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Removing the Crucial Teammate

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The Team can have members of all abilities and all walks of life. Some of those members may seem less useful than others, and frustration with having to carry them can lead to an impulse to dump them to lighten the load. It could also be due to the so-called "Hero" and/or other members of the group wants all the glory or are just being cheap, not wanting to pay the crucial member his rightful reward.

This trope is when that backfires. It might be that the expelled member had an overly specific or esoteric special ability that suddenly proves plot-critical. Perhaps they were a Utility Party Member or Support Party Member who provided a critical non-combat role that the combatant members who had to guard them didn't respect until it was gone. Or maybe they were The Heart of the team, and without them, The Team's dynamics are stuck in Dysfunction Junction, and questing just isn't as fun as before. Basically, by ousting the crucial member, the party have shot themselves in the foot.

One way this sometimes plays out is for the story to focus on what the expelled character does afterwards, rather than the struggles of their former teammates. As a protagonist, the expelled might find a worthy niche for themselves away from The Team and start having their own adventures. They may even find themselves commanding a premium price if their teammates come slinking back to ask them to re-join. Say It is likely to come into play, with the formerly removed teammate insisting that the others admit they need them.

Alternatively, everyone else does realize how important that reliable character was and the Crucial Character is merely now in a position where they can't help everyone else (accidentally or otherwise). In this scenario, The Team now have to learn how to fix their mess without the usual help leading to a lesson about overreliance and independence. The old character may still need to come in after this, after all, accepting help from an ally when you need it instead of limping along without it also a valuable lesson. If the former party had been especially cruel towards the crucial member before his ousting, they may be subject to their Karma Houdini Warranty expiring, and experience a Humiliation Conga.

Compare Vetinari Job Security, where the character chooses to stop doing their job and everyone else discovers nobody can cover for them, Achilles in His Tent, where a team member leaves due to disrespect but returns in the nick of time, and It's a Wonderful Plot, in which the effects of the character's existence being removed from history is shown. Do not confuse this trope for This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman, which is a specific plot where events are contrived to make a character's hyper-specific powers crucial for saving the day and the character in question is not removed from the team at any point.

Also compare Hyper-Competent Sidekick, which these characters tend to be.

Contrast We Have Reserves and You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, for when the character can be easily killed and replaced. Also contrast with The Millstone and The Drag-Along. See also Present Absence and Deus Exit Machina. If the Crucial Teammate themselves decide to leave on their own but come back later, then it's Changed My Mind, Kid. See also Always Need What You Gave Up.

Has nothing to do with Straight for the Commander, Shoot the Medic First, Shoot the Mage First, or enemies attacking a Support Party Member; those cases are for when the enemy tries to retire the party's crucial teammate, though there can be overlap.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Beast Tamer Was Fired From His Childhood Friends S Rank Party has Lock, the titular Beast Tamer who has yet to tame any beasts in the time it's taken his party of friends to become S-Rank adventurers. Because his combat ability was lacking, he did a bunch of party chores, of course, including scouting and guiding them away from monster nests to avoid unnecessary combat, but all that wasn't even the most crucial part. In this universe, Beast Tamers also have significant support magic meant for their familiars that Lock was using to buff his team. Without that support magic, their combat strength is C-Rank at best.
  • "Heh heh heh....... He Is the Weakest of the Four Heavenly Kings." I Was Dismissed From My Job, but Somehow I Became the Master of a Hero and a Priestess has a twist in that the crucial teammate was a member of the Demon Lord's army instead of something more heroic, much like in Chillin' in My 30s After Getting Fired from the Demon King's Army. Derided for being the weakest due to being level 1, Caspodia the Death Scorpion is kicked out rather unceremoniously. Turns out that his specialty is Death Magic and the reason he was level 1 was that he had spent all of his time resurrecting demon troops and never saw combat, and absolutely no one thought about the effects the sudden lack of Death Is Cheap would have on their troops before firing him. Oh, and did we mention that he was the chief tactician of the group too, without whom the battle plans can't keep up?
  • I Will Live Freely In Another World With Equipment Manufacturing Cheat features the tale of Touji Akino who is literally thrown out of the castle of King Deprui because he didn't have an obvious and flashy combat skill. It's only later that he learns Touji has the rare [Item Box] skill the "hero" party needs for their logistics. He doubles down on his mistake by sending his knights, in force, to capture Touji, prompting our protagonist to flee into another country, and the adventurer's guild, very, very happy with his exemplary work ethic and attitude, helps him.
  • The exploitative guild "Light of Glory" from The Strongest Solo Life in Another World of A Point Gifter gets hit with this hard. Their crucial teammate was the titular [Point Gifter] Fildo, whose ability to amplify and distribute experience points was key on the guild's rise to the strongest in the nation as he has been keeping himself at level 1 to distribute experience to all of the other more combat-oriented members. However, when they decide that they no longer need Fildo's experience enhancement, it is revealed that the experience he distributed to everyone is in fact a loan that he can take back. Fildo gains so much experience in one go from this that he becomes the strongest adventurer in the world while the entire guild that kicked him out loses all of the experience and levels gained through Fildo, with the leaders being reduced to the strength of rookie adventurers.
  • The Strongest Tank's Labyrinth Raids has quite an intricate version of this. The hero Kyglas, the leader of Rud's party, is famous for his special skill that deals massive damage (seemingly) without repercussions, while Rud is regarded as a poor tank, as his Absorb Shield (the setting's equivalent to HP), depletes very quickly. It's only after Kyglas kicks Rud out of the party for being weak (and, possibly, so that he can turn his party into a Battle Harem) that everyone realizes that the real reason why the party struggled was because of Kyglas himself. His real ability was to strengthen his attack by draining his own Absorb Shield. No one noticed, because Rud's hidden skill Sacrifice Shield allowed him to absorb the damage dealt to his teammates. Thus, the reason why his Absorb Shield kept failing faster than everyone else's was that he was absorbing everyone else's damage, as well as unknowingly paying the cost for Kyglas's skill. Without Rud, everyone starts taking the damage, and Kyglass is forced to deplete his own Absorb Shield, which is unable to handle nearly as much damage as Rud's was, to power his skill. This results in his attacks being much weaker. The good news is that, unlike a lot of other examples, the rest of the party was against dismissing Rud to begin with, and even Kyglas himself eventually lets go of his pride and admits that he was in the wrong.
  • The Story Of The Banisher Side After Banishing The Party Member turns this trope on its head while still playing it straight. Silver-Rank party Stardust banishes Support Party Member Est in the typical fashion, and he leaves resentful. However, it is revealed that this was not done out of genuine malice, but because the increased rank of the party was meaning increased dangers and the members were genuinely afraid they would not be able to protect Est from the foes they would face, a fear that was not helped by him suffering a serious wound shortly before this decision was made. Each member is also well aware of the non-combat contributions Est made regularly and how much he could enhance their fighting ability, but they still made the decision to protect him. While Est goes on the typical route of discovering strength that makes him overpowered (and his resentment growing), Stardust is stuck trying to unlearn all of their tactics that revolved around Est's support at the same time they are working in a new and unfamiliar party member.
  • Trash Skill Gacha: Crest Bahurst has only met suffering due to his father and brothers, who hate him because his mother suffered Death by Childbirth when he was born. When he appears to be about to find a reprieve after he has a prophetic dream about getting a skill... he discovers that the skill doesn't work and he doesn't know how to make it work. His father, enraged, exiles him to the Lower World, expecting Crest to be killed by the monsters that inhabit it - and the very next day, a prophecy by the local church's head reveals that Crest's presence will be fundamental to save the kingdom from an incoming huge monster attack. The King decides that, should Crest return, he will become the next Duke Bahurst and have free hand in punishing his family. Of course, by this time, not only is Crest still alive, he has figured out how to make his power work - and doesn't want anything to do with his family or the world that let him be horribly mistreated.

    Comic Books 
  • In Runaways, whenever Karolina (The Heart) or Chase (the Team Dad) leaves the team for an extended period, things go to shit. The second series saw Karolina leave to negotiate an end to an interstellar war caused by her parents, leaving them without a peacemaker when Gert, Nico, Chase, and Victor ended up at each other's throats over various conflicts, and then Chase quit the team out of anger over his girlfriend Gert's death, leaving the team without someone to guide them through their own grief. The end of the fourth series sees both of them pulled away from the team at the same time (Chase is kidnapped by a future version of Gert, while Karolina goes back into space to recharge her depleted powers) and naturally, the remaining team members all look hopelessly lost.
  • The Transformers Megaseries: In the ongoing that began with the soft reboot event Transformers: All Hail Megatron, it's revealed that the Combaticons (Brawl, Vortex, Blast-Off, and Onslaught) have allied with North Korea sans Swindle. As Swindle is portrayed as a seedy, untrustworthy used salesman-type, the Combaticons are initially fine with him not being among them. However, it quickly becomes clear that without him to handle logistics and negotiation, they aren't getting as much out of their "alliance" as they could, a fact the other Combaticons testily point out to Onslaught.

    Fan Works 
  • The Omnitrix Hero: Due to Flash Sentry constantly running late for band practice and eventually missing a very important performance for a charity concert due to his new superhero responsibilities since getting the Omnitrix, his bandmates Ringo and Brawly kick him out. The next time the two of them show up, they mention they have not been doing so well. Not only are they still looking for a new guitarist to replace Flash, they can't use any of their old songs due to how Flash was the one who wrote them, meaning they need to start from scratch.

    Literature 
  • In Beast Tamer, Rein Shroud, the titular Beast Tamer is kicked out of the party of Nominal Hero Arios, because he was only able to form contracts with non-human creatures and being a weakling otherwise. This turns out to be a huge mistake by the party as they failed to realize that Rein, while unable to contribute to battles at the time, was capable of forming contracts with far more creatures than the average tamer (most tamers being limited to a single normal animal) thus making his abilities far more convenient for them when it came to Scouting, Combat Support, and Logistics, the last of which Rein played a huge part for Arios's party, and crippled them immensely. To add insult to injury, Rein also possessed knowledge of abilities which are unheard of to normal Beast Tamers: such as taming Insects, moving his consciousness into animals, and later the ability to briefly control Monsters and Demons, and once he learns that he can form contracts with members of the "Ultimate Species", which let him access passive abilities that are associated with those races, he quickly overcomes his "weakling" status, making the party even less justified in kicking him out. Despite being forced to ask for his help in retrieving a powerful magic item later on, neither Arios nor the rest of his team-mates ever admit they were wrong and still give into the impulse to insult him and his two beastgirl companions, which gets them a well-deserved ass-kicking as a result.
  • This happens to Red, aka Gideon Ragnason, in Banished from the Hero's Party on account of Ares. While Ares was right in that Gideon wouldn't have been able to keep up in actual battle for much longer, the former failed to realize how important Gideon was outside of battle, being both The Social Expert and the Living Emotional Crutch of Ruti (who is both The Hero and Gideon's little sister). The party quickly falls apart without Gideon there, as without his tactical guidance the party's battle strategy becomes Attack! Attack! Attack! no matter the situation, and Ares is terrible at trying to take over the non-combat jobs Gideon performed, such as negotiating with locals, because of his arrogance and inability to acknowledge he could be wrong. As for Ruti, she's locked into the journey to fight the Demon Lord because of her Blessing of the Hero, which compels her to proceed regardless of what she wants, but the instant she has a chance to reduce her Blessing's influence on her she grabs it with both hands and abandons her journey to find her brother.
  • Chillin' in My 30s After Getting Fired from the Demon King's Army: Dariel is fired from the Demon King's army by Bashbarza, due to his inability to use magic, which meant that he was unable to keep up with the other demons in combat. However, Dariel was also vital to the function of the army, helping manage orders between both the lower and higher ranked demons, ensuring that they had correct intel, amongst other roles. In his absence, cracks begin to appear, and Bashbarza is criticised heavily for firing such a vital asset on all fronts. It turns out that Bashbarza was entirely aware of how vital Dariel was, and jealous of him, particularly thinking that his father liked Dariel batter than him.
  • The Creation Alchemist Enjoys Freedom exaggerates the trope due to Klingon Scientists Get No Respect. Thor Regus is banished from his home country by his father with explicit orders to die as a sacrifice to the demon territory because the culture favors combat strength above all else, and his father especially feels oppressed by his existence despite Thor having already broken ties with him years prior. This ends up being a mistake on two fronts:
    • Bargas commissioned the Alchemists' Guild to fix one of the Royal Family's holy swords, which Thor was in the middle of when he got exiled. When Bargas asks about how it's going (because the deadline for getting it back was closing in) it turns out that no one else can actually fix it. The butler orders it to make it look like it was fixed, the sword is returned to the Royal Family... and it breaks in the first time it's used, leading to the princess who owned the sword to be endangered. As a result, Bargas becomes a national target of scorn.
    • The demon territory turns out to be much nicer than expected, as the demons welcome the "sacrifices" as guests - and when they learn that Thor is an alchemist, they are all too happy to let him practice freely, as they revere Alchemy as a powerful skill due to remembering how they had their asses handed to them centuries ago: in a time when R&D guys like Thor were respected. Thor (who also gets an upgrade to his alchemical skill thanks to the interaction with the local magic) ends up kickstarting an industrial revolution that quickly leaves his former homeland in the dust.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Big Shot: In the final basketball game, Susan trades Greg to the other team, due to his terrible basketball skills. He then ends up making the winning shot and costing Susan's team the game.
  • Did You Know That a Playboy Can Change His Job to a Sage? ~The Level 99 Jester Expelled from the Heroes' Party Will Become a 'Great Sage'~: Three neighboring countries ally to fight the Demon King's army. This alliance is represented by a party consisting of the Heroes Laius, Aiza, Mills, and Dylan, the titular Jester turned Great Sage. However, the Party of Heroes is barely functional, and as the Only Sane Man, Dylan tries to keep the party's mood up with his jokes and tolerating their verbal abuse. Also, while he wasn't suited for combat, his brand of magic allowed him to buff his teammates during battle. And he had better social skills, which allowed him to negotiate with innkeepers and merchants. One day, the party goes to the Demon Continent to fight the Demon King, only to be stopped by the Demon General. He was much stronger than the party anticipated and would have wiped them all out had Dylan not used a teleportation crystal to get them out of danger. None of his teammates were grateful and arbitrarily kicked him out, despite not having the authority to do so. Dylan had no complaints since it gave him the chance to upgrade his class to Great Sage and form a party with cute and busty girls who genuinely appreciate him. Interestingly, this is one of the stories where Laius, the Idiot Hero leading the party, learns from his mistake after falling into hard times. He realizes that Dylan's negotiation skills are vital to the party, and without them, Laius couldn't maintain travel funds, negotiate properly, or keep the remaining party together, causing Aiza and Mills to leave him. Upon reuniting, Laius begs Dylan to return to the party, but the latter refuses and sends him away with some cash so Laius can make a fresh start. This gesture of kindness gives Laius positive Character Development and he becomes a better person as a result. The same can't be said for Aiza and Mills, who get into serious trouble with the law due to Aiza setting off her fire magic in a populated area. The King gives them one chance to redeem themselves by bringing Dylan back, as Dylan has valuable information about the demons, albeit Aiza is expected to receive capital punishment for killing citizens of a kingdom not her own.
  • My Magical Career at Court: Living the Dream After My Nightmare Boss Fired Me from the Mages' Guild! has Noelle, a former top graduate of an extremely prestigious magic academy who is stuck working for an extremely exploitative guild making basic magic items. She is fired for failing to meet the absolutely ridiculous quotas set and blackballed from working in town by the guildmaster, who is the mayor's son. After she is promptly picked up by her old rival/study friend to work in the royal court, it's revealed that her prodigious magical ability and work ethic was the only reason that the guild was even remaining afloat. No one else is either capable of handling the insane workload or reproducing her quality, and the only reason any of the other workers hadn't already quit was because she hadn't quit, so they walk out en masse the very next time the guildmaster throws his weight around. In the end, the guildmaster and his number two are stuck trying to fulfill a contract to produce a large amount of high-quality magic items by themselves and realizing just how very screwed they are.
  • E-Rank Healer: Carol is a healer who is expelled from "Hero" Gran's party due to her not as combat-capable as the other members, being the only member still at the beginner adventurer rank of "E". With her absence, the "Hero" party are frequently surprised and ambushed by monsters, as they were reliant on her knowledge of the land and the local wildlife to complete their missions successfully.
  • A Former Child Soldier Who Uses a Magic Sword Wants to Live with an Older Sister of a Former Enemy Executive has this happening to both sides of the conflict:
    • The titular Child Soldier Seto gets expelled from the hero party due to everyone being disgusted by Seto's cruel, cold-hearted fighting style. While that by itself is somewhat relatable, their hasty decision quickly lands them in hot water, as Seto was not only the team's most powerful member, bar none, but also the only one with any apparent survival skills. As such, the party is not only getting quickly and easily overwhelmed by larger groups of enemies but also has trouble procuring food and other resources while out in the wild. Eventually, the hero party dwindles and the "hero" ends up losing his mind.
    • The titular former enemy executive Satis is set up for execution for her repeated failures against the hero party. While this is to showcase how much of a Bad Boss the Demon King is, he also didn't think twice about killing the person who leads his armies. Not only did she manage to escape, but without her the demon armies were left unorganized. This not only made the demon armies unable to conquer human territories, but they were also defeated by the human armies, who don't even need to use their strongest warriors helping them. This completely demoralizes the demon armies to the point of almost near uselessness, the only reason they are still a threat is because of Sebek and he isn't too willing to help the Demon King.
  • Happy Daily Life of a Court Blacksmith: I Was Banished From a Black Workplace, but I Live a White Life While Being Loved by the Duke’s Daughter in a Neighboring Country: Fake is a young blacksmith who got the work of his dreams in the Imperial Court - only for Forge Master Morgan to overwork him to exhaustion, belittle everything he does and threaten to blacklist him if he dares to quit, and the other blacksmiths aren't any better. Then the heiress of a dukedom in a nearby country (who is secretly in love with him) offers to hire him under the guise of having him act as her fiancé, because she's being hounded by pushy suitors, and her family usually marries blacksmiths because of their past, and Fake accepts. Then it turns out that Fake did all the important chores of weapon and enchantment maintenance, and the other blacksmiths, rather than divide the work between themselves, decide to let them pile up assuming that Fake will come back crawling and they can use it as punishment.
    • And then it gets worse for them, as the Knight Captain comes up to ask Fake to redo the enchantments in his sword, because his personal blacksmith said they were incredibly well done. Morgan decides to do the enchantments himself (on the grounds that, since Fake's "incompetent" enchanting was that good, then his enchanting should be mythical) so he can become the Knight Captain's personal blacksmith. Unfortunately for him, he's so shoddy at it that the sword breaks.
  • "I... don't want to work any more" I Quit Being An Adventurer. Even if You Treat Me Better Now, I Won’t Do It. I Will Never Work Again. features an invoked case. Aix was horribly overworked and underpaid by the heavily corrupt guild master of the adventurer's guild, and the professional butt-kissing receptionist, who signed him on as an E-rank "for being a defective magician" and paid him with an E-rank rate, while charging clients the rate for a B-rank, with the guild master pocketing the difference. After working him over 24 hours straight, the guild master has a fit because Aix showed up a few minutes late for the guild master's self-aggrandizing "rousing speech" and destroys Aix's guild card in front of the entire guild, demanding the boy beg to be reinstated as an F-rank, and get paid even less. Enraged, Aix quits on the spot, but before the receptionist will process the paperwork to let him go, she demands he complete a couple of outstanding nominated quests in his name. He agrees on the condition she make the quests and the pay public. She reluctantly reads aloud that the "quests" are demeaning busy-work and the pay is abysmal. Even after he completes the quests and officially quits, the guild-master and those who were parasites on Aix's work think he'll come back in a few days. Nope! When he said "I QUIT!" he meant it. It isn't long before all the tools, barriers, and everything that was entirely dependent on the extended duration buffs he traded his Archmage level magic for start to fail, and the guild suffers, but because Aix was so horribly abused, he's not coming back, no matter how generous the terms, as he doesn't trust a word the guild tells him. Karma catches up quickly.
  • The Hero Took Everything from Me, So I Partied with the Hero’s Mother! quickly shows that Ceres basically did all the chores for the party including cooking and providing access to proper hygiene on the road. He also did all of the party's paperwork, including their expense reports which is how they get funding from the church as Heroes.
  • I Left the A-Rank Party starts with main character Yoke Feldio getting fed up with his party treating him like a chore boy due to him being The Red Mage Support Party Member and decides to quit. While the party takes this in stride at first, a couple chapters later show them struggling on the fourth floor of a dungeon where they've previously been able to make it to the tenth floor, at least. It's at this point that it's revealed that, while the party was able to make it to A-Rank, not only did they overestimate their base combat abilities (i.e. the strength that they had without support magic), they had also ranked up without any actual knowledge of the usefulness of certain items (like monster repellants) and they didn't have a surplus of healing items, nearly leading to the death of one of their party members. And guess who helped with all of those issues?
  • In I'm Glad They Kicked Me From The Hero's Party... but why’re you following me, Great Saintess?, the Hero banishes the party's supporter, Ariake, due to his having not been blessed with any "special skills", ignorant that his hidden skills had contributed to massive power increases for all the party members until he'd already left and they found themselves severely weakened without him. The aforementioned Great Saintess is the sole person in the party that was fully aware of Ariake's contributions and saw this coming, chewing the rest of the team out for their stupidity a few weeks later when they cockily enter a dungeon and nearly die early on due to lack of preparation, after which she leaves the party in order to find Ariake and confess her love for him.
  • The (former) Hero party from I Stopped Working Because I Was Expelled From The Hero's Party After They Denounced Me as a Coward disintegrates from the personality flaws of its own members after they get rid of martial artist Nicola (quite literally stabbing him In the Back in the process). The arrogant hero gets his ass kicked by the Demon Lord and his power sucked out, and of his two Battle Harem members, one winds up captured by the Demon Lord's army and the other lands in prison.
  • Journey to the West: Every now and then, Pigsy and Sandy grow tired of Wukong (who admittedly is a dick whenever he can get away with it), talk Xuanzang into kicking him out of the team, and then all of them get into a big mess that only Wukong can fix. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat...
  • KonoSuba:
    • The series pulls both an inversion and zigzag when Kazuma and Dust switch parties after the latter displays jealousy of Kazuma's Battle Harem. By the end of the day, Dust's party is impressed with Kazuma's competence, skills and creative thinking, while Dust is unable to handle the girls from Kazuma's party and begs him to switch back. The zigzagging part comes from the fact that Dust's departure didn't affect his own team too much, so the switch back mostly came down to tolerance and preference.
    • Later in the series, it's shown that in the right circumstances Kazuma's party are genuinely amazing. Aqua's healing powers and mastery of art means that she heals any wounded just about instantly and can rebuild damaged portions of the fortress walls to be even stronger than before, Darkness gains the admiration of the frontline fighters due to being able to Draw Aggro and tank just about anything the Demon King's army throws at her, and Megumin's Explosion Magic far exceeds anything the other magic users in the fortress have. Kazuma himself is openly despised as a "mere" Adventurer, the lowest possible class. However, it's also shown that as an adventuring party, only Kazuma is able to handle the idiosyncrasies of the girls and direct them effectively as a team. In addition, it's also shown that thanks to Kazuma taking advantage of the fact Adventurers can learn any skill (in addition to his abilities mentioned above), he can actually be an astoundingly dangerous opponent. He demonstrates this by absolutely plowing through the Royal Guard (made up of high-ranking warriors and wizards) twice.
  • My Repair Skill Became An Almighty Cheat features the protagonist Luke who is scorned as "eternal E-rank" by the adventurer's guild because he only has one skill [Repair] and has been unable to take part in combat for decades. As he's serving as an Utility Party Member for the "Hero" party under Falcon, days deep in a dangerous dungeon, Falcon himself carelessly disrupts and misplaces the barrier protecting the party's supplies. When the party realizes their supplies have been looted by monsters, Luke has the blame dumped entirely on him, and when he protests his innocence, Blanc, the White Mage of the party paralyzes him and has the party leave him to die, under the pretext that with one less mouth to feed, they can better ration what remains. Sure, Falcon also had a [Repair] skill, but he wasn't as good as Luke, so Falcon's sword breaks during the climactic battle from lack of proper maintenance. Luke, on the other hand, reaches max-level in his [Repair] skill and becomes a genuine and famed hero as a result.
  • Roll Over and Die starts with the hero party's wizard Jean taking it upon himself to sell protagonist Flum Apricot into slavery (lying to her that it was a group decision and telling the party she quit), because she's useless in combat due to her stats being permanently zeroes, and because he wants to make the heroine Cyrill his wife and sees her friendship with Flum as an obstacle. The party's morale rapidly plummets because Jean didn't realize how much Flum had been The Heart of the team, and by book three, several members have quit the quest altogether. Flum has much better fortune: after discovering the true purpose of her Reversal special ability and using it to escape the slavers (adopting another slave, Milkit, in the process), she sets herself up as a solo adventurer and begins digging into the church conspiracy underpinning the hero party's quest.
  • Saint Of Black Kite has the saint Russel being kicked out of the Hero's party for being considered useless due to only being able to heal, which became redundant after the other members learned healing skills themselves. However, instead of the usual formula of the saint's former party immediately running in trouble without him, they first meet a fellow adventurer named Katie who immediately explains that they need a specialized healer, as even the average Priest would learn healing abilities faster and at far lower levels than any of them could. Meanwhile, Russel has learned that his Saint class is as such that he's already learned all the most powerful healing spells possible before even reaching Level 10, and so makes a deal with an adventurer named Sybilla to learn offensive Dark Magic in exchange for his growing abundance of Empty Levels.
  • Happens within Star Wars with The Jedi Order according to the Expanded Universe. During the time of conflict between the Jedi and Sith, the Jedi Order had established a third branch of their Order that would fill in the spot that a Jedi Guardian and Jedi Consular were lacking in: the Jedi Sentinel. The Sentinels' served as the Jedi Orders' dedicated Black Ops specialists who had skillsets that were tailored to being able to hunt down both Sith and Dark Jedi, along with employing various means to dispatch of them; means that the rest of the Order looked down upon with distain despite their effectiveness. Once the Sith were said to be extinct, the Jedi Order had recalled all Jedi Sentinels back to Coruscant to disband the branch and reorganize them as the Jedi Temple Guards: who were tasked solely with protecting the Temple Grounds. Yet, the Sentinel Corps did more for the Galaxy than just hunting down Sith and Dark Jedi, they served within local law enforcement on worlds throughout the Mid and Outer Rim by using investigation and espionage skillsets that their Corps had honed which served to make the Mid and Outer Rims safer. The Sentinel Corps' absence coupled with the demilitarization of the Galactic Republic at the time eventually led to Space Pirates and Criminal Cartels like The Hutts encroaching into the Mid and Outer Rims; while the Jedi Order retreated inwards to only listen to the needs of the Galactic Republic and its Senate; unwilling to consider that some of its Senators didn't attain their positions through fair or just means that would result in certain Senators contracting the Jedi on several occasions. And in both cases, this resulted in the creation of The Confederacy of Independant Systems which was formed in-response to the Republic denying protective aid to Mid Rim Worlds or sending their Jedi attack dogs to unknowingly make things worse for Outer Rim Worlds. It took The Clone Wars, Order 66, and rise of The Galactic Empire for the small handful of surviving Jedi Padawans and Knights to finally realize just how badly the Order had really screwed the Galaxy up by dismantling the Sentinel Corps in the first place.
  • Starting A New Life For The Discarded All Rounder does this on a cultural scale. The country from which protagonist Roa hails has a very rigid and flawed apprenticeship system to decide jobs and adventurer roles. All apprentices are dubbed "All rounders" or less charitable terms, until the guy they're mentoring under decides to certify them as legit. Any apprentice who tries to switch mentor or gets expelled is treated as radioactive by other available mentors. The top brass utterly refuses to see how the system is ripe for abuse, telling themselves and anyone who will listen that they've got a "flawless" system that weeds out the riff-raff and brings forward the cream of the crop, letting 80% of the apprentices fall by the wayside. This results in an epic and unprecedented disaster when the "Hero's Party" takes in the orphaned Roa, exploits him as little more than an unpaid intern for seven years, steals his accomplishments, including passing off his Gryphon and twin Fenrir pups as theirs, and has him do all the party logistics, forcing him to earn money on the side to live on, because unpaid intern. Then they "brilliantly" deduce that him being in the party once they've managed to gain the coveted A-rank on his back, they don't want the "shame of a talentless loser who has been an 'All Rounder' for seven years" associated with them, literally throwing him and kicking him out, with little more than the clothes on his back, hoping he'd die in a ditch somewhere. Once Roa's familiars clue in to what happened, they abandon the party to their fate, where said party instigated a golem stampede, just because they thought themselves better than Roa and felt like they didn't need to read the instructions he left behind. After a disaster of this scale, the top brass starts sending assassins at Roa so they can delude themselves into thinking the system is still flawless, rather than actually address and redress the flaws, out of pride and sloth.
  • The Support Mage Yearns for Party Banishment ~ The World Is in a Banishment Boom, but the Party Members Who Think Too Highly of Me Never Want to Let Me Go subverts this trope. The protagonist expects this to happen due to his own lack of self-esteem and a rising public stigma against support classes. The party setup also initially seems like it will support this kind of development with everyone being an "attacker" class and a male "hero" leading the party who would be motivated to ditch the protagonist in order to have the attention of the female party members all to himself. In reality, it's a Harem Genre-style story where the rest of the party are all smitten with the protagonist (including the leader, who is a girl pretending to be male to dissuade outsiders from thinking it's an all-female party) and also acknowledges just how valuable his role and unique magic are.
  • Welcome to the Impregnable Demon King Castle plays with the formula. In a world where dungeon delving is closer to a televised combat sport, Remme the Black mage is kicked out of the fourth ranked party because his debuffs are not flashy and have no visual appeal on broadcast. This is done over the vociferous protestations of Phoenix, the party leader and Remme's childhood friend. Predictably, the party struggles without Remme's support and has to recruit another hero class adventurer to bolster their firepower. Remme is instead hired by the Demon King and functionally becomes the final boss of her dungeon creating the titular "Impregnable Demon King Castle".
  • The White Mage who was banished from the Hero's Party is picked up by an S-Rank Adventurer follows the usual formula of the Hero kicking out a party member, Lloyd, because his white magic doesn't appear to do anything useful, with the only teammate that appears to be close to disagreeing being Lina, the shield-woman. While Lloyd is picked up and welcomed by Ishtar's strongest adventurer party, it only takes one quest for things to go pear-shaped for the Hero's party, as they get curb-stomped by a group of monsters that was usually easy meat for them (with Lina losing an arm in the fight) - because Lloyd's so good with enhancement magic he can do it to fifty-plus people at once, while the common white mage can barely do two enhancements at the same time at best.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the lead up to the finale, the Scoobies and the Potentials, having had enough with Buffy's failings as a leader, oust her from the team to the point they throw her out of her own house. Unfortunately, not only does this leave the team without a leader, but Buffy was the only person who knew exactly what they were going up against. Spike, of all people, points out to them what a terrible move that was.

    Video Games 
  • The Tales Series does this a lot:
    • Tales of Eternia: Before going to the Ruins of Volt, Keele has to stay behind to work with Shileska's scientists. Being forced to deal with the ruin's puzzles without Keele gives Reid and Farah a new appreciation for what their friend brings to the table.
    • Tales of Symphonia examines the long-term consequences of this in detail, but not with the player's party. Martel was the White Magician Girl and The Heart of the Precursor Heroes, as well as her brother's Morality Chain. Her murder sent all of the survivors across the Despair Event Horizon while Mithos in particular simply snapped, leading directly to the crisis that the player's party need to solve thousands of years later.
    • Tales of Vesperia. Estelle, the only real White Mage of the party, is unavailable for a while due to Alexei kidnapping her, leaving you without her healing artes. This is downplayed gameplay-wise in that it's not too difficult to make up for that by buying a bunch of healing items. After the fight with Zagi, the party directly points out how much trouble they're in without Estelle's mass healing artes.
    • A more glaring example happens in Tales of Arise with Shionne, who similar to Estelle above is one of the healers of the group and is kidnapped by Vholran. Unlike Vesperia, however, healing in general is much more limited in this game, both having the game economy of not giving a lot of Gald to work with early on alongside recovery items being scarce and having a Mana Meter in Cure Points (that does NOT recover on its own) that the party has to use in order to use healing spells both in and out of battle. Also while another party member, Dohalim, is still capable of using healing artes, his healing artes are single target, while Shionne's are capable of healing the entire party. And to really drive her absence home, Shionne takes Alphen's Flaming Sword with her, limiting his battle capabilities (especially if you're playing as him), and the next Boss Battle you face is a flying enemy, which just so happens to be Shionne's specialty.

    Web Animation 
  • Sekai no Fushigi:
    • Akuji believed that he could use his supposed best friend Koki to help him start his own mobile app business then force him out once everything was running smoothly. As Koki was the one who handled "all the nitty gritty," the apps started to fall apart once he was gone. Akuji begs him to come back, but unsurprisingly Koki refuses, instead deciding to start his own company.
    • Mizuki's manager and girlfriend Chika, who are in a secret relationship with each other, deliberately sabotaged his work in the hopes to get him fired, even going so far to tear up the manual he made and throw away the flash file he saved for the company to be able to function without him. Mizuki resigned before he could be fired, knowing full well the company would struggle without him, as he waited for the boss to hire him back with compensation.

    Western Animation 
  • Downplayed in Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. As an episode rarely had all four Rangers, there were cases where one or two were assigned to the episode's problem, only to find that their missing teammates' skillsets would have easily solved things.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In the episode "Sokka's Master", Sokka complains that he feels like the load of the group given that he's the only non-bender, which some of the group members had already commented on in the past. Once he is gone to train with his master, the other group members hang around aimlessly and joylessly, as their main planner and mood-refresher is gone. Everyone is all but ecstatic as soon as Sokka returns.
  • King of the Hill: In "Snow Job", Buck Strickland suffers from a heart attack and has to be hospitalized, and he puts newcomer Lloyd Vickers in charge of Strickland Propane while he's recovering due to the fact that he has a business degree and that Arlen is experiencing snow, which means that customers will want to purchase more propane from them. Lloyd's tactics of increasing the prices and installing tattler systems in the propane trucks serve to earn Lloyd the antagonism of his coworkers, resulting in Joe Jack and all of Stricklands' truck drivers to quit the company in protest. Lloyd says that he can simply call in his friends to drive the propane trucks, only for Joe Jack to ask if his friends have HazMat certifications, which are necessary for driving trucks filled with explosive materials. After telling Buck about this, Buck chews out Vickers for his idiocy in losing their drivers, because only HazMat-licensed drivers can drive the propane trucks. Even if Lloyd were to try hiring other HazMat-certified drivers, because of the cold front every other potential HazMat-licensed driver in both Arlen and the greater Heimlich County area already have jobs.
  • The Loud House: In "No Spoilers", the children are planning their mother's birthday party. However, they leave the second-eldest one, Leni, out of the planning since she's terrible at keeping secrets and would spoil the surprise. However, they then realise that Leni is the only one who really knows what their mother Rita likes in a party, so they must bring her back to throw a party suited for Rita.
  • Metalocalypse: In "Dethsiduals", Murderface and Toki are kicked out of Dethklok and the remaining members attempt to write songs without them. While the band become much more productive without the two, they soon realize without the negative energy brought by Murderface, the quality of the music suffers, and the two are invited back.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • In "Princess Twilight Sparkle Part 2", when the Mane Six need to stop the Everfree Forest from covering Ponyville, Applejack and the others tell Twilight Sparkle to stay behind, arguing that as the acting leader of Equestrianote , they can't risk her on a dangerous mission. Upon reaching their destination though, they realize without Twilight's magical know-how, none of them have any idea how to deal with the problem.
    • In "The Cute Re-Mark", Starlight Glimmer seeks vengeance by using time travel to stop child Rainbow Dash from performing the Sonic Rainboom preventing what would lead to her and the other Mane Six meeting. Once Starlight learns this results in Bad Futures due to the heroes' absence, she realized revenge wasn't worth the harm caused and surrenders.
  • The Simpsons: Exaggerated in "Marge in Chains". Marge is arrested for shoplifting because she forgot to pay for grandpa's bottle of bourbon, losing the trust of the city (including gossiper Helen Lovejoy and neighbor Maude Flanders) and is sent to jail for 30 days. With her arrest, she was unable to assist the bake sale at the park (led by Helen and Maude), with the crowd leaving in disappointment when Marge wasn't present for the marshmallow squares, leaving the fundraising short $15 dollars for the statue of Abraham Lincoln. Since they had to purchase the Jimmy Carter statue instead, the citizens were disgusted and started to riot. Eventually, the townspeople start saying none of it would have happened if Marge was there.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "SpongeBob, You're Fired!", Mr. Krabs fires SpongeBob, his best fry cook who helps bring in a majority of the Krusty Krabs' customers, for the sole purpose of saving a nickel (and not a figurative amount of money, an actual nickel). When Squidward asks Mr. Krabs why he couldn't just fire him, Mr. Krabs tells Squidward that he can't since Squidward he has seniority (this is despite the fact that corrupt bosses usually fire employees with seniority because they'd save more money that way). Mr. Krabs attempts to cook Krabby Patties by himself, claiming to have been a five-time Golden Spatula in the Navy. Naturally, Mr. Krabs can't cook and the Krusty Krab nearly goes out of business. Mr. Krabs re-hires SpongeBob at the end of the episode, and installs a pay toilet to make up for the missing nickel.
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch: An unusual variation occurs when the titular Bad Batch's resident Cold Sniper and all around Jerkass Crosshair ends up having his control chip activated to execute Order 66, making him far more prone to following orders when the Military Maverick team of clones couldn't care less about them. When the group is captured, Crosshair has his chip fully activated to make him a loyal Imperial stooge, forcing his team to leave him behind as he tries to kill them for betraying The Empire. His absence does affect the team like this trope usually plays out—without Crosshair watching point, the Batch, already struggling to adjust to a post-Republic galaxy, winds up getting their rears handed to them over and over again—but he still noticeably misses his team. It's when the finale strikes that things get very unusual with this trope: he had his chip removed so he could serve The Empire willingly, but he wants his brothers to join him, convinced this new order will be the only way they can serve their purpose as soldiers of war. They won't join him in the Empire, but he won't join them as mercenaries when offered the chance.

    Real Life 
  • In Major League Baseball, the Boston Red Sox trading Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1919 is considered one of the most devastating blunders in the sport's history. Ruth had been trying to demand a higher salary for a while, and his manager, tired of giving non-answers to the issue, sold him behind his back and considered the matter settled. The problem was, it was Babe freaking Ruth that they sold — someone whose downright legendary skill simply couldn't be replaced. The Red Sox would proceed to not live it down, and the ripples of their mistake and resulting destroyed reputation could be felt for almost a century afterwards, long outliving Ruth himself, until they finally ended their decades-long championship drought in 2004. Sometimes it isn't only the absence of the teammate that's damaging; it's how that absence occurs.
  • In World War II, Adolf Hitler was hoping that this trope would come into play with the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He recalled how the death of Catherine the Great during a war saved Prussia by causing the collapse of an anti-Prussian alliance that Russia was the head of, and hoped that Roosevelt dying would cause a similar collapse of the Allied Powers. He was banking on the event generating a Let's You and Him Fight that would see Germany allying with the Western Allies and his regime surviving. It didn't happen, or at least not fast enough to save Hitler.
  • This was the ultimate death knell of Bullfrog Productions, after Peter Molyneux left to form Lionhead Studios. Now, Molyneux may be a controversial figure and we won't touch on that here, but he was incredibly good at shielding the company from Electronic Arts' Executive Meddling and so it was pretty much the only company under their thumb that managed to thrive. However, without him around to keep EA off their backs, EA more or less did to Bullfrog what The Combine did to Earth and ground them into dust — within three years of his departure they weren't making any games anymore, and a mere three years later they were dead in the ground.

 
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Vickers Gets Fired

Vickers is fired when his poor management of Strickland Propane causes the employees to quit and he can't just hire new ones without HazMat certification and he also can't even hire certified ones due to the height of the season.

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