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No Place for Me There

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The Operative: I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin.
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: So me and mine gotta lay down and die so you can live in your better world?
The Operative: I'm not going to live there. There's no place for me there, any more than there is for you. Malcolm... I'm a monster. What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.

Every Dark Messiah and Well-Intentioned Extremist knows that Utopia Justifies the Means... but a few of them know that their own methods for acquiring such a utopia would be incompatible with the end result. Essentially, this trope occurs when characters building a Utopia with questionable methodology realize (or are aware from the beginning) that they themselves would be unable to exist in the world that they are trying to create.

Depending on the character, this realization/knowledge can lead to an inevitable Heroic Sacrifice at the end, or to Jumping Off the Slippery Slope if not a full Face–Heel Turn (the latter two are generally from the realization version). If the characters continue to pursue the goal in spite of the fact that they themselves will not benefit from it, they are almost always heroes, or at the least principled anti villains.

Distinct from Necessarily Evil in that their actions may not be "evil", only contrasting with the ideals that they are attempting to create: they could be perfectly heroic, at least from the perspective of the heroes. Oftentimes The Hero will pursue such a goal even after he becomes aware of this, to improve the world for the next generation/the Protectorate or True Companions/other stock hero motive here. And it may be the simpler realization that his services would no longer be needed, e.g. a world without crime would not need anyone to fight crime.

On a smaller scale, such people may be perpetually saying But Now I Must Go, moving on to elsewhere rather than staying in a civilized place that does not need or want them around.

This trope is more frequent amongst heroes than villains, but a villain with No Place For Me There is completely possible (one such is the Trope Namer); expect any one of them to be an Anti-Villain, Well-Intentioned Extremist, Dark Messiah, Worthy Opponent, or any combination of the previous. Compare No Place for a Warrior, Heel Realization, and Necessarily Evil, compare/contrast Utopia Justifies the Means. A Hunter of His Own Kind who is not hypocritical may take this option too, and criminals have been known to resist leaving a life of crime because they feel this way about the legitimate world.

When the character refuses to do this, see Outdated Hero vs. Improved Society.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The finale of the manga version of Akame ga Kill! has the deeds of Night Raid erased from the books of history because nobody ever needs to know that the benevolent new empire ever employed such a thing as assassins in the process of overthrowing the overwhelmingly corrupt empire that came before it. They're perfectly all right with this, and it may have even been their idea.
  • Attack on Titan: Eren Yeager's goal from the start was to eliminate every last one of the Titans. Given that he became one himself and gained the power to control them, it only makes sense that he ensures that they're all wiped out, himself included, by going on a genocidal rampage and wiping out over 80% of the world's population and ensuring that his friends are the ones to kill him off and seen as the heroes who saved the world from him.
  • Bleach: Tousen's character is elaborated on in the Can't Fear Your Own World novel; fueled by a desire to avenge the injustice and corruption inherent to Soul Society, he once asked Aizen to kill him should he ever find himself forgiving the Shinigami, since that would mean all the blood he had spilled and all the crimes he had committed would have been for nothing, and Tousen would not be able to live with himself after that. When Aizen asked him what he would do should their plans come to fruition, Tousen replied that he would take his own life, since a vengeful being such as himself would not belong in the world Aizen intended to create. Impressed by his conviction, Aizen promised to grant him a merciless death if he should turn back from vengeance, which is exactly what happens after Tousen's fight with Komamura and Hisagi in the manga.
  • A Certain Magical Index: In a ploy to destroy Touma, Othinus warps reality so the world is at a perfect state of peace and everyone is alive and happy, but Touma never existed. She tells him this perfect world has no room for heroes like him, and his presence will only introduce chaos and violence. Touma, being a Martyr Without a Cause who always puts others before himself, decides she is right and attempts suicide. Fortunately, The Will of the Misaka Network, who has a Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory, stops him. She convinces him to not give up and to fight Othinus to get the world changed back. She points out that a real perfect world would have room for a hero like him.
  • Code Geass is a very interesting case with Lelouch's Zero Requiem plan. This involves Lelouch Lamperouge taking up the Britannian throne as emperor and pulling a Zero-Approval Gambit so that everyone in the entire world directs their hatred towards him and staging his own assassination. Why does he do this? He wants to create an eternal peaceful world that will end all wars (particularly in regards to his younger sister). However, this involves sacrificing his own life since he cannot create his ideal peaceful world with people hating his guts. This is probably one of the main reasons why he entrusts his friend and rival, Suzaku, with the identity of Zero, since he could create a better world under the guise of Zero without him. Since the Zero identity was already well-established and to that point was simply Lelouch's masked alter-ego, the reason he chose the plan to end with his own death rather than pretending to die and becoming Zero full-time (the previous stage involved Suzaku quite convincingly faking his own death, after all) was apparently that Lelouch didn't believe he deserved to live in the peaceful world he'd created, while Suzaku did.
  • In Death Note, Ryuk asks Light Yagami if he believes in this philosophy. When Light rejects this in favor of becoming the god of his utopia, it's the audience's first hint he's a Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist. How To Read reveals that he does think there's no place for Takada or Mikami, who have used the Death Note on his orders.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Yoriichi Tsugikuni, the man who single-handedly introduced Breathing Styles to the Corps, leveling the playing field between humans and demons, is banished from the Demon Slayer Corps after he failed at killing the demon king Muzan and was scapegoated for the ripple effects of that mistake.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Roy Mustang wants to overthrow President Fuhrer King Bradley and the military state, knowing fully that he, along with everyone who fought in Ishval, would be tried and likely executed for their unpardonable war crimes. In fact, he wants this to happen, feeling that is the only atonement for what he's done. Relax, it doesn't happen.
  • Zechs Marquise and maybe partially his 'friend', Treize Kushrenada, count in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. The former leaves Earth because he is a warrior and nothing but this, and he has no place in the peaceful world he helped create. The latter is up for interpretation whether it is this trope or redemption for the evil acts he did to achieve his better world.
  • In Moriarty the Patriot, William doesn't want Louis to be involved with his Grand Plan because he wants to be pure and live better in his new, bettered world, even though Louis insists he doesn't want to live in a world without his brother. He tells Sherlock quite straightforwardly that he's the last devil in the world that needs to be eliminated for Great Britain to flourish.
  • My Hero Academia: This is what Enji "Endeavor" Todoroki concludes after coming to the realization that his presence in his family's lives after the physical and emotional abuse he's put them through is only a burden. He has a rather prophetic dream of his family living happily but without his presence. Realizing that he may never truly atone for what he's done, he decides to build his family a new home away from him and encourages them to live happily, while he chooses to live alone in their former house.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica has a downplayed example with Sayaka’s unwillingness to even try asking out the boy she traded her soul for. This qualifies because she just found out Magical Girls are essentially inhuman. This does not end well for Sayaka. At all. At least until Madoka uses her wish to alter the magical girl system. Sayaka still ends up dying, because Madoka didn't want to undo her wish to heal Kyousuke’s hands, but Sayaka admits, sadly, that she's fine, as she loved Kyousuke for his music, and so even if she can't have his love, she can still be happy knowing he can do what he loves.
  • Robot Romance Trilogy:
    • Voltes V: When Heinel finds out everything he did was All for Nothing since the man he loathed for years, Prince Gohl, is his biological father (and the "humans" he's been fighting with are actually his own brothers), he moves Kenichi away from the burning rubble and embraces death by the flames, even as Gohl screams. Through tears, Heinel looks as Gohl he says the following words:
    Heinel: "Father!"
    • Daimos: After putting an end to King Olban's forces, Richter enters a space shuttle. When Erika asks him what he;d doing Richter tells her that because his hands are stained with the blood of many innocent humans he's massacred, there will never be true peace as long as he's around. Against everyone's cries, Richter crashes into the Jupiter, comitting suicide before saying he can only beg for the Earth-men's forgiveness.
  • In Vinland Saga, Canute ends up asking Askeladd why, with all his abilities, he's never tried openly making a grab for power and unite Wales or become a Viking chief capable of ending the norse invasions of Britain and building a better world. Askeladd just asks Canute if he listened to anything Askeladd just explained about his backstory, and adds that 'better worlds' cannot be built by men like him.

