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Refused by the Call

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You know, just leaving the rest of the kids behind to waste their "non-prophesized lives" away;
"Of course you're welcome to Thorn Valley, there's plenty of education for everyo— ooh, you're not a Messiah, are you? Yeah, public school's down the street..."

Your Hero hears The Call and, desperately wanting to fight evil aliens or demons or whatever jumps at it eagerly only to be told "Nope, sorry, not who we're looking for." Often the rejected party will become an antagonist to the real hero and get powers of their own somehow, but sometimes they just become bitter and envious.

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It is also possible that the hero hears and accepts the call, but brings other people with him. Those others are then refused: the call is only for the hero; groups, Sidekicks, tagalong kids, Battle Couples, Bash Brothers and the like are not allowed. Those must return home, stay in the waiting room, or fight another adventure in the meantime.

May be a Secret Test of Character.

Compare Missed the Call, when the Call went to you by mistake and was aimed for someone else. Contrast Refusal of the Call, where the hero is the intended recipient of the Call, but isn't interested. See also The Unchosen One, where they get over with it and still doing heroes' thing. If the one refused is interested in heroism not for its own sake, but to fulfil dreams of grandeur, they may be a Glory Seeker.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: The primary reason Syaoran initially comes into conflict with Sakura during the hunt for the Clow Cards. He believes that, as a descendant of Clow Reed, he should be the rightful inheritor of the Clow Cards... but Cerberus/Kero chose Sakura to do so and sees Syaoran as nothing more than an interfering brat.
  • In The Twelve Kingdoms, there's Yuka, an Ordinary High-School Student who doesn't really fit into class, and spends all her time reading fantasy-stories and dreaming of going to another world — somewhere she'd BELONG! Then, suddenly, a mysterious, golden-haired Bishōnen appears at the school, searching for a missing queen... and finding Yuka's classmate, Youko Nakajima. Yuka, eager to escape her dreary existence, talks Youko into bringing her along into the Twelve Kingdoms. However, as Youko manifests more and more "specialness" in the other world, Yuka finds it harder and harder to convince herself that SHE should really be the "Main Character", with her desperate need to be "important" eventually driving her to become an antagonist. At the end, however, she realizes that Youko is somewhat Blessed with Suck, and that she's lucky to be just a "side-character". Understanding that she DOES belong back in the "real world", she returns home with a smile, intending to live a normal life. And failing, but that's another story...
  • In Happiness Charge Pretty Cure, Miyo Masuko, a photographer (and an Expy of Mika Masuko of Yes! Pretty Cure 5) is chosen by Blue to become a Pretty Cure. However, she doesn't get the powers and concludes that Adults Are Useless. Blue later believes that she was rejected because her job of telling the world of the Precure is just as important as fighting in the front lines.
  • In Digimon Frontier, four random kids got sent to a different part of the digital world around the same time as the heroes, but due to not bonding with a spirit and lacking any real skills, are repeatedly told to go home. It takes a while for them to listen.

    Comic Books 
  • Preacher: The guy living in the desert was a minor clerk in the Army, but dreamed of being an astronaut. So, when the chance came up to falsify some paperwork so he'd end up on the selection, he took it. He was, of course, immediately rejected (being a foot shorter than the other candidates was kind of a giveaway) and kicked out, and spent the last few years carving out a giant "FUCK YOU" visible from space in the middle of the American desert.
  • Steve Rogers was rejected from the army as being utterly, utterly unsuited for combat. Then he ended up in a special program and became Captain America.

    Fan Works 
  • During the invasion of Canterlot in The Life and Times of a Winning Pony, Cloud Kicker seeks out Shadow's Armor, an extremely powerful magical artifact that she hopes will be enough to let her fight on even footing with Queen Chrysalis. Unfortunately, the armor has its own built-in Secret Test of Character... and Cloud fails it, leaving Cadance and Shining Armor to save the day instead.
  • Early in the finale for Children of Time, Sherlock Holmes refuses Beth Lestrade's help in working on a case, based on the fact that she's from the future and knows what will happen (the case is one of the short stories, "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans"). This does not sit well with her.
  • In Puella Magi Abridged, Madoka believes that only one character — the protagonist — can get magic hero powers. She is noticeably disgruntled when Mami also reveals them.
    Mami: Oh, you saved my mascot character!
    Madoka: Your mascot character?!
  • In Azumanga Und Panzer, Chiyo, having transferred to Oarai after a tsunami destroyed "Azu High" and the surrounding town, jumps at the chance to join the tankery team. Unfortunately, she's informed that since she's under 15, she's too young to do tankerynote . Chiyo's quite upset, but is told that she can be "the brains" of the team and help them out by researching their opponents, even if she can't actually fight.
  • In Consul of the Underworld: The Game Begins, Hades trains and teaches his daughter the best he can in the eventuality of her becoming the prophesied saviour of Olympus. When she reaches her sixteenth birthday, the Fates reveal she's indeed fated to greatness... but hers is not the Great Prophecy's achievement.
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    Films — Animation 
  • In The Incredibles, a Buddy Pine wants to become Mr. Incredible's sidekick, and Mr. Incredible refuses on the grounds that it's too dangerous. Buddy later becomes Syndrome, the Incredibles' arch enemy.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • Tai Lung was a Kung Fu prodigy, raised by Master Shifu, trained to be The Chosen One... but then, just as he was about to receive the Sacred MacGuffin, the Old Master declared that he was unsuited, causing him to flip his lid and attempt to prove his strength against the master. (Which, as always, is a bad idea.) In the end, the real Chosen One turns out to be Po, an overweight Ascended Fanboy panda. When Tai Lung breaks out of prison, the first thing he does is, of course, to track down Po and challenge him in order to prove his supremacy. 'cuz dammit, The Call was SUPPOSED to be for HIM!
    • Tigress, being a deliberate counterpart to Tai Lung, also had this problem; Old Master Oogway sensed The Chosen One was present, got ready to point to him/her, and extended his finger towards Tigress... right at the moment Po crash-landed in front of her. She reacts to it in a similar way to Tai Lung (refusing to accept Oogway's decision and trying to prove that she was the rightful choice by deliberately starting a fight) but she wasn't far gone enough to attack the good guys and went after Tai Lung instead. Getting comprehensively defeated in that fight showed her the error of her ways, after which she is the first one to acknowledge Po as the true Chosen One.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Matrix, after Neo takes the red pill and joins Morpheus, the Oracle tells Neo that he isn't The One. Except he is, and the Oracle is just a Trickster Mentor. Some of the dialogue is consistent with an alternate theory that she was telling the truth, just not the whole truth; he wasn't The One yet because he had to accept it and believe it first.
  • Kit in A League of Their Own. The league scout has no real interest in her and only recruits her if she can convince Dottie to go along. This builds up resentment on her part (she had already spent her life in Dottie's shadow) that culminates when Dottie goes to the bosses saying they just can't play on the same team anymore (hoping to be traded) and accidentally gets her little sister shipped off to another team.
  • Before he becomes Captain America, Steve Rogers encounters this problem repeatedly when trying to join the army in Captain America: The First Avenger.
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Xavier was the initial option to make the time travel, but it was not to be. He would die if they attempted it. So it had to be Wolverine, whose mind can heal as fast as it gets hurt by the procedure.
  • In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon Jinn finds and brings in Anakin Skywalker when he realizes that he has a majorly high Midichlorian count, meaning he is most likely The Chosen One. He's brought before the Jedi Council... and is told that he can't be trained - he's too old, thus he has emotions that would ruin it all as it would lead to The Dark Side. He's made a Padawan nonetheless when Qui-Gon is killed by Darth Maul, as Qui-Gon specifically asked for Anakin to be trained as a last wish.

    Literature 
  • In Orson Scott Card's Homecoming Saga: Elemak becomes his younger half-brother, Nafai's sworn enemy, mostly because the Oversoul chose Nafai over him, thereby stealing his legacy (He was slated to be heir to their father's trading fortune, before Volemak signed on 100% to the Oversoul's cause). The Oversoul admitted later that Elemak would've been Its first choice as leader, but couldn't trust Elemak not to hijack the entire expedition for his own purposes.
  • In The Saga of Darren Shan, it's Darren's best friend Steve who wants to become a vampire. Mr Crepsley tests his blood, declares it "evil" and refuses, causing Steve to vow to kill Crepsley when he grows up. This is made worse when Crepsley makes Darren a (half-)vampire; although Darren only did it to save Steve's life, Steve thinks that Darren conspired to deliberately ruin his dreams. Years later, Steve reappears, in league with Darren's enemies and out for blood.
  • There's a Dragonriders of Pern short story called 'Ever The Twain' about a pair of twins called Neru and Nian who live in a hold on Ista Island. Neru is fanatic about dragons and desperately wants to be a rider, and Nian doesn't really give a damn. Dragons come on Search and find Nian to be acceptable, but they pass by Neru until Nian convinces them to give him a shot. Neru is quite resentful, even though he Impresses a bronze, but he gets over it.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Deus Encarmine, Rafen's Back Story: Koris rejected him for his arrogant independence, Rafen walked out into the desert on the verge of despair and nearly let a scorpion kill him when he thought he saw a vision and was encouraged by it; then he realized that the Blood Angels shuttle had been crash-landed. He found the Space Marines dead or out cold and rallied those young men who had been chosen. Koris recovered and concluded that Rafen had learned his lesson, so he got to be The Hero anyway.
  • Antigra in the Redwall book Taggerung is convinced her son Gruven should have been the Taggerung (the chosen super-warrior) rather than Tagg, the hero of the book. She raises Gruven to be as bitter about it as she is, and because of that everything goes horribly wrong for both of them . It's even known among those that really know Gruven;he is whiny, an ineffective leader, and all-around useless. No wonder Vallug Bowbeast and Eeffra abandon him.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, there is a flashback to Lily and Petunia arguing on the train platform. Petunia had written Dumbledore asking to attend Hogwarts, but was refused, because she was not magical like Lily.
  • In Tim Powers' The Drawing of the Dark, there is a background character who believes he is the reincarnation of King Arthur, and that he has been summoned to Vienna to resist the forces of Suleiman. He continually tries to foist his tactical opinions on the local leaders, and reawaken the memories of his Knights of the Round Table. Sadly, while he was right about King Arthur being reincarnated, it was not him, and by the end of the story he is a drunken pitiful wretch, and somehow cobbles together a set of armor and a horse and charges alone against the Turkish army. It ends exactly the way you would expect that sort of thing to go.
    "Many are called. Few are chosen." - Aurelianus
  • Retired burglar/hero Bilbo Baggins is all set to take up the Ring quest in The Lord of the Rings when it's proposed in Rivendell, and has to be told he's simply too old and too susceptible to the Ring's temptations.
    Gandalf: "We do not doubt that under jest you are making a valiant offer. But one beyond your strength, Bilbo. You cannot take this thing back."
  • In The Snow Queen Series, Kissing Cousins Moon and Sparks Dawntreader travel to a "choosing place" to try to become all-knowing sibyls. Moon is chosen, but Sparks is not. He becomes embittered when she chooses to follow the calling without him.
  • Sholem Aleichem wrote a play called "The High School" where a brilliant young man is all set to enter a prestigious academy. Seemingly his application was accepted, but when he and his father get there, he's told there must be some mistake, his name is not on the rolls. Seems he didn't apply in time to get in under the quota limit.
  • The Junior Jedi Knight series features Uldir Lochett, a teenager who seeks out Luke so that he can beg the Jedi Master to teach him in the ways of the Force. But although Luke lets him study at the academy, Uldir ultimately has no chance of becoming a Jedi since he completely lacks any Force sensitivity. His frustration over this leads him to briefly side with the villain of the final book who (falsely) claims to be able to teach him how to use the Force, but he rejoins the heroes once he realizes that he's been deceived.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffyverse: Wesley's fatal flaw has always been that he considers himself The Hero of the piece. From as early as B3 to as late as A4, Wes has trouble conceiving the basic notion that the story does not revolve around him. He takes it upon himself to make hard choices, and do make what he thinks are the right plays regardless of what others tell him, because at a fundamental level, he's certain that that burden of responsibility for saving the world and protecting everyone falls on his shoulders moreso than anyone else's. Basically every mistake he made through his entire character history has been rooted in this one flaw, from abducting Faith to stealing Angel's son.
  • Adam Milligan of Supernatural, despite being already dead, is fine and dandy with the idea of being The Chosen One, coming Back from the Dead to team up with an archangelto fight the Devil and Save the World. Too bad he's just being used to force the REAL Chosen One into accepting the charges for The Call.
  • Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger: Emiri and Sugishita were initially in line to become AbareYellow and Blue, but their bodies cannot sustain the transformation and the respective Bakuryuu go to Ranru and Yukito. Later happens to Emiri again when she gains temporary superpowers and attempts to become "AbarePink" with them, but ends up turning herself into a pig instead. She can't catch a break.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Shiro Kazama, Kamen Rider V3, desperately begged Kamen Rider Ichigo and Nigo to turn him into a cyborg to avenge the deaths of his family. They refused, but when he's wounded, they're forced to, granting his wish.
    • Not just anyone can use the Faiz Gear in Kamen Rider Faiz. When Mari tries to use it to defend herself from an attacking Orphenarch, the belt explosively rejects her. Desperate, she puts the belt around nearby Inui, who had become caught up in the situation, and forces him to transform. It works. A few episodes later, Keitaro steals the belt from Mari and Inui and attempts to become a hero. The belt likewise rejects him and he would've been killed by Orphenarchs had Inui and Mari not intervened.
    • Arata Kagami of Kamen Rider Kabuto attempts to become the titular rider only to have the Kabuto Zecter pair up with Tendou. Then he gets the powers of The Bee for a brief time and then becomes Gatack.
    • In Kamen Rider Fourze, Gamou knows darned well that he wasn't chosen for anything, though that doesn't stop him from acting like he is. Despite what he pretends, he actually has to resort to forced evolution, and even then, that doesn't get him Chosen. He gets called out on it in the penultimate episode.
    Kengo: "I'm sure you realize it yourself. Sorry, but you're not The Chosen One. The one who must return to the Presenter is me."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine recruitment procedures are so stringent (one comic has four in a single planet be an exceptional harvest) that it's not expected they'll all make it to the surgical enhancement part. Those who fail (and survive) can still serve the Chapter as serfs, who handle logistics and piloting the larger ships (as shipmasters, to avoid confusion with Space Marine Captains).

    Video Games 
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Riku in the first game. Maleficent (and Word of God) says that the keyblade was originally meant for him. What Maleficent doesn't tell Riku was that it was his own fault the keyblade rejected him and chose Sora instead. Had Riku waited one more night and left with his friends on the raft the next day, he would have gotten the keyblade and likely remained their leader as they went on a world-saving adventure. Instead, he gave into his impatience (perhaps with some whispering temptation from the Darkness), and opened the door to his world's heart, allowing The Heartless to spill in and consume that entire world and everyone in it. Riku's two friends only survive thanks to the keyblade, and all three of them are split up from each other and lost. Sora has to go save the world and find his old friends with a new set of friends.
    • In Birth By Sleep, Ven desperately wants to help Terra and Aqua on their mission and sneaks out to do so, against the wishes of Master Eraqus. As he's the youngest of the three, Terra and Aqua turn him down and tell him to return home. Eraqus wants to keep Ven out of the Big Bad's hands, since he's an important component of the Big Bad's plan. But he can't tell Ven this because it would cause him to remember his traumatic past. Naturally, Ven goes along anyway, does remember, and becomes an emotional wreck. Ironically, at this point Terra and Aqua allow him to join them, because there's nowhere else to hide...but by then Ven's enthusiasm is long gone.
  • Possible Secret Test of Character version in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The protagonist, Snake, is tasked with hunting down and killing his mentor, "The Boss." She's waiting for him right where he's supposed to be inserted into Soviet territory, beats him soundly with her bare hands, and tells him to go home, because he can't defeat her. She sends each of her subordinates after him one after another, which he beats, and each time Snake encounters and fights the Boss, he does better in their hand-to-hand encounters until he's finally good enough to be able to defeat her. Since her mission was to be killed by him, it seems the entire operation was one giant Secret Test of Character to strengthen him up.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has a lethal version of this. The Joining that all Grey Warden initiates must undertake to become full Wardens forces them to take in a less virulent but still eventually lethal version of the Darkspawn Taint by drinking a cocktail of Darkspawn blood, lyrium, and Archdemon blood. Not everyone survives drinking it for whatever reason.
  • Epic villain archetypes in City of Villains were refused by the call, so they hacked the database of people who were chosen for the call and added themselves to the list. Then it gets confusing.
  • Sarkli in Star Wars Rogue Squadron 3 has his accomplishments (including personally saving the lives of Luke Skywalker and General Dodonna on Yavin IV) completely ignored in favor of Luke going and grabbing Dodonna from his hiding spot in the first place, then he gets left behind on Dantooine while Luke flies off to rescue Tycho Celchu by himself. It's no surprise that he promptly defects to the Empire where his talents will actually be recognized.
  • Played with in Jak II. The Underground brings "The Kid" to the Tomb of Mar, believing him to be the true heir of Mar. However, the tomb's oracle refused to admit the kid on the grounds that he was too young to face the tests, so Jak enters instead. Except it turns out that Jak is "the Kid's" future self.
  • In the games Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver, Ecruteak City's gym leader Morty is a case of this. He trained for years believing that he would be the one chosen to summon the legendary Ho-oh back to its home, but then the player shows up and takes that role instead. He takes it much more gracefully than many examples of this trope.
  • Life Is Strange: David's application to join Arcadia Bay's police department after leaving military service was rejected on the grounds of his paranoia.
  • While she is a godwoken, one of the candidates to succeed the Divine, all of the gods, including her own, say Lohse in Divinity: Original Sin II should not be the next divine, due to her demonic possession problem. Some of the gods even flat out tell the player character to kill her, and whenever Lohse goes through the same trials the other players do, the other gods are ignoring her. She doesn't seem too broken up about this, however - she does have the option to call out Rhalic when he pleads with her to not kill him, and the player can give some Laser-Guided Karma to the gods by making her the next Divine. Though to be fair, the gods are justified in not wanting to let her anywhere near godhood. The demon that is possessing her is justifiably feared by anyone who knows who he really is, and if he attained the power of the gods, he would end everything and everyone.
  • In The Elder Scrolls backstory, near the end of the 2nd Era, the Greybeards summoned The Chosen One who would who would restore the Empire and conquer the elves to High Hrothgar, their monastery on the Throat of the World. Wulfharth Ash-King, the legendary ancient King of the Nords, famous Shezarrine who had died and come back to life at least three times, and noted Elf-hater, Jumped at the Call and went to the Greybeards. Instead, Wulfharth is "blasted to ash" by the Greybeards who declare Hjalti of High Rock (a young Tiber Septim) to be the one instead.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Trials And Tribulations, this is why Godot has such irrational spite towards Phoenix. Years ago he and his girlfriend, Mia Fey, were Crusading Lawyers. They were driven and talented and everyone thought they were destined for greatness. Then Godot (or Diego, as he was known then) was poisoned and fell into a coma for six years. Mia kept fighting and got many criminals locked away, including Godot's poisoner, eventually being assassinated when Redd White realized she was a threat to his dominance. Fortunately, Mia's apprentice- Phoenix- was around to avenge her death. Then Godot woke up, long after he could have been of any use to anyone. His entire mindset throughout the game is 'Why not me? Why did it have to be some upstart kid who barely knew anything about law or Mia?' In comparison, Mia didn't care who caught Redd as long as he got caught.
  • For a tragic example in City of Heroes we have Imad Malek, AKA Scirocco. Found a magical sword in a cave and tried to use it to do good as the newest incarnation of "Scirocco" a title passed on from user to user. What he didn't know was it's wielders are predestined and so the sword - or rather the curse laid upon it, viewed him as a thief. Said curse makes any thief's desires back-fire on them with the presumption anyone who would steal it would be evil, that way it could never be used for evil. No one considered the prospect of a good-hearted thief. Opps.
  • In The Secret World We have Nathaniel Winter, a wealthy real-estate investor who acquired a huge plot of land on a convergence of lay-lines, built a theme-park on top of it, and had the "great" idea of using the children that passed through and whole host of deaths theme-parks are magnets for as a steady stream of sacrifices to stock-pile magic. He then tried to use his money and magical death-trap to buy his way into the Illuminati. As unscrupulous as the Illuminati are, they rejected him on the grounds of A. Being a nut, and B. Clearly having no talent for what he was attempting.

    Web Comics 
  • Archipelago has a villainous take on this. Cold, calculating general Steller is convinced that the Great Raven should have chosen him as his Dragon-in-Chief, but passed him by in favor of Faux Affably Evil Captain Snow. To this day, he still can't figure out what he did wrong.
  • Headon, the Tester of chosen Regulars on the first floor of the Tower of God, tells Rachel that she isn't chosen at all and not welcome to climb the Tower.
  • Almond in Cucumber Quest Jumped at the Call when her brother Cucumber was informed that he was the Legendary Hero. However, she was refused due to being a little sister, who's role is set by previous generations to be the damsel in distress for her brother to save. However, despite everyone telling Cucumber that Almond can't be the Legendary Hero, being a little sister, she is pretty determined to be the one to defeat the Nightmare Knight

    Western Animation 
  • Legend Of The Dragon has the "turns evil" variety where Ling becomes Shadow Dragon when she's unable to become the Golden Dragon.

    Real Life 
  • Even during times of war, a military will not always be eager to take just anyone and reject even the willing if other standards are not met.
  • Getting rejected from a highly selective college or university.

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