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Resign in Protest

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Admiral Souther: Fleet Command will not... I will not support this escalation.
Undersecretary Erringwright: Are you saying you won't carry out a lawfully given order?
Admiral Souther: [furious silence] ... I step down as Fleet Commander. [rips off insignia of rank and tosses it on the table]

A Sub-Trope of Take This Job and Shove It, someone has either been given orders or put in a situation so against their morals, or seen their superiors take actions so unethical, that they refuse to be a part of it any longer and leave the job rather than be part of it. This works best when the person resigning is an acclaimed public hero and when the resignation would tarnish someone who relies on good publicity like a Corrupt Politician.

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A Token Good Teammate who has been serving a corrupt regime is particularly likely to do this, which may well lead to them becoming a Defector from Decadence. It may or may not include an Insignia Rip-Off Ritual, albeit perhaps without the ritual part. Also, a character may do this after they see someone who they feel Undying Loyalty to being mistreated by their own organization.

Compare and contrast with Turn in Your Badge, Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right! and Screw This, I'm Out of Here! The person resigning may be hit with Resignations Not Accepted in response. There's some overlap with The Last DJ, who values their integrity and doing what's right over their job prospects and rising in rank, and is willing to defy their bosses over it, and Rage Within the Machine, when someone begins doubting the organization they're a part of and first begins rebelling against it. (Or at least contemplating doing so.) An inverse is the Internal Reformist, who decided to try to stay within the system and attempt to guide it to better things or reform it that way.

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Examples include:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece:
    • During the Water 7 arc, Usopp quits the Straw Hats after learning that they plan to get another ship because the Going Merry won't be able to sail any further, and Usopp is very attached to the ship since it was a present from his friend Kaya. This is also a Poor Communication Kills issue as Luffy was likewise troubled after hearing the news and was trying to put on a cheerful facade when he broke the news to Usopp, who took it the wrong way and triggered an argument. Though after the events of this and the Enies Lobby arc, Usopp apologizes and re-joins the crew later on.
    • Aokiji quits the Marines in the two-year Time Skip interim after Akainu beats him in a fair fight to become the Fleet Admiral of the Marines, not wanting to serve under someone who uses Knight Templar tactics and is more than willing to kill innocents just to eradicate a target.
    • Also the reason Fleet Admiral was an open position in the first place. Sengoku chose to quit when he learned that the World Government had chosen to cover up the break out of Impel Down's Level 6 prisoners instead of issuing Wanted posters for them, putting the public in greater danger. Sengoku didn't fully quit the Marines however, only resigning from the Fleet Admiral position.

    Comic Books 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): When the Acorn Council votes to banish NICOLE from New Mobotropolis because "it's what the people want", Rotor is so disgusted and upset that he resigns from his seat on the spot.
  • Spider-Man 2099: This trope is part of Miguel O'Hara's Super Hero Origin story. He was originally the head geneticist of Alchemax, with their focus being genetic modification to create Corporate Samurais. At one point his superiors forced him to experiment on a human subject, despite Miguel's protests that they weren't ready yet. As a result, the man was transformed into a monster and Miguel was forced to have him killed. However, his boss called the experiment a success, making Miguel try to quit on moral grounds.
  • Nightwing: Depending on the Writer, this is one of the more common explanations given for how Dick Grayson transitioned from Robin to Nightwing. In such versions, he walks out because he got fed up with being treated as a subordinate to Batman, or because Batman gave him some sort of order he refused to follow, or because he learns about an illicit affair between Batman and his girlfriend, Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl).
  • During Marvel Comics' Civil War story, many characters on the Pro-Registration side of the conflict eventually wound up quitting or defecting out of disgust. In particular:
    • Spider-Man quits after learning that the Pro-Reg side is locking up fellow superheroes in a prison within The Negative Zone — a dimension that is stated to instill feelings of anguish, fear, and dread within human beings.
    • Invisible Woman quit after learning that her husband and the other scientists of the Pro-Reg side had created a clone of Thor and set it loose against their friends-turned-opponents, resulting in the death of Black Goliath.
  • Steve Rogers surrendered his role as Captain America (for the second time) when the US government, after giving him his back pay for the decades since World War II, recommissioned him as an agent working directly for them and ordered him to do things that go against the ideals of America, which Rogers honors more than any administration or government bureaucracy.
  • In a What If? story where Spider-Man successfully saves Gwen Stacy's life, J. Jonah Jameson crashes their wedding to expose Peter Parker as Spider-Man. Robbie Robertson informs him that his little stunt just cost him a city editor.