    Comic Books 
  • A recurring theme in Batman: Batman's perfect world, one without crime, would have no need for the Caped Crusader.
    • Justice League actually went on to show this in the two-parter "A Better World" — the alternate Earth of the Justice Lords drove their Batman to build a trans-dimensional portal out of boredom, so the Justice Lords could cross over to an Earth that still had crime and help that world too. Well, that, or he was planning to betray the other Lords because he'd grown tired of their Knight Templar ways and wanted to see if another Batman could convince him that what he had been doing was wrong — Lord Batman was sort of mysterious like that. In either case, he's the only one of the Justice Lords who gets away in the end.
    • Similarly, in Infinite Crisis, one of the things that manage to convince Earth-Two Superman not to cooperate with what he believes is Alexander Luthor's plan to restore his "perfect" world is the current Superman's insistence that if he truly was Superman, then it couldn't have been a perfect world — "A perfect world doesn't need a Superman".
    • Interestingly, the Emperor Joker storyline plays something similar with the Joker of all people, who ultimately decides to stop using his recently acquired godlike abilities to torture everyone in existence for his amusement and instead opts to destroy all creation. His true reason for doing so (besides thinking it's funny), known only to him and Harley? Because if he destroys the universe — including himself — then maybe the next one will be something better, where people as monstrous as he is will never exist. He expresses a similar sentiment in Batman: Arkham Origins — justifying his Bad Boss tendencies by noting that all the minions he kills are horrible people who deserve to die for the good of everyone else, and casually trying to off himself because he fits into that category as well.
  • Block 109: When Lisa accuses Zytek and his men of being monsters for trying to destroy what remains of the world while declaring themselves the chosen few fit to survive, Zytek explains that he has no intention of saving his own skin and deserves to die for what he has been part of.
  • In the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, it's eventually explained this is the reason for Fantomius' disappearance: a Gentleman Thief active in The Roaring '20s, once The Great Depression hit he felt the world didn't need him anymore and retired, but not without making sure that when the world would need him again there would be someone to pick up his legacy-that someone being Donald Duck in his Duck Avenger guise.
  • In Last Days of the Justice Society, although the Post-Crisis world that emerged is far from perfect, the Justice Society of America feel that they have no place in a world that has more than enough modern-age heroes to take care of its problems, and thus they should retire and disband the group. That is, of course, until The Spectre emerges and tells them that this new world is doomed because Adolf Hitler has retroactively destroyed it in 1945 by using the Ancient Spear of Destiny to link the fate of the Norse gods' Ragnarok to that of the universe itself, and so the senior members decide to sacrifice themselves by entering into a never-ending time loop to fight the repeating battle and change its outcome for the better.
  • In almost every version of the character, the last murderer The Punisher intends to kill will be himself.
  • Demogoblin, an enemy of Spider-Man, fits this trope. He and the goblins of his dimension had a vision of their wickedness and the wickedness of others. They've all gone to other dimensions to cleanse them of sin (which means killing most of everyone). Each of them will return to the home dimension when he's done cleansing his. Then they'll all kill each other and the winner will commit suicide.
  • In IDW’s Transformers comics, Optimus Prime comes to feel this way about himself; he sees himself as a wartime leader and believes that once the war ends, he'll become nothing but a walking reminder of all the death and heartache it brought. When the war finally does end, he resigns from leadership and departs Cybertron in the hope of avoiding this. Unfortunately, circumstances force him to come back and Prime's fears about his role in the post-war galaxy are quickly proven to be well-founded.
  • In Über, Stephanie tells Alan Turing that if they can end World War II and make a better world afterwards, it will only be better off without people like her and the Nazis for them having made the Uber super-program. To be fair, Stephanie worked with the Nazis while as a double agent for the Allies all along, she still is eaten away by the guilt and shame of her actions and considered herself a dead woman walking.
  • V from V for Vendetta (at least in the comic book version). One of the prominent themes of the comic was contrasting Evey's pacifism with V's use of violence to work for the greater good. At the end, V pulls a Taking You with Me, knowing that his violent ways would not fit in with the post-totalitarian order. He is replaced by Evey, the new "V", whose efforts are committed to creating things rather than destroying.
  • In the X-Men Legacy story arc "Lost Tribes" Knight Templar villain Exodus declares this after going so far as to use his mind control powers to enthrall an entire squad of X-Men (among them Wolverine and Rogue). As he puts it:
    Exodus: If it must be hatred of me that unites mutantkind, so be it. Like Moses, I will deliver my people to the promised land but will not enter it with them.
  • In the comic Xombie, after Derge (a zombie that still has his conscience) saves the human settlement, he rejects the idea of living among them.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Butcher Bird, Yoshimura Kaneki believes in this: if he succeeds in tearing down the World Government and the Marines, he'll gladly submit to whatever punishment that 'just world' declares fit for someone who's done what he has.
  • Fairies of the Shattered Moon: As she observes the aftermath of Haven's destruction, Summer has a moment where she reflects on how she's willingly gone from a hero to a devil because that's what needed to save the world and make it better, and how she has no place in that better world but doesn't care as long as her three daughters (Ruby, Yang, and Cinder) are happy in it.
  • In Kimi No Na Iowa, the abyssals believe that the vision of a better future they seek for humanity through the genocide of Japan, America, and all The Quislings is one that will no longer need bloody-handed sentinels like themselves. The supreme commander ends her speech in Chapter 31 by clearly saying "and may we never be needed again".
  • Duo in Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race believes his work will be done once the Stardroids are vanquished. Mega Man convinces him that someone like him will always have a place as a guardian.
  • A variation takes place in This Bites!. Edward Newgate - better known as Whitebeard, one of the Four Emperors - is completely certain that a new age is coming for the world. And his decision to stay in Marineford to delay the Navy so his crew can escape, (in addition to knowing that he doesn't have long to live anyway), is because he also believes that "reckless youngsters" like Ace - his chosen successor - are the ones who will lead the world into that future, instead of "old fossils" like him.

