Follow TV Tropes


Unwanted Healing

Go To

You are afflicted with a terrible illness, oh no! Is it bad? Likely. Luckily a friend or the local doctor has the treatment for your condition. But what is that? You have no interest in undergoing it despite knowing it will heal you? Why is that?

Most people that are sick will wind up taking whatever antidote or treatment they need in a heartbeat. However there are those who for whatever ridiculous reason will turn it down. These reasons may be various, ranging from simply not trusting the treatment, a Greater Need Than Mine, being Afraid of Doctors, to the healing literally harming them. Regardless, they have to take it, even if it means methods like slipping the medicine into food or pinning them down and performing it by force. The alternative can range from prolonged suffering or worst case scenario: a slow, agonizing death.

See also Afraid of Needles, Unwanted Revival and Unwanted Rescue. May result in a Mercy Kill if the person would prefer death over treatment. For the inverse, see Withholding the Cure.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders: Played for Laughs. Polnareff talks about having to disinfect his tongue after Enya made him lick an extremely filthy toilet clean. Joseph making fun of him for it causes Polnareff to turn down his offer of disinfectant and walks away angrily saying he does not need it.
  • One Piece: In the past, when Fisher Tiger, the fishman leader of the Sunny Pirates, was suffering from blood loss after he was attacked by humans, his pirate group seized a Marine ship and was about to treat him there. He refuses the blood transfusion because all of the blood packs available there are from human blood, and he's suffering too much from racism to accept it that he chose to succumb to his wounds instead.
  • Ore Tachi No Party Wa Machigatteiru: The four party members are afflicted with curses by the demon lord. Monk and Chroma are all too willing to find a cure, however Knight and Hime absolutely refuse to cooperate even when given a chance to be cured. Knight just has to carry his sword and the curse will be temporarily lifted but winds up hiding it, refusing to tell his comrades where, and Hime keeps dodging out of the way of the cure spell and went off on her own and became the new demon king, creating monsters. The curse itself is partly responsible for their stubbornness and irrational thinking though, as it affected them mentally and not physically like Monk and Chroma.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: After suffering a serious Trauma Conga Line, Sayaka refuses to have her Soul Gem cleansed of its grief because she believes if it goes completely dark, she will die. This turns out to be a VERY BAD IDEA, as not only is she horribly wrong about what will happen, it causes Sayaka to turn into a witch after hitting the Despair Event Horizon.
  • In Sword Art Online, Diabel refuses a healing potion after being severely injured while leading the raid to kill the first boss. He did this due to guilt; he had manipulated the raid's strategy to improve the chances of his receiving a bonus item for dealing the final hit to the boss. Because Sword Art Online is The Most Dangerous Video Game, this kills Diabel in real life too.

    Comic Books 
  • Prior to the beginning of Runaways (Rainbow Rowell), both Gert and Victor chose to die rather than allow any chance of causing the Bad Future in which Victor became the supervillain Victorious and Gert was the only one left to try and stop him. In the beginning of the series, Chase mistakenly believes that Gert would have wanted to live and thus goes back in time to prevent her death. He also reactivates Victor, because he doesn't know the circumstances under which Victor died, and thus doesn't know that he wanted to die. Naturally, both characters chew him out when they find themselves alive again, and the series shows them both engaging in self-destructive behaviour.

    Fan Works 
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, when Goku starts having a heart attack during his fight with Android 19, it's revealed he never took the medicine Trunks gave him to prevent exactly that from happening. When asked why, Goku replies he never took it because it was grape flavored and he doesn't like grapes due to an allergy to them. He tends to turn purple and start oozing out a purple liquid, according to Tortoise.
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged, Diabel refuses the healing potion after being severely injured by the first boss, just like his canon counterpart. His reasoning, however, is different. In the abridged series, Diabel is Driven to Suicide by how useless the party members he gathered for the raid are and allows himself to die just to be rid of them.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic The Ash any pony effected by the meteorite dust has their magic go wrong turning them all into Ax-Crazy, Brown Note inducingly ugly cultists. They consider this Cursed with Awesome however and react with hostility to attempts to change them back. Fluttershy found that out the hard way.

