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One Last Job

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"This was my last job. Every job was 'my last job'."
Griffith, The Detonator

A seasoned criminal announces that he'll take on One Last Job before retirement to peaceful honest life. The possible reasons are many: they're tired of the risk and violence, they want to marry without dragging their sweetheart into their dangerous lifestyle, they want a big score so they can put their feet up in comfort, etc.

This is an almost infallible means of Tempting Fate, leading to either a 10-Minute Retirement, or death by Retirony due to either a Plethora of Mistakes, his superiors deciding to show him there's only one way to leave their organization, or the universe deciding there is only one way back onto the straight and narrow. A frequently used variation with a more logical justification (and one that's probably more likely to stick in a non-fatal manner) is that this time, It's Personal.

In the case where the criminal actually manages to pull this off, they often go on to become a Retired Outlaw. This can also be a cause of Mandatory Unretirement.

Compare That One Case for people on the opposite side of the law.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Aria the Scarlet Ammo has this in the beginning with Kinji, when Aria pulls him into the Assault Department after he has long since quit from them. He agreed to join one last time for one job so that she'll stop nagging him. He's still there.
  • Scar from the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist does this, too. He turns Alphonse into a Philosopher's stone before dying.
  • Kaitou Saint Tail: Meimi's final "heist" involves her going to rescue a kidnapped Asuka Jr., who's both her current boyfriend and the Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist who'd been chasing her as Saint Tail, knowing that by doing so she'll be exposing her identity to him and believing he'll probably turn on her for having deceived him this whole time. In fact, the stakes are a little lower than she thinks; Asuka Jr. had been going through his own Character Development of coming to sympathize with Saint Tail, had been suspecting her identity for a while before having it confirmed for him recently, and is also so in love with her he's unlikely to hate her — but the villains she's up against end up draining her physically and mentally, and while Asuka Jr. is thrilled to see her again and quick to forgive her, he does still get her to retire out of concern for her own welfare.
  • Luciano in Madlax decides to quit being a gun-for-hire but takes on one last job to assassinate Carrossea Doon. Seeing how it's episode 9, Luciano is a one-shot character, and Carrossea is a main one, it doesn't end well for the former.
  • One Piece: Selling Charlotte Linlin and the rest of the kids from her orphanage to whoever was interested was supposed to be Mother Carmel last job before her retirement from being a child slaver. Unfortunately, she and the rest of the orphans went missing under still unknown circumstances after celebrating Charlotte's sixth birthday.
  • In Overlord (2012), the Worker team Foresight decides to explore a mysterious ruin as one last job to help their youngest member Arche pay off her family's debts so that she can get her younger sisters away from the parents who are driving them into ruin. Unfortunately for them, the ruin is Nazarick. Arche is the only one who is granted a merciful death, while the other members suffer a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Uni from Reborn! (2004) does this when she sacrifices herself (Gamma joins in, too) to seal away the power of the Mare Rings and revive the Arcobaleno so that a catastrophe like the Future Arc would never happen.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Astro City story arc "The Tarnished Angel", Steeljack finds that almost all of his fellow low-rent supervillain peers are constantly lining up for that one last job, the one that will lead them to greatness and riches... but it never works out.
    "Oh, there was always a new job. And always a sure thing, too. This time was the big one, always. This time, the one that'd end all our troubles."
  • Captain America: One issue has Whirlwind and the Trapster discuss this one when on the road together, and whether if they did earn enough money to retire, they'd just quit while they were ahead. They both agree there are too many scores they'd want to settle.
  • Old Man Logan: The premise of this story is that in a world where superheroes are no longer around, an aging Wolverine lives on a farm with a family. He is past due on his rent, and his landlord's— the Hulk's children— threaten to kill him. He teams up with Hawkeye to deliver a package as he's promised enough money to pay for his rent.
  • The Rat Queens Colossal Magic Nothing arc includes a flash-forward where the three surviving Queens have split up and enjoyed domestic bliss for decades. Violet invites them back together to run down some odd reports at the edge of her clan's territory...
  • Shakara: When Karnak tries to convince Valentine D'Eath to go out of retirement to destroy Shakara, Valentine lampshades it, noting that he's heard that line a million times before.
  • Spider-Man villains the Shocker and Hydro-Man are determined to pull off one last job to retire on after a lifetime of hardship and difficulty. Spider-Man foils this attempt in a way that makes him look like kind of a dick.
  • The final issue of X-Statix has the team embark on what they all agree to be their last mission before they go their separate ways. None of them survived the mission.
  • In The Batman Adventures #10, the Riddler decides to give up crime because he's sick and tired of being outsmarted by Batman. His henchmen convince him to give it one more try. As it turns out, Batman's attention is focused on other criminals, and he only captures the Riddler by happenstance because he and they both try to steal the same thing at the same time. When he learns that Batman never solved his riddle-clue, Riddler happily goes to prison and puts aside the idea of retiring — as far as he's concerned, he won.

    Fan Works 
  • The Karma of Lies: After his Karma Houdini Warranty unravels and Adrien finds public opinion turning against him in both his civilian and superhero personas, he decides to stay in Paris just long enough to deal with Mayura. Following that, he intends to leave for a few years, hunting down Lila to take his revenge for stealing from him. When Mayura attacks, he proceeds to lose the Ring to her, getting outed as Chat Noir and completely destroying his reputation, losing what few freedoms he had left.
  • Not Quite Heroes: Dr. Drakken decides that the reason he's never managed to Take Over the World is that he never really gives it his full effort, because if he fails he can just try again. He decides to make one last attempt, promising himself that he will either succeed or quit trying. The story ends in the aftermath of "So The Drama"note , with Drakken wondering what he'll do now.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • What kickstarts the plot in The Alzheimer's Case, as aging hitman Angelo Ledda is asked to do one last job before he hangs up his guns for good.
  • Scott Lang claims he's done stealing stuff in Ant-Man when offered a job by Hank Pym, who immediately says the job he has in mind is for him to steal something. So this is a de facto last job for Scott. That said afterwards he becomes a full-fledged superhero anyway so despite firmly jumping across the thin red line, it definitely didn't end up being the end of his exploits.
  • The Art of the Steal: The Warsaw job was intended to be this, but things went wrong. Seven years later, the theft of the Gospel of St. James becomes a new last job for the Caper Crew.
  • A common trope in heist movies, for example, The Asphalt Jungle, in which "Doc" is planning to fund his happy, girl-chasing retirement with the proceeds, and Dix hopes to have enough to buy back the family farm.
  • The Jidaigeki film Bandits Vs Samurai Squadron features the title group of bandits doing one last job before retiring once and for all. Things go poorly.
  • Blade Runner is about Deckard taking one last job to "retire" some escaped replicants.
  • In Blow, the protagonist George Jung wants to pull One Last Job before running away with his daughter. He is betrayed by former colleagues, who are working for law enforcement, and is unable to meet his daughter at the appointed time.
  • In Contraband, Mark Wahlberg plays an ex-smuggler who is forced to pull one last smuggling job to save his brother-in-law from a drug dealer.
  • About half of the films of the The Fast and the Furious franchise start as "one last job". Probably more.
  • Gone in 60 Seconds (2000): Nicolas Cage is a former car thief who must come out of "retirement" to save his brother.
  • Heat features Robert De Niro once again, planning one last bank heist, before retiring.
  • The Immortals is an interesting variation because while this is the crew's first job, it is also their last because each of them has a terminal illness. They are doing the job because they have nothing to lose and beacuse the money Jack promises them will either set their families up or let them do whatever they want in their last days.
  • Inception is about Dom Cobb taking on one last job, the titular "Inception,". His reward will be Saito erasing his murder charges so he can go home to the US and be reunited with his kids. He even gives up his entire share of the pay to do so. One possible inference is that if not for the murder charges, he might not even have been forced into a life of crime in the first place.
  • Subverted in I Shot Jesse James. The eponymous outlaw is planning one of these at the beginning of the film, but the betrayal of Robert Ford causes him to die before he can pull it off.
  • The Italian Job (1969)'s climactic heist, which was more about proving a point than the money. The opening heist of the the new one was supposed to be Donald Sutherland's last job and it was.
  • In The Jackal, as soon as he agrees to a job, the eponymous assassin says that "after this, I have to disappear, forever" and demands a whopping $70 million. It's justified when it turns out that rather than the Director of the FBI, his target is The First Lady of the United States so it's obvious he would be spending the rest of his life hiding after that.
  • Discussed in John Wick: The titular Professional Killer was allowed to retire from The Mafiya and marry his sweetheart because he completed "an impossible task" — murdering all his boss' rivals. John Wick: Chapter 2 reveals that he did this with help from another mob boss, who calls in the debt in a highly inconvenient way.
  • John Woo's The Killer is about an assassin who takes on one last hit in order to help a woman he accidentally blinded during a disastrous job. He has to deal with a Contract on the Hitman due to his boss deciding not to pay him.
  • King of Thieves: After his wife dies, Brian decides to tackle the Hatton Garden vault; a job he had never been able to manage before, and puts together a gang of middle-aged and geriatric criminals to do the job.
  • Little Woods centers around drug dealer Ollie trying to raise enough money on one last week, including a risky journey across the United States-Canadian border.
  • Midnight Run is yet another "One Last Job" film featuring Robert De Niro, this time playing a bounty hunter who wants to retire and open a coffee shop.
  • In Once Upon a Texas Train, John Lee is released after spending 20 years in prison. He re-forms his old gang to commit the same train robbery that got him arrested 20 years ago; only this time he'll do it right.
  • In Out of Sight, career bank robbers Foley and Buddy discuss their planned heist of crooked businessman Ripley as being "their Last Job." Although Foley questions Buddy if they knew anybody who was successful enough with a Last Job to really retire...
  • Subverted in Polar. Duncan Vizla is facing mandatory retirement from his Murder, Inc., and refuses when offered a final job in the time he has left. He's actually being set up to be killed so his employers won't have to pay his multi-million dollar pension. He finally accepts the offer, but arrives several days early and kills his target (a hitman who was supposed to kill Vizla), calls his handler to get the advance payment, then after it arrives in his bank account he reveals the target has been killed moments before. The Big Bad then has to send his best team to get Vizla the hard way.
  • In Predestination, the recruiting of John is the Barkeeper's last job before being decommissioned. Subverted when the Barkeeper's Field Kit fails to decommission, allowing him to continue time travel unsupervised.
  • In Red Dragon, the detective is lured out of retirement for one last case.
  • Denis Leary's character in The Ref is trying to pull off "the big score, the retirement score".
  • The Rundown: Dwayne Johnson plays an aspiring chef forced to pay off a mob debt by working as a bagman for a Florida mobster. His boss agrees to erase Johnson's debt if he agrees to take on a final job, flying to Brazil to bring his boss's son back home. It turns out to be by far the craziest job of his life but eventually the chef and the son escape after the former brings the latter home.
  • Averted in Robot and Frank. After discovering that his domestic help robot has a flexible attitude towards law and order, aging former jewel thief Frank plans to use it to help him carry out More Than One job - it's good to have a hobby!
  • The Saint (1997) is about Simon Templar's final job before he hits his predetermined retirement figure.
  • In The Score, Nick is ready to retire after almost getting caught during his previous theft, but his fence Max talks into stealing the sceptre from the Monteal Customs House as one last job, even though this involves Nick breaking one of his rules and committing a crime in the city where he lives.
  • Sexy Beast is all about a retired gangster trying to avoid being forced to take one more job.
  • Super Fly is a relatively rare example of a One Last Job scheme that works. Priest sells the 30 keys of cocaine, outsmarts everyone—his faithless partner, other drug dealers, the Dirty Cop—and gets away, and out of "the life".
  • In The Train, the liberation of Paris is expected any day, so the resistance fighters figure that protecting the art train will be their last job of the war.
