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Off the Table

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Alexis makes an offer to Bob, but he rejects it. Later, Bob changes his mind and decides to take the offer after all, but Alexis refuses to extend the offer a second time. It is Off the Table.

If Bob is the protagonist, Alexis's refusal usually comes off as spiteful or wickedly cruel. If Alexis is the protagonist, she is more likely to be portrayed as tough but fair and her refusal as poetically just. Sometimes when the original offer is Off the Table, Alexis will offer Bob a modified version with more conditions and/or a higher cost, just to drive home the lesson that Bob should have accepted when he had the chance. And other times the offer is withdrawn without any good or ill intent: there was a time or a place where it could be accepted, but that moment has passed.

In any case, the lesson is this: If you refuse an offer, for whatever reason, there are no guarantees you can accept it later if you change your mind.

This occasionally occurs as an aversion of Sweet and Sour Grapes. Related to Last-Second Chance and Heel–Face Door-Slam, when the villain, offered one more chance to repent, initially refuses and/or accepts too late. Often the perfect setup for an Ironic Echo, where Alexis denies Bob with the same words Bob previously used to deny her.

See Unrequited Love Switcheroo when this happens within the context of a romantic relationship. Compare The Cake Is a Lie and I Lied, where Alexis never made the offer in good faith and intended to deny it to Bob from the start. Often overlaps with Crossing the Burnt Bridge.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Kaiji's second arc, when Kaiji is convinced his plan to beat the rigged pachinko machine will fail, he asks the machine's owner, Ichijou, to declare a draw by buying Kaiji's remaining pachinko balls for 4 million each, enough to buy Kaiji's freedom, but not the rest of the people he wanted to save, and not a big enough loss for Ichijou to face massive punishment from the higher-ups. Ichijou refuses, but comes to regret that decision when Kaiji manages to turn things around in his favor and begs Kaiji to declare a draw again. Kaiji naturally refuses.

    Fan Works 
  • In Emergence, Superman initially rejects Superboy's offer to be his sidekick and then ignores him for over half a year. Once Clark actually tries to be a father and mentor for Conner, the latter wants nothing to do with him.
  • Evangelion 303: Saburo felt ignored by Kaworu, so much so that he broke up with him. Later Saburo realized that he still loved him, so he offered to "forgive" his ex-boyfriend and take him back. By that time, Kaworu had realized that he enjoyed being single and didn't want Saburo back.
  • Who You Know has a variation: Alya believes that Lila has the connections necessary to get her into an exclusive MDC show. She doesn't. Marinette does (by dint of being MDC), but Alya ignores her attempts to help her out. It's only after the show has already ended and she sees the results that she realizes just what she was being offered, too late to actually accept the deal.
  • Zig-Zagged in With Confidence when Inko meets with Principal Akashi. She offers him a chance to resolve matters out of court by recompensing her for all of the property her son's bullies destroyed and fixing other records, like wrongly-graded tests and unjust detentions. When Akashi balks and claims she has no real proof, she gets up and informs him all further communication will be through her law firm. Though she appears to recant when he begs for the chance to take that offer, we shortly learn that she only agreed because the Bakugous intend to sue him as well.

    Films — Animated 
  • Monsters vs. Aliens: After Susan turns into a 50-foot woman (well, 49-foot, 11 and 1/2-inch woman) on what was to be her wedding day, her fiance breaks it off with her. Later, after she helps save the world, he offers to "forgive" her and take her back (largely to further his own career as a newscaster). Cue the (much deserved) Humiliation Conga.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Godfather, this is normally how Vito Corleone does business. He would try to actually convince people with a good, or even excessive deal so they do what he wants. If that offer is rejected, well, then the next one won't.
  • Horrible Bosses: Second film scene. When Rex makes an offer to buy the protagonists' invention and have it manufactured in China, they refuse because they want their product to be made in America and still be in charge. They change their minds when Rex says he intended to pay three million dollars but Rex says it's too late.
  • In Legally Blonde, Warner dumps Elle at the start of the film because he believes that he needs a better partner than her to be a successful politician. After Elle enrolls in Harvard and proves herself to be a capable lawyer, Warren comes back to her only for her to tell him that she'll need a better partner than him if she wants to be a successful lawyer.

  • Skylark Series: Duquesne offers Corrupt Corporate Executive Brookings his help in eliminating Seaton and developing the new metal Seaton discovered, for the right price. Brookings, however, thinks his asking price is too high, and tries to have his goons do it without Duquesne's help — with Explosive Results due to their inexperience in cutting-edge chemistry. When he humbly calls Duquesne back, they settle on twice the original price.
  • X-Wing Series: While impersonating an Imperial captain, Face bluffs the governor of Viamarr into thinking that Warlord Zsinj's offer might be off the table, to nudge the governor into revealing the details of what she was originally offered.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Boardwalk Empire, after Eli betrays his brother Nucky to join the Commodore's conspiracy and makes a phone call to taunt him about it, Nucky offers him one last chance to walk away from it; Eli blows him off, but after the Commodore has a stroke, loses faith in the conspiracy and begs Nucky to let him accept the offer. Eventually averted; even though Nucky tells him "That offer's gone" and then slaps him around, Eli is the only member of the conspiracy left alive by the end of the season, and he and Nucky have repaired their relationship to some extent.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy got On the Rebound after Angel left. The guy, Parker, dumped her after they slept together, and Buffy got depressed. When she gets turned into a cavewoman, she saves his life (almost exactly the way she fantasized about doing to earn his affection earlier), and when he tries to apologize for how he treated her and offers to start dating her again, cave-Buffy hits him on the head with a stick.
    Buffy: Parker BAD
  • In Dragons' Den, one of the investors will sometimes retract an offer if the presenter waffles too much for a better deal.
  • Happens on House when a detective offers a deal for House to go to rehab in exchange for temporarily giving up his license. When a depressed House shows up (on the last day of the deadline) finally beaten into accepting it, the cop says it's off the table. In this case he's not (just) being a jerk; he's gotten new evidence since he made the offer.
  • The Lost World (2001) had the hero snubbed by a girl he liked at the beginning of the movie, only to have her try to chat him up after he comes back from the titular country with a pterosaur and lots of fame. He blows her off.
  • An episode of Rome had Mark Antony offer the recently-retired Vorenus a position as First Spear Evocati with a huge signing bonus. Vorenus turns him down, preferring to live as a merchant. When his stock of slaves suddenly dies, leaving him with nothing, he returns to Antony to ask for the position, and Antony eventually gives it, but reduces the bonus from 10,000 sestertii to 9,000. A rather mild example, all things considered.
  • The West Wing:
    • After weeks of negotiations, the President and the Speaker of the House cut a deal to avoid a government shutdown by slashing government spending a certain amount. At the final meeting to sign the deal, the Speaker, perceiving President Bartlet to be in a weak position, suddenly demands sharper cuts. Bartlet balks and the government is shut down.
    • At the end of the following episode, Bartlet tries to resolve the situation by walking to Capitol Hill to negotiate another compromise solution (earning large amounts of positive press along the way). When the Speaker and his allies respond by keeping Bartlet waiting as they try to decide on their demands, he simply walks away, leaving the Speaker painted as the one responsible for the continuing shutdown.

  • In the video for Debbie Gibson's "Foolish Beat", Debbie plays a performer who breaks up with her boyfriend and later tries to mend the relationship, only to be rebuffed.
  • Avril Lavigne's song "Sk8er Boi" is about a young boy who has an crush on a popular girl, but because she does not want to lose her social status she hides her own feelings in return. Many years later, after they have both grown up, he becomes a rock star and the original girl (and her friends) regrets not having formed a relationship when she had a chance, but now he is with somebody else.

  • Older Than Feudalism: In Roman legend, the Cumaean sybil visited Tarquin the Elder (the last king of Ancient Rome, 6th century BCE) and offered him nine books of prophecy for a great price. He refused; she burned three of them and offered the rest at the same price. After repeating this, he finally paid the original price for the remaining three.

  • One of the messages of Christianity as well as according to various scriptures of The New Testament such as John 3:36 and Romans 2:5 say that if a person dies while still rejecting God's gift of salvation, they can't change their mind in the afterlife to receive eternal paradise in heaven.

  • In William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, the merchant Antonio defaults on a loan to the moneylender Shylock, and Shylock demands the promised collateral — a pound of Antonio's flesh. Antonio's friends come up with twice the amount of the original loan, offering it to Shylock to forgo the pound of flesh, but Shylock insists on the Exact Words of the contract and refuses. It is then pointed out to him that the agreement specified only a pound of flesh, and if he were to spill a single drop of Antonio's blood while taking it, he would exceed the terms of the contract. Shylock (understandably) changes his mind and tries to accept the money, only to be informed that it's no longer an option.

    Video Games 
  • A Guide Dang It! moment in the first Space Quest involved this when selling your hoverbike. If taken, the first offer would leave you without a needed item later in the game. Said item would be offered the second time, but never again.

    Western Animation 
  • The Buzz on Maggie, with Rayna and Maggie. Click on Rayna at this page to see her make her offer, and see her un-offer it in this video. Ouch!
  • In the pilot of Clerks: The Animated Series, Leonardo Leonardo offers the clerks a very generous payment (including college scholarships) to sell the Quick-Stop minimarket. Randall immediately and vehemently refuses. Dante tries to accept the moment Randall stops talking but Leonardo states that the offer is no longer on the table.
  • Doug: One episode begins with Patty being turned down from the school baseball team for being a girl, ends with Patty turning down school coach's offer to let her join after he saw what she could do (or rather, could have done: Roger's game-winning catch for the school was all that prevented her from driving in Doug as the game-winning run for her team the Pulverizers).
  • The Fairly OddParents!, "Love Struck!" features a romantic variant on it. Timmy has been pining for Trixie Tang for the longest time (since season 1's "A Wish Too Far!"). At the end of this story, Tang asks Timmy to be his Valentine, which is what he's always wanted. It looks as if Timmy will accept, but then he suddenly sees Tootie (who he learned earlier in the episode is who he's supposed to be with) crying over a photo of himself on a bench. He says he knows he'll be kicking himself for this, but he actually rejects Tang's offer and asks Tootie instead.
  • One early use was in a 1930s Popeye short "Beware of Barnacle Bill", which has Olive rejecting Popeye's marriage proposal, Popeye beating up Barnacle Bill (the person Olive was in love with), and then rejecting Olive's proposal out of spite.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998):
    • The show has fun with it, and gave the trope its original name "Turning The Other Cheek": Buttercup tells Bubbles that they shouldn't be "turning the other cheek" on an offer from a league of superheroes, and that offer has a twist: They're not asking the PPG to join (as the PPG has been trying to do, and were rejected simply for being girls) as Bubbles expected (and she was planning on rejecting the offer of course), they're asking to join the PPG.
    • Also done in the episode with the flying squirrel: Blossom and Buttercup are initially pleased that Bubbles has talked the squirrel into rejoining, but are then flabbergasted to hear that Bubbles is willing to let the squirrel stay in the forest.
  • Rick and Morty: In the episode "Pickle Rick", after Rick turns himself into a pickle and winds up in the sewers (trust us It Makes Sense in Context) he finally makes his way out into some foreign government agency. At first Rick is simply trying to leave but the head of the agency is paranoid about his presence and orders him killed. Once Rick starts tearing through the building like a demon the agency head decides to cut his losses and let him leave but Rick responds with this trope, noting that now he wants to get even instead of just going on his way.
  • In The Simpsons, Flanders sells his possessions when he needs money in When Flanders Failed. Homer wants to buy Ned's new grill cheap; Ned is reluctant but eventually agrees. At this point, Homer says he will only pay that price now if Ned throws in several other items.

    Real Life 
  • The White Stripes made the Fell In Love With A Girl music video entirely out of Stop Motion LEGO. Jack White consulted with the Lego company about having Lego figures of Meg and himself packaged with the release of the single. Lego refused, claiming they wouldn't cater to a market that wasn't children. When the video was a hit, Lego changed their minds, only for Jack to refuse.
  • George Westinghouse wrote a letter to Cornelius Vanderbilt, president of a major railroad company, detailing his new invention (the automatic air-brake) and asking for investment. Vanderbilt returned his letter replying only with the words: "I have no time to waste on fools" and commented to others how it was such a ridiculous idea to think a train could be stopped with "the wind". Once another railroad adopted the brake to great success, Vanderbilt sent an offer to buy a good number of the new brakes from Westinghouse, only to get the reply: "I have no time to waste on fools".
  • This has been cited as the reason there wasn't both an Arab and a Jewish state established in what became Israel right at the start. The Jewish Agency accepted the plan (proposed by the UN), but the Arab parties didn't and tried to drive Jews out of the area, leading to war. After the Arabs lost, the Jews apparently weren't too keen on the idea of letting them have that half anyway.
  • The TV show Final Offer was based on this concept. It had people bring in items/memorabilia that they thought was valuable. There were four dealers and you could choose which dealer you approached first. However, if you rejected that dealer's offer you could not go back to them. This could result in you having to decide whether or not to take the final dealer's offer, which might be worse than the previous three.
  • Plenty of TV ads try and play on this. "Order in the next 30 minutes and you'll get...". It's subverted when you realize that since the ad shows multiple times and is usually available online it's ALWAYS "in the next 30 minutes".