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Self-Imposed Exile

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"He was training a new generation of Jedi. There was nobody else left to do it, so he took the burden on himself. Everything was going great, until... one boy, an apprentice, turned against him and destroyed it all. Luke felt responsible. He just...walked away from everything."
Han Solo, The Force Awakens

So you did something bad. It could be intentional, accidental, or against your will. Whatever you did, the act was so bad that you are remorseful of it, but there's nothing you can do to make up for what you've done. Now this leaves you with three choices - receiving shame and ostracism from society, facing severe punishment from the law, or even exiling yourself from society.

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This self-imposed version of The Exile where instead of society exiling the character, the character exiles themselves. For one reason, the character departing themselves from society will realize that because of the gravity of what they've done, society has no place for them. Another reason for their self-exile is because they may want to avoid receiving punishment from the law enforcement. Either way, the self-exile will need all the luck in finding useful resources in order to survive outside of society and worse, the law enforcement will more than likely catch up with him and arrest him.

Compare No Place for Me There when a character exiles himself because of his well-meaning, but questionable deeds to accomplish a better world. Also related to You Can't Go Home Again and Starting a New Life.

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Examples

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    Anime, Manga & Light Novels 
  • Miho Nishizumi of Girls und Panzer was raised in the Nishizumi household, where the sport of sensha-do is a de facto religion. During a championship match, however, Miho chose to rescue a drowning teammate rather than command her tank crew. This lost Kuroromine the match, for which Miho's mother declared "I have no daughter." Miho fled Kuroromine to enroll at Oarai Academy, which at the time had no sensha-do team. Narrative Causality changes that, of course, putting Miho back in the saddle again, leading a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits against other powerhouse teams.
  • In My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, the Bad Ends of the Geordo and Keith routes in Fortune Lover involve either of them exiling themselves after killing Alpha Bitch Catarina to protect the Player Character, over the shame of killing his fiancée in Geordo's case, or his older sister in Keith's case.
  • At the end of Naruto, Sasuke decides to atone for his actions by leaving the village to seek out threats and the truth about Kaguya.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics' archvillain Doctor Doom began as a foreign student at New York University, where his research into arcane transdimensional physics blew up his dorm room, for which Doom was expelled. He returned in shame to Europe, trekking to a lonely monastery, where he studied mysticism and forged his iconic armor. Doom then returned to his homeland of Latveria, deposed the ruling monarchs, and became the most dangerous man on Earth.
  • In Great Lakes Avengers, Mr. Immortal once spent an entire year Buried Alive, away from his teammates, as a way of forcing himself to get sober after all the drinking and erratic behavior he engaged in after the death of Dinah Soar.
  • Judge Dredd: Instead of retiring, street Judges who no longer meet the physical requirements of the job but don't see themselves as desk-job or instructor material take the Long Walk, in which they head out alone into the Cursed Earth to "bring the Law to the lawless". No one, including the Judge taking the Long Walk, expects to return. Some do it out of atonement or personal conviction (Dredd among them).
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: In the backstory, Hamato Yoshi went on a self-imposed exile to New York after fellow Foot Clan member, Oroku Nagi, when he was defending his wife, Tang Shen from Nagi's jealous wrath which permanently disgraced him from his position in the Clan. Shen accompanied him.
  • Watchmen: Doctor Manhattan teleports away to Mars when he believes his superpowers have inadvertently caused cancer in people close to him, both to isolate himself and because he's increasingly unable to relate to humanity. This turns out to have been Invoked by the Big Bad, who caused the cancer in order to provoke an emotional breakdown and take Dr. Manhattan out of the action.
  • In the late '80s, Superman executed three Kryptonian criminals in an alternate universe after they wiped out all life on the alternate Earth. The stress of going against his morals prompted him to briefly develop a split personality, taking on the identity of the street brawling vigilante Gangbuster during the night. Horrified by what he had become and fearing that he was losing control of his powers, he chose to exile himself from Earth into deep space for a time. Ultimately he was abducted by Mongul and forced to fight in gladiatoral tornaments on Mongul's Warworld. Here, he also met an ancient alien being called the Cleric, who was present on Krypton centuries before its destruction, and shared much of Krypton's history with Superman. This helped Superman get his head straightened out and, once he took down Mongul, he returned to Earth.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan, Nova Shine and Twilight Sparkle are being told the story about Nova's namesake, Nova Shine I, and they are informed that Nova Shine I blamed himself for Envy's creation and exiled himself from Equestria the very day she attempted to take Clover the Clever's life. In actuality, it was because he was actually the present-day Nova Shine, and he was freezing himself in stasis so he could return to his own time in the present.
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    Film - Animated 
  • Frozen (2013): Elsa retreats to the mountains and builds a "kingdom of isolation" when her ice powers are revealed to the people of Arendelle. When her sister Anna finds her and tries to bring her home, Elsa tells her "I know you mean well, but leave me be".
  • The Lion King (1994): Simba, on the "advice" of Scar, runs away from the Pridelands after he's convinced that he killed his father.
  • Madagascar: Alex exiles himself into fossa territory after his primal instincts show and he nearly kills his friends.
  • The Powerpuff Girls Movie: The girls exile themselves to the Moon upon finding out they were duped into helping Mojo take over the city and made everyone hate them even more.
  • In The Prince of Egypt, Moses' departure from Egypt was an act of self-exile, unlike in the source material (where he fled to escape punishment) and The Ten Commandments (where it is his punishment).
  • The rooster Chanticleer from Don Bluth's Rock-A-Doodle gets in a tussle with another rooster, and neglects to crow up the morning sun. When the sun rises without his prompt, the farm animals laugh him into exile. He turns up much later in the city as an Elvis expy.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Aquaman (2018): King Atlan went into exile after his experiments caused the sinking of Atlantis.
  • Star Wars
    • Yoda exiled himself to Dagobah after Anakin became Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire was formed.
    • Like Yoda, Obi-Wan exiled himself to Tatooine and changed his name to Ben so he could remain near the infant Luke.
    • The Force Awakens: Luke was tasked with training Han and Leia's son, Ben, who was showing signs of turning to the Dark Side. When his efforts proved to be in vain and Ben became Kylo Ren — wiping out the New Jedi Order — Luke, feeling that he failed his family and the galaxy, exiled himself to a far-off planet, doomed to be the last Jedi once more. The Last Jedi expands on this, revealing that Luke holds himself responsible for Ben's turn because Luke sensed darkness in him and, for a moment, was ready to kill Ben before he fell to the darkness. In his time since, he has become far more cynical and jaded with the Jedi as a whole as a result.