  • Unforgiven: Clint Eastwood is a retired gunslinger who agrees to take on one last job.
  • The Usual Suspects: Dean Keaton struggles with this throughout the movie, as he tries to convince himself that he has actually gone straight, and the job he's currently working on is truly The Last Job.
  • Vabank is one last job motivated not by money, but by revenge, which is why the whole thing has to be so elaborate.
  • The opening robbery in The Wild Bunch is supposed to be The Bunch's last job. Needless to say...
  • Wrath of Man has Jackson plan one final heist for his crew which will either get them killed or secure them enough money to retire comfortably: Robbing Fortico's truck depot on Black Friday.

  • Artemis Fowl: Artemis was going to do one of those in The Eternity Code. Then his memory got wiped.
  • Brenish has two in Below. Hoping to save money to marry, he plans to take an honest job in the city over the winter. He just has one more wagon heist to do so he can pay off a debt to his boss Gareth. It doesn't go well. Once Gareth learns Brenish has a treasure map, he ropes Brenish and company into a quest that would ostensibly be the last job for all of them. Unfortunately Gareth doesn't know the map is a fake, and there's no safe way to tell him.
  • Billy Summers: Billy, former marine turned professional assassin, agrees at the start of the story to take on one final hit before retiring for good. Billy actually lampshades how he has seen this trope many times in movies, and how in those movies the last job always goes bad. This turns out to be very prophetic.
  • The title assassin in The Day of the Jackal is well-aware that his career will effectively be over after assassinating the president of France due to the immense heat that would follow him from the authorities and Gaullist supporters, and therefore he demands an exorbitant fee from the OAS plotters. They must resort to a string of bank robberies to afford his price, and this ultimately turns out to be the first step in his undoing.
  • The main character of the Elemental Assassin novels has been trying to retire since the end of the first book. Every book after that (Apart from a prequel novel) has her forced into this by either someone attacking her or threatenin her friends, family, or employees. As of 2016, the series is at thirteen books with no sign of stopping any time soon.
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire mentions that Mad-Eye Moody is retired and takes on his teaching job as a favour to Dumbledore.
  • Spoofed in Hit Man by Lawrence Block. A hitman decides he's going to retire, but needs a hobby to occupy his mind during retirement. So he takes up stamp collecting. But stamps can be expensive, so the novel ends with him deciding to stay with his chosen profession.
  • In the Medstar Duology, one character is rising in the ranks of the intergalactic crime syndicate Black Sun, when the weather changes and he's reminded of his homeworld. Then he starts longing to return - but he can't just leave, not without having an appropriate gift for his vigo. Unfortunately, he gets betrayed by the people he had steal it, and while he survives he knows he has to stay in the organization. In a later book his vigo is aware that he wants to leave and uses this to get him to do nearly suicidal things. In the end, he gets away by Faking the Dead.
  • In the final book of The Resistance Trilogy by Clive Egleton, the protagonist tells his commander that he's had enough, and is told that if he does one last job for La Résistance, he and his girlfriend will get passage on an American submarine to sneak him off Soviet-occupied Britain. The girlfriend frankly states this is a fairy tale, but they both get killed so we never find out.
  • River of Teeth: When Houndstooth comes calling, Hero quickly agrees to do one last job despite having officially retired because, as Houndstooth surmises correctly, being retired turns out to be rather boring for Hero, though they make it clear that they plan to retire for good after this job, preferably with Houndstooth.
  • A rare successful version in Song of the Lioness: eventually George Cooper, King of the Rogue, grows tired of his position and wants to go at least a little bit respectable. He just has to make sure that who ever takes his place is at least somewhat honest and caring (read: not Claw, the guy who's after the throne). He kills Claw, becomes the King's spymaster and a landed Baron, and marries Alanna. Pretty successful last job.
  • Scott Lynch's story "A Year and a Day in Old Theradane" follows the exploits of some master thieves who've been summoned out of retirement for one last job, after one of them offended the wrong wizard.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 24, Jack Bauer has been "retired" or otherwise no longer officially part of things for a few seasons now. He should know by now that he's going to be doing this forever...
  • In the backstory of Banshee the main character and his girlfriend Anna plan to steal $10 million worth of diamonds and then assume new identities so they can get away from their life of crime and Anna's mob boss father. The heist goes wrong and he spends the next 15 years in prison while Anna gets away with the diamonds and makes a new life for herself as a realtor, a wife and a mother in the small town of Banshee.
  • Parodied in Black Books where Manny gets mistaken for a police officer after drinking too much coffee. To get out of being "transferred", he says he's been in the business for 19 years, had a perfect track record and this was his last case!
  • Lampshaded in Chuck:
    Sarah: Well, it doesn't change the plan. It just means we have one last mission.
    Teammate #1: Why would she...
    Teammate #2: No!
    Teammate #3: Come on, Walker.
    Sarah: What?
    Chuck: Things never turn out well when you say, "one last mission."
  • Hustle: It was Mickey's one last job that persuaded the rest of the team to come on board in the first episode. Needless to say, it wasn't actually his last job... This is a rare example of where the protagonist doing the one last job knows it isn't his last. Normally he's the one to get sucked back into it afterwards, but actually it is his plan all along to get the rest of the team in.
  • Law & Order: SVU: Detective Dodds has just been promoted to the Joint Terrorist Task Force, but he promises to help SVU on one last case...
  • Parodied in a sketch on Not the Nine O'Clock News where a man is reluctantly persuaded by a group of 'friends' to do one last job where "all you've got to do is drive the car." The job in question turns out to be driving a loudspeaker-equipped vehicle promoting the local Conservative party MP's election campaign.
  • Narcos: He's not retiring, but Kiki puts his transfer to (much safer) San Diego on hold for a couple weeks so he can participate in one last operation in Mexico, the raid on Rancho Bufalo the he helped orchestrate. This unfortunately give the cartel (and their government allies) time to abduct him while he's still in their sphere of influence.
  • Played for laughs in Orange Is the New Black. After Rosa finds out that her cancer has progressed and the DOC isn't covering the surgery that might save her, she teams up with a kid getting his chemo sessions at the same clinic to steal a nurse's purse for a whopping $63 haul. When he notices she's been idly casing the place and suggests acting on it, she lampshades the trope and scoffs, but doesn't take much convincing.
  • The Shadow Line has Joseph Bede, who is participating in one last drug deal to raise money for his wife's Alzheimer's treatment.
  • Supernatural: Sam is an unusually young example, having "retired" from hunting while still a teenager in order to go to college. He agrees to one last job in the pilot episodes which turns into a lot more than that when his girlfriend is killed.
  • Thunderbirds: In "Vault of Death", Parker's prison cellmate and veteran criminal Light-Fingered Fred tells Parker that when he gets out of prison, he is going straight; just as soon as he's done the Bank of England.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • In Darkest Dungeon II, Chapter 4 of the Highwayman's Hero Shrine flashbacks is even titled "One Last Job". Having recently broken out of prison only to fall into Reduced to Ratburgers poverty, he took one last job to rob a stagecoach in the hopes it would be enough for him to live free. He succeeded, but realized too late that the stagecoach's occupants he shot to death were a woman and her young son. The remorse he felt was a prison he would never be able to escape. It is implied that the reason he ended up as one of the heroes facing the horrors of the Darkest Dungeon in both games is because he's looking for redemption and/or death.
  • Final Fantasy X: Auron assisting with Yuna pilgrimage is his one last job. That dude doesn't even let the fact that he's already dead stop him.
  • Grand Theft Auto Advance: starts of with a one last job situation, needless to say. Things become way more complicated than it seems.
    • In Grand Theft Auto V, the trope name is used almost verbatim by Trevor to describe the Union Depository job.
  • The mission that begins the endgame of Grand Theft Auto IV is this. Niko's finally gotten (or moved past) his revenge, and is ready to begin a normal life, when Jimmy Pegorino asks him to take part in a massive heroin deal. The player can choose to accept it or go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, which determines which ending the player receives.
  • Heat Signature: Some characters have to steal a heavily guarded device as their personal mission, either to pay off a debt or provide for their family, after which they can retire.
  • Mass Effect 2: The assassination of Nassana Dantius was to be Thane Krios' last job, as he is dying of Kepral's Syndrome. It was only Shepard's intervention and appeal for help that convinced him to help him/her, thus making Shepard's mission his new last job. His true last job is saving the Salarian Councilor from Kai Leng in 3, as he dies of his illness and wounds directly afterwards.
    Thane: Hm, yes. A Suicide Mission will do nicely.
  • Dutch planned most of the big heists in Red Dead Redemption II as the Van der Linde gang's "last big score" before they retire and either move farther West or to Tahiti. They nearly got enough in the Blackwater Heist to the tune of $4.5 million in today's money, but that went south and they had to hide the take, with Dutch thinking up ever more wild plans to either reclaim or replace the stash. It's implied that Dutch doesn't actually want to retire as he's addicted to being an outlaw and rebelling against somebody or other, and is either Moving the Goalposts or sabotaging the gang's efforts, which causes most members to eventually wise up and leave.
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is Nathan Drake's "last job" as the Grand Finale of the Uncharted timeline, set at least two years after he told himself he'd stop adventuring and treasure hunting.
  • In The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Player Character and Occult Detective Paul Prospero states that this will be his last job before retirement. After all, you can't go on to solve more cases when you're a fictional character whose author is in the middle of dying.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth: Catching the Yatagarasu was Detective Badd's last job, the night of the last case was the last day before his retirement. No Retirony for him — rather than dying, he peacefully turns himself in afterwards to stand trial for also being the Yatagarasu.
  • In Heart of the Woods, Madison Raines is manager for her best friend's YouTube channel Taranormal, but decides to quit after they travel to Eysenfeld to investigate supernatural phenomena there. Naturally, things turn out to be more complex and dangerous than Madison anticipated, and she dies in a snowstorm at the end of Chapter 2. In two out of the three endings, she's able to come back to life, but in one of the bad endings, she ends up having to take the place of the Fairy Queen, and is unable to leave Eysenfeld.
  • Chris Hyde got himself bumped off doing his one last job. His son Kyle spends Last Window figuring out why he died and looking for the treasure he was after, the Scarlet Star.

    Web Original 
  • The Onion parodies this with its article "Retired Realtor Drawn Back In For One Last Big Score".
  • Shadowrun Storytime:
    • After learning his girlfriend is pregnant, 2D decides to make his next mission the last one and exchanges the payout for a cushy corporate position.
    • Prior to the last job, Bend's girlfriend pushes him to get out of the business. He agrees but first wants to complete one last job which will give a big enough payout that he can retire in comfort.
    • Once the team realizes the notoriety of their current job is going to make them too dangerous for any future Johnsons to hire, they contact their current employer and adjust payment to compensate for their forced retirement.

    Web Videos 
  • Also parodied in Outside Xbox. In one Show of the Week episode, Jane claims to have been dragged back in to do "one last job" in Rainbow Six Siege. This is followed by a montage of her being bad at Rainbow Six: Siege.
    Mike: Was it your last job because you were fired?
    Jane: Yes.
  • Waldo The Movie: The trailer kicks off with Waldo being convinced to take one last spy job because the agency desperately needs him, with him making it clear that he'll be returning to retirement in the countryside immediately afterwards.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In "One Last Job", Jake Jr. gets mixed up with some bad eggs and Jake has to reunite with his old gang for one last job to save her.
  • Green Eggs and Ham (2019):
    • McWinkle reveals his job, as a BADGUY, to capture the Chickaraffe from Sam and Guy to be this.
    • Sam claims sending the Chickaraffe home to his natural habitat as a "wildlife animal rescuer" (actually an animal-smuggling scam artist) is this as well.
  • Samurai Jack: One of the last episodes of Season 4 features a robot ex-assassin forced out of retirement by Aku (who has his dog) and sent to kill Jack. He is cut down offhand by Jack.