    Film — Live-Action 

By Genre:

  • A common theme in Westerns, where the heroes are often strong, simple, violent men who are fighting in defense of a civilization that has no place for them. Among the more notable examples:
    • Tom Doniphon in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
    • Harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West.
    • The eponymous Shane.
      Shane: I gotta be going on.
      Joey: Why, Shane?
      Shane: A man has to be what he is, Joey. Can't break the mold. I tried it and it didn't work for me.
      Joey: "We want you, Shane.
      Shane: Joey, there's no living with... with a killing. There's no going back from one. Right or wrong, it's a brand. A brand sticks. There's no going back. Now you run on home to your mother, and tell her... tell her everything's all right. And there aren't any more guns in the valley.
    • Perhaps most famously of all, Ethan Edwards in The Searchers. At the end of the film the rest of his family are reunited while he stands alone in the doorway, unable to even enter their house until he finally turns away.

By Title:

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron: Captain America is afraid of this, and Scarlet Witch uses her powers to stoke that fear within him. Early in the film, Cap has trouble committing to an ordinary apartment in his former home of Brooklyn. His Witch-induced vision is of remaining at an end-of-the-war celebration while his comrades have gone. On the Barton farm, there's a shot where a silhouetted Cap pauses on the threshold of a family home before turning and walking away, in a direct homage to the end of The Searchers (see above). And Ultron calls Cap out on this directly, accusing him of needing a war to fight because there's no place for him in the world of peacetime. At the film's end, Cap accepts this as a part of himself and commits to life as an Avenger, and it's generally portrayed as a happy ending for him.
    • Interestingly, he seems to have changed his mind about it by Avengers: Endgame. After saving the universe and returning the Infinity Stones, Steve decided he'd had enough war and to give Tony's advice about finding more out of life a try by going back in time and living out a peaceful life with Peggy.
  • Glorious: After working together to prevent the apocalypse, Ghatanothoa acknowledges that he and Wes are not heroes, but monsters who deserve to be forgotten. Since the former is a ravenous Eldritch Abomination and the latter a mentally disturbed Serial Killer, it's probably for the best.
  • The character Mad Max, in all of the sequel movies in the franchise, is a burnt-out loner barely more human than the savages who wander the wasteland. In each film, he helps a community of decent people trying to somehow eke out a better existence against marauders and tyrants. In each film, Max saves the last few remaining good people who go on to build successful, peaceful societies. Even though they welcome him with open arms, he never stays because he doesn't feel like he deserves to be there, or in the case of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome Max sacrifices himself to allow the good guys to escape without him.
  • Played for Laughs in Major Payne when Payne learns that he's being forcibly discharged from the Marine Corps.
    Major Payne: There gotta somebody that needs some killing.
    General Decker: Sorry Major. There's no one left. You've killed them all.
  • Deliberately invoked by James Bond in Moonraker. While the Evilutionary Biologist holds his Motive Rant, Bond prods him into admitting that after hitting earth with a Depopulation Bomb, he'll keep his new superior human race pure by culling anyone who's imperfect. Jaws and his scrawny glasses-wearing girlfriend realize that this will probably include them, prompting a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Discussed in The Naked Gun. Veteran cop Lt. Frank Drebin notes that if this wasn’t such a violent world, he would be out of a job. But he would still give it all up tomorrow to live in a world without crime.
  • The Operative from Serenity (2005) is both the Trope Namer and the provider of the quote the name came from. He wants a better world "without sin", but knows that, because of what he is and what he's done, he can't exist in such a world.
  • V in V for Vendetta says as much to Evey at the film's climax:
    V: ...the world that I'm a part of and that I helped shape will end tonight, and tomorrow a different world will begin that different people will shape, and this choice belongs to them.
  • In Viva Villa!, Pancho is told this by Madero, as Pancho Villa, an illiterate rough-necked bandit, isn't really cut out for civilian government in a liberated Mexico. Pancho sadly accepts, but this turns out to be a big tactical error for Madero. Without Pancho's protection, he is overthrown and killed.
  • At the end of Waterworld, the Mariner helps his new friends reach Dryland, but ultimately decides that he can't spend his life on land and returns to the ocean.

  • In the final book of Animorphs, Rachel goes on a Suicide Mission and dies because of this. After the war became open, she fully gave into her darkest impulses and became a Sociopathic Soldier only barely restrained by her teammates. She agreed to the mission because she realized that whether the war was won or lost, she would never fit into normal society again.
  • Older Than Feudalism: The Bible:
    • Moses could not enter the Promised Land because of his impiety at Meribah. He goes up on a mountain and looks out over the Jordan River into the Promised Land, but never gets to cross over until (according to legend) the Transfiguration of Jesus.
    • Similarly, King David was not permitted to build God's temple because he was a man of war, despite the fact that these were wars that God ordered. So David's son Solomon built the Temple instead and presided over a golden age of peace. The legend goes they even built the Temple without using any iron tools, because iron was used in swords.
  • Although not a villain, Bahzell's father Bahnak in the WarGod series is one of these. He's unique among his race, a largely barbaric people, for enforcing order, building infrastructure, educating his people, and generally trying to bring them up to the point where they can live in the civilized world again. Bahzell ruminates that although Bahnak is doing his best to unite his people and restore peace, he himself is such an ambitious warrior at heart that he could never be happy in the very world he seeks to create for his people.
  • Brave New World talks about this trope in terms of happiness. Indeed, the Savage's entire arc is a response to him encountering 'utopia' and discovering it falls far short of his expectations. When he speaks to Mustafa Mond, Mond explains that the modern world has done away with the hardships that necessitate the various virtues that the Savage speaks so highly of. He also says that John's embrace of those positive, heroic qualities would necessitate embracing sickness, ill health, rage, pettiness, violence, and more — all things which the modern society has done away with. John praises heroism.
    Mond: Conditions have got to be thoroughly unstable before the occasion can arise. Where there are wars, where there are divided allegiances, where there are temptations to be resisted, objects of love to be fought for or defended—there, obviously, nobility and heroism have some sense.
    • John's ultimate decision is there is no place for him in that safe, sterile world.
    • Ironically, Mustafa Mond himself. He is one of the World Controllers, which means that it is his duty to keep the world safe and happy and free of worries. It means that he must sacrifice his own happiness and blissful ignorance and even temporary bliss of recreational drug use to keep it so. It is also his duty to remove everyone who threatens said utopia, even if just by questioning it and wanting higher things than shallow pleasures. Not by killing them, of course, they are not savages, but by exiling them to far away islands where they will be provided with everything they need and will be able to write and otherwise create things not allowed in society at large. It is also implied that once World Controller grows old and dies, their replacement gets chosen from that group of exiles, of geniuses who saw beyond the system and all its flaws.
  • Daemon:
    • Matthew Sobol deconstructs this to some extent. Since he is dying anyway, he knows that he won't be around to see the new society he is hoping to create, but is still willing to pay the price of becoming the monster he believes will be necessary to cause the change. But since his death is what started the sequence of events he hoped would change the world, he would never know if it had been worth the price. For what it's worth, he probably saved human civilisation.
    • In a rare moment of introspection partway through the second book, Gragg/Loki realises that as the Daemon starts to gain traction among ordinary people, it begins to have less and less need for sociopathic hatchetmen like himself to do the ugly, violent work of waging war on the conspirators controlling society, and then after the last enemy of the network is dead, all that will be left for him is retirement in a sleepy commune. He considers that fate a special type of Hell.
  • The Elric Saga's eponymous character, Elric of Melnibone, often fights for Law despite his deep connections to Chaos. In the end, he literally makes a better world, destroying his world utterly (though it was already pretty close to destroyed, he and friend Moonglum were apparently the only non-mutated people left) and replacing it with a new world ruled by Law. He is the last survivor of the old world, Moonglum having sacrificed himself to provide energy for making the new world. And there is no place for him in the new world — he almost immediately kills himself.
  • In God-Emperor of Dune, Leto II's Golden Path for humanity is meant to ensure someone like Leto II can never have power over humanity again. Poignantly, this means Leto II cannot have any place in the future he is creating for humanity. He cannot even use prescience to see what it will be like since part of the Golden Path was to reduce the ability of prescience to see humanity's future. Leto II also ultimately comes to think that after all of the atrocities he committed to make the Golden Path possible, he doesn't deserve a happy ending.
  • Marshal-General Atkins, the last soldier of The Golden Oecumene. A soldier living in a completely pacifist society, and a man legally compelled to behave in certain ways in a society where every other individual has a non-negotiable right to self-determination.
  • In I'm In Love With the Villainess, Dor François is a noble who has been supporting the commoner revolution for years, well aware and accepting that they will inevitably execute him.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo saves the world by casting the One Ring into Mount Doom. However, he's so badly traumatized by his experience that he can no longer live comfortably in the Shire and departs into the West where he can be healed.
  • Enjolras, the leader of the revolutionaries in Les Misérables, has a speech to this effect on the barricade after executing Le Cabuc.
  • The short story Not Fade Away by Spider Robinson is about a man. He is described as a muscular human being, and viewed as hideous by the narrator, containing such grotesque irregularities as an excess of musculature, primitive senses, and bilateral symmetry that leaves a blind-side. He's a Warrior, the last of his kind. Humanity grew, bonded, and merged with every other form of life. He and his fellows fought each other, with nothing else to do. They hoped, with the discovery of a Malign Bonding in another galaxy, to have an enemy... but they cured it. So now he is the last. And the narrator? An enemy. Actually the last of the Healers, healing, by killing (and dying with), the only being left in the universe who needs healing. Each is leaving a universe he no longer has a place in.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant: In Last Stand of Dead Men, Erskine Ravel claims that once their plan is complete, creating a world with mages in charge, they will either hand themselves in to face judgment for their crimes or go into exile.