    Literature 
  • Levi Zendt from James Michener's novel Centennial became an outcast among the Pennsylvania Dutch community, and departed for The Wild West. There, he founded a homestead, farmland and a trading post. Many years later, he returned to make amends, but his kin still regarded Levi as an amoral apostate. Levi returned to Colorado, where he divested himself of his heritage.
  • Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein about a brilliant physician who creates a living man from salvaged corpses. His creation, however, has serious flaws, and cannot assimilate into human society, a la All of the Other Reindeer, which begins his first exile into the rugged mountains. However, after hearing that his creator planned on getting married, the creature returned to ruin Doctor Frankenstein's happiness by slaying his bride-to-be. Now a murderer as well as an abomination, Frankenstein's monster departs for the frozen north, planning to live in solitude to the end of his days.
  • I, Claudius: In two separate instances (about ten years apart), both Marcus Agrippa and Tiberius voluntarily ask for, and receive, permission to leave Rome to reduce tensions between rival factions supporting other potential heirs of Augustus (Marcellus in Agrippa's case, Lucius Agrippa Caesar and his brother Gaius in Tiberius's). Tiberius also wanted to get away from his wife Julia (the daughter of Augustus, whom he'd married for political reasons but whom he hated; in the television series, it is presented as the main reason for the exile, and that it wasn't voluntary).
  • Judge Dee: In "The Chinese Maze Murders", the judge finds the reason for which a brilliant official voluntarily ended his own metropolitan career and buried himself in a town of the Tartar border, refusing even a request by the Emperor to resume his duties: Yoo Shou-chien discovered that where he had tried to practice exemplary virtue during his life, he had entirely failed to transmit any of those virtues to his eldest son. As said son later commits several murders, including an official magistrate, and plots to create his own satellite kingdom, not to mention despoiling his father's second wife and son of any belongings, you kind of see his point.
  • Towards the end of The Magicians, Quentin Coldwater exiles himself to the Muggle world in the aftermath of his foolhardy journey to Fillory which resulted in the death of his lover, Alice. It's not much of a penance considering that he quickly descends into yet another life of sloth and self-indulgence in order to escape from his guilt, and his arrogance returns once he starts thinking himself more mature for abandoning magic, so it's really just an extension of his earlier self-pity. After meeting fellow exile Emily Greenstreet and witnessing the depths of denial the two of them are descending to, he gradually realizes that he isn't becoming a better person at all, and abandons exile in favor of returning to the magical lifestyle with his friends.
  • In Tales of the Magic Land, Urfin Jus goes into a self-imposed exile twice, both times after a failed attempt to conquer the eponymous land. In both cases, the heroes contemplate sending him into an actual exile, or even imprisoning him, but decide that the universal ostracizing of The Usurper by the people would be punishment enough.
  • In the Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note franchise, Sunahara goes into this after the twelfth novel The Valentine Knows. His several brushes with Japanese Delinquents makes everyone in town to believe he is one himself, which causes him to decide to leave the town.
  • At the end of the third arc of Warrior Cats, Hollyleaf reveals that she murdered a Clanmate, and claims that she can't stay with her Clan now that "everything is ruined". She runs into a tunnel, attempting to leave the territory, and is presumed dead in the ensuing rockfall. She survives, but stays away from her Clan out of shame and as a self-imposed punishment before returning over a year later.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Since the beginning of the series in 1963, this is the main premise of Doctor Who, in which the Doctor abandoned his own people and stoled a TARDIS to travel into time and space, almost always preferring Earth and its inhabitants. Inverted at the end of the Second Doctor's final season in The War Games, in which fellow Time Lords exiled him to Earth not before an execution that forced him to regenerate into the Third Doctor.
  • In the Lost episode "Confidence Man", Sayid exiles himself from the group because of his guilt in torturing Sawyer.
  • M*A*S*H: When Colonel Potter finds out that the reason he was offered a post stateside is that negative reports were coming from his own M*A*S*H unit, he is so demoralized that he takes the offer out of the shame he feels for having somehow failed. He takes the offer initially, that is. Once Captains Pierce and Hunnicut weed out the anonymous reports as having come from a mole in the outfit, Colonel Potter recants.
  • Machos: After being expelled from the family by his Archnemesis Dad, Ariel Mercader decided to self-exile to Spain, coming back several years later, when the series starts to claim his last name back.
  • In Smallville, Clark put himself into self-imposed exile after feeling responsible for Martha's miscarriage.
  • At the end of Torchwood: Children of Earth, Jack leaves Earth in self-loathing after his lover Ianto died and he was forced to kill his own young grandson, due to an alien invasion partially caused by his earlier morally questionable dealings.
  • In the post-credits scene of the final episode of WandaVision, Wanda exiles herself to an isolated cabin in the mountains to better study the Darkhold.