    Fan Works 
  • In This Bites! after the SBS broadcasts the events of Enies Lobby, and Robin telling the world the events of Ohara, plus Cross publishing multiple black ops events from Cipher Pol 9's operational black book, enormous numbers of the Navy's more moral Marines start quitting in apparent disgust. Sengoku says a few days afterwards that there were "more resignations in the last twenty-four hours than the last two years beforehand."
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    Films - Live Action 
  • At the end of Lord of War, Interpol Special Agent Jack Valentine finally catches Villain Protagonist Arms Dealer Yuri Orlov, who Valentine has been chasing for well over a decade by that point. Yuri responds by calmly telling Valentine that he'll never even be charged, let alone go to jail due to his connections, as at least some of Yuri's illicit gun running is actually him acting as a middleman for the US Government, allowing them to supply arms to unsavory forces while keeping up a facade of Plausible Denability. During the course of his monologue Yuri predicts that Valentine will threaten to resign to protest this development, but whatever happens, Yuri will still be released. He's right.
    Let me tell you what's going to happen, then this way you can prepare yourself. Soon there's going to be a knock on that door, [looks at interrogation room door] and you will be called outside. In the hall will be a man who outranks you. First he'll compliment you on the fine job you've done, that you're making the world a safer place, that you're to receive a commendation and a promotion... and then he's going to tell you that I am to be released. You're going to protest, you'll probably threaten to resign... but in the end, I will be released.
  • In In the Loop, several figures in both the United States and United Kingdom governments are prepared to do this if their governments proceed to go to war based on a sketchy source that is supposedly supplying them with covert information but they strongly suspect to be false. In the end only Karen Clarke (an Assistant Secretary of State for the US government) actually goes through with it, robbing the gesture of the meaning it would have had if they had all done it together. General Miller backs off at the last minute, rationalizing his decision by saying he'll be better able to help the soldiers under his command by remaining, and Simon is preemptively fired from his position in the UK Government and not allowed to even make a statement by resigning in protest.
  • In The Dark Knight, as the manhunt to find the Joker becomes increasingly desperate and the stakes get higher and higher, Batman reveals that he created a device that will allow him to spy on every cell phone in Gotham. When he reveals this to Lucius Fox, Fox is shocked and horrified by the ethical issues it raises. Then Batman reveals that he has given control of the device to Fox because he doesn't trust himself with the potential slippery slope of using it. Given the threat posed by the Joker, Fox agrees to use the device one time, but also resigns as CEO of Wayne Enterprises, saying "As long as this machine is at Wayne Enterprises, I won't be." After the Joker is caught, the device is destroyed, and Fox returns to his position as CEO.
  • In Star Trek Into Darkness, Scotty refuses to allow experimental torpedoes to be loaded onto the Enterprise until he's seen the specs and had a chance to examine them thoroughly. He and Kirk argue about it until Kirk pulls rank and orders Scotty to accept them without question, at which point Scotty says he has no choice but to resign.
  • In RoboCop 3, the entire police force resigns rather than force people from their homes.

    Literature 
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • In both the books and the TV adaption Game of Thrones, Queen Cersei tries to forcibly retire Barristan Selmy, commander of the Kingsguard in a fairly transparent attempt to install her own brother as the new head of the group. Being that appointment to the Kingsguard is a lifetime appointment, and traditionally only death or exile are valid reasons for someone getting kicked out, Selmy is very much against being retired. He spends a little time to give a "Reason You Suck" Speech to a good section of the Court and his colleagues in the Kingsguard, makes it clear that he's resigning due to the corruption of the court rather than being fired, then storms off. He even stops to make a note of all this in the official Kingsguard record and to kill a few mooks sent after him before he leaves the capital.
    • Also in the books, Jaime recalls how King Aerys' Hand of the King discovered Aerys' plot to plant wildfire all over the capital and burn it to ash should Robert Baratheon defeat the loyalist forces. The man tried everything he could to talk Aerys out of the plan, and when Aerys wouldn't budge, he furiously resigned on the spot. Aerys burned him alive in response.
      Jamie: I'd thought the man craven, but the day he confronted Aerys he found some courage somewhere. He did all he could to dissuade him. He reasoned, he jested, he threatened, and finally he begged. When that failed he took off his chain of office and flung it down on the floor. Aerys burnt him alive for that and hung his chain about the neck of Rossart, his favorite pyromancer.
  • In Harry Potter, when Cornelius Fudge installs Dolores Umbridge to take over for Dumbledore at Hogwarts after forcing Dumbledore out, Griselda Marchbanks and several other figures from the Ministry of Magic resign to protest Fudge's actions. Fudge proceeds to expand the Ministry's smear campaign to include her and the others too.
  • In the Alex Rider novel Scorpia, Max Grendel plans to retire from Scorpia's board of leadership because he's disturbed by their plans to develop a superweapon specifically for the purpose of killing schoolchildren. Unfortunately for him, Scorpia has a Resignations Not Accepted policy, and the briefcase his colleagues get him as a retirement gift is filled with scorpions that sting him to death when it's opened.
  • In Jingo, when Vimes is relieved from command by Lord Rust, Carrot, Colon, and Detritus all hand in their badges. (Metaphorically in Detritus' case, because his badge is etched into his arm).
  • In Darkness Series when the King of Zuwayzin cuts a deal to hand over refugee Algarvians to the Mad King Swemmel of Unkerlant towards the end of the series, Hajjaj, the Chief Advisor to the King of Zuwayzin resigns in protest. It should be noted that threatening this has been a recurring tactic he uses whenever he feels his young King is about to do something too unconscionable, and it usually works, but this time the King has no choice and the Advisor has no choice but to follow through.

    Live Action TV 
  • Kamen Rider Zero-One: For about 2/3 of the show, Yua Yaiba (Kamen Rider Valkyrie) had been the right-hand woman of Gai Amatsu, the Corrupt Corporate Executive running ZAIA Industries. She did all kinds of underhanded acts, partly in an attempt to mitigate it whenever she could but mostly because he can force her obedience via a chip implanted in her head. After finally getting pushed too far (and figuring out how to disable the chip), Yua teams up with the heroic Kamen Riders to kick Amatsu's ass, then hands in her resignation: a right hook to the chin, complete with the kind of graphic effects that are normally reserved for the Riders' Finishing Moves.
  • The Expanse:
    • In the second season, Admiral Souther refuses to go along with orders that have a dangerously high chance of turning the Space Cold War between Earth and Mars into an open, shooting war. When Undersecretary Errenwright and Secretary General Sorrento Gillis press him on the matter, he promptly resigns his position as commander of the fleet on the spot, complete with ripping off his insignia and tossing it on the table. Internal Reformist Avasarala points out the consequence of this; the incredibly insane Admiral Nguyen (who has no problem with following the orders of or even egging on the other hardliners in the government) is appointed to replace him, leaving no moderating voice in Earth's High Command.
    • The Season 4 episode "The One-Eyed Man" features two of these coming quite close together: first, a UN Marine General tenders his resignation due to a raid that went wrong from the previous episode. He feels that Avasarala took a needless risk in choosing to order the raid and put the lives of the marines and civilians in danger in order to help her political career, and he doesn't want to be part of that anymore. Meanwhile Drummer, after years of being Fred Johnson's right-hand woman, decides to quit because she doesn't like the direction he's pushing the Belt, which she feels emphasizes cooperation with the Inner Planets over the good of actual Belters.
    • Taken to a new level in the fifth season. When the new Secretary General appointed after Gao's death orders a military strike that harms many Belter civilians and can't be talked out of further such attacks despite both logical and emotional pleas from Avasarala, more than half his Cabinet furiously resign on the spot, and Avasarala, who objected the longest and hardest against his actions, is asked to replace him following a vote of no confidence.
  • House of Anubis: After Mara gets expelled for writing an accusatory article on Vera, Miss Andrews, who asked Mara to write the article in the first place, decided it would be best for her to quit teaching at the school. She couldn't stand working there anymore with Victor running the place, especially after the mess that had occurred the year before note , and especially couldn't allow Mr.Sweet to get away with expelling Mara. Mr.Sweet attempted to pull the Resignations Not Accepted card, but she still ended up leaving.
  • Babylon 5
    • "In the Shadow of Z'Ha'Dum": Sheridan orders Mr. Morden (who was on a scientific expedition that vanished without a trace or any sign of survivors, an expedition that Sheridan's wife was also part of) held and interrogated without official charges in hopes of getting some answers related to his wife's death. As Sheridan keeps trying to use legal loopholes and unethical means to continue holding onto Morden and denying him his rights, this prompts Garibaldi, the station's Chief of Security, to resign in protest over the blatant violation of the law.
    • "Rumors, Bargains and Lies" has as one of Ivanova's stories on "The Voice of the Resistance" the fact that President Clark's entire cabinet resigned after he ordered the bombing of civilian targets on Mars.
  • In the opening titles of each episode of The Prisoner (1967), we see Number 6 angrily resigning from his job at an intelligence agency.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • In season 1, when Ben Urich tries to write an article that exposes Wilson Fisk's corruption, his editor stops him because he buys into Fisk's reputation as the saviour of Hell's Kitchen. Urich quits on the spot before Ellison gets a chance to fire him.
    • In season 2, Claire Temple quits her job as a nurse in Metro General because the hospital tried to cover up the murder of one of the nurses, along with a few others.
  • Happens a couple times in Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • Worf resigns his commission at the end of the fourth season when Starfleet refuses to get involved in the brewing Klingon Civil War, citing that it is an "internal matter" and without hard evidence of Romulan involvement, they cannot intervene. Once the Romulans are exposed and Gowron's faction wins, Worf is reinstated.
    • Wesley Crusher resigns from Starfleet Academy in "Journey's End" after he interferes with the Enterprise's mission to resettle a group of Native American colonists. Picard gives him an epic chewing out, which Wesley throws back in his face by saying what they are doing is wrong regardless of whether they were ordered to or not.
  • Star Trek: Picard: In the backstory, Picard was responsible for overseeing much of the evacuation of Romulus (whose star was about to go supernova) before Starfleet abandoned the effort because several species within the Federation threatened to secede and a group of rogue synthetics bombarding Mars gave them the justification they needed. Picard resigned his commission as Admiral in protest as he considered this a betrayal of Starfleet's mission.

    Video Games 
  • Spider-Man (PS4): If you find one of the collectible backpacks, you'll find an article that blames Spider-Man for the death of a bunch of police officers that were killed by Electro, published by the Bugle. It was this article that made Peter quit his job, as he got tired of selling pictures to a paper that painted him as a criminal.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel I, Gwyn Reinford, founder of the Reinford Group and Alisa's grandfather, stepped down from his position as head of the company when he disagreed with their plans to build the very destructive railway guns at Garrelia Fortress. Unfortunately for him, his more business-eccentric daughter Irina took advantage of that and became the new head of the company, which allowed her to continue on with the plans to build the weapons unopposed.
  • Mass Effect 2: Miranda Lawson and Jacob Taylor begin the game as loyal members of Cerberus until they shift loyalties to Commander Shepard. At the end of the game, if Shepard defies The Illusive Man and decides to blow up a facility filled with technology created by ancient Mechanical Abominations, both will immediately sever ties with Cerberus on the spot.
    Illusive Man: "I gave you an order, Miranda!"
    Miranda: "I noticed. Consider this my resignation."
  • A downplayed version shows up in the Backstory of Final Fantasy VII with Professor Gast Faramis. Gast was the guy who set things in motion for the FF7 verse; he was the one who discovered Jenova, misidentified her note  as an Ancient, and kick-started the Jenova Project (which created Sephiroth, SOLDIER, and many other problems). However, unlike the sadistic Hojo, Gast had his limits. When he realized that Jenova was not an Ancient, but something much worse, he tried to back off so he and his team could figure out what the hell they were actually dealing with. Unfortunately, the Project had gained its own momentum and there was nothing Gast could do about it. He quit Shinra a short time later, sensing that the only way he'd get some real answers was to continue his investigations on his own.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • Many Pro-Revenge and Tales from Retail blogs and the like involve this. Sometimes it's due to mistreatment by the company, sometimes a popular co-worker being fired for petty or manufactured reasons and that proves to be the last straw that leads everyone at the job to quit, leading to a dead business. Specific examples include:
    • This post where the poster is conned into taking the job at a small hotel, only to find that owner is an enormous crook. By the end, the poster not only leaves over the conditions but also convinces the whole cleaning team to leave as well, right during the town's busiest season when every room is booked for the next month.
    • This 15-minute video which details occasions where an entire store quit at once due to management. Incidents include things like the current manager training their replacement, believing the replacement is going to be an assistant manager. When the current manager finds out that the owners are about to fire him and replace him with the trainee, the manager quits, and within a week what had been a team of 15 becomes a group of 3, as almost everyone else who worked under the manager who resigned also quits in protest of how ownership handled the situation.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Archer episode Once Bitten, when Archer, Ray, and Cyril are sent out on a particularly environmentally unfriendly mission, (blowing up an oil pipeline) Lana (who used to be an environmental activist before becoming a spy) gripes about the mission and the danger that similar human activity pose to the planet. Unbelievably enough Cheryl calls Lana out about her complaints, essentially saying that if Lana was serious and cared as much as she claims, she'd resign (or at least threaten to do so) but Lana won't because she's too busy trying to score brownie points with Mallory in the (futile) hope of inheriting the ISIS agency one day. The comment gets to Lana in a way that few other things on the show ever have.
    Cheryl: Please, if you really cared, you'd resign, but there's no way you ever will, because you're just counting the days until, her face bloated and yellow from liver failure, she calls you to her death bed and, in a croaky whisper, explains that Mr. Archer is totally incompetent and that you, the long-suffering Lana Kane, are the only one qualified to run ISIS and you weep shameful tears because you know this terrible place is the only true love you will ever know.
    [beat]
    Lana: [hurt and trying to hide it] Excuse me. [leaves the room]
    Pam: Daaaaaamn!
    Cheryl: What?...oh my God, was I talking?
  • In the Superman: The Animated Series episode Prototype, John Henry Irons designs a suit of Powered Armor that Lex Corp plans to supply the police, but Irons protests that the product is being rushed and in particular the neural interface for the suit hasn't been fully tested. After Luthor ignores his warnings and insists on starting production on the suit immediately, Irons resigns on the spot.
  • In The Simpsons two-episode special "Who Shot Mr. Burns?", Smithers finally refuses to go along with Mr. Burns' latest evil scheme; a device to block out the sun and force the town to use even more of the energy that the nuclear plant produces. This turns out to be just a step too far for Smithers, who had stood by Burns for years and through countless immoral schemes, and during that episode alone Burns had stolen oil from a struggling elementary school, caused a sinkhole that destroyed the old folk's home, injured Bart's dog, and kept forgetting Homer's name. note 
    Smithers: I-I don't want any part of this project. It's unconscionably fiendish.
    Mr. Burns: I will not suffer your insubordination! There has been a shocking decline in both the quality and quantity of your toadying, Waylon! You will fall into line! Now!
    Smithers: [visibly struggling with himself] No. No, Monty, I won't. Not until you step back from the brink of insanity!
  • Young Justice: In Princes All, because of Lex Luthor's continued interference as Secretary-General of the United Nations prevents the Justice League from intervening in crisis situations and the meta-human trafficking all around the Earth, Batman, Batwoman, Green Arrow, Hardware, Katana, and Plastic Man all promptly resign from the League in protest of this. When Green Arrow asks Black Canary to join them, she angrily calls him out for planning this little stunt for some time behind Aqualad and Wonder Woman's (the current Co-Chairmans of the League) backs. Canary has no idea how right she is, except that Wonder Woman and Kaldur are actually in on it, as part of their plan with Batman to setup an anti-Light group who could work from behind the scenes without interference, making this somewhat of a subversion.
  • One episode of King of the Hill sees Hank hire a seemingly-bright young man who turns out to be an incompetent drug addict, and then finds he can't fire the idiot because his addiction is considered a disability, and the company is just large enough to be subject to the Americans With Disabilities Act, forcing them to accommodate the addict. Finally, Hank gets fed up and quits in protest, making the company just small enough that they are no longer subject to the ADA, allowing his boss to fire the addict.

    Real Life 
  • In 1981, Alain de Boissieu resigned his charge of Grand Chancelier of the Legion d'honneur because he couldn't stand to swear allegiance to Francois Mitterand, who had described, in a book published on 1962, his father-in-law Charles de Gaulle as a dictator.
  • During the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was appointed to investigate the Watergate scandal and had subpoenaed Nixon's secret recordings of White House conversations. Richardson resigned immediately instead. Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus did the same when he was given the order. The next man, Robert Bork, considered resigning also, but instead backed down and fired Cox.
  • In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution, a prestigious group consisting of women who could trace their lineage to the Revolutionary War or earlier, refused to allow celebrated singer Marian Anderson to perform at Constitution Hall, their headquarters in Washington, D.C., just because she was black (the D.A.R. had a strict "no African-American artists" policy due to black protests over segregated seating in Constitution Hall). When Eleanor Roosevelt, who was then First Lady of the United States, heard, she very publicly resigned her D.A.R. membership (along with thousands of other members) and, in a brilliant example of Start My Own, got her husband Franklin Delano and Walter White, the executive secretary of the NAACP at the time, to help organize a giant open-air concert for Anderson on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial instead. Over 75,000 people of all races showed up in person, while millions more listened on the radio. Read more about it (and the actual letter itself) here.
  • In 1943, Senator Alben Barkley resigned as Senate Majority Leader after having a major break with President Franklin Roosevelt over Roosevelt's veto of a revenue bill. Barkley was unanimously reelected to the post by his fellow Democratic senators and Congress proceeded to override Roosevelt's veto.
  • Multiple U.S. Secretaries of State have resigned after breaking with their chief executive. Lewis Cass resigned in 1860 over James Buchanan's inaction in the face of the Southern secessionism, William Jennings Bryan in 1915 resigned when Woodrow Wilson became more hardline towards Imperial Germany, and Cryus Vance resigned in 1980 after President Carter authorized a botched military operation to rescue the American hostages in Iran.
  • Some British officers "broke their swords" (resigned in protest) after the American Revolution, when the British agreed that black slaves who had been promised their freedom if they fought for the British would be returned to slavery by the Americans. Not that the British had any objections to slavery in general; just that they had given their words as gentlemen to these slaves in particular.
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