  • In Thief of Time, Myria Lejean the Auditor turned human kills herself in the end, believing there is no place for her in the world she helped to save. There is, however, a place for her in the afterlife, as she is greeted by The Grim Reaper like any sentient being, rather than simply having a Cessation of Existence like other Auditors.
  • In B.F. Skinner's Walden Two, Frazier admits that his tactics of shaping the human mind to be a good citizen will only work if you start with an infant and raise him in a very controlled environment. Therefore, Frazier himself will never be able to get rid of the many egocentric habits that he has picked up in life.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Stanton Parrish of Alphas intends to create a perfect world for Alphas, free of the hatred and discrimination that they faced from humans. However, he concludes that the actions he must take to do so (namely, killing off the human population) make him unfit to lead that world, so he decides to leave it to Dr. Rosen instead.
  • In Andor, Luthen Rael contends with his mole in the ISB, Lonni Jung, wanting to quit the ISB out of stress from his position and the danger his newborn child is in. When Luthen denies his request to back out, Lonni frantically asks what he has to sacrifice compared to him. Luthen explains at length that he has sacrificed or will sacrifice absolutely everything - any chance at a happy life, any morals, any people who get in his or the Rebellion's way. And he knows he's damned for it, and embraces it, so that one day, someone will see a sunrise he never will get to enjoy himself.
  • At the end of the second season of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, Francis offers Bart the chance to stay in his fairytale world, after she's single-handedly slaughtered the Mage's entire army. She refuses, on the grounds that she would just ruin his perfect world.
  • Doctor Who: At the end of "A Town Called Mercy", the Gunslinger, having fulfilled his mission, plans to walk off into the desert to self-destruct, believing he has no place in the world now. The Doctor convinces him otherwise.
    Gunslinger: I'm a creature of war. I have no role to play during peace.
    The Doctor: Except maybe to protect it.
  • The Flash (2014): Cicada, the Big Bad of season 5, is a serial killer who targets metahumans, believing they are responsible for his step-daughter's injuries and all the rest of Central City's problems. When the Flash points out that Cicada himself has metahuman abilities, Cicada casually reveals his plan to "join" the other metahumans once he's done.
  • A subtle example in Game of Thrones, "The Long Night". After being exiled from the North for burning a little girl alive, Melisandre returns to aid the living against the White Walkers. When confronted by Ser Davos (who swore to execute her should she ever return), she tells him there is no need, as she will be dead before the dawn. And indeed, after redeeming herself by playing a pivotal role in the battle, she leaves the castle and walks out into the snow without fear, crumbling to dust just before the sun rises on a Westeros finally safe from the Walkers.
  • Kamen Rider Build: Gentoku, Kamen Rider Rogue, is broken with guilt over his actions since Pandora's Box arrived on Earth. He's still a good person at heart, and so he sets himself up to act as the villain his father (the Prime Minister of Touto, one of the three countries formed from the Japanese split) can unite the countries against. This doesn't work out, though, as his father is killed protecting him, and Sento suggests that Gentoku himself be the leader who will unite the people.
  • Westworld: Dolores believes the Sublime or the Valley Beyond, as most Hosts called it, is not a place for her and rather goes to the outside world, where all the humans live. However, by the time she finally arrives in the outside world, she realizes that it's no different from the park where humanity is under control by artificial intelligence which is similar to the Hosts being controlled by humans. By then, she starts a revolution where she destroys the A.I. controlling the humans, freeing them. Despite knowing that she would not survive, she believes that Bernard, Caleb, and Maeve would continue her mission to build a better future for the humans and the Hosts since she had so much blood in her hands. This becomes ironic at the Season 4 finale that despite Bernard, Caleb, and Maeve's efforts, the outside world is destroyed and a variant of Dolores enters the Sublime, which is the last refuge for sentient life, leaving the fate of sentient life in her hands.
  • In You, Me and the Apocalypse, Scotty and Gaines refuse an invitation to the ark they've built. Scotty, the principled one, believes he doesn't deserve it, after all they've had to do to make it happen. Gaines, the pragmatic one, knows they'd just be wasting resources better left for the chosen survivors.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mage: The Awakening:
    • Many Banishers hold the opinion that all magic is inherently evil. This means that they hold to the belief that they would need to destroy themselves in order to create a world truly devoid of magic (although there are those who hold out hope that it might be possible for them to be rewarded by being freed of their magic).
    • The Guardians of the Veil believe in a Messianic figure who will close the Abyss and save the world who they need to prepare the way for, and that not only will this figure not be a Guardian, but when the time comes the figure will need to judge them for their sins (the implication is that, whether they are forgiven or condemned, the Guardians themselves will cease to be).
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • The Space Marines (Adeptus Astartes) of the Imperium fit this trope to some extent. They are ordinary humans who are genetically, surgically, and hypnotically altered to become fearless killing machines. Although they fight to defend humanity and are pretty much destined to die while doing it (there's no retirement from the Astartes), they are distinctly non-human and live separated from ordinary humans in bases known as Fortress-Monasteries. A curious variant are the Salamanders Chapters of Space Marines, who do spend a lot of time among ordinary humans - but they are still as superhuman as the other Astartes. That said, as long as Humanity needs them, there will always be a place for them. The galaxy being what it is, the Space Marines aren't going to be unnecessary any time soon. That said, the Horus Heresy came about partly due to Horus' fear that once the Great Crusade was complete the galaxy would no longer have any place for him or the rest of the Primarchs and their Marines. However, the Emperor specifically wanted the Astartes to have value after war and made them to excel at anything they set their mind to. This was because he already had the even stronger Thunder Warriors but saw that should peace ever come, these guardians would become warlords because killing was all they were good at.
    • Perhaps the only indication Fabius Bile has a trace of good intentions rather than simply an egomaniacal desire to remake the universe to his vision is him conceding in Clonelord that he would have no place in the paradise he expects his creations to one day build, and implies he would be among the people they would need to kill to do so.

    Video Games 

By Creator/Studio:

  • Sid Meier:
    • Pravin Lal from Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri has this realisation despite being one of the most heroic characters.
    • Prophet Cha Dawn and the rest of the Cult of Planet from Alien Crossfire. Their Plan A is to try and achieve Transcendence and become one with Planet. Their Plan B? Well, if Transcendence fails then that means Planet has judged humans of being unworthy of living on it, so the next step is utilise industry to wage war on all the other factions, and then commit mass suicide once everyone else is dead.

By Title:

  • At the end of the ActRaiser games, humanity no longer needs the Master, and worship of him slowly fades away. His temples are abandoned, his statues crumble, and he is forgotten.
  • In the Baldur's Gate expansion pack Throne of Bhaal, Balthasar is on a mission to kill all of the Bhaalspawn. Since he is one himself, his final plan is to kill himself once all of the others are dead. In fact, he planned to use a ritual suicide to ensure Bhaal could never be resurrected.
  • At the end of the Resistance campaign in Brink!, Chen, the Resistance leader, opts to stay behind on the Ark and give up his seat on the plane the Resistance was using to look for land to someone with "less blood on their hands".
  • A central theme of the second half of the Aether Story Arc of Call of Duty: Zombies:
    • In Black Ops III, this view is revealed to have been held by Doctor Monty in a sense. While he agrees to recover and save the souls of child versions of Primis so that they can live in the House, a peaceful dimension away from the wider, fragmented multiverse, he intends on having the adult Primis fade out of existence once the Apothicons are defeated. Primis Richtofen stops him at first due to securing blood vials for Primis to ingest, creating a paradox that saves them from fading out. Monty still protests they can't stay in his new utopia even after all they sacrificed and fought for; but with Richtofen's prodding, he agrees to send them back to the Great War, starting the cycle of new and resolving the time loop.
      • The defiance of this trope is even called back to in "Blood of the Dead" when Primis Richtofen is dying; he protests that he wanted to live to see the fruits of his labor to save the universe, but it has now been ripped away from him.
    • Black Ops IV has this as the final cruel twist of fate. When Ultimis Richtofen experimented on Ultimis with the Elemental Shard, he bound their souls to the Aether, meaning that as long as they existed, the universe would always be at risk of being corrupted by Divinium and the Apothicons. So Primis Nikolai kills Primis and Ultimis by poisoning them, and has Samantha kill him once the multiverse is cast into the Dark Aether, leaving Samantha and Eddie free to walk to a new, uncorrupted universe to live new, peaceful lives.
  • Fallout:
    • Used on a small scale, and with a bit of a twist, in Fallout. Your main motivation for everything you've done in the game is to safeguard the Vault you grew up in, first by securing their water supply, and then by wiping out a major threat to the continued existence of unmutated humanity. However, at the end of the game, as you return to the Vault, you are blocked at the doorstep by the Overseer of the place. He outright tells you that you have no place there anymore - you've become too much of an outsider, too much of a warrior, to fit into the peaceful, bottled piece of civilization that Vault represents. How well you take it depends on your choices so far, but the end result is always the same - turning your back on the tiny world you helped save, you wander back out into the dangerous wasteland...
    • Mirrored in a sidequest in Fallout 3 where you return to Vault 101 and resolve the crisis that resulted from you and your father escaping the Vault at the beginning of the game. With the right dialogue choices, you're even exiled with a speech that pays homage to the first game's ending.
    • You can also do this by accepting and following through with Eden's plan of purifying the Wasteland from mutated lifeforms, once you realize that you yourself are not of pure gene.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy XII, there are hints that Vayne Solidor plans to kill his last living relative Larsa as the last challenge to his power over Arcadia and its provinces. However, Larsa was actually planned to be his Inheritor. Vayne knew that the actions he must take to unite the world and free the people from the tyranny of the heavens would make him unsuited to rule the idealized society he envisioned, so was planning to set the whole thing up, then step down so his more compassionate and unsullied younger brother could rule the whole thing.
    • In Final Fantasy XIV, the primal Alexander was created and summoned from wishes to create a perfect world. Though his summoners were a twisted Illuminati group who wished to use his immense power to rewrite history in their image, Alexander sought to achieve a true utopia for the people of Eorzea rather than his summoner's warped idea of one. However, since his very existence placed an enormous drain on the life force of the planet, and even worse if he were to actively take action, Alexander determined that he himself was the ultimate threat to his goal of a perfect world and secretly engineered his own demise at the hands of the Warrior of Light.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates: Revelations, Saizo and Beruka's supports are about them pondering how they're both bad people whose actions tend to perpetuate the Cycle of Revenge. If they get married, they realise that if Corrin's mission succeeds, they will become superfluous... but at least they'll have each other.
