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Reluctant Gift

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A character has to offer a gift or surrender an item, plot-relevant or not, and handle it to another person. The decision is made, there's no turning around possible, but yet... he or she is very reluctant to cede this thing and still stubbornly clings to it. Frequently, a short tug-of-war follows until the item finally changes hands.

There might be plenty of reasons for this, from the character having emotional attachment to the item or from simply disliking the other person and loathing the idea of relenting anything to him or her. It can be part of a hostage exchange or other unsavory deal, like blackmail. If what's handled is money and the person is notoriously stingy, the trope is even more likely to happen. The move being rather childish, it is often used to show that a character isn't very mature.

Most extreme cases can lead to a Tear-Apart Tug-of-War. Compare Gagging on Your Words. Contrast Prized Possession Giveaway, when a character does wish to deliver a valued item to another.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Overlord: Ainz gives Albedo a ring so she can follow him around Nazarick. When he comes across Mare hiding the tomb under big hills, he tells Albedo to give Mare the ring as a reward (one he intends to give every guardian). Albedo, who's been reprogrammed to be in yandere-levels of love with Ainz, has difficulty giving the ring to Mare.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Dilbert, when Wally asks if he can spare a pen, Dilbert offers one to him only after bidding it farewell at length. Wally asks instead for a pen that Dilbert's had "less of an emotional relationship with."

    Films — Animation 
  • The Boxtrolls: Archibald Snatcher brings back Lord Portley-Rind's white hat, that he found in the middle of the street, to his owner. However, since he covets the hat (and the position it entails), he only gives it back after lots of procrastination and a prolonged tug-of-war between him and Lord Portley-Rind.
  • Peanuts: In A Boy Named Charlie Brown, as Charlie Brown heads off to the national spelling bee competition, Linus gives him his Security Blanket for good luck. He looks away with a pained expression on his face as he presents it, and in fact fails to notice when Charlie takes the blanket and enters the bus, so Linus remains holding up nothing and saying "Here!" as the bus drives away. Eventually the absence of his blanket gets to him and he goes to New York to get it back.
  • Toy Story 3 has Andy giving away his toys to Bonnie, introducing each and handing them to her. But when he gets to Woody, he grows hesitant and even pulls him back from her outreached hands. He does finally give it to her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Near the end of Charade, Adam begs off meeting Mr. Cruikshank with Reggie to return the money, saying he can't stand to see that much money go. He does this because he's actually Mr. Cruikshank, and wants to be in the office waiting for her.
  • In Ghost, after conning the villains' money out of the bank, Sam Wheat's ghost (Patrick Swayze) convinces Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg) that she can't keep the money and urges her to give the check to a nearby Salvation Army booth. Which Oda Mae does... although still clutching the check for a while and crying as the puzzled nun is pulling on it. Finally, Oda Mae relents, allowing the nun to read the amount... and faint.
  • In the 2022 French film Irréductible, this is shown a few times with protagonist Vincent Peltier in his job as a public servant. While being delivered a hunting permit, a hunter reluctantly "gifts" him with some quails, pulling them back several times as he needs to be reassured that this doesn't count as corruption, not at all, in any way or form. Later, in a flashback, Peltier is seen again delivering a hunting permit, but clings to the paper until the hunter remembers giving him a "gift" of truffles.
  • At the end of Rat Race, the racers decide to split the prize money, but then they wind up at a charity concert and accidentally commit to donating it. Some of them take an "easy come, easy go" attitude, but others are more hesitant to part with their share. On top of that, they also punish the Eccentric Millionaire who set up the race by cornering him into matching all the donations for the concert.