    Myth and Legend 
  • Moroccan traditional tale: An unlucky man named Akbar in one version (the Morocco version has this to be the local sultan), explodes in a fart in the middle of the market place, loud enough for everyone to hear - as the place is crowded with people. The man is ashamed and goes into hiding, and lives the life of a hermit for several years (varies from ten and up to 30 years at the most), until he thinks it safe to return to his home town, because now people surely have forgotten the incident. Coming into town, and the market square, he spots a new building he has never seen before and asks a boy when that building was erected. The boy answers accordingly:
    That building was finished 13 years, five months, and six days after the fart of Akbar.
  • Oedipus left Thebes after he discovered he murdered his father and married his mother.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Dwarf Slayers are dwarves who have committed some sin that can only be forgiven by death. So they dye their hair orange, shave it into a mohawk, and go out to fight the biggest, ugliest thing they can find to get a Mutual Kill. But dwarves are nothing if not stubborn, murderous little bastards, and many find themselves surviving battle after battle against ever-more dangerous foes, and gaining epithets like Trollslayer, Giantslayer, Dragonslayer, even Daemonslayer, that only bring them shame because it's a reminder that they still failed to reclaim their honor.

    Theatre 
  • In Slowgirl, Sterling is in one of these to Costa Rica after realizing he was the head of a Ponzi scheme perpetuated by his business partner and best friend, and breakdown of his marriage. While he genuinely didn't know about the former, he still exiled himself to the Costa Rican jungle because of guilt and his awareness that everyone thought he did know.

    Video Games 
  • In Arcanum, the former king of the dwarves Loghaire Thunderstone has stepped down from his throne and exiled himself to a derelict mine known as the Dredge, ashamed at himself for banishing the Black Mountain clan and allowing elves to interfere in the dwarven justice system.
  • According to the lore of Brave Frontier, Vargas left the Agni Army after losing to Lava.
  • Doom Eternal: The Betrayer of Argent D'Nur exiled himself to hell as punishment for helping the demons conquer his homeworld. When the Doom Slayer comes for him to repair his celestial locator to find the remaining hell priests Valen tells him that he told him and the other Night Sentinels to leave him here and that he is where he belongs.
  • At the end of Path of Exile, the god Innocence, deeply regretting being a Jerkass God, intends to set off in his own path of exile southward to the coldest region in the world, intending to return when he feels worthy of redemption.
  • At the end of Ultima V, Lord Blackthorne goes into self-imposed exile in penance for being manipulated by the Shadowlords into imposing his totalitarian rule on Britannia and perverting its Eight Virtues.

    Web Video 
  • Don't Hug Me I'm Scared: In episode 3, The Tree tells the story of Micheal, a boy who was hated by everyone for being ugly and found a cave to live in.

     Western Animation 

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