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No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction

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McCoy: Well, that's the second time man's been thrown out of Paradise.
Kirk: No, no, Bones, this time we walked out on our own. Maybe we weren't meant for paradise. Maybe we were meant to fight our way through, struggle, claw our way up, scratch for every inch of the way. Maybe we can't stroll to the music of the lute. We must march to the sound of drums.

A common theme in fiction is the concept that getting the result you want is more satisfying when you actually earn it through your own actions, rather than having it simply handed to you in some way.

The scenarios that result in this revelation can take a number of forms, though there's three that are most common:

  1. The character is in a position to force someone else to give them what they want, either through magical or mundane coercion or because the other character is their subordinate.
  2. The character finds themselves in an environment where it's literally impossible to fail for some reason.
  3. The character's rival or enemy is in a position of complete helplessness, and thus the character can effortlessly best their opponent in some way.

But whatever the scenario, the character has the same revelation: It's just not satisfying to win unless the opposing force or obstacle has the chance to reject them, hurt them, or fight back. Alternatively, the character may go through the action anyway, only to realize afterwards how unsatisfying it was.

Supertrope to

When someone else doesn't help the hero because if they did it would be too easy, it's a case of This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself or Helping Would Be Killstealing.

Sister trope to Mind over Manners. When someone playing a Video Game thinks this, it becomes It's Easy, So It Sucks! and may lead to Self-Imposed Challenge.

The person who feels the way is often someone who loves a challenge. Compare I Want My Beloved to Be Happy, Worthy Opponent, and Mook Chivalry, which can be motivations for this trope, or Lonely at the Top, No Guy Wants to Be Chased, and Victory Is Boring, which can be caused by this trope. Contrast Dude, She's Like in a Coma, And Now You Must Marry Me, Psychic-Assisted Suicide, and Kick Them While They Are Down, where in similar situations, the lack of opposition is favorable for the character. The Combat Pragmatist is very unlikely to have this mindset, and if anything, would prefer to avoid as much challenge as possible.

Also contrast More than Mind Control, where you can have your cake and eat it too, by both controlling someone and getting their genuine submission.

Converse to Misery Builds Character, which is about how problems can (sometimes) be good for you rather than a complete lack of problems being bad.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Ah! My Goddess during the Queen Sayoko arc, Sayoko enters a demonic contract so she can finally defeat Belldandy. After compelling Belldandy to become her magically-bound slave Sayoko soon cancels the contract. As she explains to Mara, a victory relying on demonic magic meant nothing compared to personally crushing her rival.
  • Bleach:
    • Kenpachi Zaraki considers his time wasted if his opponent can't put him in genuine danger. To this end, he deliberately handicaps himself by wearing bells on his hair so he can't surprise anyone, wearing a power-suppressing eyepatch, and swinging his sword around one-handed. Even with all this, he's still among the most powerful people in the Gotei 13.
    • Later invoked by Zaraki during his fight against Gremmy Thoumeaux, who quickly comes to believe that he's right. Because Gremmy's power has always just immediately given him anything he envisions, he's never really felt true desire before. It's not until Zaraki proves himself too strong to simply imagine away that Gremmy realises what he's been missing, the new sensation of actually wanting to win turning him into a total Blood Knight.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Thor eventually becomes Almighty Thor and uses his new abilities to completely curb-stomp everybody in his path. He says fighting opponents who can't win is boring and asks if anybody can give him a real challenge. Touma Kamijou obliges by weathering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from him, then tricking him into stepping in the path of a passing train.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • One of Goku's defining traits is that he will always fight fair if he can, and will often hold back his full potential in order to make things more interesting if the stakes aren't too high. Given that by the end of the Z series and on into Super he is literally in the top 5 most powerful fighters in the universe, 99.9% of people in said universe wouldn't be able to touch him otherwise. Shown in his afterlife training when the Western Kai challenges him to show off his moves with ten tons of weight attached to each limb:
      King Kai: Goku, just transform into a Super Saiyan!
      Goku: Well yeah, but won't that make it too easy?
    • The Saiyan race as a whole are Challenge Seekers who enjoy fighting strong people and testing their limits and skills against them. At the same time, however, they prefer to fight people who can give them a reasonable challenge before they get bored and decide to curb-stomp them; when faced with a superior opponent, they tend to completely lose their cool. Goku is unique in this because he wants to face opponents who actually have a chance of defeating him.note 
    • Unlike his Bad Future counterpart, who relishes in mass murder and destruction, the present-day Android 17 enjoys himself much more when he's got an even fight on his hands as opposed to a Curb-Stomp Battle, even leaving his defeated opponents alive so they can come back stronger and fight him again in the latter case. He also only follows his programmed directive to seek and destroy Goku for the sake of something entertaining to do, which he makes clear by deliberately sacrificing efficiency for fun in this hunt.
    • After becoming perfect, Cell quickly becomes bored after stomping Vegeta into the ground, and Trunks' Ultra Super Saiyan form proves to be too slow to give him a good challenge. So, he decides to create the Cell Games so Goku and his friends can become stronger to challenge him and test his perfect power. Never once does Cell consider that there's the possibility that any of the Z-Fighters could become strong enough to defeat him (having Vegeta's DNA might have something to do with it), only expecting them to be able to give him a good fight. This eventually leads Cell to push Gohan to his breaking point so he can unleash his hidden power after Goku declares Gohan to be the strongest fighter in the Cell Games. He gets his wish, all right, and promptly get his ass kicked, resulting in an incredible Villainous Breakdown.
    • Majin Buu zig-zags this trope. As Fat Buu, he sees fighting (and killing) as playing, and fighting strong people is fun. As Super Buu, he enjoys a good fight but only if he knows he can win, even going so far as to cheat to regain the advantage. He also subverts this trope outright when he declines Piccolo's request to give Gotenks an extra day to get ready. As Kid Buu, he averts this trope entirely, as he isn't interested in fighting or having fun — all he wants is to destroy.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, Professional Killer Hit will usually just one-shot whoever he's been paid to assassinate without fanfare. If the target proves challenging enough, however, he'll make some exceptions and let the fight go on longer, because he believes he cannot improve if he doesn't face the worst his opponent can offer.
    • In Dragon Ball Super: Broly, Frieza's minions suggest he use the Dragon Balls to wish for a body that cannot ever take damage, but he declines, saying it would make his battles too boring.
  • In Haikyuu!!, Hinata Shoyo tends to be at his most enthusiastic during matches when it's apparent to him just how challenging the opposing team (or particularly its star player) is, a trait his teammates occasionally find a bit unsettling. Unlike most examples, he's not a top-tier player in his own right, having had to essentially self-teach the basics of volleyball (leading to being totally dominated in his first-ever match) and needs improvement in several of the fundamentals, and even when he develops one spiking trick that is very powerful other teams either quickly adapt to it or are good enough to compensate. Hinata likes facing exceptional players because it's the best way to improve his game.
  • In Kakegurui, this is pretty much the central theme. Protagonist Yumeko Jabami is wholly obsessed with gambling; not winning or losing, not the prospect of winning lots of money, but the risk of potentially losing or winning everything, and having no absolute certainty of either. She despises those who even slightly interfere with perfectly balanced odds, though she considers cheating to just be another element that makes games of chance exciting. Because of this, Midari has the dubious honor of being the one person Yumeko unequivocally hates, since she always rigs her gambles to lose.
  • In Legend of the Galactic Heroes, this is one of the primary reasons why Reinhard von Lohengramm wanted to battle with Yang Wen-li whenever the opportunity arose. Having climbed to the highest military rank by his early twenties (and later crowned himself emperor), all that is left for Reinhard is wanting a good challenge from one of the most brilliant tactical geniuses in the whole galaxy. The Battle of Vermilion is a prominent example: he is so disappointed that his victory was handed to him from outside the battlefield that he could not bring himself to thank Hildegard von Mariendorf, who engineered his victory, even though her plan had saved him from the brink of defeat and possible death.
  • In Moriarty the Patriot, Sherlock turns down information on The Lord of Crime from Hope, saying it would be boring if someone simply gave him the answer. He did briefly regret not taking the chance to get answers when his investigation is stumped, although a chance encounter with Moriarty himself breaks him out of the dumps.
    Sherlock: Mysteries are there to be solved! It'd spoil all the fun if someone were to give me the answer, you fool!
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Endeavor in feels this way after All Might retires and he gains the number one hero rank. Believing that he didn't really earn it since it was just given to him.
    • This is also why Bakugo demands that Todoroki use both his fire and ice powers during the sports festival tournament. (Normally he only uses ice, due to a grudge against his fire-powered father). It ends up ruining the festival for Bakugo; instead of feeling proud that he impressed the whole nation with his skills, he walks away feeling insulted that (in his own mind) Todoroki didn't think he was worth using his full power on. Making matters worse, Todoroki did use both elements in the previous round's match with Midoriya, Bakugo's biggest rival, and likely would have lost if he hadn't; Bakugo can't stand that his rival got to take on a bigger challenge from the same opponent, and feels cheated out of any indirect competition with Midoriya.
  • One Piece:
    • Luffy would much rather quit being a pirate than have the location of the titular treasure handed to him on a silver platter because the reason why he became a pirate was to go on an amazing adventure — and there's no adventure in having everything handed to you.
    • Dracule Mihawk, the world's greatest swordsman, has given up on anything challenging him after Shanks, an Emperor of the Sea, lost his arm. There's a reason why the One Piece community says he's suffering from success due to how utterly empty he seemingly feels due to being the best swordsman. When Zoro first challenges him, Mihawk uses a simple steak knife (due to thinking using his actual sword would be overkill) and still easily defeats him. It's only after Zoro shows the determination to defeat him or die trying that Mihawk begins to take interest in him, and spares his life in the hopes that Zoro can one day grow strong enough to challenge him.
    • Kaido of the Four Emperors has been dubbed the "World's Strongest Creature", and that title is not for show. It is even said that, whether it's on land, sea or air, Kaido will always win in a one-on-one, which he usually does in a single blow. Similar to Mihawk, Kaido is hopelessly bored from the lack of challenges, and routinely attempts suicide to pass the time. On the extremely rare occasion that he meets someone capable of giving him a good fight, however, Kaido becomes practically ecstatic, and more than anything else loathes being robbed of a fair fight with a Worthy Opponent.
  • One-Punch Man:
    • This is Saitama's main problem. He's strong enough to beat anyone with just one punch, but that just means that facing off against giant monsters is about exciting as going shopping... or maybe even less interesting, depending on whether there's a sale going on at the time.
    • Boros, the Dominator of the Universe also faced this, rampaging across planets simply to find someone who could prove a match to his incredible strength. He does find it in Saitama, and though it kills him he doesn't really mind even if he clued in at the end even Saitama's final attack wasn't even close to his full power.
  • Comes up a few times in Pokémon as a lesson about having to put in effort instead of deciding a potential challenge isn't worth their time.
  • Tenchi Universe has intergalactic bounty hunter Nagi, who has been relentlessly chasing down Ryoko. Near the end of the series when the cast were about to head out to fight Kagato, Ryoko, and Nagi encounter each other in the ship's hall. Ryoko had already been severely injured in the previous fight with Kagato and tells Nagi that if she wants to settle things between them, then they should fight now. Nagi simply taps Ryoko in her wound, causing her to scream out in pain. The bounty hunter walks off, saying that fighting Ryoko while in such an injured state would leave a bad taste in her mouth.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! had Joey Wheeler in Battle City. He refused to duel against a no-name duelist because of his promise to Yugi that they'd have their post-Battle City duel so Joey can get his Red-Eyes Black Dragon back, choosing only to duel against strong duelists to prove that he's ready. In the English dub, this is changed to Joey wanting to uphold his reputation as the runner-up in Duelist Kingdom.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • This trope sums up the Joker's relationship with Batman. The Clown Prince of Crime absolutely refuses to merely kill the Caped Crusader, explaining that he needs to best Batman with an extraordinary crime before he goes. In one comic, Batman, who's already exhausted from battling another villain, stumbles onto one of the Joker's simpler schemes and collapses without much of a fight. The Joker briefly contemplates killing him but eventually decides that it's too easy, and leaves the Dark Knight unconscious without harming the crimefighter.
      • Double subverted in The Batman Adventures issue "Mad Love"; Joker finds Harley has captured the Batman and is preparing to kill him in a perfectly planned death trap, and Joker absolutely furious because the only person allowed to kill Batman is him. He beats the crap out of Harley for daring to interfere, and lets Batman go because he had no part in the scheme. Then he changes his mind and decides to kill Batman while he's still tied up, just by shooting him with a gun, because why not?
    • The Riddler may hate losing, but he doesn't like winning without a fight either. In Batman: Zero Year, he's actually glad when Batman turns out to be alive as almost everyone else had given up trying to defeat him.
  • In Marvel Versus DC, Wonder Woman discovers Thor's missing hammer, misplaced by his fight with Captain Marvel. Grabbing it, she ends up with Thor's power on top of her own. When Storm of the X-Men arrives for her fight with Wonder Woman, the latter muses that she could easily win with her new power... the considers it boring and unfair and discards the hammer and the power for a slightly more fair fight.
  • Similar to the Joker example above, Dr. Eggman in the Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) series wants to best the hedgehog in battle before killing him, which is why he chews out Dr. Starline when he finds out he nearly killed him with a simple bomb.
  • An old Archie Comics story has Jughead cleaning out an old pool table and waking up the spirit of a warlock who once made the mistake of beating his boss at a game centuries ago. The other warlock cursed the man to be stuck to the table until someone could beat him. Part of the curse is that the warlock can't lose on purpose, he has to be beaten fairly. And as he sardonically notes, he's gotten very good at pool over several hundred years. He and Jughead play a game where, thanks to unexpected distractions from Moose and Reggie, Jughead beats the guy fair and square. The grateful warlock is happy to finally be freed and as a reward, grants all his knowledge of pool to Jughead who, before long, is hustling his way to free meals around Riverdale.

    Fan Works 
  • In Alpha and Omega, Shinji describes to Rebuild-Asuka that he gave up the power of God after he fixed the world because it was so boring. He could do anything he wanted with ease, which removed the point of doing anything at all.
    Shinji: Imagine a videogame where nothing can hurt or attack you and you can instantly kill every enemy without even pushing a button. Absolute power doesn't corrupt absolutely; it leaves you absolutely sick of it.
  • Part of why Harry Potter dislikes Quidditch in Breath of the Inferno is because as a dragon animagus, he can sense gold, so even without his Super Senses he still always knows where the golden Snitch is. That and it's more fun to fly under his own power.
  • Something that Vergil has frustrations with in The Devil of Zero is that there are hardly any powerful warriors in Halkeginia near his level. He actually starts to miss Dante because of how unsatisfied he is with the challenges there.
  • Kefla in The Legend of the Dragon Ball: Rise of the Saiyans is deeply disappointed in winning the World Martial Arts Tournament because her final opponent, Roshi, was so drained from his fight against Goku that she won with ease.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf:
    • Littlefinger desperately offers to sell out the world to the Ruinous Powers via the Wolf (who to kill, where to attack, etc.). The Wolf doesn't take him up on it, explaining to Arya that it wouldn't be fun.
    • Confirmed much later when the Wolf reappears at a crucial moment to ensure the Unsullied and the Seven Kingdoms will fight against him. As he explains to a subordinate, simply sallying forth to crush the Westeros armies in a single swoop would deprive the forces of Chaos of the opportunity to prove their valor in the eyes of the gods. Thus he deliberately fields smaller armies that cause immense slaughter but pulls them back before they can overrun the defenders.
  • This is the gist of the Death Note fic Perfectly Hollow, in which the two TV Genius main characters never meet each other. Both go through life completely bored, never finding anything or anyone that could challenge them.
  • In a moment of introspection in The (Questionable) Burdens of Leadership of a Troll Emperor, Naruto laments that his godhood means he hasn't felt the rush of a life and death struggle in centuries. Not only is he immortal, but any failures, setbacks, or even difficulties are due exclusively to him and Xanna refusing to use their powers as a Self-Imposed Challenge.
  • After thousands of years of loops in Screw You Fate, I'm Going Home, Lelouch remarks about how boring "the game" has become because he always wins. After spending a loop refusing to get involved in the conflict with Britannia, Lelouch decides to see if he can defeat Britannia without Geass.
  • In the Invader Zim and The Loud House fanfic Siblings of Doom!, Lincoln ends up beating Gaz repeatedly in video games. The latter becomes deeply obsessed with beating Lincoln, even following him to his house. Lincoln considers throwing a game, but Lynn points out that Gaz would hate pity even more than an earned victory.
  • Discussed in Two Letters: After spending nearly two years harassing Ladybug about wanting a Relationship Upgrade, Adrien/Chat Noir finally decided to move on to a new target: Marinette. This happened right as Ladybug was starting to consider accepting his advances, while Marinette had just given up her hopeless crush on Adrien. Luka notes that the timing of this Unrequited Love Switcheroo makes it appear that he was only chasing Ladybug for the challenge of seducing somebody who wasn't interested, especially since Marinette proved resistant as well. Adrien dismisses the idea; however, given how it's heavily implied that he still wants a relationship with Marinette even after she calls him out (along with how she helped strip him of the Ring), there may be more truth there than he's willing to acknowledge.
  • The skahs (warriors) of Baravada are defined by this trope in With Strings Attached. They would not dream of fighting civilians, for example, because they would be too easy to defeat.
    • And in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, we're reminded of this because all the tirin (civilians) have been taken to live elsewhere—taking with them their knowledge of Sage magic, which the four desperately need, but which the skahs wizards never studied much because it made things too easy.

  • In the mountaineering documentary The Alpinist, veteran German climber Reinhold Messner says that mountain climbing would be a bit boring without the threat of death.
  • In Coming to America, Akeem is thoroughly unsatisfied with his life of luxury and his arranged wife who promises to cater to his every whim and sets off to live as a normal man to find a wife he respects.
  • Gladiator: In one match, Maximus kills each of his opponents extremely quickly, leaving his audience totally silent, which makes him chastise them by saying "Are you not entertained?!" Proximo also criticizes Maximus for this, urging him to "win the crowd" when he fights.
  • The Beast in Kung Fu Hustle is introduced locked up in a mental institution, but he could easily break out any time he wishes. He voluntarily stays there because there doesn't seem to be anyone left who can offer a challenge and put up a good fight against him.
  • A deleted scene from The Lost World: Jurassic Park has Roland Tembo bringing this trope up with Ajay. Tembo notes that he has become such an effective hunter that not only do his latest hunting expeditions wrap up too easily to be thrilling, but he has also started feeling bad for the relatively defenseless animals he is killing. This is what motivates Ajay to bring him along on the Isla Sorna expedition to hunt the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex.
  • In The Matrix, Agent Smith believes this to be the reason behind the failure of the first iteration of the Matrix, which was designed as a perfect utopia. He rationalizes that humans define themselves through misery and suffering, and thus paradise was a dream they couldn't accept as reality. The actual reason is that, to accept the Matrix, humans need to believe they have a choice in the matter, even if they aren't really aware of it.
  • In The Princess Bride, Inigo uses this to justify swordfighting with his left hand despite, you know...
    • Similarly, Fezzik refuses to throw a rock at the Man in Black because he thinks it "isn't very sportsmanlike". Instead, he tells the Man in Black, "We face each other as God intended. Sportsmanlike. No tricks, no weapons, skill against skill alone."
  • In Spartacus Varinia asks her current master why he doesn't just have his way with her. He tells her he wants her to give herself to him.
  • Star Trek: Generations has the character-against-environment variant. In a matrix that's sort of a fantasy world, Captain Kirk is riding a horse as it jumps across a chasm, in a reconstruction of his old homestead. Then he realizes how futile it is jumping across the chasm as he did many times before since in the fantasy version there's no way he could be hurt if he fell in, removing all the thrill from it.
  • Superman II's villain, General Zod, describes exactly this early on and is shown bored as hell in the White House after taking over the world. He sounds sad and disappointed when he utters the line.
    Zod: I win. I always win. Is there no one on this planet to even challenge me?

  • Agatha Christie invokes this trope in a sad way for "The Apples of Hesperides," one of the short stories in The Labours of Hercules. Emery Power, an incredibly rich man, hires Hercule Poirot to track down an extremely valuable (30,000 pounds-worth) golden goblet he had previously purchased at an auction and was stolen before he could receive it. Poirot eventually discovers the missing chalice at a small convent in Ireland; the thief's daughter had been a nun there, and she donated the goblet without realizing just how priceless it was. At Poirot's suggestion, Power lets the nuns keep the chalice — he's more interested in the knowledge that he owned the cup than the cup itself. But when Poirot returns to the Mother Superior and tells the whole story, he remarks that Power is a desperately unhappy man: his wealth has made him able to buy or obtain anything he wants, which has taken all the challenge — and therefore all the joy — out of his life.
  • In Anansi Boys, Spider can make people believe or do what he wants them to. In general, he just considers it a good way to have fun with people, but when he starts to get emotionally close to someone he feels a lot more conflicted about it.
  • In Bridge of Birds, the wise man Li Kao, who has a slight flaw in his character, tells Number Ten Ox that he would actually have become a criminal like his parents if he hadn't found getting away with crimes to be so easy it was boring and that solving crimes was more of a challenge for him.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series: In "The Mule", the villain admits that he grew up lonely and unloved, so he used his mutant powers to force people to be his friends. Finding someone willing to be his friend without forcing it was so novel that he couldn't justify Brainwashing her. Because of this flaw, he lost his best chance at conquering the galaxy.
  • The Sax Rohmer novel, The Golden Scorpion: The Yellow Peril villain Fo-Hi, who has spent years training himself to be The Spock in order to gain supernormal mental abilities, including limited mind control, falls in love with the Damsel in Distress. Only to find that the very strength of this new emotion is causing his mind control ability to force her to agree, despite his wanting her free acceptance of his love. Since he refuses to lie a false love would be hollow to him.
  • In Assassins of Gor a young chess prodigy is forced by the ruler to play a game of chess against a foolish simpleton. The prodigy at first refuses, saying it would be an insult to the Game until he's threatened with death.
  • Industrial Society and Its Future: Kaczynski claims industrial society disrupts what he's called the “power process”, which is goal, effort, attainment of goal, and autonomy roughly. He says that having basic needs secure leads to boredom, frustration, and decadence. Because one desires goals, even the most leisured group comes up with what he calls “substitute activities” which fill the gap. This can be anything from fighting to science, in his view. He terms these as artificial goals since they don't relate to any need that's natural. In his view, they cause further problems however since he claims they don't leave people ultimately satisfied and are often also harmful on a far larger scale (e.g. science just for the sake of knowledge that can create technology that hurts people) and often impede the last part, autonomy, greatly.
  • A lesson learned by Eragon in The Inheritance Cycle's second book, Eldest. He meets the elf smith who is responsible for forging every single one of the Dragon Riders' swords, Rhunön, and finds that, rather than use any magic to ply her craft, Rhunön does all of the work with her own bare hands. Upon being asked why, Rhunön is indignant that Eragon would suggest robbing herself of the pleasure of the task. It's a strange concept for a person used to having to work just to survive, but for Elves who can accomplish basically whatever they need with magic, the enjoyment of the task is more important than the goal. Eragon experiences this later when his improved magical abilities allow him to detect prey at great distances and kill it effortlessly without ever even alerting it, rather than indulge in tracking, chasing, and archery.
    Rhunön: "When you can have anything you want by uttering a few words, the goal matters not, only the journey to it."
  • It turns out that this is the biggest problem facing Brakebills graduates in The Magicians. Most students tend to be highly-competitive challenge-oriented individuals who flourish while studying the Difficult, but Awesome art of magic, but go to seed without something to focus on. Worse still, magic is capable of satisfying all material needs once mastered, so life becomes frustratingly easy. Some graduate magicians waste their time with pointless hobbies, some descend into hedonism, while others begin taking serious risks while Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life — as is the case with Quentin and the main characters.
  • The whole purpose of both The Most Dangerous Game's story as well as the trope in general. In the original short story, the villain is a big-game hunter who got bored with dumb animals and started hunting humans who could present more of a challenge. Then he finds another almost equally-bored big-game hunter who would be even more of a challenge than random sailors who don't know how to really fight back.
  • In The Perilous Gard, the main character is offered a love potion to give to her love interest by the fairy queen. She declines because she wants him to really love her.
  • Darth Vader suffers from this during the events of Shadows of the Empire. Luke's flying during the Battle of Yavin and their duel on Cloud City gave him the best challenge he'd had in years. Suddenly, fighting against his lightsaber droids and blasting Rebels in his TIE Advanced x1 was too easy now and left him disgusted in how easy it was.
  • Angela from Super Powereds felt this way about refusing the title of Captain Starlight. While she could have never gone to the trouble of earning it, she wouldn't have felt like she was actually making a choice in deciding that she didn't want to just mimic the fame of her grandfather. She also feels this way about winning Chad's affection, since most other male characters she can easily seduce.
  • Villains Don't Date Heroes!: The lack of challenge is why Night Terror feels so bored at the beginning. She's now defeated all the heroes, who all run off at the sight of her, with the police putting up only a token effort to stop her too. Thus she's delighted when Fialux challenges her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "Soul Mates", during the middle of deciding which two of his three wives to divorce, Londo is laid low by a poisoning, and one of his wives has a blood type that can save him. Though she actually doesn't like him and wouldn't entirely mind seeing him die as she would be his widow, she donates her blood to save him anyway because she doesn't want to win her battles in such a one-sided way.
  • This turns out to be Nakadai Mikoto's backstory in Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger. Due to being the host for half of the Big Bad, he picked up anything he tried with zero effort. After years of intolerable boredom, he found a Transformation Trinket and became a supervillain just because it seemed fun.
  • The Brady Bunch:
    • In one episode Bobby is all bent out of shape that he's the only one in the family without a trophy. He tries selling magazine subscriptions, since there's a trophy for the one who sells the most, and seems to be doing quite well. But Cindy accidentally comments that their parents put their friends up to buying most of the subscriptions, so Bobby cancels those orders, saying that a trophy won from that wouldn't be worth anything.
    • In another episode where Jan thinks she's no good at anything, Greg has the great idea of everybody throwing games of skill for her to win: Greg throws a game of Ping Pong, Marcia & Cindy lose at Monopoly, and Peter & Bobby lose at darts. Cindy accidentally spills the beans to their parents though, and they convince the kids that winning that way doesn't help Jan. Greg apologizes to her on behalf of the group and of course they're Easily Forgiven.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "I Was Made to Love You", Warren makes a robot girlfriend who looks and acts exactly like a real girl — except it agrees with him 100% and does nothing but tries to please him. Eventually he meets someone who challenges him, disagrees with, and requires him to actually try to make her happy. Suddenly his pleasure-bot holds no appeal, so he leaves her for the one that challenges him. Of course, being a spineless creep, he doesn't so much break up with his robot girlfriend or even shut her down, he just leaves her to run down her batteries.
  • Columbo gets his kicks playing mind games with Smug Snakes and sweating them until they make a mistake. However, in "How to Dial a Murder" after catching a psychologist with a Complexity Addiction who was simply awful at covering his tracks, Columbo flat-out gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech for making so many stupid mistakes and says he was disappointed that he made it so easy.
  • In the Dinosaurs episode "Nuts to War", when the two-legged animals are unable to get pistachios, Fran asks Earl why he can't just have another nut snack. Earl dismisses the idea because they aren't shelled, providing no challenge in getting the nuts out of the shells.
  • The Good Place: This seems to be the problem with the Good Place for some residents, like Hypatia of Alexandria. With everything they want at their command, true fulfillment and purpose are both steadily dissolved over time until they're left in a mindless pleasurable haze.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: In "Beast's Obsession", Olivia tries to invoke this by not fighting Lewis in hopes that he'll lose his interest in raping her if she doesn't put up a struggle. It works, but he comes up with something arguably worse to do instead.
  • LazyTown: In "The First Day of Summer," the kids, Meanswell, Bessie, and Sportacus all head to the beach for a day of fun in the sun. Robbie is initially thrilled that everyone is gone and revels in the peace and quiet...but before long, he realizes that without victims, it's just no fun to pull evil schemes. He even goes so far as to dress up as the townspeople and have full-blown conversations with himself to "foil" his own plans. When everyone returns at the end of the episode, Robbie is thrilled to see them and even leads the group in "Bing-Bang."
  • In The Librarians, this is at least part of the reason why Ezekiel Jones is on the team. Before becoming a Librarian-in-Training, he was a world-class thief, and as Stone points out, with the resources the Library has given him, he could rob the world blind with barely any effort. Ezekiel replies by saying that that would be too easy, and he likes a challenge.
  • Enforced in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Secret Agent Super Dragon". TV's Frank has devised a VR device simulating a comedy routine. As he's caught up in and winning the adulation of the audience, Dr. Forrester walks in and sees Frank in action. He realizes Frank's winning too easily and changes the program so they react more realistically. Poor Frank doesn't realize this at all.
  • The Orville: In "Future Unknown" Kelly tells Lysella how one major reason people still pursue goals in their Post-Scarcity Economy is it's boring to just sit around and do nothing of value. Even becoming skilled at what would now be viewed as menial labor, like being a waiter, qualifies in their society as well rather than just more lofty things such as pursuing science or the arts.
  • This trope was a running theme on Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The witches and warlocks who inhabit the Other Realm have the power to bend reality to their will, getting almost everything they want with a few simple gestures or incantations; many of them also snub Helda, Zelda, and Sabrina for choosing to live in the mortal world and having to actually work to get things. But on at least two occasions, it's revealed that there's general dissatisfaction among magic users:
    • Sabrina's Aunt Vesta lives in "the Pleasure Dome," a place full of perpetual enjoyments (a restaurant with desserts that make you thinner, a giant amusement park, a mall that never closes, etc.) At the end of the episode, Vesta remarks that the happiness she gets from living there is rather shallow...but then goes with it anyway, laughing that it still feels good.
    • Sabrina's cousin Marigold and her two daughters are not only witches but also extremely wealthy and spoiled — to the point where the girls don't even dress themselves without using magic. When Marigold breaks the cardinal rule of witchdom by telling a mortal (a plumber who she's fallen for) about her and her daughters' powers, all three lose them. While the children are devastated, Marigold comments that she had magic for hundreds of years, but it never truly made her happy; living in the mortal world for a few days has.
  • Space: Above and Beyond: In "Sugar Dirt", the human forces launch an assault to seize a base previously taken by the Chigs. The attack goes off flawlessly, and the humans effortlessly occupy the base and begin settling in. Given that the Chigs typically put up a hellishly difficult fight for the humans at every turn, their failure to defend the base sets off red flags for the human leaders. It was a trap, and a devastating Chig counterattack, including additional forces pulled from another important Chig base, quickly overwhelms the human forces newly occupying the base.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • In the episode "The Squire of Gothos", Trelaine repeatedly complains that hunting Kirk is "too easy" to provide the fun he'd hoped for.
    • The page quote comes from "This Side of Paradise", where the crew comes upon a seeming paradise planet with Kirk musing that humanity wasn't really meant for such a thing.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • In "The Neutral Zone", Ralph Offenhouse has this view regarding the 24th Century society (what little he knows of it) since he was a financier, a job the moneyless economy of the Federation has no use for. Picard tells him that the challenge is to "improve yourself" (what this means isn't explained). In the Expanded Universe, he goes on to become the Federation Ambassador to the Ferengi after adapting to life in the 24th Century.
    • In "Elementary, Dear Data", as Data has read every Sherlock Holmes book, he is able to deduce the entire plot when he and Geordi play in the holodeck. So Geordi orders the computer to create a new mystery and plot worthy of challenging Data. The computer brings the Moriarty character to full sentience and awareness of his surroundings beyond the limits of his program. From inside the holodeck, he is able to devise a means of destroying the ship. It also crafts a separate Holmes-like mystery that isn't just an amalgamation of plots and tropes from the books. Data solves the latter but cannot overcome the former problem alone.
    • In "The Outrageous Okona", Data attempts to understand humor using a holodeck simulation. When he realizes that the simulated audience laughs no matter how badly he bombs, he shuts down the program.
    • In "A Fistful of Datas", Worf and his son Alexander are in a Western holodeck program. Playing sheriff, Worf easily defeats the outlaw Eli Hollander, but Alexander complains it's much too easy, so he resets the program to a higher difficulty level. As Worf likes a challenging fight, he approves the increased difficulty.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • This is part of the explanation of linear time that Sisko provides to the Bajoran "Prophets" (who live "outside" of time) in "Emissary" — that it's discovering the unknown that makes humans strive forward. Not just to find answers to their questions, but for new questions to ask and that not knowing what the next moment or the next day might bring opens the door to new challenges and ideas.
    • Chief O'Brien challenges Dr. Bashir to a game of racquetball in "Rivals". O'Brien is an amateur who plays for fun, while Bashir was captain of his team at Starfleet Medical Academy and won a championship. Bashir wipes the floor with O'Brien in the first match, but when he takes it easy on O'Brien in a rematch, the Chief furiously ends the game because he would rather lose badly than be handed a victory he didn't earn.
      O'Brien: I don't need your charity! Next time, you either play your best game or you don't play.
  • The Hirogen from Star Trek: Voyager are like this. The more powerful and cunning the prey, the more enjoyable the hunt. This comes back to bite them on the ass in "Flesh and Blood" when they program holographic prey that become more dangerous than their creators.
  • Star Trek: Discovery: In "Battle at the Binary Stars", the USS Shenzou stands her ground against a fleet of two dozen Klingon warships. The Klingons, rallied together by T'Kuvma to take on the Federation, complain that the single starship poses no challenge for them. Cue the arrival of ten Federation starships to back up Shenzou, and the Klingons are presented with the challenge they wanted. With better than two-to-one odds in their favor, of course.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • In "A Nice Place to Visit", an inveterate criminal named Rocky Valentine dies and goes to the afterlife: a pleasant place where he gets everything he wants and all his gambles always pay off. He enjoys it at first, but eventually becomes dissatisfied with how easy everything is and asks to be sent to The Other Place, saying he doesn't belong in Heaven. The reply he gets: "Whatever gave you the idea you were in Heaven, Mr. Valentine? This is the other place! Mwah-hahahaha!"
    • In "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville", William J. Feathersmith has become extremely bored with his position of wealth and power as the thrill was in the acquisition rather than the possession. He makes a Deal with the Devil to be transported back in time to Cliffordville, Indiana in 1910 so that he can relive his glory days and use his knowledge of the future to become even wealthier.
  • A late episode of VR Troopers involved Knighttime, a villain from an alternate universe Grimlord had worked with before, going rogue and hatching their own plan to conquer Earth (much to Grimlord's ire) by using a device called the Omegachron to cause all time on Earth to freeze. The VR Troopers become aware of this and set out to destroy the device; Ryan is assaulted by Grimlord when the latter arrives to figure out how the device works, but both he and Ryan find that the device's control panel zaps them in attempting to use it. Grimlord wants to take advantage of this somehow, but Ryan points out that conquering a world where time is always frozen wouldn't be very fun or satisfying. Though annoyed by Ryan being right, he and Ryan work together to destroy the device.
  • The robots in Westworld are programmed only to give minimal resistance to the human guests in the park, a fact which seriously bothers The Man in Black; if the robots can't fight back, then nothing that happens in the park actually matters, and he desperately wants them to matter. When the robots later revolt, he's therefore delighted, despite it endangering his life because at last there's risk and challenge involved.
  • In Season 4 of The Wire, Avon Barksdale has been locked up for a while now, and Omar Little's reputation leads to him being able to terrify the guppies left behind easily. Case-in-point: his first appearance of the season has him going out in a teal bathrobe with no gun to get cereal from a corner store. Every dealer still runs from him, and a drug house drops a package his way just because they don't want any trouble. He quickly gets bored of this, and decides to set up a robbery of Marlo Stanfield, the kingpin who took Avon's crown. The resulting rivalry between them lasts the rest of the series.

  • One omake in Embers in the Dusk describes Abaddon finally grinding through the defenses of Cadia after a thousand years, and extremely disappointed that by then, the soldiers are so ground down and exhausted they cannot even offer a proper Last Stand. He is so disappointed, in fact, that he gathers the survivors and offers them to buy their lives by giving him a proper fight that'll impress him in some way surpassing those of their ancestors. He even swears an unbreakable oath he'll follow his word. They do manage to match the older fights, but not surpass them... until during his final rampage, some teen manages to nick him with her sword. While it's a scratch he barely feels, it is still a feat no Badass Normal had ever managed, only supersoldiers and Xenos, so he is forced to follow his oath — the survivors are given a ship and a Navigator, and are sent to find as safe a place as they can in the galaxy.

  • An age-old argument comes up in sports, particularly at the college level and somewhat less so at the high school level, with regard to the level of competition of the opponent. Particularly prevalent in football and basketball, teams will sometimes deliberately schedule games against perennially weak programs to guarantee a win, reasoning that it builds confidence and allows teams to -– once a large lead is built –- work on untested plays or actual game situations that have given them trouble against better competition, and/or play deep reserves who normally wouldn't see playing time without having to pay much of or any price. On the other hand, other programs –- including but not always traditionally strong programs –- will schedule games against as strong of teams as possible, believing that one does not get better by consistently playing bad teams, and it is this latter philosophy that fits this trope ... beating or at least being competitive against strong teams, or even just the opportunity to learn from playing the better team after taking a brutal loss, no matter the strength of your own team, has more benefits in the end than soundly and decisively beating a pitifully weak team.

  • In the French classical piece Le Cid by Pierre Corneille, there is a very famous line that says "À vaincre sans péril on triomphe sans gloire." Which roughly translates as "To win without risk is to triumph without glory."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Enforced in 3rd and 4th Editions as a game mechanic. Enemies of a Challenge Rating more than a certain number below your party's level simply stop giving experience points; you've got to fight things that are closer to your level in power to get any further.
    • In the Tyranny of Dragons module, Lennithon is an adult blue dragon that attacks the town of Greenest, which serves as the opening level. The dragon can be convinced to leave the town and stop causing any more chaos by convincing him that the assault on the town isn't worth his time. If the players don't do this, Lennithon will eventually leave anyway because fighting a bunch of peasants that just die without giving him any sort of resistance has gotten really old to him.

    Video Games 
  • See Challenge Gamer for a player with this mindset. If a game does not have official ways of making the game hard enough to be satisfying for such a player (e.g. harder difficulty levels), they may attempt a Self-Imposed Challenge.
    • Video game reviewer "Yahtzee" Croshaw theorizes that "Challenge" is one-third of what makes a good video game, generally speaking (the other two-thirds being Context and Catharsis). Challenge being relative to the player's ability naturally, and if it's pants-poopingly hard for someone, they might not find it fun to grind through. However, if it's outright insultingly easy, no one will be able to wake their brain enough to be able to have fun.
  • Speaking of, the Self-Imposed Challenge just reeks of this. These are undertaken by gamers who have gotten so good at a game that the game's intended challenge simply isn't enough for them, so they decide to attempt some utterly bananas challenges like getting to Ganon with no sword, getting to Bowser with no stars, treating fainted Pokémon as Killed Off for Real, escaping the mansion without firing a bullet, or escaping the BSL Research Station with 0% completion.
  • This trope is commonly the reason why Carmen Sandiego went into crime. She was originally an ACME detective (or a former spy, depending on how old the game is), and eventually became the absolute best the agency had ever seen. After a while, though, Carmen became too good at her job, and pulled a massive Face–Heel Turn by becoming a criminal, reasoning that it was a lot more fun to try to outwit her former employers rather than work for them.
  • This is the justification for continues in Comix Zone. The Big Bad is disappointed that you went down so easily and grants you another chance.
  • Morrigan Aensland, from the Darkstalkers series, is one of the most powerful characters in Capcom's entire pantheon of fighting game characters. Rather than exercise this power, however, she limits her strength just enough so she can be an even match for her opponents, so that her fights can be fun (which she has a biological drive to do: in the world of Darkstalkers, succubi like Morrigan can literally die of boredom).
  • Fate/Grand Order: Scathach has no interest in actually dying, and likes the fact she doesn't age. However, she sometimes wishes she wasn't immortal because she's a Blood Knight, but her fights start to get boring because she is in no danger.
  • Zenos in Final Fantasy XIV is an incredibly powerful Garlean viceroy who easily defeats anyone who tries to stand up to him. Because no one can be on equal footing to him, Zenos generally doesn't go out of his way to fight anyone unless they attack him since he finds no challenge in beating anyone weaker than him. He eventually gets bored with winning all the time and is in a slump until he meets the Warrior of Light. He effortlessly beats them as well, but notices how much of a fight they had put up compared to everyone else and encourages them to get stronger. In their final clash, Zenos is absolutely ecstatic with how powerful the Warrior of Light has become and is happy that he finally found someone that can push him to his limits.
  • Michael in Grand Theft Auto V is, like the other two playable characters, a deconstruction of the usual Grand Theft Auto protagonist, in this case showing him after he's "won". He is living large in Witness Protection with a mountain of his ill-gotten gains, a beautiful wife, two kids, and a mansion in a rich neighborhood... and he is so utterly miserable that he gets back into a life of crime to alleviate the boredom of suburban life.
  • In Immortal Souls, Big Bad Draconis tells John that he can mind-control his Love Interest Allison into forgiving him for the wrong he did against her, and into saying she loves him. John considers it, but declines, saying he'd rather hope to someday hear it all from her and have her actually mean it.
  • Kang The Mad in his good ending in Jade Empire feels this way. Now that he realizes he's a God and immortal, the angry villagers that chase after him when he explodes something aren't thrilling or inspiring anymore. He solves the problem by arming the villagers with his own inventions that can hurt him.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: Canderous cites this as the reason he despises the Mandalorian mercenaries and bandits the party encounters. He considers them embarrassments to the armor and dishonorable thugs shaking down farmers and settlers, "taking scraps when they should be taking worlds!" It's also the reason he signs on with a boatload of Jedi and Republic sympathizers. Cracking heads for the local branch of the local crime syndicate is no fun at all — going up against Darth Malak and the massive Sith army in a stolen smuggler's boat? Yeah, that's more like it!
  • A variant in Mass Effect: when the Reaper Sovereign approached the geth for an alliance, it offered the geth a Reaper body as a reward. A Reaper body would be capable of housing all the geth programs in a single structure, something that the geth would like very, very much, and have been working for hundreds of years on building themselves (they're nowhere close to completion). The geth (most of them, anyway), however, reject this offer, believing that they must "self-determinate", or build their own destiny, not rely on the aid of others.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Zaeed Massani gives this as his reason why he'd never take a security gig. He'd be good at it, sure, but it's too cozy for him.
  • In Mortal Kombat 11, Kano's ending shows him initially using his new powers to get everything he wants. He soon realizes that this is boring, so he makes a new reality where he has to work to achieve his desires.
  • In Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, The Rival Nemona is one of the regional Champions and as a consequence has almost nobody capable of giving her a challenge in battle. Upon meeting the Player Character she realizes their potential and decides I Need You Stronger, spending the entirety of their adventure trying to mold them into a Champion like her while giving herself handicaps in their battles.
  • A running theme in the Sly Cooper games. Sly and his entire family have spent all of their lives robbing master criminals rather than ordinary people, as the latter poses absolutely no challenge at all. Sly sums up their attitude in the first game: "You rip off a master criminal, you know you're a master thief."
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Sonic lives for the thrill of adventure, and while he doesn't go out of his way to seek a conflict or hurt people, there is no doubt that he loves a good fight with anyone that can challenge him. He even states outright in Sonic and the Secret Rings and Sonic Generations that adventures are no fun if they're "too easy."
  • In Takeshi & Hiroshi, Takeshi's goal as an amateur game designer is to make his game just challenging enough for his sick little brother Hiroshi to enjoy it by crafting enemy encounters that aren't too hard that they kill him, but also not too easy that he'll get bored and want to stop playing.
  • In Dissidia Final Fantasy, the Onion Knight uses this trope in a bid to get Exdeath to allow him and Terra go unharmed, by recommending he go find someone stronger to fight than a woman and a child. Of course, this kind of psychological ploy isn't really something that Exdeath would care all that much about, but, as he's a centuries-old Eldritch Abomination that believes all things to be inexorably destined to return to the Void regardless, he allows them to pass unharmed (albeit with an ominous remark about their pursuit of Cosmos' crystals).

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa:
  • This trope forms the core motivation for the Big Bad of Dies Irae, Reinhard. He is so powerful that nothing can even hope to stand up to him, yet he also realized just how dull this is and just can't feel alive. Doubly so since he is also a Blood Knight that craves conflict. Hence why he teamed up with the mysterious Mercurius in order to help in creating a foe that is worthy of him that will allow him to go all out for the first time in his life.
  • Momoyo from Majikoi! Love Me Seriously! loves to fight, and as heir to the Kawakami Temple, she has no shortage of challengers willing to take her on. Unfortunately, her strength and skill are so great that she can beat most enemies with one attack, and even the best fighters in the world can barely get her to break a sweat before she beats them. This string of near-effortless victories has left Momoyo with a growing sense of boredom and frustration, and she tries to alleviate it in different ways depending on the route.

    Web Animation 
  • In Dragon ShortZ Episode 4 "Yamcha Strikes Out," Yamcha may be the weakest member of the Dragon Ball team heroes, but he's still one of the strongest people on the planet. When he tries his career in major league baseball, he hits his five hundredth consecutive home run because he has Super Strength. Yamcha is also implied to use Super Speed and flight to equally devastate the field when the opposing team is at bat. It's reached the point that any team Yamcha faces knows they'll lose, the fans aren't showing up because of how boring things are,note  and Yamcha's own teammates loathe him for being so far behind him. Yamcha is fired by the manager and owner to allow them to have genuine competition again. On the plus side, he's paid 20 billion zeni if he agrees to a non-compete contract, plus he can still do advertisements for money.
  • The Spirit of Creation in RWBY, Ambrosius, lives to push The Power of Creation as creatively as he can within the confines of the requests of those who call on him. Mundane requests, such as making Atlas float, bore and irritate him. Team RWBY's first request is so challenging, however, that he's thrilled by the sheer headache it causes him. He has to create a copy of Penny using her existing virus-infected robot parts, which will fall foul of his "one creation only" rule. The real Penny is therefore left as a soul without a complete body. As he is not allowed to destroy anything, Penny must continue to exist and her new physical form is more about what her soul can manifest than his own work, allowing it to survive the "only one creation" rule. He does warn the team that this request is extremely dangerous, as even Ambrosius has no idea what will actually result from the process.

  • In Backwards Compatible, a short-lived webcomic about a group of video game reviewers, one of the characters winds up with the "PWNED", a magical artifact that curses its owner to be unbeatable at playing video games. He doesn't see the issue at first, but then he beats Dragon's Lair in a single try without dying once. At that point he realizes that he can't be an effective video game reviewer because he won't be able to tell whether a game is challenging or not anymore, and being able to beat games without having to actually do anything means that they're no longer fun. So he gets rid of the PWNED.
  • Invoked in Goblins: The heroes need to prove themselves in an adventure before they can receive the location of the goblins' camp. Forgath, a dwarven fighter, prays to his god (the DM) for a tougher challenge because he felt their last adventure was a cakewalk that offered them very little XP. The DM answers his prayer/taunt by creating a giant fiery pit with the words "FINE! CAKEWALK THIS!" etched in the stones on the outer ring.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • On one occasion Xykon tells Roy to go away to level up a few times, and come back when he's tough enough to be a challenging opponent. Xykon is an epic-level Sorcerer lich and thus very few things can actually put up a fight against him. Granted, in the rare times he does face something that can threaten even him (as seen when he fights the ghost of Soon Kim), he becomes pretty uneasy, in large part because he's a Control Freak.
    • Also inverted when Xykon and Team Evil are at Kraagor's Tomb. The tomb is built from magic stone, meaning the lich can't just phase through it. As such, he and his team have to fight the hordes of obscenely powerful monsters put in there. Xykon is actually pretty delighted at the prospect since they're strong enough to give him experience, something very rare at his level. In fact, if Redcloak wasn't there to heal his injuries, he probably would've even been defeated at least once.

    Western Animation 
  • In "Woo-oo!," the first episode of DuckTales (2017), it's revealed that Scrooge McDuck has become a bitter recluse over the years, and though he's richer than ever, he's completely lost his passion for life, instead spending all of his times in board meetings (and even then, he usually does nothing more than rubber stamp whatever his financial advisors suggest) — he's even lost the ability to perform his trademark Money Bin dive. When Donald and his nephews come back into his life and inadvertently summon a monster that he had trapped in storage, Scrooge finds himself actually smiling for the first time in ages as he fights it, realizing that he's recovered the purpose he lost long ago (symbolized by his performing a perfect Money Bin dive once more).
  • In Earthworm Jim, 3 of Bob the Killer Goldfish's cat minions had died and gone to Kitty Heaven ("Where the milk flows like waterfalls, and the mice are slow") long before encountering Jim. There's a Gilligan Cut where we see said cats bored out of their skulls because the mice are too easy to catch.
  • In the Futurama episode "Free Will Hunting", Bender is acquitted in court because, as a robot, all decisions are dictated by his programming and he is thus not responsible for his actions. This depresses Bender since it means he has no choice in how he acts and goes on a spiritual journey (which he hates doing). Futurama also parodied The Twilight Zone episode above.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: In Miraculous World New York United Heroez, before Adrien learns he'll be allowed to go to New York with his classmates, Kagami suggests he uses the extra time to improve his fencing since defeating him is so easy she can't enjoy it.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes: Professor Venomous was once a widely feared supervillain, but at the behest of other high-level villains like Cosma, he mostly retired to profitable crimes or even legitimate business. He quickly became wildly wealthy, but found it boring and pointless because there was no challenge or action; he’s just doing paperwork, making phone calls, and attending board meetings instead of actually being a supervillain. All he really wants to do is fight heroes and terrorize the world like any self-respecting Mad Scientist. This causes him to form an Odd Friendship with Lord Boxman because while Boxman is a bumbling idiot, he at least refuses to be a glorified executive and continues to battle heroes, lack of profits be damned.
  • An episode of Quack Pack, "Dental Mental", has Huey accidentally get a mind control device surgically attached to his head, which he subsequently uses to win any contest, order anyone around, and eventually take over the world. However, he becomes unsatisfied once he is king of the world, knowing that no one truly respects him and he's being honored only because of the device on his head.
  • This is a recurring theme on the show Recess, with the main characters often learning that victory without effort is meaningless.
    • In "The Fuss Over Finster," Miss Finster gets a hairline fracture after slipping on some candy she confiscated and ends up on crutches. The Recess Gang is initially thrilled, and plan an elaborate heist to recover the sweets that she has been collecting over the months — only to see Muriel being outpaced and teased by even the slowest kids on the playground. They realize that without Miss Finster as a foe, all of their schemes and plans simply aren't any fun. T.J. calls her a "wounded lion" and arranges for a playground-wide truce of perfect behavior, with all of the kids getting along, following the rules, and literally singing "Kumbayah," to give Muriel a much-needed break while she recovers. She's grateful for the treatment, and both sides promise that once she's healed up, it will be "business as usual" between them — and they wouldn't have it any other way.
    • One episode has the Recess Gang creating a fort on the playground. Lawson and his own gang steal it, and the heroes engage in all-out battle to recover it. Once they win, though, they decide it was a lot more fun trying to take the fort back than actually having it, and so offer Lawson the chance to keep on participating in a play-war.
  • The Simpsons: When Homer is revealed as the Stonecutters' Chosen One, they start bending over backward to keep him happy, which includes rigging games so that he always wins. When he goes bowling they count every roll as a strike (with Chief Wiggum even shooting the leftover pins with his revolver), and when they play poker the other Stonecutters show Homer their cards and invent new hands on the spot ("What you've got there is the, Sampler!"). Homer starts getting bored and dissatisfied with this very quickly.
  • In Season 2 of Xiaolin Showdown, Raimundo pulls a Face–Heel Turn and sides with Wuya, who gives him everything he's ever wanted — video games, riches, his own soccer team... but after a while, he stops having fun because he always wins and has no one to actually spend time with (Wuya tries to help by summoning an army of monstrous golems to play with him). The chance to actually be with people who love and challenge him is enough to bring him back to the good guys.

  • Very broadly speaking, this is one of the explanations sometimes used by philosophers and theologians regarding the purpose of suffering.
  • Video game cheat codes. Same applies to using the console commands and level editors to make the game easier. It can be useful to get past a challenge you simply can't beat (possibly to see the story), it can be interesting to check out alternate ways to play, and it can be an absolute blast when playing around in a Wide-Open Sandbox. But just giving yourself the best gear, activating God Mode, and blowing through a game unopposed can get old real fast.
  • Certain hunters, the great memetic badass President Theodore Roosevelt included, feel this way. It's not only cruel but unsportsmanlike to hunt an animal from the safety of, say, a helicopter, with a gun that is approximately Space-Age in its killing tech.
  • The "ignore them, they'll go away" strategy of dealing with school bullies relied on this trope. The expectation was if you didn't respond to the bully, they'd get bored and leave you alone. As always when applying fiction tropes to Real Life, reality ensued. Actual results of this technique vary widely; sometimes it works, but sometimes the bully is satisfied by the simple ongoing challenge of trying to get noticed again. In any case, "just ignore them" has been acknowledged to be a generally lousy way of handling bullies.


Drawn Together

Ling-Ling refuses to fight a cowardly chicken.

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Main / NoChallengeEqualsNoSatisfaction

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