  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Greg is donating a twenty-dollar bill to the church basket and is trying to hold on to it. His mom Susan donates it for him.
  • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Filch refuses to give the Tri-wizard egg to Moody because it is "evidence for Peeves' treason". And by the way he is cuddling it, Harry thinks Filch thought the egg was like his firstborn son. But in the end, he does have to give it up.
  • Hurog: In Dragon Bones, Oreg gives a ring to Ward, that he prior to handing it over held in his fist, with his knuckles white, implying that it was hard for him to part with it. Not surprising, as the ring gives Ward ownership, and absolute power over Oreg, who is magically compelled to do anything his owner tells him to. He has no choice, as the ring must go from Ward's father to Ward, Oreg can't keep it. Ward doesn't learn about all the implications until later.
  • In one of the Jeremy James stories, Jeremy James's nemesis is the boy Timothy Smith-Fortescue, who is wealthy and spoilt, and this trope happens on their respective birthdays.
    • On Timothy's birthday, Timothy receives a toy tank from Jeremy James, who wishes it was for him.
      Timothy: I've already got one like this, only my one is bigger.
      Jeremy James: [hope dawning] Don't you want it, then?
      Timothy: I'll take it, I don't mind having two. [Jeremy James's hope fades]
    • On Jeremy James's birthday, Timothy gives him a flashlight which is also a compass, a magnifying glass, a ruler, and many other things. Timothy is extremely reluctant to part with it, saying it is for him. He finally surrenders it when Jeremy James points out his name on the label. Later, Timothy steals it back when nobody is looking. When she notices it is missing, Jeremy James's mum makes all the children line up in front of the sideboard, close their eyes, and wish very hard that the flashlight comes back, which it does. Jeremy James is well aware that his mum tricked him, but keeps quiet, having been threatened with losing all his presents.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, the One Ring has this effect on its bearers, to the point that few will give it up willingly. Most notably, Bilbo Baggins has to be prompted into giving it up when Gandalf tells him, "The Ring is still in your pocket."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory wants Howard to accept his apology for inadvertently blabbing to the FBI about Howard mishandling the Mars Rover, so in desperation he gives him that which is most precious to him — his spot on the couch. He offers the cushion to Howard but is reluctant to let it go at first. Howard barely has the seat a minute before Sheldon asks for it back.
  • On Common Law, Wes Mitchell is usually quite reluctant to lend anything to his partner Travis Marks, since he doesn't trust him to take good care of it (not even a stapler — Travis already lost five). The short tug-o-war happens once with a pen.
  • Played with in Little Britain: One Running Gag is the tricky customer Mr Mann, who is unsatisfied with every item he would buy in Roy's shop, for spurious reasons such as a book having 312 pages instead of 306. When he is finally satisfied with a picture of a disappointed horse, Roy hands over the picture at the exact same moment as Mr Mann hands over the money; they tussle simultaneously, each reluctant to let go.
    Mr Mann: [as an afterthought, as he is leaving] I can't help thinking that that horse looks disillusioned rather than disappointed.
    Roy: Get out of my shop or I will strangle you.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Both Galadriel and Elrond must sacrifice something they hold dear in order to craft the rings that will allow them to remain on Middle Earth. Elrond naturally sacrifices the fragment of mithril that represented the bond between him and Durin (which was obviously inevitable given their plan, but he still clearly shows a moment of hesitation before dropping it into the vat of liquid metal) and Galadriel sacrifices her brother's dagger that she's religiously carried with her since his death for its pure Valinorian gold and silver to augment the mithril properties.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Hawkeye, episode 4 "Partners, Am I Right?", Wendy Conrad brings Hawkeye his arrows, diverted from the evidence room at the police station. However, when she finds out that he doesn't have his own bag to carry them, she's reluctant to give her own since it's a gift from her wife, with the Affectionate Nickname "Bombshell" written on it. Kate and Clint have to promise her they'd bring back the bag intact before she relents.
    • An involuntary case in Moon Knight episode 1, "The Goldfish Problem". Steven is perfectly willing to give the golden scarab to Harrow when asked for it, but Marc takes control of his hand while doing so, forcing him to close his fist and rendering him unable to open it. When he finally manages to pry the scarab from his own fingers with his other hand, Marc once again forces his arm away from a decidedly annoyed Harrow.
  • Odd Squad:
    • "A Case of the Sing-Alongs": Is combined with Bait-and-Switch. Otto asks Ms. O politely if he can borrow her remote in order to operate the screen that sits behind her. She is seemingly fine with it and hands it over, but doesn't loosen her grip on it until after she gives Otto a threatening growl, managing to make him stumble backward.
    • "The Jackies": Orville and Ms. O engage in a brief tug-of-war with the Jackie Award at the ceremony.
    • "Olive and Otto in Shmumberland": Ms. O attempts to take the Shmumberman comic out of Olive's grip so she can throw it away. Not only does Otto refuse to surrender it and protests against the ruling (by saying he hasn't read it yet), Olive refuses to as well, stating that she's only read the comic 96 times.
    • "Safe House in the Woods": Doug snatches Owen and Ozlyn's one-quart container out of their hands, claiming that it's his, and that he needs it for his egg salad. Ozlyn, having had enough of Doug's antics, grabs the jar in an attempt to grab it back, followed by Owen, who also grabs the jar. What follows is a brief tug-of-war between Doug and the agents before Owen ends up yanking the glass downwards, causing it to slip out of Doug's grip, fall, and shatter.
    • "The Sandwich Project": Omar shows Opal the cake that he got at the bakery when he was with Oswald, and she scolds him by saying that he needs to focus on the case. Omar tells her that he can focus on both at the same time, causing her to grab on to it and order him to hand it over. He refuses to, and the two partners have a brief tug-of-war with the dessert before Omar accidentally loosens his grip on it and it lands square on Opal's face, causing her suit and her face, as well as her hands, to become covered in cake. Seeing his partner upset, Omar realizes what he's done and feels regret over his actions, throwing his helmet with the camera on it in a nearby trashcan and refusing to film any longer.
  • In an episode of Saturday Night Live from late 1992/early 1993, Barbara Bush is showing Hillary Rodham Clinton around the White House, but is reluctant to let go of the precious antiques and such that stay with the house.
  • In the season 6 finale of Stargate SG-1, "Full Circle", both SG-1 and Anubis's Jaffa are after the Eye of Ra. When SG-1, being cornered, finally agree to surrender the MacGuffin (rather than destroy it) in exchange for leaving the planet safely, O'Neill reluctantly cedes the artifact to First Prime He'rak... although not without clinging to it a bit. Anubis then proceeds to destroy the planet.

  • In Das Rheingold, Wotan is hesitant to give away Alberich's Ring as payment to the giants for the building of Valhalla. Erda has to convince him to do this.
  • In the climactic deposition scene of Shakespeare's Richard II, the title king, having been backed into a corner largely through his own incompetence and pretty much forced to abdicate, dithers for pages and pages on handing over the actual physical crown to his deposer (the soon-to-be Henry IV). Richard really has no choice anymore — he's squandered all his chances to assert his authority — but when it comes to handing over the crown, he first forces Henry to come take it from him rather than handing it over, then tugs it back out of Henry's hands momentarily before yielding to the inevitable. And then keeps speechifying about it. (It is a matter of interpretation just how much of Richard's melodramatics in this scene is a genuine childish tantrum and how much is a performance calculated to make Henry look pathetic and power-grabbing. Both elements are certainly present.)
  • Molière's The Schemes of Scapin: Géronte (a rich merchant) is being conned by Scapin into paying a ransom of 500 gold pieces for his son (in fact, the son needs the money for various living expenses). His paternal love finally shining through after much effort, he gives Scapin the purse... but he forgets to let go and even puts it back in his pocket before Scapin reminds him that he still needs the money.

    Video Games 
  • Dragalia Lost: Nevin's Adventure Story is about him trying to give Ramiel a Dragonyule gift to show his feelings but, he is so Emotionally Tongue-Tied that he Cannot Spit It Out and ends up giving up on presenting it when Dragonyule passes and tosses it away. Ramiel finds it when he goes to clean Nevin's room.

    Web Videos 
  • On Noob, Omega Zell ends up having to hand his tournament victory money to Gaea because Justice has nothing else to pay for her services. And he has to do it with a smile on his face, per Gaea's request.

    Western Animation 
  • Miraculous Ladybug: In episode "The Mime", after accidentally deleting a video interview of Ladybug on Alya's phone, Marinette is quite reluctant to give the phone back to Alya, who has to pry it from her fingers.
  • Phineas and Ferb: The episode "Finding Mary McGuffin" revolves around Candace's titular doll being sold at a yard sale and her wanting it back. Dr Doofenschmirtz had been looking for the doll for his daughter Vanessa since she was 7 years old, which gives the doll a lot of sentimental value for her as it proves how much he cares for her. The two fight over the doll until it ends up in the hands of a little girl. Candace decides she's too old for dolls anyway while Vanessa ponders whether she should give up the doll that means so much to her. She doesn't, and takes the doll away from the girl.
  • In The Simpsons episode "The Day the Violence Died", a legal battle rules that animation studio I&S Studios must pay $800 million to Chester Lampwick. When chairman Roger Meyers presents the check, he refuses to let go for a few seconds and Lampwick struggles with him. When Lampwick finally wrests the check away, he bites it as if testing for a counterfeit coin.