    Films — Animated 
  • Kung Fu Panda 2: When rescued from drowning by the Soothsayer, Po refuses to take her medicine. She responds with using Pressure points to keep his mouth open so he is forced to drink it.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The 100, the survivors in Mount Weather are severely vulnerable to the ambient radiation outside the bunker, but they've developed a treatment for those who have been exposed: blood transfusion from captive Grounders, who have evolved an immunity to radiation. A small subset of them feel that this treatment is unethical and refuse it, even to the point of death.
  • In El ChapulĂ­n Colorado, there is a patient that has a deathly disease, but he refuses to get cured because he doesn't like needles, saying he doesn't mind dying as long as there are "no potholes on his skin".
  • In the first episode of Friends Ross is being gloomy over his divorce, so Phoebe starts picking at the air over his head:
    Ross: No, no don't! Stop cleansing my aura! No, just leave my aura alone, okay?
    Phoebe: Fine! Be murky!
  • In The Passage, Elizabeth Lear is injected with Tim Fanning's enhanced blood, which cures her Alzheimer's disease but causes her body to fall apart. Her only hope of survival is to allow herself to become a vampire-like being. She chooses to die instead.
  • Scrubs: Rookie doctor JD is shocked when an elderly patient suffering from kidney failure refuses to be put on dialysis. She kindly explains to him that she's lived a long, full life, so she'd rather die peacefully than try to buy a bit more time with painful, ongoing medical treatments. She gets her wish.
  • 1000 Ways to Die: One story involves a woman who became a geophage (a condition where the individual develops a desire to eat dirt) out of extreme stress. Unfortunately, she chose to eat the dirt from her eco-warrior neighbour's garden which was laced with his own waste matter. She later developed a serious case of E. Coli and never bothered to see a doctor, brushing it off as a mild flu, dying from it several days later. It didn't help that she kept eating it even after getting sick and never even tried putting two and two together about it either.
  • In "Bad Seed" season 11, episode 3 of Supernatural, Rowena casts a special on Castiel that causes him to lose control and attack people like a feral dog. When his sights are set on a defenseless human woman, Dean steps in and tries to stop him. Much like one would expect when rabid angel meets Badass Normal, it's a Curb-Stomp Battle. Later, when Castiel is cured, he guiltily offers to heal Dean's painful looking cuts and bruises. However, Dean refuses, feeling like it is his penance for when he beat up Castiel and nearly killed him with an angel blade while under the influence of the demonic Mark of Cain in "The Prisoner" season 10, episode 22.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Worf is paralyzed in an accident. Dr. Crusher offers him a standard treatment that will, over time, bring back some of his mobility. But being a Klingon, he'd rather commit ritual suicide than live as a cripple. Fortunately, the week's guest star has invented a radical but risky new treatment that could restore him completely, if it doesn't kill him first.

  • Deeplight: Selphin refuses to let Hark and Jelt attempt to cure her fear of the sea, as she doesn't trust the mysterious artifact they're using. Her mother tries to force her into it.
  • Earth's Children: Creb refuses to let Iza remove his rotten tooth despite it causing him lots of pain and discomfort, out of fear of the procedure (in fairness to Creb, the series is set in the Stone Age so medical treatments are cruder and riskier compared to modern medicine). He does ask her to lance it and give him herbal treatments to reduce his pain, but as Iza warns him, this isn't a long-term solution and only prolongs his suffering. Iza and Ayla finally talk Creb into letting them take out the tooth.
  • Throne of Glass: In Kingdom of Ash'', Yrene offers to heal Elide's ankle, but it would require rebreaking the bone to reset it. Elide refuses.
  • Worm: In her backstory, Emily Piggot suffered severe injuries in a battle with the biokinetic supervillain Nilbog. In particular, both her kidneys were ruined and she now requires dialysis to survive. She lives in the same city as Panacea, a superhero with healing powers who would be quite willing to fix her injuries, but Piggot's experience with Nilbog has given her a phobic hatred of parahumans in general and biokinetics in particular, and she flatly refuses to let Panacea touch her.

    Video Games 
  • Nightmare in Alice in the Country of Hearts is constantly coughing up blood, but refuses to go to a hospital because he doesn't like needles and thinks medicine tastes gross.
  • Blazblue Centralfiction: After Ragna defeats and mortally wounds Nine, Celica rushes in to try to heal her with her magic. Nine refuses it, saying that she deserves this after all she's done, and when the other villains Izanami and Nu-13 come to their place, Nine gave up her life to power up her special weapon, Requiem, for the final time to buy her friend time to escape.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: Mona is implied to be a necromancer (she sells necromancy skill books) and a Death Seeker suffering from a plague. If you somehow heal her Diseased status through game mechanics she turns hostile and tries to kill you, as she deliberately infected herself to see her loved ones again in the afterlife.
  • In Ensemble Stars!, the Sakuma family suffers from a family condition which significantly impacts their life, making them weak and sluggish during daylight among other things. Rei wants to find a cure so he can help his younger brother, but the broader family is highly opposed to any cure being researched, as they consider the condition to be Vampirism and it is a major part of their identity.
  • In Octopath Traveler, Alfyn discovers that an older apothecary, Ogen, is sick with the same disease that he once had. When Alfyn confronts him about it, Ogen refuses treatment, having no desire to live after losing his wife and then killing her murderer in revenge, so he feels his life isn't worth saving. Alfyn does manage to cure him and convinces him to keep living for her sake.

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In "Wizards Only, Fools!", Princess Bubblegum tries to give Starchy medicine for his illness through an injection, but Starchy refuses to take it and insists on having a magic cure instead. After embarking on an All for Nothing quest to Wizard City only to get a literal "Cold Spell", PB decides to just chant some nonsense and inject Starchy with the needle.
  • Clarence: In "Puddle Eyes", Clarence gets mud in his eyes and thinks he has gone blind right before a vision test. Jeff tries to clean the mud out, but Clarence runs away giggling before he can do so. Jeff eventually tricks Clarence into letting him wash his eyes out near the end of the episode.
  • Family Guy:
    • In "Livin' On A Prayer", the child of a Christian Scientist couple becomes very sick with a treatable cancer, but his parents refuse to take him to a doctor because they do not believe in modern medicine or doctors. Lois becomes so worried she goes as far as to kidnap the child and get him to a hospital against their wishes. The couple change their minds when Lois reasons with them that maybe cures to treat illnesses like cancer came from God answering prayers for miracles and that they should not be taken for granted even if faith in God is believed to be a form of medicine.
    • In "Our Idiot Brian", Brian develops a benign brain tumor which decreases his IQ. When given a chance to have it removed, he turns it down because he prefers being an idiot, much to the dismay of Stewie. At the end of the episode, Stewie tricks Brian into getting his tumor removed, with Brian complaining that he is back to his old, alcoholic loser self.
    Stewie: Hey. We have fun.
  • Futurama: Fry contracts stomach worms from eating an old egg salad sandwich, which do not harm him, but instead improve his body and intellect. When the Planet Express crew enter Fry's body, Leela stops them just before they can expel the worms, saying he is better this way. Fry eventually disposes of them himself anyway and reverts his body to normal, thinking Leela loved the worms more than him. He was wrong.
  • George of the Jungle (2007): George and several other animals are afflicted with a terrible itchy rash, but refuse to take the medicine because it tastes bad. Ape, Ursula and Magnolia eventually trick them all into drinking it, much to George's dismay.
  • Penguins of Madagascar: In "Mort Unbound", Mort is blasted with a ray that makes him bigger, stronger and more aggressive. He refuses to take the antidote and goes on a rampage until Private, who is also blasted and made bigger than Mort, forces him to drink it; and then he doesn't want to return to normal either after the whole thing is over.
  • Rick and Morty: In "Rest And Ricklaxation", a detoxified Morty refuses to have his toxins put back in and runs away to become a stock broker. Played With however, considering he performed actions that allowed Rick to track him down despite his earlier protests, implying he was tired of the whole thing anyway.
  • The Simpsons: In "The Serfsons", Marge tries to get her hands on a special amulet for her mother's magical illness, but she tells Marge she would prefer to pass on, only choosing to keep living because Marge asked her too. The request is taken back as Mrs. Bouvier succumbs to her illness to save everyone from the dragon.
  • South Park: In "Best Friends Forever", Kenny is left in a vegetative state from a car accident and a debate between Cartman and Kyle and Stan on whether to keep him alive or not begins. Kenny tells them in his will he chooses death because he does not want anyone to see him in a coma on national television and that Heaven needs his help to combat the invading legions of Hell.
  • Spongebob Squarepants: In the episode "Suds", Spongebob gets the titular illness and initially refuses to seek medical help until Mr. Krabs sends him home from work. Then Patrick comes along and decides to take care of him himself, refusing to let Sandy or anyone else take Spongebob to a real doctor.

    Real Life 
  • Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to have blood transfusions on the grounds that it supposedly violates the biblical provision against "eating" blood.
  • In April 2018, Stefan Karl Steffansson, who played Robbie Rotten in LazyTown chose to discontinue his chemotherapy, knowing well what that meant. He died on 21 August 2018 due to cancer.
  • One winner of the Darwin Awards was bitten by a rattlesnake and refused to be taken to a hospital, insisting "I'm a man, I can handle it". He instead went to a local bar and spent the evening boasting that he'd just been bitten by a snake before succumbing to the venom.
  • A tragic, but sadly common occurrence in the United States is where people cannot afford hospital treatment due to the exorbitant cost of care and choose to forego medical treatment instead of bankrupting their families or are forced to choose between medicine and essentials like rent or food. It is estimated that at least one in ten Americans is doing this to some degree.
  • One notable case involved a man who had suffered third degree burns over a majority of his body attempting to sue in order to stop his treatment and let himself die. Why? Because in his case, the "treatment" involved daily courses of total submersion in heavily chlorinated water to prevent infection and debriding of dead skin and flesh. All of which are standard long-term care procedures for severe burn victims, but from the patient's perspective basically amounted to months on end of being dipped in acid followed by a full body scraping with a cheese grater with the actual healing proceeding at a glacial pace.