  • The Big Bad of God Eater's original storyline, Johannes, plans to create an Ark to protect what he deems the best of humanity while the rest are wiped out by the Devouring Apocalypse, a process that would eventually result in the world being reborn as a paradise free of Aragami. He has no intention of boarding the Ark himself, as he feels that one who would sacrifice so many has no right to see the new world.
  • Kreia from Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords is well aware that destroying the Force will eliminate her along with the endless Jedi versus Sith conflict that periodically burns the galaxy. And that it might potentially destroy all life in the galaxy because all things contain the Force to some degree. She's perfectly happy with it and actually delighted that Exile is able to not only prove her theories but become strong enough to kill her.
    • If that was ever the goal to begin with. Whether it is the Force or the Jedi & Sith orders that Kreia was out to destroy, either one applies this trope. If she wanted to destroy the Force, it would seem that letting Nihilus continue as he was doing would eventually achieve the goal. But if she wanted to scour the universe of the orders and start anew... Again, either one would have to result in her death. She was, more or less, dead to begin with.
  • Yorick Mori from League of Legends is on a mission to put an end to the curse on the Shadow Isles that causes the dead to rise again there endlessly. He is an undead of the Shadow Isles, though, and is fully aware that completing his mission will be the end of him.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The very end of The Wind Waker has King Hyrule use the Triforce to grant hope to Link and Zelda. He also decides to have Hyrule washed away by the ocean... permanently. After fighting Ganondorf, Zelda tries to convince the king to come with them to a new land, but he refuses, having realized he is just as tied to Hyrule as Ganondorf.
    • This is implied to have been the ultimate fate of the Hero of Time. After Ganondorf was defeated in the future, Zelda sent Link back to his original timeline in an attempt at giving him back the childhood that had been taken from him. Link used his knowledge of the future to stop Ganondorf from ever conquering Hyrule, but in the process, erased his own heroic deeds and radically changed his relationships with many of his future friends and allies. As a result, despite Hyrule enjoying several decades or centuries of peace, Link felt he never truly fit in the world he had created. He eventually left Hyrule, and Twilight Princess implies he died forgotten and full of regret despite a lifetime of heroism.
  • Saren in Mass Effect believed his actions and personal sacrifice would save lives in the end. He was pretty heavily indoctrinated though.
    • Shepard takes this route in the Control Ending of the trilogy, although the human Shepard is no more by that point; the entity calling itself Shepard has Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence and leads the Reapers. It's implied that Shepard houses their consciousness in the body of Harbinger.
  • In Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, Eothas, the god of light and redemption, believes themself beyond redemption. They regard their actions as Necessarily Evil, but expect it to end in their obliteration and admit an erasure from all records and memories of kith would be a fair penance for the crimes they've committed.
  • Prayer of the Faithless: Gauron seeks a utopia where the Manna are the dominant species while being free of the flaws of humanity. He acknowledges that he's a flawed and evil human who doesn't deserve to lead the Manna, which is why he wants Aeyr to kill him and lead the Manna in his place.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Shin Megami Tensei II has this happen with Satan, who succeeds in creating a world of peace, where the human mentality is shifted away from violence. But as the embodiment of judgement, he no longer has a role there, and so crumbles to dust, passing the baton to the messiah.
      • In the same game, Gabriel tells you outright that as an angel she has no place in the new world, because God is dead. Notably, unlike the previous example she does not die, and so where she goes and what she does after is left ambiguous.
    • Happens with Merkabah during the Law ending in Shin Megami Tensei IV. Merkabah wants to protect the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado from sin by erasing Tokyo, and is well aware that both he and the hero slaughtered their way to create their utopia and must be erased as well. Killing themselves also ensures that the people of Mikado who are alive cannot possibly discover sin, as Flynn and Merkabah saw many, many sinful things in their quest to make the new utopia happen.
    • Happens to the Nahobino in Shin Megami Tensei V's Golden Ending. He takes the Throne of Creation, becoming the new Top God, and uses it to create a world where gods and demons do not exist and all of his friends are still alive... but he can only watch as his clone lives the life stolen from him.
  • Claudia of Silent Hill 3 is happy to stain her own hands with blood and cause The End of the World as We Know It as long as her idea of "Paradise" can happen, but she's more than aware that she herself is too sinful to enter said Paradise.
  • In Starcraft II, Jim Raynor believes that it's his duty to take down Arcturus Mengsk and the Terran Dominion and it's up to people like Matt Horner to make something better of the world.
  • In Sword of the Stars, every Liir who joins the military is considered dead by their former friends and family. The transition to their breathing fluid environments and the training to face and inflict violence is so traumatic that even before a Black Swimmer sees actual combat their minds would be dangerous for normal Liir to be around. Even those who make it through their service with both the hope and willingness to return to the civilian population skirt the trope: the first step of their recovery is being symbolically reborn with a new name to leave behind their Black Swimmer persona.

    Web Comics 
  • This is the fate of Warden Kyo'Varde in chapter 49 of Drowtales after a more progressive Holy Mother is chosen.
    Warden: I've done terrible things, little Holy Mother. I've strayed far from the path for too long... I'm too corrupted for this new clan of yours.
    Holy Mother: I forgive you!
    Warden: (pause) I do not forgive myself.
  • Freefall has the robot Blunt, whose interpretation of the First Law of Robotics is that all robots must be destroyed, because they are posing a potential threat to humans.
  • Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer! of Girl Genius is on a one-man crusade to kill every Spark and end the threat they pose to everyone. However, he's a Spark as well, so he plans to end the crusade with himself.
  • During his Motive Rant, Jagganoth from Kill Six Billion Demons says that after he burns down the current, corrupt universe and builds a better one where people can be free from the tyranny of god-emperors, he will destroy himself, as the last tyrant.
  • Schlock Mercenary: Recurring antagonist Kowalski simultaneously believes that his actions, in the end, are for the best, while considering himself an irredeemable monster that will have to die once the galaxy's become the better place he wants. Given his favorite method is to download himself into unknowing and unwilling sleeper agents, permanently overwriting their personalities, it's kind of understandable. Ultimately, however, he ends up against this trope as a whole; a civilization that must rely on people that can't go back to it for protection isn't a civilization anymore. Hence, one of his mindclones' last words are to please find the original and kill him; the original, when cornered, wholeheartedly agrees.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation tale "Quiet Days", every anomaly in the Foundation's care is suddenly rendered non-anomalous. The monsters die or are reverted to normal animals, artifacts become normal items, and effects suddenly vanish. Eventually, the Foundation is dissolved, since there is no place for it in a world without anomalies. Some take it well, others weep.
    We were the jailers, the wardens holding back the storm. Now, all of our prisoners are gone. There's no need for wardens in quiet days. C'mon, let me buy you a drink.

    Western Animation 

  • At the end of Beast Machines, Optimus Primal realizes that he and Megatron both have to go. Together they embodied the conflict plaguing the entire franchise, and that conflict needed to end before Cybertron could be reborn.
  • Used rather cleverly in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. An incident involving a black hole and a battle with Zurg sends Buzz to the far future, where evil has been vanquished for good, Star Command has been dismantled, and Space Rangers are no longer needed. Buzz, whose entire life revolved around Star Command, takes up a job at a museum to tell stories of Star Command's glory days. The whole thing is a present-day ruse by Zurg, intended to trick him into giving away crucial details about Star Command's defenses, thinking there's no need for them anymore.
  • In the penultimate episode of Castlevania (2017), Trevor Belmont considers himself and his opponent to be "old killers" no longer needed in a world where people can finally build a brighter future. He goes into the battle expecting to die with his enemy.
  • Centaurworld: That's the reason why the Big Bad calls himself The Nowhere King. He was the Elk-half of the Elktaur, who decided to split himself in order to get the woman he fell in love with, creating also a human-half (The General) in the process. However, since both halves retained the Elktaur memories, and The General got the better end of the deal by marrying said woman, leaving his animal-half homeless and starving, the Elk felt like he didn't belong anywhere, not in the human nor centaur worlds, and decided to create an army of Minotaurs, both as an attempt to make a family of his own, and to wage a war in both worlds so he could be finally taken seriously.
  • Confirmed to be Demona's plan by Word of God in Gargoyles when she plans to unleash a plague that will wipe out humanity while the Gargoyles are kept safe by the Praying Gargoyle, a relic that keeps them from all harm when activated. Demona spends her days shifted into a human form, so there was a very good possibility she would have died too from the plague, and if not from that, from her connection with MacBeth, who surely would have died being fully human. But Greg Weisman stated that she was willing to take that risk to provide her daughter a world free of human beings.
  • In Green Lantern: The Animated Series, when Aya decides to purge all life from the universe and have it entirely occupied by robots because she thinks emotions are bad, Hal demonstrates to her that she's not entirely a machine, and will be destroyed herself. She decides that this is irrelevant.
  • In the penultimate episode in Season 5 of Miraculous Ladybug, when about to rewrite reality, Gabriel Agreste ultimately decides he no longer has a place in it or in Adrien’s life after everything he’s done and uses his own life as payment to have his wish granted, saving Nathalie and reuniting with his wife in the afterlife.

    Real Life 
  • "I suppose that, in any well-ordered society, people like us would be locked up or shot. But then you would have to get people like us to do the locking up and the shooting." — Jim Morris (US Army Special Forces)
  • On a species-wide scale, the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.
  • This is supposed to happen to the government in Marxist theory. In the Communist utopia, the state "withers away", leaving only perfect equality behind. Therefore ideally Communist leaders are supposed to have this view, at least as far as their role as political leaders. Keeps going awry, though.
  • This is also a common belief among anarchists, and leftists in general. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, considered by many to be the first major anarchist philosopher, is often quoted as saying "I dream of a society where I would be guillotined as a conservative".
  • This was half of the reasoning (along with War Is Glorious) behind the famous George S. Patton quote:
    There's only one proper way for a professional soldier to die: the last bullet of the last battle of the last war.
  • Many humanitarian organizations have something like this mindset. For example, one of "Les Enfoirés"'s (the French singers that every year hold a charity concert which provides food for the homeless) songs have the line "And if one day you find a solution/We'll rejoice at our dissolution".
  • Most examples of rebellion, insurgency, or terrorism end up operating on this trope, but not for the usual reasons. It is not that there is no place for them in society if they win (although this is still always a possibility) but rather, chances are good that they will die or be captured before then. Some groups, especially those following religious ideologies, will foster a Martyrdom Culture to make this more palatable for their rank-and-file.
    • There is another odd consequence that people are usually not familiar with: most terrorist organizations disassemble peacefully, once "people in charge" start negotiating with terrorists and offering them participation in political decision-making process. It makes an odd sort of sense because the definition of terrorism is using violence or threat of violence to accomplish political goals. Once other more valid avenues to accomplish those goals are open, most terrorists use them and turn from terrorists to politicians. There's no place for terrorists in that society because they stop being terrorists and are instead considered a political force or party.


Video Example(s):


Smith-Sanchez Family

After having been accidentally shunted back to his original dimension, Jerry Smith realizes how much he has changed and grown over the Seasons to become a much healthier and better person beyond the bitter angry "Season 2 Family" he was once a part of.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / FamilyOfChoice

Media sources: