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Refusal of the Call

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Lisa: I know it's hard, Gary. But you're still the only hope to stop these newer terrorists.
Gary: Why me?! Why am I the only one?!
Lisa: Because you're the one with the power to—
Gary: WELL, I DON'T WANT THE FUCKING POWER! I don't want the guilt, I don't want the shame, and I don't want the responsibility!

The character, typically the hero, receives a Call to Adventure but at first refuses for some reason. Events then conspire to force them to accept the call, and in a good number of cases, the events in question hit home in a very tragic fashion.

If this is the second (or further) iteration of a Hero's cycle, it isn't uncommon for the Hero to have ''forgotten'' his adventures, given up his Hero powers, or some combination of the two, deliberately or otherwise: this variant of the refusal is Can't Stay Normal.

The term comes from anthropologist Joseph Campbell's analysis of heroic sagas; it is a standard feature of such stories. (See The Hero's Journey.)

Of course some heroes jump at the chance for adventure. (Others would have if they'd only gotten it!)

Someone who took the latter of a Red Pill, Blue Pill wants to do this to the call in order to go back to their previous lives none the wiser.


See also: Achilles in His Tent, "Leave Your Quest" Test and The Drag-Along. Contrast Adventure Rebuff and Refused by the Call, where the call refuses you, We Are Not Going Through That Again which takes place at the end of a story where the heroes refuse to repeat their adventure when confronted with the possibility, and Can't Refuse the Call Anymore, when circumstances force the hero to accept the call. Not to be confused with Didn't Want an Adventure.

For an entire fantasy genre built on this trope, see Slow Life Fantasy.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Pretty Cure series is well acquainted with this little trope.
    • In the second episode of Yes! Precure 5, when Rin is asked to become the second Pretty Cure, her response is "No thanks, I'll pass." Eventually, she is forced into it when Nozomi is in danger and Rin is the only one around who could save her. Karen, too, refuses to try again when her pinky catch breaks apart.
    • It happens in Heart Catch Pretty Cure in the same exact way, except Erika didn't want to because of other responsibilities. She changes her mind when she sees how awesome it is (and when she sees Tsubomi get herself into trouble.)
      • Itsuki's the same way - Potpourri chose her to be a Precure, but she didn't feel she was worthy. It isn't until her brother is turned into a monster that she takes it up.
      • Then, there's Yuri, the former Cure Moonlight. The first time, Tsubomi's grandma has to remind Tsubomi and Erika that she can't transform. The second time, Potpourri tries to recruit her, but she turns it down. It isn't until the Precure Trials that she's dragged back, kicking and screaming.
    • Ellen of Suite Pretty Cure ♪ tries to run away from the call due to the guilt of her actions while with Mephisto. Hummy and the Fairy Tones are very insistent and very forgiving.
    • Alice of DokiDoki! Pretty Cure refuses to become Cure Rosetta initially due to the fact that she kinda has rage control problems, stemming from the fact that she beat down a few bullies when she was younger.
    • Kirara of Go! Princess Pretty Cure refuses to stay Cure Twinkle at first due to her busy lifestyle.
    • Homare of HuGtto! Pretty Cure gets hit with this after she has a panic attack trying to get her Mirai Crystal and fails.
  • Kouji Kabuto Jumped at the Call in the original Mazinger Z. In the first timeline seen in Shin Mazinger Zero, he refused the call and we got to see the outcome. It was not pretty (unless your definition of pretty includes the planet scorched away and humanity wiped out by Mazinger-Z).
  • In AIR, once Yukito realizes that Misuzu's illness is killing her because she's become his friend, he tries to leave and never see her again, but then remembers that he has to try to save her. Also, in the movie, he did not even want to look for the girl in the sky.
  • Zakuro in Tokyo Mew Mew. She was already a Mew Mew by this point — her "refusal" concerned joining the team.
  • Sailor Moon just loves this trope:
  • Nakajima Youko in The Twelve Kingdoms spends an unusually long portion of the entire first Story Arc of the series refusing the call in various ways.
  • This is Jomy's initial reaction in Toward the Terra. Mixed with a great dose of reluctance in accepting his role as a Mu.
  • Ginrai in Transformers: Super-God Masterforce initially refuses to get involved in the Autobot/Decepticon war, and only changes his tune when Hydra and Buster kill some of his friends while trying to get to him.
  • Asuna of Negima! Magister Negi Magi seems to fit this. When she first finds out about magic, she wants nothing to do with it, and seems downright offended by how it's going against her nice and orderly world (the fact that it seems to be losing her crush isn't helping.) She actually falls into the "did this before, but forgot about it" category, having erased her memory ten years prior. Needless to say, given that the principal put Negi (The Call personified as a cute boy) in her room and he won't hang up, she gives in eventually.
    • Chisame puts up even more of a fight, and sort of succeeds in getting away from the weirdness...only to realize that now her life is incredibly boring, so she heads back in.
  • The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer: Yuuhi gets picked to be the Lizard Knight, protect the princess, save the world, and so forth but flat out refuses to have anything to do with the whole affair and throws his spiritual advisor out the window (several times). That doesn't stop golems from trying to kill him, though, and the Princess's oath to destroy the world herself finally convinces him to participate wholeheartedly.
  • Kamina Ayato from RahXephon waffles between this and being willing to fight throughout the show.
  • In Prétear, Himeno at first doesn't even believe the Leafe Knights when they tell her she's the titular Magical Girl, thinking they're pulling a prank. When a monster actually shows up, she's rebuffed by the Tall, Dark, and Snarky leader of the knights and runs off—but then returns when she decides she actually does want to help.
  • One side hero in Fist of the North Star, name of Jyuza, adhered to his trope. Jyuza is part of the Nanto Five Chariot Stars who defend the Last Nanto General. When Jyuza is sent a note telling him that he must jump into action to stop Raoh from getting to the Last Nanto General....he slices up the note saying "how stupid!", claiming that he'd rather be as free as a cloud. Course, since this is the series where Anyone Can Die, he's gotta answer the call sooner or later. You know what that means...
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • This happens in the original Fushigi Yuugi and its associated material:
    • Chiriko intially ignores the mark on his foot designating him as a Suzaku warrior because he's terrified of what duties will be placed on him. Quite a natural reaction, considering he's 13 years old; in fact, this is his default state whenever the mark isn't glowing. Which makes it all the more horrific when he's forced to kill himself as a Taking You with Me sacrifice later in the series.
    • Tasuki originally tried to refuse the call when Miaka came to find the next warrior. He said that 'Tasuki' was the name of the previous boss and had died, which sent them onto a hunt for a person who was rumored to bring the dead back to life. His companions manage to persuade him to follow his calling as a Suzaku Warrior and simply return as their leader once Kounan had been saved and Suzaku summoned.
    • This was a serious matter during the period of Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden, where a superstition was placed on the Priestess of Genbu and her Genbu Celestial Warriors. Indicating them as a curse, and by having them around will destroy the country. So whenever the priestess Takiko found one warrior and tries to persuade him to join, that warrior would automatically refuse the calling, simply because being awakened as a Celestial Warrior has already put their own lives into jeopardy for as long as they can remember.
    • This is the case for all of the warriors and priestesses. The legend states that the priestess will appear when the country is on the brink of ruin, which many people saw as an ill omen. So most of them were refusing the call in various shades.
  • In the first arc of 20th Century Boys, Kenji tries to put the band back to together, with partial results. A few join out of curiosity or loyalty, but at least one initially back out out of duty for family and jobs. Of course, they all join him later on after the timeskips
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shinji at first refuses to pilot Unit 01, out of a mixture of fear, confusion, and anger over the circumstances that got him to that point, only to have his father essentially guilt him into the task by forcing a very badly injured Rei to try to crawl out of her gurney to take his place. He ultimately agrees to pilot.
    • He also quits later after his father crosses the Moral Event Horizon during the Bardiel incident only to return as Zeruel curb-stomps the rest of NERV.
  • Kinnikuman originally refused to go to Planet Muscle and claim his birthright because... well, he was kind of a wimp.
  • In Sgt. Frog, while Fuyuki is wildly enthusiastic about finding a live alien in his house, Natsumi wants to ignore the whole thing. Even long after this proves impossible, she occasionally wishes Keroro and his squad would go away and let her live a normal life.
  • Reborn! (2004) is basically an endless cycle of Tsuna refusing the call, his friends being put in danger, and him thus being forced to accept the call for just long enough to deal with this new threat. Each arc starts off this way, and several individual battles are sparked by near-identical internal struggles.
  • In Nabari no Ou, Miharu completely ignores the call even after being confronted by Thobari-sensei and repeatedly getting attacked by ninjas. When he finally does learn a ninja technique, he uses it to run away from Thobari-sensei.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Madoka, the title character of the show, is understandably resistant in accepting a contract to become a Magical Girl. Which is kind of the point of the series, as it becomes increasingly clear as the series goes on that being a Magical Girl is not a good thing.
  • In Silent Möbius (the TV series and films, not so much the Manga) Katsumi Liqueur not only refuses the call, but once she's been forced into answering the call, she makes a break for it with disturbing regularity.
  • Kyouya in Demon City Shinjuku is initially uninterested when Old Master Agni Lai asks him to face his father's Rival Turned Evil and save the world from being overrun by demons. Master Lai doesn't exactly help his case by predicting that there's no way Kyouya can win at his current level of skill, which irks Kyouya enough that he refuses the call a second time when it's delivered by Sayaka Rama, whose father was attacked by the Big Bad. Only when Sayaka ventures into danger herself does Kyouya relent and go after her to take up the mission.
  • The iDOLM@STER - Ritsuko really doesn't want to replace Azusa on the Ryuugu Komachi unit when she gets the mumps. Thing is, she doesn't have a choice.
  • Tenchi in Tokyo:
    • Tenchi's the latest line of protectors of the Earth (instead of the long-lost prince of Jurai that he is in other canons focusing on him) and is given a Transformation Trinket in the form of seven jewels that turn into a BFS. Instead, he'd rather be a normal teenager and gives away one of the jewels to the six alien girls. This turns out to be crucial in Big Bad Yuugi's plans. Ryoko had split the trinket into seven jewels to alleviate Tenchi's guilt from his My God, What Have I Done? moment when the BFS manifested itself, he couldn't control it, and nearly killed her as a result. He was still in no hurry to accept the call though.
    • In some of the Light Novels based in an alternate version of the OVA universe, Tenchi's mother (going by the Tenchi Universe-established Achika name), outright refused to be bonded with a Juraian tree while on Earth... while in the middle of the bonding ceremony. This causes her lifespan to be shortened considerably.
  • In My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, Hachiman Hikigaya is adverse to joining the service club and leaving his self-imposed solitude. Good or bad, the call can make sure he doesn't graduate in only 3 years.
  • Bleach: Ryuuken Ishida is a quincy. Not just any quincy, but one powerful enough to curbstomp his very gifted son, Uryuu. However, he utterly refuses to use his power and the only time he was ever asked why, his response consisted of Blatant Lies that left Uryuu angry with him for years. Uryuu's grandfather did once say Ryuuken's refusal to be a quincy resides with some kind of Declaration of Protection but the exact details weren't explained for a long time and they involved the death of Ryuuken's wife/Uryuu's mother, Kanae. With the quincies and shinigami currently at war and Ryuuken apparently wanting nothing to do with either side, the story has made him a clear case of Heroic Neutral and a very strong contender for a Neutral No Longer fate, up until the very end.
  • GEAR Fighter Dendoh has one of the most amusing examples ever: Hokuto and Ginga, two grade schoolers, receive the call by being kidnapped by the titular mecha and getting shoved in the cockpit as they tried to escape a Robeast and having Vega (one of the two who had actually trained to pilot Dendoh) explaining them how to move it... At which point they use Dendoh to walk away as fast as they can while they try and figure how to run. They only fight when Vega tricks them in punching the robeast as it flew over Dendoh to report about the encounter.
  • Makoto of Great Pretender claimed to be the greatest Con Man in Japan, and gets scouted by Laurent, the greatest Con Man in the world. After Laurent brings him along for a high-stakes job and he almost dies in the process, he's offered a chance to officially join the team. The first arc concludes with him chickening out and turning himself in to the police in an attempt to go straight, only for the next to start with Laurent tricking him into coming along for what he promises to be One Last Job the second he gets out of jail.
  • In Umi Monogatari, Kanon feels awkward about her powers and would rather not have to use them at all.
  • Sei Iori of Gundam Build Fighters is shown to be an awesome Gunpla Battler, but he's so scared of getting a Gunpla he worked on damaged, he relegates the fighting to Reiji. It isn't until he finally gets over it near the end that he finally shows his true potential.
  • In Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!, Atsushi and En's initial response to being tasked with saving the earth by a talking pink marsupial is to, very wisely, run away.
  • In Girls Beyond the Wasteland, Uguisu tries this at first. But she is eventually convinced to do the artwork after the others praise the drawings she's posted online.
  • A rare villainous example from the manga adaptation of Kingdom Hearts — the Council of Disney Villains offered a position to the Cheshire Cat. He then immediately started helping Sora.
  • An inversion occurs in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid as part of Sank Kaiser Olivie's backstory. As the wars between the kingdoms of Ancient Belka escalate to the point that some armies have resorted to chemical and biological warfare, the Sank Kaiser alliance, one of the most powerful factions, decide it will step up and end the wars by deploying the Saint's Cradle, which is a battleship capable of razing countries to the ground. However, only a person compatible with the battleship can activate it, and despite the number of potential candidates, none were deemed worthynote . Olivie was technically the last in line for this and did not need to participate in the selection, but she felt that she may have a chance to end the war, so she decided to return to her home countrynote  and offer herself as a candidate. However, her closest friends and retainers did not want her to go back and thus did their best to dissuade her. Their pleas fell on deaf ears as Olivie went back anyway, and was found to be compatible with the Cradle. After her coronation, Prince Claus Ingvalt of Shutra,note  attempted one final time to keep Olivie from going to the Cradle by fighting her in a duel. However, Olivie proved to be a better warrior and went on to become the master of the Cradle, eventually ending the Belkan Wars.
  • In Jagaaaaaan, Jagasaki's freaked-out response to Doku-chan explaining his mission to hunt fractured humans is to shoot the bird in mid-sentence and run home. Unfortunately, The Call Knows Where He Lives.
  • Reincarnated As The Strongest Wand has Reiji's soul shoved into a wand. As the witch who did it was gushing about how "lucky" he is to be The Chosen One, he pointedly refuses her, twice. She retorts that as a wand, he Can't Refuse the Call Anymore, and then puts him on a shelf, leaving the cabin, never to return.
  • On the night Yuko gained her horns and tail in the beginning of The Demon Girl Next Door, the demon Lilith asked her to "wake up" but Yuko refuses. She still received "the Call", nonetheless.
  • After Shirogane was reelected as Student Council President in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, he offered the positions of Auditor and General Affairs Officer to Iino and Osaragi (the positions having previously been filled by two unseen third-years). Iino accepted, but Osaragi stated she had no interest in actually being on the council, so the position of General Affairs Officer has remained unfilled ever since.

    Comic Books 
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • Ultimate Spider-Man has Peter Parker mimicking his mainstream counterpart and the results thereof. The second Spider-Man, Miles Morales, refused to do anything with his powers; when Peter died, Miles figured that if he'd embraced his powers earlier, he might have brought aid to New York's hero, since their powers were connected. He decides to make up for it by filling the gap Peter left.
    • Ultimate Origins: Nick Fury may have the super soldier serum in his veins, but he's not Captain America, and will never be. He thinks that Captain America is meant to be an icon, a symbol of the best American virtues, and he does not consider himself worthy of any of that.
    • Ultimate Wolverine: Jimmy's blood has the traces of the original Mothervine, and may help to remake the mutant race. Jimmy wants nothing to do with that.
  • Blaze of Glory: Two-Gun Kid tries to claim he's out of the vigilante life, but quickly gets out of retirement after confronting Clay Riley.
  • Watchmen. A major character arc for Silk Spectre and Nite Owl. Laurie Jupiter (Spectre) always felt pushed into being a crime-fighting heroine by her mother and is glad for an excuse to give up the role when the Keene Act is passed. Dan Dreiburg (Nite Owl) is less happy, but accepts that the days of masked vigilantes are over. Over the course of events however they remember just how good it was to fight bad guys and rescue people, and by the end have joined up to become a Battle Couple.
  • Sunfire was originally part of the famed All-New, All-Different X-Men, but quit the team after just one issue. A major part of the later Uncanny Avengers series involves Wolverine getting Sunfire to join The Avengers in order to finally live up to his potential.
  • During Superman story Kryptonite Nevermore, Superman loses most of his power and wants to quit being Superman because he is sick and tired of being alone, being burdened with responsibilities and being judged and derided every time he makes one mistake. However a friend talks him out ot it.
    I-Ching: Your attitude is understandable! But I beg you to reconsider... one does not choose responsibility! It is often thrust upon one! To refuse it is to commit the worst act of cowardice! Look around you... See a world burdened with misery... with untold agonies — a world which has need of you — as you were!
  • This Nodwick strip really says it all. Yeagar is prone to this sort of behaviour if there's no profit (or attractive ladies) involved.
  • The Authority. In the Jenny Sparks: The Secret History of The Authority mini-series, Jeroen Thornedike's refusal to be the next Doctor is why all the past Doctors think he's perfect for the job. It eventually culminates in Jenny Sparks having to shoot herself in the temple and be revived just for him to answer the Call.
  • W.I.T.C.H.
    • In Issue 50, the Oracle shows the Guardians an Alternate Universe where Will rejected the Heart of Kandrakar when Yan Lin offered it (something that really freaked out the girls). Inverted later on in that world as that Heart is very persistent...
    • Cornelia refused her powers at first, believing it a prank from Yan Lin and only accepting after accidentally using her powers (proving it wasn't a prank) and realizing that her best friend Elyon was in trouble. Later in the series Cornelia is the only one happy when they get temporarily Depowered at the start of the New Power arc (and is downright pissed when the titular power-up shows up, even getting an Oh, Crap! face when she sees the incoming power), staying in only out of her sense of responsibility, and in the final story arc she's the one who wants to quit instead than facing the tasks to stay Guardians and acquire another power up.
  • A humorous example in an old issue of Thunderstrike: Loki is up to his usual tricks, and the situation escalates to the point where Thunderstrike, War Machine, She-Hulk, and Ant-Man (Scott Lang) end up banding together to stop him. The issue was a Whole Plot Reference to the first issue of The Avengers, with each of the heroes standing in for one of the original members (War Machine for Iron Man, She-Hulk for The Hulk, Thunderstrike for Thor, and Scott Lang for the original Ant-Man), and even ended with Ant-Man suggesting that they could stay together and form a new team of heroes. However, they humorously said no and went their separate ways.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Many media incarnations center around this trope as part of his origin, and a reason why he embraces the "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" trope. Simply put, he gets asked to stop a thief and literally refuses the call; his uncle is killed by that same thief later.
    • He quits a number of times as an ongoing refusal of the Call, only to find out that the Call has unlimited minutes. He's often made to remember why he got the call.
    • The Amazing Spider-Man (J. Michael Straczynski) revealed that many of the challenges Spidey has faced are caused because Ezekiel, the previous Chosen One and Spider-Man's mentor figure, refused the call out of fear and selfishness. He was the one who was meant to fight evil and save New York, but because he refused to use his powers for the greater good it fell to Spider-Man. By the time of the comic he's pretty remorseful and decides to aid Spider-Man as best he can.
  • Inverted in Avengers vs. X-Men. Hope accidentally Missed the Call when she panics at the initial bonding of the Phoenix Force, leading to Iron Man accidentally breaking the Phoenix Force and empowering five X-Men with it. Near the end of the story, Hope confronts one of the last remaining X-Men with it, Cyclops, and tells him she's ready. Instead, Cyclops turns her down, telling her that she had her chance and she blew it. It was his turn now.
  • After discovering that he has a brother (a biological one at that), younger brother Tony Stark offered an armor to Arno Stark, but was turned down. He later shows up with brand-spanking new, tank-like Mk. MMXX (that's 2020), saying that he wanted an armor; he just didn't want Tony to make it.
  • After the War of Kings event killed off Queen Lilandra, Gladiator refused to take the throne until the threat of civil war forced him to do so. Given that the Shi'ar empire was in ruins, and had just come out of a brutal war with the Kree, you can't really blame him.
  • Maddie Sullivan of Astro City is a telekinetic who prefers to work in in the entertainment industry, using her powers to manipulate models and aid in stunt work. She networks with other super-powered normals, and they don't take kindly when would-be villains try to recruit them into their schemes.
  • To the Skrulls, Hulkling of the Young Avengers is the prophesied savior destined to unite the fragmented Skrull Empire and end their war with the Kree. However, he repeatedly refuses to take up this destiny, as he was raised on Earth. He finally gives in in 2020's Empyre event, being swayed by the need to save the universe from a bigger-picture threat, the Cotati.
  • While Cassie Sandsmark originally greatly wanted to be a superhero when Zeus tried to make her the guardian of the realm prior to Young Justice (2019) she turned him down due to being sick of others trying to control her and tell her what she should be. Her wishes on the matter end up inconsequential as the call knows where she lives.
  • 100 Bullets: While initially tempted, Lars Nagel chooses to pass up the leadership opportunity presented to him in favor of his twin sister, even after Vasco and Vermeer urge him to step up. Unfortunately, she doesn't know that and Poor Communication Kills.
  • Danny Ketch, the second Ghost Rider, develops this relationship with the Spirit of Vengeance. He doesn't like being the Ghost Rider and will generally only do it when the alternative is far worse.

    Fan Works 
  • Kyon: Big Damn Hero has Kyon's reluctant admission that he remembered seeing his family's ancestral samurai sword in storage and ignoring it. Haruhi then accuses him of this.
    Haruhi: You are actively trying to pretend you don't hear the call.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Woman, Mary Jane Watson's best friend Kitty Pryde refused to join the X-Men, and she also refused to join the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants or the Acolytes of Magneto. She considers her phasing powers to be useless, and would really prefer to be free to live her own life and otherwise be left alone.
  • Average Joe In Bullet Hell's Ryan Randa receives a series of texts from a stranger on his cell phone, telling him to go someplace and to have his boss give him time off from work. This understandably creeps him out, so he takes precautions to protect himself. Fat lot of good this does him when the caller in question, Yukari Yakumo, eventually tires of texting him and drops him into Gensokyo anyway.
  • The four in With Strings Attached really don't want to be bothered restoring the Vasyn and removing the curse on Ketafa, but they have to if they ever want to get home again.
    • And in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, they really don't want to be participating in the war against the Black Tower, but again, they have to or they won't be sent home.
  • In My Stupid Reality Light refuses to be L's successor. Too bad L doesn't take "no" for an answer...
  • In A Child Shall Lead Them (Transformers), Swoop really doesn't want to be the next Prime, to the point where throws the Matrix of Leadership at someone. He eventually accepts the calling anyway.
  • A Piece of Rebellion: Bad Cop/Good Cop really, really doesn't want to be The Special. Not when they know exactly what Lord Business is up to — because they're his right-hand man!
  • Isa of Goddess Reborn Chronicle, which is a very good thing. She was supposed to play the part of Lillith.
  • A popular sub-genre of Heralds of Valdemar fics involves the comedic (and tragic) potential of people refusing to be Chosen when their Companion arrives.
  • For most of Origin Story, Alex Harris refuses to become a superhero, saying that she only wants to be left alone. She flees every attempt made to engage her in active superheroics. And then one night, she spots a helicopter that is falling out of the sky...
  • Invoked in Avengers: Infinite Wars, but ultimately defied; after most of the active Avengers have gone missing, Tony Stark attempts to recruit Matt Murdock for the new team, but while Matt initially rejects the offer that he join the Avengers as he prefers to operate on the street fighting for the people the Avengers might overlook, he changes his mind when he learns that most of the original Avengers are missing.
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf novel, Empath refuses to permanently deal with Gargamel once and for all when he angrily tells his fellow Smurfs to Stop Worshipping Me. Then Gargamel comes and nearly destroys the village and takes half the Smurfs with him to create his Philosopher's Stone, leading to the moment where he reluctantly accepts his role as their savior.
  • Friendship Is Magical Girls: Rarity becomes aware of the Secret War between the mahoushoujo and the Changelings when she first sees Twilight, Rainbow, and Pinkie fight and destroy a Parasprite swarm, then later fights alongside them when Trixie steals their Elements. However, when Spike tries to talk Twilight into giving Rarity an Element of Harmony of her own after the latter, Rarity refuses, as she doesn't want to be involved on a regular basis. This doesn't last long, however, as she gets dragged into the fight again when Princess Pupa attacks the group; seeing that she can't just sits on the sidelines, Rarity accepts the Element of Generosity and becomes one of the team.
  • A History of Magic has a number of historical figures that refused to contract with the Incubators and become Puella Magi. Among those named were Cleopatra's maid Charmain, Elizabeth I of England, Teresa of Avila, Queen Victoria, and Alice Liddell. At one point so many girls were refusing the call that the Incubators arranged for the publication of Alice in Wonderland to get them dreaming again.
  • Beat the Drums of War: The Alliance tries to get the Vaadwaur to join in the war effort against the Iconians, but Overseer Eldex refuses. Thanks to recent events he barely has enough ships to hold his own territory, and he's still fighting the Borg.
  • In Eternity, the shipgirl Yonaga, formerly Enterprise, doesn't answer the initial call to battle against the Abyssals. It is partly out of giving the returned Imperial shipgirls the chance to prove and redeem themselves, and partly out of fear that she will regress to her Pacific War-self of near permanent Roaring Rampage of Revenge (which also alienated her to nearly all US ships at the time) and kill the japanese shipgirls.
  • In Powers of Invisibility, Juleka is offered the Turtle Miraculous and the role of Guardian by Master Fu, but she refuses in part because she's seen how Ladybug and Chat Noir keeping their secret identities from each other is tearing them apart. When pushed, she later acknowledges to herself that the reason is that she's afraid of failing, of letting down her friends with disastrous consequences. But by this point, with Adrien, Marinette and Rose incapacitated by Madusa, she knows that she is their best hope, and she accepts the role.
  • In Reluctant Hero, Zuko is horrified to learn he's the new Avatar, as the Avatar is decried in the Fire Nation as the supreme enemy to their goal of world domination and has to be killed on sight or locked away for life. Unfortunately for him, the Spirits are desperate for someone bringing balance back and refuse to let him commit suicide to escape his fate. Then the Northern Water Tribe abducts him in order to start his training and he's forced to go along while waiting the moment to escape.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Izuku refuses to inherit One For All, believing it to be wasted on him thanks to his existing alien Super Strength on top of all of the other Combo Platter Powers he possesses. All Might is notably bummed out about this and Izuku himself feels terrible for turning away such a gift.
  • In one of the snippets for Siberian Variations, every superhero refuses to join Tony or Steve in the "Civil War". Reasons vary from Aunt May refusing to let Peter go to Shuri convincing T'Challa to let the authorities handle things to Sam refusing to leave a suicidal patient's side.
  • Xander in Sons and Daughters of Sineya refuses to get tangled in the plot of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe whenever he's in Narnia, telling any talking animals he meets to "fuck off" when they try to bring him to safety.
  • After some consideration in Deku? I think he's some pro..., Izuku refuses an implied offer to be given One For All, declaring that while he might not be capable of becoming the top hero in Japan like he dreamed, he can be an inspiration for other Quirkless kids dreaming of becoming heroes themselves.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: During chapter 7 of the sequel Diplomat at Large, it's mentioned that Princess Celestia made overtures toward the yaks to help in the war effort, but they refused to hear her out.
  • The Weaver Option:
    • Cegorach offers to make Lelith the incubator and later avatar of a new Eldar god. She refused, preferring to continue her own path.
    • Lelith admits that she has the potential and knowledge to become a second Anathema, even claiming it's likely she's the only living being who could survive the trials. However she will not as the considers the price too "monstrous" and the rewards too lacking.
  • Mirio firmly rejects receiving One for All and becoming All Might's successor in Turning A New Leaf, wanting to be himself instead of just a copy of All Might.

    Film — Animation 
  • Kung Fu Panda plays with this trope: despite his eagerness to watch the tournament in which the new Dragon Warrior is to be chosen, when Po is 'mistakenly' selected by Master Oogway, the panda protests that he can't be the one. Amusingly, but also distressingly, the Furious Five and Master Shifu refuse to accept he's their predestined hero either, and do all in their power to convince, persuade, or downright browbeat him into quitting. (And this is lampshaded by Tigress, who insists he doesn't belong and needs to get out so the real hero can show up.) Yet he continues to keep trying to learn, mostly because he's always dreamed of learning kung fu.
    • Once he finds out what he's expected to do, however (defeat Tai Lung all by himself), he literally runs away from the temple. (Perhaps it should be Fleeing from the Call?) Luckily for the moral of the story, Shifu stops him and convinces him he can be trained and finds a way to do it. Although Po's hometown isn't doomed, it is put in danger, and this as well as a pep talk from his Dad and a flash of insight into the Dragon Scroll convince him to accept after all.
  • Ultra Magnus in Transformers: The Movie initially believes he is "not worthy" to keep the Matrix of Leadership and become Autobot leader, but Optimus Prime convinces him to do it. At the end of the movie, Hot Rod gets it.
  • In Titan A.E. the lead Cale Tucker is approached early on by Capt. Joseph Korso to join him on a mission to find the ship called the Titan that is supposed to be the key to saving the human race. Korso putting it, "I want you to risk your life, I want you give up everything you have, to join me on a mission where you'll face terror, and torture, and possibly gruesome death...Because it's worth it. Because the human race needs you." Cale however refuses and only subsequently goes with him when the Drej find and try to capture him.
  • In The Lion King (1994), Simba's call to action actually comes further into the film than usual when Nala finds him alive and tries to convince him to return to the Pride Lands in order to oust Scar from power and take his place as the rightful king. Because of his guilt over what he thinks he did to his father as well as him having embraced living a life with, "No worries, for the rest of your days" he initially refuses. However after meeting with Rafiki and the spirit of his father, Simba reconsiders it and finds the courage and will to put his past behind him and return to the Pride Lands to accept his responsibility.
  • In Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo's prominent call to action for direct participation in the over-arching conflict and official picking a side, similarly to Simba's, comes further in to the story when Phoebus asks him to help reach the Court of Miracles in order to warn them of an impending attack that Frollo claimed to have prepared. However, afraid of incurring the wrath of his "master" Frollo as well as having thoughts like, "What am I supposed to do? Go out there and rescue the girl from the jaws of death and the whole town will cheer like I'm some kind of a hero? She already has her knight in shining armor and it's not me," he initially refuses. But because of the weight of his conscience and encouraging from the gargoyles he relents on this decision.
  • Happens in BIONICLE: Mask of Light. Takua is apparently chosen by the Mask of Light, but he frames events so it appears that it's his friend Jaller instead to the village. Takua promptly gets volunteered to go on The Quest to find the seventh Toa with Jaller anyway. Takua finally stops refusing the call after Jaller makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save him and puts on the Mask of Light, becoming the Toa of Light.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the 2010 film version of Alice in Wonderland (2010), a prophecy says that the Jabberwock (a beast that serves the Red Queen which she uses to intimidate her subjects into submission, and pretty much the one way she keeps a hold on power) can only be slain by the Vorpal Sword, and that Alice is the only one capable of using it. However, Alice spends most of the film denying that she is capable of it, going so far as to insist to the creatures who tell her this that they have the wrong person. (The film seems to be a Coming-of-Age Story, more or less, so Alice has to do a lot of Character Development before she comes to her senses and accepts the call.)
  • In Aliens, Ripley initially refuses to join the team being sent to see why the colony has stopped communicating and whether it really has been overtaken by aliens. Then, she realises that facing her terror is the only way to stop the nightmares.
  • Inverted at the end of The Avengers. When Agent Hill asks Director Fury if the Avengers will return, he says they will. When she asks how does he know, he responds, "We'll need them to."
  • In both Braveheart and The Patriot (a.k.a. Braveheart recycled IN AMERICA) Mel Gibson plays an influential but unambitious farmer who is asked by his countrymen to help in a rebellion against their oppressive king. He refuses to take up arms because he'd rather live a simple life than go to war. Then the king's soldiers kill one his his loved ones and leave him no choice.
  • Condorman: When Harry asks Woody, a comic book writer, to undertake a CIA courier mission to Istanbul that the two sides have mutually agreed will be done by civilians in order to reduce tensions, he initially refuses because he is "not a spy." It takes Harry playing on Woody's vanity and his desire to prove that his Condorman character is realistic to get him to go along.
  • Dogma takes this and runs the whole nine yards. Bethany doesn't take her job in trying to stop Loki and Bartleby from getting back into Heaven seriously, despite being told by Metatron and meeting "prophets" Jay and Silent Bob, the 13th Apostle Rufus and the muse Serendipity. It isn't until they meet the two and Rufus reveals that she's a descendant of Jesus Christ that Bethany outright walks off from the group and begins ranting and raving as to why she's suddenly being thrust into all of this. Metatron shows up again to comfort her and even says that Jesus Himself pulled this when he found out about his heritage (it's hinted that he went into a Heroic BSoD when he found out, explaining the large time gap in The Bible.)
  • In Dr. Dolittle, when the stray dog Dr. Dolittle almost runs over calls him a "bonehead," he thinks he's losing his mind. Then, when his daughter's guinea pig Rodney starts talking to him, his reaction to abandon both him and his cage on the side of the road and drive away. This is thwarted when Rodney appeals to his better nature as a doctor, causing him to come back for him.
  • In Escape from New York, the Anti-Hero Snake Plissken is offered a pardon for his past crimes if he'll rescue the President and a lost tape. He initially refuses, but changes his mind because he thinks he can use the opportunity to escape altogether. It happens again in both the comic series (when he refuses to get involved with the Twins' plan to secede Florida from the mainland U.S.) and Escape from L.A. (when he refuses to go on a second suicide mission to get the Sword of Damocles until the President forces him to, via a Explosive Leash variant and the promise of a pardon.
  • In Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, the final confrontation takes place over the vote for the ruler of the international wizarding confederation, which involves the Qilin, a rare magical creature that can see the purity of a wizard or witch's soul, bowing to the wizard with the purest soul. After Grindlewald tries to rig the vote using a Qilin he had reanimated through necromancy, Newt introduces a healthy Qilin which initially bows to Albus Dumbledore, but Albus tells the creature that while he is honored to have been recognised as a pure soul he doesn't feel he is worthy of the role, and asks it to choose someone else.
  • In Gladiator, when first approached by his mentor and father figure Marcus Aurelius with the task of taking power and saving Rome, Maximus initially refuses. However, by the end of the conversation, he says that he needs to think about it. Somewhat similarly to two previous examples (Braveheart and The Patriot), it is in large part because he wants to return home to live a simple and peaceful life as a farmer and family man, though he also implies to Marcus that he doubts his capabilities to carry out the task. Later on after much thought however, as well as a meaningful exchange with his servant Cicero concerning how, "Sometimes I do what I want to do. But the rest of time, I do what I have to", Maximus changes his mind on this decision. However it ultimately comes a little too late, as Commodus discovers what his father has planned before Maximus could accept it and thus before it could be announced to those including the Senators brought into attendance. Leading to Marcus being murdered by him, Maximus ironically enough refusing a "call" from Commodus himself to become his enforcer, and thus leading to Commodus attempting to have Maximus as well as his family executed.
  • The Golden Child. Chandler Jarrow absolutely refuses to accept that he's The Chosen One, but helps the good guys anyway because he wants to save the title character. By the end he grudgingly accepts his fate, mainly due to his love for the heroine Kee.
  • Bilbo in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey initially wanted nothing to do with Gandalf or the Dwarves, simply wanting to be left in peace. But he eventually Jumped at the Call when he woke up the next morning and realized his normal life just wouldn't be enough if he didn't do it.
  • In Jumper, David is watching the news while reporters detail severe flooding which has trapped multiple people on their roofs. The reporter even questions what will happen to them. Saved by a mysterious teleporter? Nope, he was busy banging some British chick.
  • In Kaamelott: Premier Volet, a deposed Arthur Pendragon is expected to come back by everyone in his former kingdom to overthrow Lancelot's tyranny... but he really, really doesn't want to. Circumstances end up forcing his hand.
  • In Kingdom of Heaven, Balian is approached by his estranged biological father Godfrey to join him in the Holy Land, where he plans on giving him a new start and a living. (Potentially considering making him a knight, but that isn't made clear at the start) Godfrey needs an heir, and wants to set things right for his conscience's sake. Balian declines, however, and only winds up joining them after he kills his brother for desecrating his deceased wife's body. Having a need to get away as well as deciding to take the opportunity to try and redeem he and his wife's souls.
  • In The Last Starfighter, Alex Rogan finds his favourite videogame is a military recruitment tool that got him inducted into The Star League. However, whatever interest he has vanishes when the villain Xur has a spy tortured to death on video and Alex instantly demands to be taken home, now!
    • However, when Xur learns about him and sends assassins after him, Alex realizes that his only chance of survival is as a starfighter.
  • In Lockout, the leading man, Snow, initially refuses the call to save the President's daughter with the line, "I'd rather castrate myself with blunt rocks."
  • The Matrix is (re)loaded with this one.
  • In The Mummy Returns:
    Ardeth Bay: If I was to say to you, "I am a stranger traveling from the east, seeking that which was lost," what would you say?
    Rick O'Connell: Then I would reply, "I am a stranger traveling from the West, and it is I who you seek."
    Ardeth Bay: Then it is true. You have the sacred mark. [points to tattoo]
    Rick O'Connell: That? No, that got slapped on me when I was in an orphanage in Cairo.
    Ardeth Bay: The mark means you're a protector of man, a warrior for God, a Magi.
    Rick O'Connell: Sorry, you've got the wrong guy. [lightning strikes]
  • Our Man Flint. Superspy Flint is called on repeatedly by his erstwhile boss Kramden to save the world, but brushes him off disinterestedly. It's only when Kramden is hit in an assassination attempt meant for him that he figures he's in whether he likes it or not (and saves Kramden, naturally.)
  • For about three-quarters of The Postman, Shakespeare is visibly uncomfortable about being treated like a hero, and tries to actively discourage the various mail-carrier's "do or die" attitude. He's absolutely horrified by Ford's statement that he (Ford) "would die to get a letter through," especially since Shakespeare knows he was the inspiration for it all.
  • In Serenity, Mal's first reaction to River's sudden bout of insanity and ludicrous martial-arts skill is to hide. Unfortunately, The Operative has already burned down his destination on Haven and killed everyone there, causing Mal to snap. It goes poorly for all sides. (One of the themes of the movie is that if the Alliance knew to leave well enough alone, everything would go more smoothly.)
  • Species II: Preston Lennox, having retired from freelance hunting to making a counter-terrorism security firm. He doesn't want to do anything if the government became idiots by making another Sil (though it's unclear why he's not affected or swayed by Fitch and Arden dying by Sil's hands and being nearly killed himself with Dan and Laura), and only gets talked into dealing with the new threat by being offered a million dollars.
  • Star Trek: First Contact: Zefram Cochrane doesn't want to be a statue.
  • Star Wars:
    • In The Phantom Menace as communicated via her decoy Padme initially plans to stay on the Trade Federation occupied Naboo, feeling it is her duty to stay with her people. However after some convincing by Qui-Gon Jinn and Sio Bibble she gives the signal to her double with the line "We are brave, your highness" to allow them to go on the journey with the Jedi.
    • Later on in the movie Anakin Skywalker, although enthusiastic about the prospect of being freed from slavery and becoming a Jedi, has trepidation about leaving his still enslaved mother behind. As he and Qui-Gon are walking away from his childhood home he runs back to her and claims "I can't do it, mom. I just can't do it." However with some encouragement by Shmi he ultimately does manage to walk away and begin his new path.
    • In A New Hope, Luke Skywalker expresses a wish to get off Tatooine but refuses the call due to his current situation ("Alderaan? I'm not going to Alderaan. I've got to go home; it's late, I'm in for it as it is!"). He's later forced into it when his uncle and aunt are killed; with them gone "There's nothing here for me now."
    • Later in the same film, as the Rebels are preparing to assault the Death Star, Han Solo refuses to take part in the attack, feeling it would just be suicide. (He shows up in the nick of time, though.)
    • In The Force Awakens, Finn and Rey hang up on The Call for various reasons. Finn is an ex-Stormtrooper who's adamant in getting as far away from the First Order as possible; Rey wants to help, but is also compelled to return to Jakku as soon as possible - specially after experiencing a distressing Force-induced vision. Then the planet where they're on is attacked by the First Order, forcing both to fight (and in Rey's case, she even ends up captured by the villain Kylo Ren).
    • In The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker refuses to have anything to do with Rey, and refuses to fight the First Order. Why? While he was training his nephew, he sensed the Dark Side growing within the boy as Supreme Leader Snoke corrupted him. At one point, he almost killed him, but changed his mind at the last minute. Unfortunately, Kylo saw his uncle's lightsaber lit up at him, and was pushed to the Dark Side fully, leading to the slaughter of the Jedi Academy, the rise of the First Order, and the subsequent events that followed from there. Because of his mistake, Luke had become bitter and cynical, cut himself off from the Force, and traveled to Ach-To to live out his days in peace while he waited for death to come. Rey (and later Yoda) are able to get him to snap out of this, which allows him to force project across the galaxy to distract his vengeful nephew long enough to give the Resistance enough time to escape.
  • After a dramatic buildup, Gary in Team America: World Police abruptly decides not to join Team America. Of course, after a montage sequence of visiting American monuments and listening to a hilarious satire of patriotic country musicnote , he eventually changes his mind.
  • The Terminator franchise:
    • In The Terminator, Sarah Connor tells Reese how she is not up to the level of the woman who will someday give birth to the savior of humanity, she can't be, and she doesn't want the job. Later she realizes that whether she wanted it or not she has to take the responsibility.
    • In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, John Connor refuses to be the leader of the resistance against Skynet and even at one point threatened to commit suicide in front of the T-800. This is mostly because he knows that his being leader of the resistance means that billions of people will die to nuclear holocaust. By the end of the film, he takes up this responsibility one way or another.
  • Transformers Film Series:
    • In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and to a lesser extent Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Sam actively tries to avoid getting involved with the Cybertronian Wars; in the novelization of the former, he even cites chronic pains from the climax of the first movie. Unfortunately, The Call Knows Where You Live and he's got an overwhelming sense of duty.
    • In Transformers: Age of Extinction, Optimus Prime himself isn't exactly fond of the idea of helping the humans again, as even after saving Earth three times, Transformers (Even Autobots) are still treated like a threat, and are being hunted down by the very same race they have saved. He even has abandoned his rule of never hurting humans, but still only fights back in self-defense, and doesn't hurt innocents. He however mellows down during the course of the film, with only one confirmed human casualty, which was required to save another human.
  • In Troy, Achilles resents King Agamemnon from the get-go, thus his friend Odysseus is sent to persuade him in leading the Myrmidons to join the rest of the Greeks into going to war with the Trojans. Playing up things like loyalty, honor, and his pride in order to try and convince him. Achilles refuses however, though subsequently changes his mind after a talk with his mother Thetis who asserts that the Trojan War is his ticket to glory and immortality, though also his doom.
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home
    • After the Infinity War, Peter doesn't think he's cut for the "saving the world" kind of super-heroing, and is now content to be the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man. He's now very reluctant to step in Iron Man's shoes.
    • There's also a literal example as an incredulous Happy Hogan is absolutely shocked that Peter Parker just ghosted Nick Fury by sending his phone call to voicemail. Peter just wanted to enjoy his vacation in Europe (and preserve his secret identity). Sadly, The Call Knows Where You're Vacationing.
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home: When five super villains from Spidey's cinematic past are dropped into his backyard, Peter is initially content to send them back home and not help them, admitting it's "Not [his] problem", but Aunt May convinces him to at least try to help. Doing so bites him in the ass, as Green Goblin kills Aunt May and convinces the other villains to turn against him. After that, he's content to send them back and let them all die as they were originally intended, falling right back into the "Not my problem" mindset, but fortunately, two other Spider-Men talk him down by pointing out their own failures with their loved ones, and encourage him not to make the same mistakes.
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League:

  • There was a Transformers Gamebook where at the first choice, you could refuse the call. The adventure promptly ended, with the note that you occasionally wonder what might have happened.
    • A Doctor Who Gamebook allowed you to walk straight past the TARDIS, with the same result.
  • The Fighting Fantasy gamebook The Crimson Tide actually allows you to refuse your quest for revenge and instead settle down as a sailor, monk, farmer, or any other career.

  • Alex Rider, except it's a situation of "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word, rather than The Call Knows Where You Live/being The Drag-Along.
  • Marco from Animorphs was at first very reluctant to fight with the others until he discovered his mother was alive and under the control of Visser One. He was literally going to quit, but Jake asked him for just one mission more. It wound up being this one. This may or may not be a coincidence.
  • Brenish in Below has longed to see the underground ruins all his life, even planning out what he would do if he ever went in search of treasure. A fake treasure map lands in his lap, giving him the chance to realize his (expensive) plan by bringing investors on board. Instead he gives up his dream, and chooses to get an honest job over the winter so he can save up to marry Cirawyn. He just has One Last Job as a highwayman to do first, and that's where it goes pear-shaped.
  • The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: When Thomas Covenant finds himself Trapped in Another World, he's convinced it's All Just a Dream and refuses to do anything. This changes in the second and third novels.
  • In The Dark Path, Jackie Laperriere is chosen to become the new incarnation of Qu'u, the Zor's quintessential hero, because the galaxy is facing an invasion by horrible monsters and the previous incarnation has already been put in a coma. She initially refuses, wanting nothing to do with the Zor's mystical bullshit, but ultimately relents.
  • Mercedes Lackey had Diana Tregarde, a witch of astounding power and a Guardian, which apparently means even more power and the responsibility to use it to protect people. Her grandmother taught her, but after her grandmother's death, Di tried to stay away from all that and live without the supernatural. This didn't work out, mostly because supernatural creatures and people could still feel her potential, and trying to ignore them meant that they ran into her on their terms.
  • Discworld:
    • Rincewind always refuses the call, being a complete and utter coward; however, he invariably ends up being forced by the plot into following it. This is inverted in The Last Hero, where he actually volunteers for a space mission, having realized that he's bound to be chosen for it anyway.
      Rincewind: I do not wish to volunteer for this mission.
      Vetinari: I beg your pardon?
      Rincewind: I do not wish to volunteer, sir.
      Vetinari: No one was asking you to.
      Rincewind: [wagging a weary finger] Oh, but they will, sir. they will. Someone will say: hey, that Rincewind fella, he's the adventurous sort, he knows the Horde, Cohen seems to like him, he knows all there is to know about cruel and unusual geography, he'd be just the job for something like this. [sigh] And then I'll run away, and probably hide in a crate somewhere that'll be loaded on to the flying machine in any case.
      Vetinari: Will you?
      Rincewind: Probably, sir. Or there'll be a whole string of accidents that end up causing the same thing. Trust me. sir, I know how my life works. So I thought I'd better cut through the whole tedious business and come along and tell you I don't wish to volunteer.
      Vetinari: I think you've left out a logical step somewhere...
      Rincewind: No, sir. It's very simple. I'm volunteering. I just don't wish to. But, after all, when did that ever have anything to do with anything?
      Ridcully: He's got a point... He seems to come back from all sorts of things.
      Rincewind: You see? [gives Lord Vetinari a jaded smile]
    • Also, Susan Sto Helit in Soul Music, Hogfather, and Thief of Time. She is so sensible that she refuses to believe in the existence of anything supernatural. Unfortunately, this proves to be difficult when Death is your grandfather, and you're the substitute anthropomorphic personification of Death whenever your grandfather is unable to perform his duties (which seems to happen often). Even after being thrust into such supernatural occurrences, she immediately resets to a "I Just Want to Be Normal" frame of mind after aforementioned occurrence is resolved.
    • Corporal "Nobby" Nobbs also never volunteers for anything. The following quote is from Feet of Clay.
      "The call to duty would not find him wanting. In fact, it wouldn't find him at all."
  • In The Divine Comedy, the protagonist's cowardice gets the better of him in the second canto at the prospect of ascending into the Underworld without the bravery of Aeneas or the divinity of Christ and he questions why he should go on the journey with Virgil at all. Thanks to Virgil's assurance that he works on behalf of our hero's long-lost love, he dismisses his concerns and steps on the path to Hell.
  • In Dragon Queen, Trava is adamant that she won't be going on an adventure with the old man.
  • The Dresden Files: We find out, of all people, Charity refused to use her magical gifts. In the Dresdenverse, magical ability is "if you don't use it in your youth, you lose it." Molly made the call not long before the same thing would happen, but incurred the wrath of the White Council for the type of magic used — Mind Rape breaking one of the Seven Laws of Magic.
  • The title character in Eden Green learns that alien needle monsters are invading her city and her best friend is infected with their horrible symbiote. Despite appeals to join the fight and help save the world, she tries several times to refuse the call.
  • The Empirium Trilogy: While she wants to take down the Undying Empire, Eliana isn't exactly keen about being one of the prophesied Queens. She initially refuses to learn how to use her unleashed powers and she hates being revered. She does eventually come to terms with her situation but still dislikes being referred to as the Sun Queen.
  • Fire & Blood: During the Dance of the Dragons, Qoran Martell was asked by both sides of the civil war to side with them. He responded that he'd prefer to sleep with scorpions, and Dorne stayed out of the entire mess.
  • In Firefight Calamity attempts to transform David into an Epic. Thankfully, David had overcome his greatest fear just minutes before, which enabled him to remain a human.
  • Green Rider: Karigan G'ladheon turns down Rider employment after her first adventure, choosing to become a merchant like her father. But the ghost of the Riders' founder keeps trying to summon her in her dreams, and Karigan ends up sleep-riding riding halfway to the capital city in her nightgown at the beginning of First Rider's Call, with humiliating consequences. At that point, she decides she'd better give up and join the service.
  • The Hobbit:
    • Bilbo Baggins, but Gandalf decides his hidden Tookish nature craves adventure (and he needs him for his complicated plan) so ensures he goes anyway.
    • By the next generation, Frodo Baggins has heard enough about Bilbo's adventures to be intrigued, but by the time he reaches Rivendell, he's already gone through more than enough. He considers refusing the call, but finally stands forward at the Council when no one else offers to take up the Quest(except a too-elderly Bilbo).
    • Interestingly enough, according to Tolkien's notes Gandalf himself didn't exactly Jump at The Call: when the Valar decided to send some emissaries to Middle-earth to help defeat Sauron, only a couple actually volunteered. The Maia later known as Gandalf was asked to go but declined, saying that he was too weak to fight Sauron. In the end Manwë, the high king of the Valar, had to order him to go. His humility in declining to accept the task citing his unworthiness was actually one of the reasons the Valar thought he was the right one for the job.
  • Dave in John Dies at the End frequently tries to escape from the supernatural shenanigans that he's roped into. Perhaps best illustrated in one scene where all the Soy Sauce-related madness starts, when his Evil-Detecting Dog runs off down the street barking at something, trying to get Dave to follow her. Dave just gets in his car and drives off in the opposite direction.
  • Otah Machi in The Long Price Quartet amazingly succeeds at ditching his poet masters and running off. He later becomes Emperor, of course.
  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen, the Crippled God is searching for a champion and outfits Barbarian Hero Karsa Orlong, whom he has chosen for the role, with spiritual advisors and some nifty weaponry for his role. But, while Karsa has no problem with going on adventures and raping and pillaging and whatnot, he really resents doing it on the Crippled God's orders and even actively works against him.
  • Sasha Privalov, the protagonist of Monday Begins on Saturday, muses on this trope in fiction and admits to disliking the behaviour of characters who, upon meeting the world of the unfamiliar and wonderful, try to run and hide away from it. He himself averts the trope - with level-headed enthusiasm and a knack for field experimentation.
  • In Of Fear and Faith, Kavik refuses August and Noble's offers to join them on their mysterious and almost certainly epic in some fashion journey. Unfortunately for him, The Call knew where to find him.
  • Old Kingdom: In Lirael, Prince Sameth is supposed to be the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, as the only other potential heir and blood relative is his older sister, who is obviously going to be the Queen someday. However, after a traumatic experience fighting a necromancer in Death, he realizes that he can't do it anymore, but his parents are too busy and his sister too self-assured to notice, and he's too scared to admit this to anyone. As Sam discovers, the Call wasn't actually for him at all, he just happened to be standing closest to the phone. When he discovers his actual Call as a Wallmaker, he gladly accepts it.
  • In The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Rose's father avoids hospitals because he fears a power like his own father's will manifest there.
  • Elli Winter was supposed to be the Traveler from Quillan in The Pendragon Adventure. Press offered her the position, knowing she had what it took. Elli refused, though, because she felt she wasn't up to it, and asked that the Traveler position be given to her daughter Nevva. That didn't work out so well.
    • Bobby himself also refused the call at first. Luckily for everything that has, does, and ever will exist, the abduction of his Uncle Press made it personal.
  • Matt from The Power of Five tries this in every book; unfortunately, the call either finds him or he's coerced into it.
  • In President's Vampire Zach is, at first, less than thrilled at the prospect of abandoning his career path and becoming a liaison to a vampire. However, he's sternly told that it's a job for life and he can either comply or die by knowing too much. By the end of the story, though, he flat-out refuses to abandon Cade.
  • Miras Vara in the Terok Nor books from the Star Trek Novel Verse. When Vara is exposed to an Orb artifact, the spirit lifeform Oralius, leader of the old gods, makes Herself known and insists Vara is the next Astraea (leader of the church and vessel for Oralius). Vara doesn't want to give up her career and her home to live on the run as leader of an outlawed faith. Knowing that Oralius will send her psychic dreams, Vara tries to avoid sleep. This is of course futile. Eventually she gives in and accepts her new destiny. She certainly makes a good effort at refusing the call, though.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: Unlike her Legends counterpart, Princess Leia refuses the prospect of becoming a Jedi, as clarified in Bloodline, in order to focus her energy in the political state of the world.
  • In Sunshine, Rae really does not want to be a vampire-slaying magic-wielder. But she's really good at it, and the humans and Con need all the help they can get.
  • Played for Laughs in There Is No Epic Loot Here, Only Puns when Quist reminds everyone that entering the Dungeon requires that, "you must either be over the age of 16, have a demon bound inside your soul, wield a sword that no one else can use, be mute and heralded as the hero of this timeline, have a magical birthmark tied to some prophecy or have parental permission".
    The two blonde kids that were mute and had been hailed as heroes in some fashion in the crowd shrugged. Quiss knew one wanted to be a vet and the other was too lazy to go anywhere. Smart boys in his opinion.
  • Tortall Universe: In the Trickster's Duet, Sarai and Dove (but mostly Sarai) are the Chosen Ones of the Copper Isles. Sarai eventually decides that nothing will ever change, so she elopes to Carthak, resulting in panic until Dove reminds the rebels that she has the same credentials. This actually winds up working out for the best for everyone, since Sarai would have been a disaster as queen.
  • Johnny in The Truth of Rock and Roll has a chance to join Jenny in Rock and Roll Heaven and become the Anthropomorphic Personification of the Rich Boy in love with the Rebel Girl. He passes on his chance and becomes the Gray Man.
  • In Updraft, Kirit isn't interested in using her gift by joining the Singers; she'd much rather be a trader like her mother, which would have averted the whole plot. However, the Singers are quite prepared to ruin her chances of having that life.
  • Bahzell of The War Gods receives the call in the first book, with instructions to head west. By the time he accepts the call, he is fairly close to the eastern edge of inhabited lands.
  • Peter Waylock of the War of the Dreaming doesn't want to guard the family legacy, doesn't believe in magic, and could care less about the Ancient Tradition. Until his son wakes up from a coma and something's wrong.
  • All of the major characters in the Wheel of Time series have "refused the call" at least once.
    • Except Moraine, who Jumped at the Call to find the prophesied Dragon Reborn... in part to escape another duty, that of succeding her uncle to the Sun Throne on behalf of the White Tower.
  • Worlds of Shadow: Played with. Pel's at first very reluctant to join Raven's war against Shadow. He agrees to visit the other world temporarily, but then they get stuck there. His family get killed, and thus he goes into it for revenge.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the second season premiere of 24, Jack Bauer initially refuses to help CTU avert a nuclear bomb threat because he is still grief-stricken over the loss of his wife. A chance sighting of a mother and her child, as well as a few minutes spent in his home mulling, change his mind, and he finally decides to help the counter-terrorist unit.
    • He does it again in season 8, even refusing Chloe's pleas to help look into a lead regarding the assassination attempt on Omar Hassan, as understandably every time he has wound up answering the call it's usually left him in a lot worse position than he previously was in at the beginning of a season. It takes Kim's encouragement to get him to agree to help out.
  • Ash initially refuses the call in Ash vs. Evil Dead, having grown old, fat and complacent, but eventually realizes he can't outrun the dead forever.
  • In Babylon 5 it took Sheridan a fierce dressing-down, a lot of denunciations and even a threat to his own life to drag Kosh down from the Vorlons' Monte Aloof and into the fight with Shadows. To a certain extent practically every race, short for Narns maybe, had to be persuaded, painstakingly negotiated, beseeched or coerced into action. And, the second Kosh gets big-time involved... he's brutally murdered, as he knew would happen. Kosh wanted to delay his Mentor Occupational Hazard as long as possible.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the 1996 film, Grace ultimately chooses not to go with the Eighth Doctor.
    • "World War Three": At the end Mickey refuses the call, because the Doctor's life is too dangerous. He changes his mind later and gets stuck in a parallel universe for his troubles.
    • "The Runaway Bride": At the end Donna, utterly terrified and drained by the events of the day, explicitly refuses the Doctor's offer to travel with him. It takes a whole season for her to find him again after changing her mind, and when she does she says — on multiple occasions — that she never wants to leave.
    • "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood": The Doctor is turned human with his memories erased, and is set to live a happy, normal life as John Smith — if it weren't for the possessed scarecrows and the insane maid who thinks he's an alien. At first, Smith refuses the call, but eventually is forced to become the Doctor again — and boy, is he angry.
    • By the finale of Series 6, answering the call for so long has made the Doctor become truly feared by many, to the point where whole religious orders have sprung up to kill him and many innocents along the way. It reached such a breaking point that the Doctor had to choose between dying to save the universe and faking his own death so the universe will forget him. As a result, it seems he may now be refusing the call after a lifetime of answering it... except, did you really think he would?
    • At the end of "The Zygon Inversion" the Doctor invites UNIT staffer Osgood to travel with him in the TARDIS. She admits that she wants to go, more than anything, but turns him down as she feels she has a duty to stay on Earth and maintain the peace between humans and the Zygons.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Renly initially rejects Loras' suggestion that he should be king in "The Wolf and the Lion", but the idea gradually becomes more appealing after he argues with Robert, and he finally embraces it in "You Win or You Die". By "Fire and Blood" he has already crowned himself king with the help of the Tyrells.
    • Jon did this initially. His sister Sansa tries to convince him to aid her in battle against the Boltons to get back Winterfell, but Jon refuses due to be being tired of all the fighting. However, once Jon is informed by Ramsay's threatening letter that he has his brother Rickon captive and is threatening to rape his sister Sansa, he decides to take up arms against Ramsay and aid Sansa.
  • Melinda Gordon's mother in Ghost Whisperer has the gift (to communicate with ghosts) but refuses to use it.
  • Heroes:
    • Nathan Petrelli initially refuses to acknowledge his flight superpower (and his brother's powers that allowed him to mimic it), even when caught in the act by Hiro Nakamura in the fifth episode of season 1.
    • Also...
      Hiro: Destiny is calling!
      Ando: I wish destiny would lose our number.
  • In The Librarians 2014, the backstory of the three new Librarians is that they all received the same invitation Flynn did, but didn't respond. While Cassandra Missed the Call, Jake and Ezekiel both turned it down. Jake because he had other responsibilities, Ezekiel because he assumed it had been a mistake.
  • On Medium, Allison, her daughter Ariel, and her mother, all tried at some point in their lives to suppress their psychic abilities. Allison's half-brother also does not like to acknowledge his power.
  • Orphan Black: Sarah seesaws between this and Jumped at the Call in the early episodes.
  • Power Rangers:
    • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, the chosen five get teleported to the Command Centre by Zordon and initially reject his offer to become Power Rangers, having no idea what he's talking about. It's only after a fight with evil putties that they get an idea of what actually might be going on and change their minds.
    • From Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, tentative Green Ranger Joel is not happy with being recruited (understandable since he was literally dragged into coming), and the minute he's told they're free to leave, tries to do just that. He changes his mind on seeing what the demons are doing.
    • In Power Rangers S.P.D. and Power Rangers Mystic Force, the eventual Red Rangers initially don't think too highly of risking their lives to defend their personal City of Adventure from the forces of evil. In both cases, It's Personal thanks to their potential teammates/best friends for years past getting the crap beat out of them, which assumedly wouldn't have happened had the Red Ranger been there from the start. Note that this situation is often used as an excuse to give the lead his own dramatic solo Transformation Sequence, as opposed to the combined group one they collectively receive from that point on.
    • In the first part of the Power Rangers Dino Super Charge finale "Eve of Extinction", the Rangers attempt to recruit Heckyl, who has performed something of a Heel–Face Turn, to help them deal with the Greenzilla invasion. Heckyl refuses, claiming that the good Heckyl disappeared when he touched the Dark Energem, but Shelby is unconvinced. He spends most of that episode enjoying what he thinks is the last day on Earth being completely apathetic to its impending destruction, but reconsiders when he helps reunite a little girl with her mother in the panic.
  • The entire driving force of Smallville is Clark's repeated and continuous Refusal of the Call, despite repeated reminders that not only does The Call (a.k.a. Jor-El) Know Where He Lives, it sleeps on his couch, raids his refrigerator, and carpools with him.
    • In the season two finale his refusal of the call leads to a number of unfortunate events and he runs away. It ended rather badly and he fully deserves the load of What the Hell, Hero? Chloe hits him with.
    • Not to mention having other characters, most notably Chloe and Oliver, yell at him to pick up the damn phone.
    • For example, in Apocalypse, he needs to stop Brainiac or he would be erased from history. He refuses to act, even after Chloe begs him otherwise. Jor-El used a very realistic Bad Future simulation (It's a Wonderful Plot) to convince him.
    • In seasons 8 and 9 he finally answered, even to the point where he's the one pointing out to the retired members of the Justice Society that they're not returning their calls. May count as a Gone Horribly Right at the beginning of season 9 when he detaches from humanity and leaves behind a heartbroken Chloe after Jimmy dies and Clark refuses to save him.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "True Q". Amanda Rogers first decides she wants to be human rather than a member of the Q Continuum. She later changes her mind when she learns she will be killed if she doesn't become a Q.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • Sisko continuously tries to convince the Bajorans that he isn't the Emissary. When a Bajoran poet claims to be the Emissary, Sisko is more than happy to step aside, until he sees what a disaster the new Emissary is.
    • Li Nalas, a Bajoran resistance fighter, spent most of the Occupation having to put up with an inflated reputation as a brilliant leader, all because he happened to stumble across and shoot an infamous Cardassian war criminal bathing in his skivvies. When he is rescued from a Cardassian prison camp in "The Homecoming" and finds that everyone is looking to him to fix all of Bajor's problems, he tries (and fails) to stowaway on a freighter bound for the Gamma Quadrant.
  • Supernatural:
    • Unlike his brother, Sam refused the call so hard that he ran away to college and didn't speak to his family for two years. But like with everyone here, The Call Knows Where He Lives.
    • We find out later it's genetic as Mary, the brothers' mother, was a hunter as was her entire family going back generations and she left the life in the hopes of being normal. Unfortunately as above it didn't work.
  • In Teen Wolf, Scott doesn't want to be a werewolf, so he ignores the call as long as possible. Unfortunately for him, the call keeps calling, so the choice ends up being: Man up and deal with your new-found werewolfness, or kill your loved ones.
  • In the first episode of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, the main character utilizes the Artifact of Doom in question to gain musical ability. He is then possessed and is only prevented from destroying his entire high school by his best friend; at the end of the episode, the book is set aflame and it is forced to fly away. When one of his companions tries to convince Todd to go after the book, he says it's now someone else's problem and suggests they go smoke pot instead.
  • Jaye on Wonderfalls has to be verbally harassed by talking tchotchkes for most of the pilot before she "Surrenders to Destiny".

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible
    • Moses initially refuses God's call to go back to Pharaoh's court and demand the Israelites' freedom. His excuse: he's a stutterer — literally, his "lips are sealed" (also, the fact that he's wanted for murder might have something to do with it). More of a downplayed example because God sees right through the lame excuse and states in no uncertain terms that Moses still has to go, but he can bring his brother Aaron along to make the speeches.
    • A straighter example would be when Jonah is literally called by God to deliver a message to a city. Jonah doesn't want to do it, so he tries to run away on a ship. Of course, trying to run away from an omnipresent deity doesn't really work so well. God causes a storm to come up at sea that threatens to sink the ship. Jonah knows why the storm is happening and tells the crew to throw him overboard to save themselves. They reluctantly do so. And that's where the giant fish comes in. Making this Older Than Feudalism.
    • While the apostle Peter did indeed follow Jesus around everywhere to the point of claiming he would never abandon him, he broke his promise when Jesus was captured by the Pharisees. It was not until the rooster crowed the third time that he realized his mistake and repented of his sins simply because he remembered Jesus prophesying that he would do this.
  • This also features in the founding of Islam; some historical traditions hold that Muhammad initially refused to receive The Qur'an because he couldn't read it — and later on, contemplated committing suicide, for fear of becoming a madman.


  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Simon tries his absolute hardest to stay away from anything related to the superpowers he's been given. Whenever one of the other superpowered characters approach him, he deflects them and scarpers off. This only lasts him so long before his Superpowered Evil Side takes over, and even when he regains control his mother all but forces him to hang out with the superpowered kids.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Hunter: The Reckoning, hunters who refuse The Call are known as bystanders; they lose all their briefly-granted powers, but retain a knowledge of the truth behind the setting's Masquerade.
  • In Anathema, Kindly shrouds are the reanimated spirits of people who dedicated their lives to helping others and are now tasked with culling the human population on a massive scale. They often refuse the call out of horror or disgust. Any shroud can choose to refuse the call, but doing so too much will result in them being hunted down and killed by other shrouds.
  • Warhammer 40,000; the Emperor approached Primarch Angron when the latter was just about to commit to a Last Stand with his fellow gladiators, telling him he had to leave and join the Great Crusade. Angron told him to shove it and that he was going to die fighting with his friends, but the Emperor wouldn't take no for an answer and essentially kidnapped Angron just as the battle was getting started, abandoning his army to their doom. Angron would never forgive the Emperor for this and would be one of the first Primarchs to join Horus' rebellion against him.


    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed II Ezio initially insists he only wants to protect his family from the main villains, preferably by getting the hell out of the country, but after seeing his uncle fight them he is shamed into helping and joining the cause.
  • The title character of Jak 3: Wastelander is approached by Ashlin after he's been moving up the ladder in Spargus to go back to Haven City and help clean up the mess there. Jak responds that he was blamed for the fall of Haven City despite saving it in the second game, and left to die in the desert by the Grand Council. Naturally, he's in no mood to put his neck on the line for them anymore. He eventually goes back anyway, because The Call Knows Where You Live.
  • It's possible to avert But Thou Must! in the beginning of Super Paper Mario by refusing to go after the Pure Hearts. All this does, though, is get you a Press Start To Non Standard Game Over.
  • Thief: The Dark Project. Garrett.
    Garrett: Tell my friends that I don't need their secret book, or their glyph warnings, or their messengers. Tell them I'm through. Tell them it's over. Tell them Garrett is done.
Of course, this is followed by:
Artemis: [after Garrett departs] I will tell them this: Nothing has changed. All is as written. Beware the Metal Age.
  • The story of the canceled Dreamcast game Castlevania: Resurrection had a Belmont named Victor run away from his duties of killing Dracula, although he's eventually forced to take up the whip regardless when he and his ancestor Sonia Belmont are ripped from their respective timelines to fight Dracula in year 1666.
  • In Betrayal at Krondor, Owyn is the only one who isn't compelled by duty or has a truly personal stake in stopping the moredhel schemes. He tries to go his separate way again after helping an injured Locklear who stumbles into his camp with a chained Gorath in tow. When they realize afterwards that he could talk to the wrong person and get them all killed if they just let him go, Locklear says he's either coming along with them or getting his throat slit, which would be undesirable for both of them. Later, however, when that part of the mission is done and it's assumed he'll be going home, he goes out of his way to stay with them.
  • Lost Odyssey's Kaim doesn't actively refuse the call, but he recognizes that, as an immortal, he has all the time in the world, and so he takes his time. But when it comes to the call of adventure that his lost memories provide, he initially refuses due to the tremendous pain he knows they will bring if he can unlock them again.
  • In Fairy Fencer F, after picking up the Fury and listening to Eryn's Info Dump on what a Fencer is, Fang abruptly refuses to collect more Furies and walks away with the sword.
  • In Devil Survivor, at a specific point in the game, instead of choosing to keep fighting, you can choose to abandon everything and just try to escape the Hell on Earth scenario you're in, knowingly leaving thousands of innocent civilians to die and the city you're in to go insane and be completely destroyed. But making this choice will cost you dearly. Demons begin spilling out en masse as the barrier between the human world and demon world weakens, and the demons prepare to ravage the human world en masse. Overclocked shows you what happens if you take this choice, as well as gives you the opportunity to fix it.
  • In Wario Land II, if you stay asleep long enough at the beginning, you get kicked out of your castle and get to play through an alternate storyline.
  • Inverted in The Bard's Tale for the PS2. The Bard does answer the call, but he refuses to be called The Chosen One, and threatens anyone who even thinks to call him that.
  • EarthBound (1994): When Buzz-Buzz is telling Ness of the prophecy and what he must do, Pokey thinks he's not one of the three boys and backs out from helping. He ends up being involved anyways, but on the wrong side.
  • In Phantasy Star IV, when presented with the genesis story of the Algo solar system, some time after Rune has chosen him as Algo's champion, Chaz finds the Great Light to be an extremely hypocritical absent god figure and consciously rejects his "destiny" to fight the Profound Darkness. Once he's calmed down, he asks Rune if Blind Obedience to the Great Light's intentions would make them any different from the villains who serve the Profound Darkness. He eventually does come around, but chooses to fight to protect the people of Algo who would be harmed if the Profound Darkness wins, rather than just because the Great Light says so.
  • Reid Hershel from Tales of Eternia initially refused to have anything to do with stopping the Grand Fall, but was dragged along by his childhood friend Farah, who Jumped at the Call. He's content to let the military of his home world take care of things, but eventually he's forced to do it himself as The Chosen One when the other Chosen One dies saving his life.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, General Leo Christophe was the only soldier for The Empire who refused to be infused with Magitek powers, as Celes and Kefka were. Given his sheer strength and abilities alone, it's quite obvious it didn't phase him one bit.
  • In the initial A Realm Reborn quest arc of Final Fantasy XIV, it's possible to abandon the main questline entirely after learning the basics. Even within the questline itself, the leader of your local Adventurer's Guild will offer you the choice to back away when the Scions of the Seventh Dawn offer you to join them. Of course, not answering the call will lock you out of most of the game's content, including all the expansions as they can only be accessed by progressing the story.
  • In some Harvest Moon games it is possible to refuse to take over the farm. This usually results in a Non Standard Game Over.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins it is possible to refuse the call to join the Grey Wardens in each of the six possible openings, even though in many of them you need to join the Wardens to save your character's life. It doesn't really change anything though, because Duncan will conscript your character regardless of whether you want to go or not.
    • In the second game, Anders expresses his frustration at Mage Hawke for refusing the call to lead the Mage Underground, despite being the sort of leader they've waited centuries for.
  • In Golden Sun, it's possible to refuse to chase after Saturos and Menardi. This leads to a Non Standard Game Over revealing the world drifted towards its destruction and a bit of Fridge Brilliance, when you realize the destruction wasn't the lighthouses being lit, but the world withering away without Alchemy (or possibly elemental imbalance, given some dialogue in the second game).
  • In The Matrix: Path of Neo, it is possible to take the Blue Pill, resulting in a Non Standard Game Over where Morpheus expresses his disappointment at the decision.
  • In the second installment of Penny Arcade Adventures, you have the option to refuse to join Gabe and Tycho after Fruit Fucker Prime destroys your tent. They'll just come back the next day and ask again until you accept. If you refuse enough days in a row, you get an achievement called "The Reluctant Hero."
  • In Psychonauts, refusal of the call just makes Ford Cruller slap Raz upside the head and ask angrily "How about now?"
  • The cause of the entire plot in Radiant Historia. Heiss was so angry that his incompetent brother got to be king while he was supposed to die to save the world that he didn't just ditch his duty, he outright sabotaged it.
  • Super Action Adventure: Having already saved the world twice with no benefits, Bear opts not to take part in Heroes until he is able to ensure he gets compensated for it. Until then, he stays out of the fight to talk with the government about money. Most of the other heroes in Heroes don't join the fight right away either, but only Bear and Grim provide their reasons for not joining right away.
  • In Tears to Tiara 2: Hamil plays dumb to prevent a rebellion, and was willing to let the Zaras kill him and the entire Barcid Party and enslave all the people of Hispania if it meant preventing the death and destruction of war. Seeing Tart about to be burnt at the stake that changes his mind.
  • In the Dragonborn DLC of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, if you defeated Alduin before confronting Miraak, he will state that when the ancient Nord heroes of old asked him to help them defeat Alduin he ignored them, claiming that while he could have taken him, he simply didn't care enough to.
  • In Doraemon: Giga Zombie no Gyakushū, Doraemon comes to the Player Character's home to ask them to help him rescue his crew and defeat the Big Bad. The player is free to tell him "no", and though he'll plead with you, repeating it enough times will lead to Doraemon walking off crying, ending the game.
  • Ni no Kuni: Oliver initially refuses to travel to Mr. Drippy's world to fight the Dark Djinn, as he's still mourning his mother's death. Mr. Drippy then realises that in his world, Oliver's mother is a powerful sage who was trapped in crystal by the Dark Djinn, and rescuing her may bring back the version of her in Oliver's world too. Oliver thus accepts the call, but to save his mother rather than to save Mr. Drippy's world.
  • In Cartographer Reuben refuses to become his late father's successor as Dragon Slayer because all he wants is to quietly run the inn he owns. Unfortunately, only someone of his heritage can become the Dragon Slayer and he happens to be an only child.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 3: Shinjiro Aragaki was a founding member of SEES, but an undisclosed incident made him decide to quit. Akihiko spends most of the game trying to convince him to come back, and the plot thickening has no bearing on his eventual acceptance. No, he only agrees to return because Ken Amada joins SEES of his own volition. The significance? The incident that led him to abandon SEES was losing control of his Persona and accidentally killing Ken's mother.
    • Persona 5:
      • Joker attempts to delete the Metaverse Navigator app that kicks off the rest of the plot for a good three days before actually using it to willingly enter the Adventure-Friendly World of the Palace, with the first time being by accident. He can also try to encourage Ryuji to do the same.
      • Aloof Ally Kasumi Yoshizawa in Royal had little interest in the Phantom Thieves even after awakening to her Persona, and was more interested in furthering her gymnastics career than assisting their crusade against injustice. However she ultimately became the 11th-Hour Ranger during the events of the third trimester.
  • The Stanley Parable: The "Coward/Reluctance" ending is gotten by having Stanley interact with his office door to close it again, whereupon the Narrator describes how Stanley decided to stay in his office and wait for further instructions instead of leaving and investigating the mysterious disappearance of his co-workers.
  • World of Warcraft: Numerous blood elves wish to go to Dalaran to aid in the war against the Scourge, enough that the blood elven rulers feel the need to send an official leader of the group to coordinate with Dalaran's own leadership. Grand Magister Rommath is the perfect choice for this duty, as he is a powerful mage with experience in Dalaran politics and an ironclad loyalty to the blood elven people. The problem is, he loathes Dalaran and will have nothing to do with it, requiring the much less capable Aethas Sunreaver to take the reins instead.
  • Shrimp and Cornelia do this repeatedly in BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm. They were both playable party members in the prequel, but this time they’re in the middle of a vacation and refuse to get involved with any of the world-saving heroics. They finally get their acts together and rejoin the team in Chapter 8, but only after the Internet has already been almost totally wiped out and vacationing is simply no longer an option.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: Avitus Rix, the second in-line for the position of turian Pathfinder, will do this at the end of the turian Ark quest if the decision to take the job is left to him. He'll wind up a miserable drunk, disheartened over the loser of his lover and predecessor, instead.
  • When the First Flame is in danger of fading once again in Dark Souls III, previous Lords of Cinder are resurrected so that they may sit upon their thrones in Firelink Shrine and open the path to the Kiln so as to link the fire again, but, for various reasons, several Lords of Cinder refuse and abandon their thrones to carry out acts that they've done in the previous lives or to settle unfinished business; the Ashen One is ultimately sent to go and find them and bring them back to the Shrine.
  • In Dragon's Dogma, Barroch is an Arisen who chose not to face the Dragon after his heart was taken, deciding that since he's now effectively immortal he'd rather spend his time adventuring on his own terms.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the PS2 version of Higurashi: When They Cry, it's very possible to refuse the call by carefully avoiding setting off any triggers. It leads to an arc in which "Mion" appears to start going nuts, but Keiichi refuses to get involved, leading to the death of everyone with the actual Mion's death being delayed by ten years while she's catatonic.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Oscar longs for more to life than being a farm-boy on an isolated farm. He initially doesn't know it, but he is born special; in a world where being unique is worth dying for, he mysteriously has an identical Aura and Soul to those of one other extremely enigmatic individual. Ozpin has a responsibility to protect four dangerous, divine Relics from destroying humanity; his Arch-Nemesis, Salem, destroys Beacon Academy in Volume 3, leaving the world thinking Ozpin is dead. However, Ozpin is secretly a body-surfer who merges with special hosts instead of dying. It's implied that Ozpin cannot choose to body-surf when Oscar becomes the new host after the fall of Beacon much to the dismay of both of them. Oscar spends Volume 4 trying to deny Ozpin's existence and refuse the responsibility for protecting the world that has now been dumped on his shoulders.
  • The Most Epic Story Ever Told in All of Human History: During “The Most Epic Superhero Origin Story Ever”, Epic-Man declares his intent to save the world with the help of Epic Fail and Epic Robot Guy. Epic Robot Guy’s response is to run away.

  • Bob and George:
  • In Girl Genius, we get a character who's aware of this trope: Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer! He explains it to the heroine, Agatha (emphasis in original). He is wrong in that he thinks she'll become a traditional hero and/or his sidekick, rather than what she really is: a Reluctant Mad Scientist and heir to the Heterodyne family.
    Othar: ...something you should remember as you fight evil.
    Agatha: I told you. I'm not doing that. You can't make me.
    Othar: Make you? [laughs, loudly] You ran straight at that danger without even thinking. That's who and what you are. You say you want a normal life. We all say that at one time or another. You deserve your chance at it. I'll be back in about three months — and we'll see how "normal" you are.
    [he leaves]
    Agatha: He only sees what he wants to see. Which is why he's completely wrong about me.
  • Godslave: Edith doesn't want to go around searching for Anpu's ba, but the Blacksmiths just won't leave her alone.
  • Early on in The Last Halloween, Mona very emphatically (and sensibly, considering that she's an ordinary 10-year-old girl) refuses to embark on a mythical quest through a world overrun by monsters to save humanity. The Hero's Journey is specifically brought up by the Genre Savvy quest-giver, and it ultimately takes a Fourth-Wall breaking to make her agree.
    Shirley: Mona, just say yes, this got old six panels ago.
  • In Mutant Ninja Turtles Gaiden, the turtles have such extreme psychological damage that all but Leo take up this trope (and even Leo has some aspects of this). Raph is on a self-destructive path of drinking and self-mutilation, Mikey has moved to the surface and is living the life of a reclusive writer, and Donnie stays in his lab, rarely interacting with anyone. While Raph is still up to a little rough action now and then, Mikey repeatedly breaks down at the thought of combat (even to save loved ones!), and Donnie, who's become disconnected from reality and a cold-blooded True Neutral (perhaps even edging toward Evil), comes within an inch of killing a young child to convince himself that he has nothing to do with the surface world anymore. A far cry from their days of teenage heroism!
  • In No Rest for the Wicked, Perrault laughs at the idea of helping November, until she points out that he's bored.
  • Princess Chroma: June would love to not be a Magical Girl, but she just can't catch a break.
  • In Rusty and Co., Mimic refuses Madeline's proposed quest. But then, when the plot hook is deliverd bu artillery...
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Onni initially refuses to go on the expedition due to outright fearing the Silent World, but intends to keep contact with Lalli via the mage-exclusive dream space. Just a little after the expedition leaves, a danger that is referred to simply as "it" makes magical communication dangerous for Onni and Lalli. A non-magical means of keeping in contact with Lalli however happens to exist: the communication radio that Mission Control is using. Onni ends up joining them and accepting to do grunt work to get access to the radio.

    Web Original 
  • Starting in A Link Between Videos and running through the whole series, Link categorically refuses every attempt to get him on track (unless promised the power of flight or bacon) instead wandering the land and goofing off. More or less like the average player...
  • Phase from the Whateley Universe. He doesn't want to be a superhero, he just wants to be a normal guy, become the CEO of Goodkind International, and live a normal life. Unfortunately, nobody really cares what he wants. Pity he's got into more fights then most of Team Kimba combined... though, at least he has a company to run, which is nice. Marvel.
  • Pretty much all five protagonists from the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes are uninterested in saving the world, one going so far as to throw his Guardian Band away. Unfortunately, none of them have any choice in the matter.
  • This is how Jonas Wharton of LG15: the resistance reacts when the Hymn of None attempts to persuade him to lead the Resistance in the first chapter, "A Call To Arms". In the end, the FBI turn up investigating claims that Jonas has committed acts of terrorism and murder, which forces him into action.
  • Limyaael's Fantasy Rants: Limyaael feels very strongly about making good reluctant heroes.
  • Pretty much what Living in Oblivion is all about: What happens in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion if the Champion of Cyrodiil prefers to live an ordinary life as an NPC? (Who would want this guy's face on any coins, anyway?)
  • Spoofed in this Tumblr comic (nicknamed "Nope: the Anime" by Imgur), about a girl who's obviously destined to be a main character but fights against it tooth and nail: she throws away Transformation Trinkets, ignores Humongous Mecha battles, refuses to make The Promise, and sits in the absolute middle of the classroom to avert Conveniently Seated. The only aspect of it she actually likes is standing on telephone poles. "Also, Dad told me to stop that narrating crap."
  • Deviant: Cassandra Jansen, the main protagonist of the web serial, is told that she's the pivotal figure in a prophecy involving the end of the world. She's having none of it, and essentially tells one of the most powerful superhumans in the world to go fuck themselves.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang runs away after being informed (prematurely) that he is the new reincarnation of the Avatar. He is then frozen in an iceberg and reawakens to a world in a century-long war that needs the Avatar now more than ever.
    • In The Legend of Korra, after Zaheer assassinates the Earth Queen, sending the Earth Kingdom spiraling into anarchy, the world's leaders ask Suyin Beifong to temporarily take control of the region until it is stabilized. She refuses, saying that she's not interested in seizing that kind of power for herself. Unfortunately, her protégé Kuvira didn't take kindly to Suyin not stepping up to lead when a leader was so desperately needed. So she took on the task herself, stabilizing the region by force and creating a new despotic regime in the process.
  • Big Hero 6: The Series: This is what everyone but Fred tries to do after the events of the movie, no longer seeing a reason to continue being heroes after beating Callaghan. It ultimately takes an invasion of Baymax-clones caused by the gangster Yama to convince them to keep being heroes.
  • South Park:
    • This trope is a running joke in the "Woodland Critters" episode.
    • Parodied in the "Pandemic" episodes, where Craig's attempts to refuse the call leads him to accidentally fulfilling the prophecy associated with him.
    • The episode "Towelie" runs on this. Being told to exchange Towelie to get their "Okama Game Sphere" console back, they end up tied up in a convoluted conspiracy plot. Despite this they are totally uninterested in whatever unfolds:
      Scientist: Thank you for bringing him to us, boys. You see, this is not an ordinary towel. He is the RG-400 Smart Towel, designed with a computer chip inside the terrycloth
      Stan: We don't care.
      Scientist: You see, here at Tynacorp, our goal was to make the perfect towel. A towel that would sense how wet or dry the user's skin was and fluff itself accordingly.
      Stan: Dude, we don't care.
      Scientist: Towelie was our greatest success. Smart enough to beat the average human at chess and absorbent enough to soak up even the toughest spills. But then one day, Towelie got high and just sort of wandered off.
      Stan: We...don'
  • In Danny Phantom, Danny often tries to Refuse the Call. This never works well, with the result being either just a mundane ghost attack to creating horrific alternate futures where the world is destroyed. One particular example is the episode "Memory Blank" where a powerless Danny with no memories is forced to answer the call anyway.
  • In World of Quest, the titular Quest spends most of the first episode actively refusing the call. Actually, more like kicking the call in the butt. Eventually he's tricked into accepting.
  • This is a recurring theme in the various Transformers series:
    • In "The Burden Hardest to Bear", Rodimus Prime has been growing sick and tired of "being responsible for the preservation of the universe and its outlying suburbs", and takes the opportunity to leave the Autobots when he loses the Matrix. He's eventually Resigned to the Call, though, as he comes to realize that as The Chosen One, the Matrix is intertwined with his own destiny. And then destiny punches him in the face a few episodes later with "The Return of Optimus Prime".
    • When Optimus Prime apparently came back from the dead before coming back for real Rodimus immediately returned the Matrix to him and was overjoyed when he reverted to Hot Rod. He had to take the Matrix back when Optimus turned out to be a case of Came Back Wrong.
    • Smokescreen of Transformers: Prime has almost the exact same reaction as (G1) Ultra Magnus. Despite often speaking of his belief that he was destined for great things earlier on, he adamantly states that he doesn't think he's worthy of replacing Optimus. He even decides to Screw Destiny by using the last of the Forges' energy to resurrect Optimus.
  • Batman Beyond goes so far as to have a two-part episode titled "The Call", in which Terry is invited to join the Justice League. In the end, he refuses to do so, at least as a full-time member.
  • Lampshaded by Rick and Morty when Rick rejects a call to assemble the Vindicators.
    Rick: I refuse to answer a literal Call to Adventure, let it go to voicemail.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series: Just like his comics counterpart, no matter the version.
  • In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Batman sees the Crime Syndicate's world as an Expendable Alternate Universe and utterly refuses to participate in saving it until the villains' machinations threaten his own world.
  • The two-part Origins Episode of Miraculous Ladybug revealed that after messing up her first outing as Ladybug, Marinette, already reluctant about accepting the Call, tried to quit and secretly pass on the Ladybug Miraculous to her friend, Alya. Circumstances and a pep talk from Cat Noir later cause her to reconsider and take up the mantle again.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Refused The Call, Refuse The Call, Refusing The Call


The creator's refusal

In the first Drawn to life game, you can refuse Mari's prayers and cause the game to end right then and there, at the very beginning.

How well does it match the trope?

4.88 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / RefusalOfTheCall

Media sources: