Yzma: You're excused. Anyone else?
Other Minions: No, we're good.
This is it. The end of the line. The final confrontation with the Big Bad awaits and every one of the Good Guys is rarin' to go.
All but one.
One person has decided he isn't going to take part in the upcoming finale. Whether he's merely choosing not to cross the Line in the Sand or simply declaring "Screw This, I'm Outta Here!." He's stepping down and leaving it to the rest of the group. The reasons for this can range from acknowledging that he Can't Catch Up and would only be a hindrance, to personal feelings interfering with their ability to do battle against the Big Bad. It could also be a mentor Passing the Torch. Or perhaps things have simply gone too far and he just can't take it anymore.
On the more selfish/pragmatic end of the scale, this character could just want to be normal and use a chance to get away from the craziness once it's presented. Or realize that his goals no longer line up with those of the heroes and thus decide he has no reason to remain with them. Maybe he was badly wounded previously, or his idealism was broken, or someone he loved is dead and he needs time to recover. There might also be a falling out or conflict of ideals with the rest of the group that convinces the person he's better off out of it. Perhaps he doesn't think his chances of surviving this particular battle are high and wants to live. They could also just be a Dirty Coward.
Opting Out typically means the end of this character's role in the story and will usually result in their being Put on a Bus. It can be used to show how serious a situation has become, if the reasons for the character leaving are in the "Can't Catch Up" or "Can't Take it Anymore" range. The specific reasons can also determine whether the character's decision is right, wrong, wise, selfish, or anyplace in between.
As often as not, an Opting Out character is allowed to leave and go as he pleases. His teammates may not necessarily be happy about this turn of events, and they may or may not hold this choice against him. On the flip side, an evil character may Kick the Dog and kill a character on his side attempting to Opt Out, showing just how evil that character is because his Mooks remain where they are out of fear of what will happen to them if they leave.
See also Shoo Out the Clowns, which this trope may overlap with, depending on the character. Both tropes can serve to show how serious the situation has become; though a character who Opts Out is usually making the decision of their own accord.
On rare occasions, the character is opting out because he thinks he'll be better able to help his companions from outside the battle. Sometimes they go to muster reinforcements, or to Bring News Back of an impending Last Stand. (The former often causes a Big Damn Heroes moment.)
Also compare Changed My Mind, Kid, which many characters who appear to Opt Out ultimately pull. However, this trope is specific to when a character Opts Out and means it. Also compare I Want My Beloved to Be Happy, which can be a romantic version of Opting Out. Crossing a Line in the Sand is the version where the leader gives their people the option to opt-out without dishonor before engaging on a deadly mission. See also You Can Turn Back, when the Hero tries to convince his companions to Opt Out. Finally, see Screw This, I'm Outta Here! for a generally negative take on Opting Out, usually because it occurs at the worst possible moment or in an act of pure cowardice.
- Shakugan no Shana: Eita Tanaka eventually chooses normal life over supporting the Flame Haze after he very nearly loses the girl he loves due to the fighting. He even returns the seal that prevents him from being frozen when someone casts a seal. Most ultimately support his decision, though close friend Keisaku argues with him over it briefly.
- An odd example of this in the main character is Son Goku in Dragonball Z. At the end of the Cell Saga, Goku intentionally gave up his fight with Cell to let Gohan take the spotlight. When, at the end of it all, Goku was dead, he just as deliberately opted to not be revived with the Dragon Balls, for fear of attracting more trouble to Earth. Other examples are Chiaozu, who Tienshinhan made opt out of the fight with the Androids, and Yajirobe, who tried to do this in the Saiyan Saga but wound up getting caught up in things anyway.
- One Piece:
- Princess Vivi wanted to join the Straw Hat pirates permanently, but Opted Out when she decided her responsibilities to her country of Alabasta were more important.
- Also, despite being asked to join by Luffy, Jimbei decided not to (for the time being), because they had some unfinished business to do first. We later find out those plans were to break ties with Big Mom.
- After trying to pull the Cowardly Lion shtick almost every time his friends stopped on a scary island or got into a really big battle, Usopp appeared to do this seriously during the Water 7 Arc. His refusal to fight happened on board the Sea Train because the Straw Hats were about to make themselves enemies of the World Government. More so, he previously had a huge fight with Luffy, lost, split from the crew, and felt unworthy to show his face around them in humiliation. Usopp began to doubt his own strength after losing a fight on his own. Worse, the Merry was diagnosed as mortally damaged and the crew had to get a new ship. The way it appeared to Usopp was as though Luffy made a choice without his consent and it was like throwing away a friend to discard the Merry. When Luffy slipped up and told Usopp to leave if he didn't like the decision, it sparked Usopp's separation from the Straw Hats and a duel between him and Luffy. Completely averted when Usopp reappears in the guise of Sogeking- he was simply too prideful to show his face to the crew after what happened. Fortunately, Usopp later apologized for his actions and was very, very tearfully welcomed back by Luffy.
- Admiral Sengoku does this, when the World Government says they aren't gonna tell the world about a huge threat.
- In the backstory, twenty kings banded together to form the World Government. Those kings went on to take their families and live in the Holy Land Mariejois, but one family opted out of that part of the plan and stayed in their own lands. The 19 other families went on to become the Celestial Dragons, one of the most stellar examples of Aristocrats Are Evil in fiction. The one family that opted out continues to rule the kingdom of Alabasta to this day. Naturally, it is the only one that is genuinely kind.
- Used in-universe in the novel/series of light novels Brave Story. In Wataru's video game, his favorite character, Neena the fairy, does this. Wataru, who didn't get the cutscene that hinted at her departure, had spent the whole time levelling her and had to start all over when he didn't have her for the final boss. Miyuki Miyabe definitely knows what JRPGs are like.
- In YuYu Hakusho, Kazuma Kuwabara doesn't even participate in the last story arc. This is even though he ended up being the strongest human alive and the only human in the hero's main group by the time the arc started. Of course, in this series, that didn't mean much anyway.
- Played with for Hiei. Hiei leaves just after the beginning of the Sensui arc, saying he's had enough working for humans. He does return Just in Time later.
- Fumie in Dennou Coil, after an encounter with Illegals towards the end, tells Yasako she wants nothing more to do with researching them. From then on Yasako ends up working alongside Isako. It's understandable, she's an eleven-year-old girl who's become increasingly frightened of Illegals. It also highlights a major theme of the series, that there's a space between peoples' connections that can be hard to cross, even between friends.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Kuzzey and ten other crewmembers do this when the Archangel decides to defend Orb against the Atlantic Federation, and The Captain had given anyone who didn't want to fight against their former army the chance to leave. He actually tries to go back on it when he finds out that Miriallia and Sai aren't leaving, but Sai convinces him to leave since he'd not the type that's suited to battle.
- The Liar Game literally banks on this, as those in charge of the game make their profits by requiring any winners wanting to Opt Out to forfeit half of their winnings to do so.
- Keroyon of 20th Century Boys ignored Kenji's call to action to fight Friend. He regretted this years later and Jumped at the Call when he stumbled into leads to Kenji's sister.
- In the third Sound Stage of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers, Subaru gets a visit from her father in the hospital, who suggests that she withdraw from the case now that her sister Ginga has been kidnapped. Subaru, however, insists on fighting to finish what she's started, and her father respects her decision, making this an aversion.
- Naruto's Danzo gets alot of guff for choosing to avoid senselessly throwing his life away by charging in headfirst when current Big Bad Pain attacks Konoha. He not only avoided fighting Pain but actually attempted to prevent Naruto from returning as well, on the (totally accurate) basis that Naruto would be unable to stop Pain.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Jack, Crow, and Yusei said this when Kiryu tried to get Team Satisfaction to make a last stand against Sector Security.
- In Yu Gi Oh Zexal, this causes Gilag's plan to screw up royally. In one episode. He tries to trap Yuma by holding a team dueling tournament. However, Shark gets fed up halfway through and leaves, which forces Gilag to be Yuma's partner against Tori and Cathy, something he really didn't want to do. (A Barian would die if he lost to a duelist using a Chaos Xyz, like the one that he gave Tori to use against Yuma.) Fortunately for Gilag, he and Yuma win, but this would be the last time the other Barians trust him with a plan to defeat Yuma.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo has an instance of this when Bucciarati draws a Line in the Sand and breaks ties with Diavolo, Fugo, unable to bring himself to join one side or the other, walks out. The out-of-universe reason for this is because Araki realized that Fugo's Purple Haze was a ridiculously strong Story-Breaker Power and needed a way to maintain dramatic tension.
- Jean Havoc announces his intention to Opt Out in the manga/Brotherhood storyline of Fullmetal Alchemist. He notes that his commanding officer Roy Mustang isn't going to get very far with a follower who is paralyzed and unable to walk, and rages that he should be left behind. Mustang concedes, but only to a point; he says he will leave Havoc behind but expects him to catch up. Not long after, he gets Put on a Bus back to his hometown. And then The Bus Came Back during the climax, when Havoc uses his family's simple general goods store to supply his friends with badly-needed weaponry and supplies. The endings of both the show and the manga show him regaining the use of his legs, too.
- This is what Wave and Kurome of the Jaegers in Akame ga Kill! ultimately choose to do after their final battle with Night Raid. Despite the fact Wave managed to combine his Teigu with that of his best friend Run, fight Tatsumi to a draw, and realize just how corrupt the Empire he serves really is, he refuses to side with the Rebellion when offered the chance so as to avoid breaking his promise to the man who saved his life and to take care of Kurome. Kurome originally refuses, but after Wave returns her feelings and destroys Yatsufusa she agrees to go with him. Night Raid lets them go both for the fact that Wave was the Token Good Teammate of the Jaegers and because it meant Akame wouldn't have to worry about killing her little sister, something that she had been dreading for the entire story.
- In the later chapters of Nisekoi, many of the girls seeking Raku's affection start to drop out of the running for Raku. It falls short of I Want My Beloved to Be Happy as the girls are ending their pursuits as much for their own sakes, having realized Raku does not feel the same towards them, as much as for someone else's, such as Tsugumi bowing out for Chitoge's sake.
- During the ball in Masquerade, Zakuros stress about her career and secret war against the aliens seem to reach the limit with her reflecting about her life and coming close to a breakdown, in a creepy realistic way, makes her go away with Pai. In the end we dont know what happens to them next, but the general feeling is that Zakuro and Pai wont fight anymore. Its kinda implicit that Pai loves her as well.
- Interestingly played with in The RWBY Loops. During the Tale of Two Sisters, a small number of enemy Pennydrones walk out due to what is essentially a combination of ennui and boredom. While this is initially played for laughs, it's eventually pointed out by one of them that they literally cannot feel anything anymore, and only joined in the fight because they had nothing better to do.
- Boyz n the Hood is particularly unusual in that the Opt Out is the right choice. By refusing to fight the gangbangers who killed Ricky, Tre allows himself to escape from the Cycle of Revenge and start a new life. Doughboy fights them without him, and kills them all, but is murdered in turn two weeks later.
- In The Great Muppet Caper, in the leadup to the climatic jewel heist, Kermit describes to all the other residents at the Happiness Hotel just how dangerous their mission will be, and gives them all a chance to back out. They all do. Then Fozzie gives a speech calling them all back together.
- Played for Laughs in Iron Man 3 when a random henchman, after seeing Iron Man destroy the rest of his team, simply throws his gun down and leaves, declaring that he always hated his job anyways.
- Played for Laughs towards the end of Deadpool. Wade is tooling up to face the villain holding his ex-girlfriend hostage. Weasel helps him gather his guns then solemnly tells Wade that he'd go with him....he just doesn't want to. Wade accepts this and goes to recruit some X-Men for back-up instead.
- Bobby Pendragon himself pulls a dramatic one of these at the end of The Pilgrims of Rayne by blowing up his only door off the territory, cutting himself off but trapping the bad guy with him, with the full intention of staying there forever. It doesn't stick.
- Stu Redmond in The Stand is forced to Opt Out of the final confrontation when he's injured during the trek to Vegas.
- In the last book of Animorphs, before the final battle, most of the Auxiliary Animorphs try to opt out. Jake makes it clear that this isn't an option.
- As someone who never wanted to be there in the first place, Rincewind emphatically does this in Interesting Times. While the big battle begins, Rincewind is several miles away, and accelerating.
- In Harry Potter books Six & Seven, Harry tries to convince his friends to do this, but they refuse.
- In Stephen King's It, Stan Uris dramatically (and lethally) opts out of the final confrontation with the titular monster by climbing into a bathtub and slitting his own wrists.
- Lorne (The Host) Opted Out at the end of Angel: he said he'd do the one thing (kill Lindsey) but wouldn't come back for the big fight at the end. Partially done to show his disgust at what they asked him to do.
- Babylon 5:
- An extra opts out when Sheridan gives an "Anyone who is uncomfortable with what we're doing, leave now" speech.
- Several security personnel opt out when ordered to join Night Watch or resign. Similarly, a few of the security members who do join Night Watch are implied to not be "playing ball" with official Night Watch policies. Zack Allan turns out to be one of them, though he plays along until he can lead the other Night Watch security members into a trap.
- Soon after the end of the Shadow War, Garibaldi quits as security chief, apparently out of disenchantment with Sheridan's leadership. He is being mentally manipulated by Bester.
- Anya in the "Graduation Day" season 3 finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The fact that she doesn't do this in fifth or seventh seasons is used to show her moral growth.
- Buffy herself tried to do this at the end of season one. She changed her mind.
- In the short lived reality show Cha$e, this was an option to the players when brought up in the middle of the game with a small cash prize as a consolation.
- Game of Thrones: In "Second Sons", when Arya thinks he's taking her back to King's Landing, Sandor makes it clear he's no longer allied with the Lannisters:
Sandor: Fuck Joffrey! Fuck the Queen!
- Rimmer from Red Dwarf does this all. The. Time.
- Even when no-one offers him the chance to opt out. He's got a longer yellow streak than a herd of diarrhetic camels.
- In Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, Lacey steps away from the Rider/The Men in Black alliance at the end. Having been drawn into the Masquerade just recently, she wasn't dealing well with the weirdness; and unlike her Conspiracy Theorist friends (an Intrepid Reporter and a Hollywood Hacker) she didn't have a skillset that could help.
- The Adventures of Pete & Pete: When little Pete and his friends decide to answer the payphone that's been ringing for almost thirty years (and has most of the townspeople frightened), his friends start to drop out for various reasons- one says he's caught in a force field, and another says she's just too chicken.
- Throughout its long run, many of the Doctor's companions in Doctor Who have opted to leave the TARDIS with the desire to go home or pursue new opportunities. A few notable cases:
- The First Doctor companions Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. At the end of a long pursuit by the Daleks, the Doctor and his companions have the Daleks' time machine as well as the TARDIS. Ian and Barbara ask the Doctor to help them use the Dalek machine, at that point more reliable than the TARDIS, to return to their own home.
- Victoria, a companion of the Second Doctor, grew tired of a life of adventure and chose to stay in 1960s Earth with a family who was willing to take her in.
- Tegan Jovanka, a companion of the Fifth Doctor, left after a traumatic experience with the Daleks, citing that "It just wasn't fun anymore."
- The Tenth Doctor companion Martha Jones left both to care for her family after an encounter with the Master and having realized her own feelings for the Doctor were unrequited and he was still fixated on Rose Tyler.
- In the "Amy's Baking Company" episode of the American edition of Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay got so sick of the stubborn and egotistical owners that he figured helping them was a waste of time and left for the first time in the show's history.
Gordon: I can't help people that can't help themselves and cannot ever take one ounce of criticism. If you're not willing to change, I'm not going to butt heads, argue, scream... but this is not normal. And it's not normal for a restaurant to go through that many staff, it's not normal for a kitchen that small to have 65 items on the menu, and it's not normal for the level of animosity that you've built inside this restaurant and outside. You have the right to run the business the way you want to run your business. I have the right to do the right thing. And the right thing for me is to get out of here.
- At the end of the 2004 version of The Bard's Tale, this is the eponymous Bard's third option That's right; the player can choose to not bother with a Final Boss battle for either side, and just go straight for the Neutral Ending.
- Happens in War Craft III at the start of "The Culling". Arthas issues a grave ultimatum to Uther: help him to purge Stratholme of its infected citizenry or leave the kingdom's service. Uther and his followers leave, with Uther telling Arthas that he is crossing a terrible line. Jaina also leaves Arthas' side, telling him she can't watch him do it. In the end, it's just Arthas and his men performing the grisly task of killing innocent people before Mal'Ganis can convert them into zombies.
- If you choose not to accept Morrigan's Dark Ritual before the final battle of Dragon Age: Origins, Morrigan will decide Screw This, I'm Outta Here! and leave. Also, if you choose to spare and recruit Loghain at the Landsmeet, near the end of the game, Alistair will be outraged and see him as a Karma Houdini, and will leave. If he has been hardened, you may be able to convince him to stay as king; otherwise, he will become a homeless drunk or be executed.
- Similarly, in Dragon Age II, if you spare Anders, Sebastian will leavenote . Depending on your approval, anyone in your party besides Varric and Isabela (if she has not already left) may leave if they don't like your decision of whom to support in the mage-templar conflict and you don't have enough friendship/rivalry to convince them to stay. Aveline and Fenris leave if you support the mages, while Anders and Merrill leave if you side with the templars.
- It's also possible to have some of your party members leave prematurely in Dragon Age: Inquisition if you antagonize them sufficiently. For example, during one argument, Dorian may decide to head back to Tevinter immediately rather than waiting until after the final battle.
- At the end of the prologue in Neverwinter Nights, your Guest-Star Party Member Pavel will say that the life of an adventurer is not for him and quit the quest to cure the Wailing Death.
- Just before the final leg of the story in Kane and Lynch, Thapa declares "Screw This, I'm Outta Here!."
- In Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, after Jagi's finally disposed of and Airi freed from his influence, Rei chooses to leave Eden with his sister in tow, since there's no further reason for him to stay around. This turned out to be a wise decision, as Raoh shows up soon afterwards, right before the final chapter(s).
- Muir in Ōban Star-Racers, upon learning the Ultimate Prize would not fulfill the goal he entered the Great Race of Oban for, is the only racer to not show up for the final contest.
- On a smaller scale, see the page quote above from The Emperor's New Groove. The joke in that scene is that all the minions had suffered some kind of Baleful Polymorph, yet only the cow even asks to Opt Out, despite Yzma being clearly willing to allow it. In a way though, it's understandable for the guycows are female.
- It was also parodied in an episode of The Venture Bros. where agents assigned to guarding a yard sale were given the "leave now" speech, and then the one guy that left was killed.
- Done by Captain Marvel in Justice League Unlimited. When the League doesn't live up to his expectations (Marvel's so idealistic he makes the Blue Boy Scout look cynical), he tells them how disappointed he is and resigns.
- This is a result of Real Life Writes the Plot; the show's writers had difficulty securing the rights to use Captain Marvel characters in the series and were only able to get Marvel's rights for a single episode, so he had to be ousted from the series. Aside from a brief mention of Black Adam later, no Captain Marvel-related character ever appeared again.
- In the film Predacons Rising, after Megatron is freed from being enslaved by Unicron, he claims to no longer have the stomach for conquest and appears to leave Cybertron for parts unknown.
- In the South Park episode "Return of the Lord of the Rings to the Two Towers", Token volunteers to watch the One Tape to see what's wrong with it, and then quits playing "Lord of the Rings" due to the trauma.