. This is something of a subversion of the trope, because King Smoit has only the best of intentions — he's very fond of Taran and would be proud to call him his son.
  • In Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions, Morgan Le Fay appeals to him, more than once, to leave. The last time, it inspires him to get a move on; she must have feared him to be close, appealing like that.
  • Warrior Cats: In the novella Blackfoot's Reckoning, Blackfoot's nine lives ceremony works this way. He is told before it starts that he can leave at any time if it becomes too much, but that means another cat will have to lead instead. In order to receive each life, he has to relive a memory of his evil actions. These become increasingly more difficult to bear, and he's asked between each one if he wants the life. Although he falters and is tempted to leave, he eventually becomes certain that he needs to complete it for the sake of his Clan.
  • The Wise Man's Fear:
    • The beautiful Fae woman Felurian seduces travelers and adventurers and makes them stay with her as her lovers for as long as she desires (they eventually die or go mad either as a result of sexual exhaustion or because Felurian simply bores with them and sends them away). The protagonist Kvothe was the only one who managed to evade this fate by using his cunning wits.
    • Deconstructed in Hespe's story about a man called Jax who fell in love with the Moon. While chasing after her, he met a wise old hermit who was a skilled Listener, and the hermit invited Jax to stay with him and learn the art of Listening. Jax refused and managed to make the Moon come to him instead, but in doing so, he tweaked the basic laws of the Universe and caused the Creation War (and the Moon still slipped away from Jax sometimes, since he didn't managed to capture her fully). The story implies that staying with the old hermit would have been the better option.

  • The Witch of Knightcharm: The protagonist Emily embarks on a quest to infiltrate and undermine an evil Wizarding School in order to redeem herself, but to do that, she has to first complete the school's lethal orientation course. She can't manage to do so despite trying for almost two full weeks, and with the deadline to either pass the course or be expelled rapidly approaching, she gets the opportunity to abandon her quest when Megumi steals her a phone that she could use to call some friends to extract her. Emily, however, decides she can't justify making her allies risk their lives to save hers, and so she declines Megumi's offer. She later learns that the phone was hexxed and would kill anyone who tried to use it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel becomes a human briefly in the episode "I Will Remember You" and happily reunites with Buffy, but realizing that he can't effectively fight evil as a normal human, he persuades the Powers That Be to return him to his vampire state.
  • In Battlestar Galactica two parter "Lay Down Your Burdens", humanity has the choice to quit the search for Earth and settle a planet that's about as hospitable as summertime Siberia in the form of the presidential elections. Tired of confined spaceships and the constant fear of the pursuing Cylons, they choose Baltar and the Siberia planet. Of course, it comes back to haunt them.
  • The series 5 finale of Being Human ended with Satan offering the main trio an idealized life. All are human and alive, and nothing bad will happen to them. All three see through it because of a combination of realizing that while they would be fine, everyone else would be screwed... including loved ones not in the "fantasy" world. That, and the absence of their other two friends from their lives meant their happy universe was fundamentally incomplete.
  • In the Season Six episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Normal Again", Buffy gets poisoned by a demon, and suddenly finds herself in a mental institution, with her worried parents (both alive and together) hoping that she might come out of her prolonged psychosis. She's told that being a Slayer and everything that's been involved (including all her friends) was just a prolonged hallucination, and all she has to do to come back to reality is let go of killing her friends in the hallucination. In the end, she decided to be an unhappy hero who MIGHT be in a hallucination, versus being a happy person of no consequence in what also might be a hallucination.
  • In one episode of Charmed, the Angel of Destiny offers to take the Charmed Ones' power in return for defeating the Source (of all evil). Of course after feeling powerless in a battle, they decide to keep their powers.
  • Discussed in Dharma & Greg when they talk to a couple who met when the man was studying to be a priest. Dharma casually mentions that he could have seen her as a temptation to draw him away from his calling. Apparently, this had never occurred to him, and sends him running back to the seminary.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Family of Blood", the Doctor (who is currently a human) is given the option of remaining human and living an ordinary, happy life. He even gets a vision of a wife, children, and a quiet death in old age, all things the Doctor can't have or has lost. Kind of an odd situation as he isn't the Doctor at the time, but does have some idea of what the Doctor's life is like. He chooses to revert to his Time Lord self and save the day (and innocent civilians).
    • It is the Doctor in human form making the decision but because he can't really remember his Time Lord self, the scene feels more like a normal human being willing to cease to exist in return for the Doctor coming back. Even the Doctor himself, when he is a Time Lord again, seems to think that this sacrifice was one of the most noble things he has ever experienced.
  • Near the end of season two of Lexx, Mantrid's drones have consumed nearly the entire Light Universe. The Lexx's crew are fleeing to the center of the universe in vain attempt to delay the inevitable. Along the way in the episode "Brigadoom", they encounter a mysterious troupe of actors who exist outside of normal space and time. Kai and Zev join the troupe's musical production depicting the last days of Kai's people the Brunnen-G before the Divine Shadow destroyed them. While Stan is continuing the journey to the center in a moth, he listens to the performance. The aesop of the musical is essentially to Face Death with Dignity, a lesson that Stan takes to heart. When the leader of the troupe offers the main characters a place in the troupe where they can be safe for all eternity, Stan rejects it. He convinces his friends that they should stop running and fight Mantrid despite the odds. The troupe's leader seems pleased with this response and leads the troupe in a final chorus celebrating the decision.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Galadriel is faced with two of these in the first season alone. Firstly when Gil-galad 'rewards' her with the gift of putting up her sword and being able to sail home to Valinor, and secondly when Sauron offers to make her his queen so that she can rule Middle-earth by his side. She refuses both.
  • The Nanny begins with Fran Fine breaking up with her longtime fiance Danny Imperiali after discovering that he'd started seeing another woman, and then leaving his shop to become the new nanny for the Sheffield family. Towards the end of season 1, in "Frannie's Choice", Danny returns to reconcile with Fran and actually promises to follow through on getting married. Fran seriously thinks about taking him back, much to the joy of C.C. Babcock, until she sees how upset the Sheffield household is about her leaving, especially the Sheffield children. So, she decides she no longer needs him in her life and decides to stay.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Legion", the crew are dragged into a space station by a tractor beam, but find the only occupant - the eponymous Legion - simply wants to accommodate their every need and hopes they'll abandon their journey to find the stolen Red Dwarf ship. This is because he's a gestalt entity and can only exist when there are other life-forms on the station. All the residents died millennia ago.
  • In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20), a djinn offers Dean a life where his mother lived, he has a beautiful girlfriend, and Sam is marrying Jessica, only none of the Winchesters are hunters and those who they had saved are now dead. It's a Lotus-Eater Machine that will eventually kill him, but Dean is sorely tempted.
  • In The Traitors, when a Traitor is banished, the remaining Traitors are allowed, should they so wish, to recruit a new Traitor from the ranks of the Faithful, presenting one of these to the contestant in question by giving them the opportunity for a Face–Heel Turn.

  • In 1865 Johnson offers to make Stanton a Supreme Court justice to get him to back off. This is one of Stanton’s life goals, but he refuses. Preserving the legacy of Lincoln is more important. Though he does become a justice once Ulysses S. Grant is elected president.

  • The gospels of Matthew and Luke describe the one Jesus went through: He goes into the wilderness to be alone, fast, and pray. Then the devil shows up. There are three temptations described, the first two the devil is trying to get Jesus to prove that he is the messiah. Then comes the "Leave Your Quest" Test. The devil says that earth is his dominion and that he will give it all up to Jesus, all Jesus has to do is bow down and worship him. This is the perfect opportunity for Jesus to take the easy way out, but of course he didn't give in and did go on to complete his mission.

    Tabletop Games 

  • Inverted by Pippin. The finale (quite literally, the song in question is called "Finale") has the Leading Player tempt Pippin into completing his quest for glory and fame by telling him he can achieve that goal by completing the final act and jumping into a burning ring of fire and "becoming one with the flame". But then Pippin decides that he was actually happiest leading the most perfectly ordinary life possible, and, abandoning what had been his character arc up until then, defies the Leading Player to be with the woman he loves, "trapped but happy", in his own words. The Leading Player is furious at Pippin's divergence from the script, but can't do anything about it. So it's in essence, a "Complete Your Quest" Test.

    Video Games 

In General:

By Series:

  • In Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, the protagonist is given a less than believable opportunity to return to their childhood home, giving up the power they have acquired since leaving it and living a simpler life again. However this was supposed to be seen as potentially working, the player isn't actually given the opportunity to acquiesce.
  • Castlevania II: Simon's Quest has a bizarre episode of this sort. In the abandoned town of Ghulash (Yomi), the protagonist meets an old woman who tells him: "Let's live here together". However, there is no option to actually do so.
  • In Cave Story, when everything seems hopeless, Kazuma asks the protagonist to flee the island with him instead of confronting the Doctor. Taking him up on this leads to a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • Throughout Devil Survivor, Yuzu repeatedly insists that they should try to find some way out of the locked-down Yamanote Circle. Her ending route centers around actually finding a potential means of escape and deciding to follow through, despite evidence that doing so might not end well. Notably, in the Updated Re-release, this becomes a case of Earn Your Happy Ending - things went to shit, but are still salvageable.
  • The Sloth Demon in the "Broken Circle" quest in Dragon Age: Origins tries to keep you in its Lotus-Eater Machine by promising to give you a reprieve from your quest: it shows you a vision of your quest already being complete, with Duncan (the Grey Warden who recruited you) having now retired. You pass the test by pointing out that Duncan is behaving out-of-character; the real Duncan would be constantly vigilant of any future Darkspawn threats, not asking you to retire and sing songs of Grey Warden glory with him.
  • In EarthBound (1994), The segment with Poo in Dalaam is basically one long string of these. To advance the plot, you need to complete your training atop of Mt. Mu, and are reminded of the importance of nothingness. To succeed, you need to do nothing and let everything happen to you, starting with ignoring a messenger from home pleading for your return, and ending with losing your arms, legs, ears and eyes to a spirit. You get better, but still...
    • If you're familiar with Japanese legends, you may recognize this as a possible allusion to the tale of Hoichi-mimi-nashi.
  • In E.V.O.: Search for Eden, Tyrannosaurus, Birdman King and Rogon King will each offer you a choice to join them and abandon your quest to reach Eden. If you accept, you will see a cutscene of the possible outcome then get sent back to the world map.
  • In Fable II, towards the end of the game the player character is magically transported (by evil Lucien) into a fictional realm where his dead sister is alive and well. They can play and run and chase chickens every day, and their parents are still alive too. Every night, however, he is awakened by the signature music of the Fable series, which is coming from the farm gate. Each night, when this happens, the character can choose to go back to bed or follow the music. The music leads the character down a road filled with increasingly dreary surroundings, sound clips from the game proper, and the distressed cries of his illusory sister (who wants him to stay). He can return to the farm and continue the illusion forever, or push forwards to finish his mission of saving the world. The latter is made especially harsh a few minutes later, when the character is left standing on the docks at the very end of the game; knowing (if he chooses the "good" option in the finale) that he is left with nothing. No family, no dog, and no mentor. He is truly alone.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy X, after learning the Awful Truth of the Yevon church's corruption and being branded a traitor, Yuna is wondering what to do. Tidus suggests that she could abandon her pilgrimage to defeat Sin. He tells her she could come with him back to his version of Zanarkand, along with her friends, and they could forget all the death and pain in Spira. There they could watch the Zanarkand Abes play Blitzball, and explore the city until dawn. The two spend a moment eagerly describing all the fun and beauty they could see in Zanarkand, and how happy they could be there. And then, with tears in her eyes, Yuna says that she can't stop her pilgrimage, no matter how hard it is. However happy she might be in Zanarkand, she’d never be able to forget Spira, and the people suffering under Sin because she gave up. Tidus accepts Yuna's decision, but vows to find a way to save her from needing to sacrifice herself for the Final Summoning.
    • In Final Fantasy XIII-2, there is one point where you can choose to stay in a dream world or continue the adventure. Accepting the dream leads one of several Paradox Endings in the game.
  • Furi has The Stranger cutting his way through a series of bosses in order to escape his prison. One boss about halfway through the game, The Song, offers to let him stay in her realm rather then fight her and the remaining jailers to get out. It's far more pleasant than his original situation, and she offers to be his girlfriend as well, but The Stranger will remain trapped and not truly free. You can accept her offer and get an alternate ending by remaining in the area for a few minutes instead of walking onward to her arena.
  • In NEO: The World Ends with You, during the Final Day, a horde of powerful Noise is released from Rindo's Rewind pin, and using just makes it more powerful, when it's already powerful enough to overwhelm both the Players and the Reapers working together. The Noise gets erased by former Shinjuku Composer Hazuki, but not before it Erases everyone except Rindo. Sometime later, Hazuki aproaches Rindo and repairs the Rewind pin, which would give him another shot at saving both Shibuya and his friends, but doing so would mean risking everything and potentially losing Shibuya as well, as Hazuki spells out for him. Rindo decides that Shibuya is empty without his friends, and thus it's worth the risk to try one more time to save them.
  • Multiple times in Persona 4:
    • Once you apprehend the person throwing people into the TV, you're given a chance to skip all this "searching for the truth" nonsense and just throw them into the TV. As you might have guessed from the entire rest of the game, this is not a good choice and leads to a bad ending. And as it turns out, while he was throwing people in, he wasn't trying to kill them.
    • If you don't take the above option, convince your friends to continue pursuing the truth and figure out the true culprit, you eventually solve the mystery and Earn Your Happy Ending. But you'll probably find yourself with a few lingering questions, and the game will repeatedly tempt you to just call it a day already. In order to get the true ending, and defeat the Greater-Scope Villain, you have to tell it you don't.
  • Choosing to become the new Silent King in Planescape: Torment leads to a Non Standard Game Over (because it's a magically-enforced appointment for life, and the protagonist is immortal).
  • In Portal 2, the Final Boss generously offers you the chance to kill yourself in a masher on the final puzzle, under the guise that a lot of time had been spent getting the lair ready for the player and it would all be for nothing if the player was to die so close to said lair.
  • Kyuu pulls this on himself in Chapter 5 of Rakenzarn Tales. Now unexpectedly back home after being transported to Rakenzarn and having an adventure, he wonders briefly if he should go back and make sure things work out or just return to his normal life. Of course, if you have him choose to stay, it doesn't end well.
  • In Rayman 2: The Great Escape, the boss of the Cave of Bad Dreams offers the eponymous hero all the treasure he possesses. Accepting it leads to a cutscene of an obese Ray Man sitting on a tiny island with a pile of treasure nearby, while an odd two note song plays in the background and "The End" is super imposed on the screen. You are than taken back to the selection screen and must refuse the treasure to continue.
  • In StarCraft II, if you save Haven Dr. Hanson will ask Raynor if he wants to stay and start a new life with the colony. Jim for various reasons — lingering attachment to Kerrigan, the need to fight against the Swarm and the Dominion, and the belief that he isn't meant to have a normal life — refuses the offer. Tychus agrees, saying that badasses like them just aren't cut out for the quiet life.
  • At one point in Suikoden II, your sister Nanami asks you if you want to - literally - run away from your responsibilities as a leader. Unlike many other games, you actually can agree to do it. After several warnings, this will trigger one of the game's Multiple Endings.
  • At almost the very end of Star Control III, the Arilou appear and tell you your quest to save the galaxy from the Eternal Ones is futile. They offer to spirit you and as many humans as they can out of the galaxy to a safe home elsewhere. The Arilou are 100% sincere, completely capable of fulfilling their end of the bargain, and what they want in return is sorta creepy but basically inconsequential. Humanity will survive and thrive if you take the offer. Of course, every other sentient life form in the galaxy will die screaming.
  • In A Tale of Two Kingdoms, after dealing with the goblin menace, the fairies offer you to stay with them. Forever. If you fail to decide quickly enough, the screen fades to white and leads to a bad ending.
  • This is attempted in Tales of Berseria, in which Velvet returns to her Doomed Hometown to find that literally everything is just as it was three years ago. It almost works for a bit since Velvet doesn't want to leave, even telling off Eizen and Rokurou, while Magilou seems to be taking things more seriously. Turns out, Melchior had attempted to trap Velvet in a Lotus-Eater Machine - using the same arte that he had used on Magilou in the past, which was why Magilou suddenly took things more seriously. Velvet only notices the illusion when her sense of taste comes back.
  • Undertale has Toriel in the beginning of the game doing everything she can to convince you stay home with her and spend the rest of your life with her as her adopted child rather than going out on your own to find your way back home. She eventually decides to fight you to see if you are strong enough to make it on your own. You can choose to flee the fight and you'll be sent back to your room, but a voice will tell you that you have to press on, thus you have no choice but to fight your way through Toriel or convince her to let you go without needing to resort to violence. The reason Toriel is against the protagonist wanting to leave is because she had two of her own children die in one day and had seen other kids who had gone through her home also wanting to go back to where they came from, but had later died on their adventures.

    Visual Novels 
  • This is basically Dolores's plotline in The Confines of the Crown - "Screw this, let's just take the money and leave." Doing so gets you a "happy" ending, but the host of abandoned plot threads still gives the impression that you did something wrong.

    Web Animation 
  • In volume 6 of RWBY, the heroes are camping at an abandoned farm, all overcome with exhaustion and despair after learning that the Big Bad, Salem, has Complete Immortality and cannot be killed. As the exhaustion get to them, one by one, Yang, Blake and Weiss suggest that they just throw the Lamp of Knowledge Salem seeks down a well and go home, since it would take decades or centuries for her to find it here, leaving the unenviable task of opposing her to some future generation. Ruby resists at first but is eventually tempted to drop it down the well, though she immediately realizes that she shouldn't have and goes down to find it again. The well is home to a swarm of Apathy, grimm that drain people of emotion and drive.

    Web Comics 
  • A recurring motif in Kill Six Billion Demons, tying into the comic's themes of willpower and ignorance. Allison is The Chosen Zero, prophesied to defeat the Seven Black Emperors and take the empty throne of Zoss the Old King, but having no knowledge of said prophecy nor any intention to follow it. In her quest to find Distressed Dude Zaid she is repeatedly told by others (especially Cio in Seeker of Thrones and King of Swords) that it would be a lot smarter for her to either go home to Earth or simply drop off the map and build a life for herself in Throne, only for Allison to reject that idea because she can't stand the thought of Zaid kidnapped and alone in a hostile universe. During Breaker of Infinities, the second half of the volume is entirely based around Jadis pulling one of these on Allison, serving as a Threshold Guardian who offers her a life of peace and ease until Jagganoth undoes the Multiverse. Though she initially agrees, Allison eventually rejects Jadis' complacency and returns to her quest.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series episode "Perchance to Dream" traps Batman in a Lotus-Eater Machine where his parents aren't dead, he's engaged to Selina Kyle, and some other guy is running around Gotham City in a Batsuit, solving crimes and fighting the good fight. Eventually Bruce Wayne starts to settle in and writes his Caped Crusader days off as a temporary illusion. Then, he discovers that he can't read anything, leading him to realize that he must be dreaming.
    • Take away everything to do with Batman being framed, the Phantasm trying to get revenge on the Joker, and Bruce Wayne's failure to hold on to a woman, this is the core of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, where he's ready to become a masked vigilante and go down the path of darkness and angst forever (although, notably, he hasn't seen any bats yet)... but has found happiness with Andrea Beaumont, the Girl of the Week. This leads into one of the saddest scenes in all of the DC Animated Universe, where he begs his dead parents to let him go.
  • Mabel is trapped in a Lotus-Eater Machine variant in Gravity Falls when Bill captures her before the finale. It takes Dipper going in there to get her out.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Nightmare Moon tempts Rainbow Dash to leave the ponies' quest for the Elements of Harmony by offering her the chance to be known as Equestria's greatest flier, but only if she abandons her friends.
    • And at the start of the second season, Discord tries a similar angle and it works! Though the choice he offers is less "abandon your friends and embrace greatness" and more "abandon your friends and go save your hometown instead." With mind control.
    • Then in Season 4, Discord (now somewhat reformed) is tempted to abandon his loyalty to the Ponies by Lord Tirek, who promises that Discord will get back his chaotic freedom plus have Tirek's friendship. It doesn't end well for him.
  • Samurai Jack faced the Bad Samaritan variant. The "Spirit of Spring" offered him rest so he could gain strength for his quest. However, he sensed something was wrong and tried to leave. She reacted violently and tried to keep him by force. While he escaped, she survived...

    Real Life 
  • This has been documented as a common experience for many people who have entered for idealistic and autotelic reasons a field that requires either a graduate degree or a difficult post-college apprenticeship (such as medicine, the arts, religion, university teaching, or scientific or scholarly research). When they suddenly realized that they could obtain a perfectly serviceable job with the bachelor's degree and avoid the additional years and student loans, they had to decide whether fulfilling their original idealism and dreams would be worth it. Some go on to earn their doctorates or apprentice in the arts anyway, but many decide instead to live a more ordinary life after all.
    • Failing this test (or making someone fail) can be outright merciful. If you aren't going to hack it on the medical boards, leaving medical school having wasted (and maybe paid for) only one semester is a lot better than being two years in. If you can't make it in the military, it's a lot better to find out two weeks into your initial training than after you've wasted months or years (and maybe been injured) and the government has spent a fortune on you. Not cut out for grad school? It would be much better and financially less ruinous to get kept out or to be dropped early than to lose time and money. Many a "coulda-been" musician, actor, or athlete would have saved themselves a lot of pain if they enjoyed their hobbies and pursued a conventional career. Chasing the brass ring doesn't mean you'll catch it.
    • This is why numerous graduate and professional schools have murderously difficult exams as prerequisites. If the MCAT (in the US, the Medical Colleges Admissions Test, a notoriously difficult 7.5 hour exam) makes you quit, consider it to have mercifully spared you two years of medical school expenses before the USMLE (the United States Medical Licensing Exam, which makes the MCAT look easy) got to you.


Video Example(s):


The Shadowbolts

When trying to fix a bridge, Rainbow Dash encounters the Shadowbolts made by Nightmare Moon, who coax her into becoming their captain, but with the ultimatum of choosing either them or her friends. She chooses the latter, because she would never abandon her friends for anything, making her the Element of Loyalty.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / FriendOrIdolDecision

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