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Screw This, I'm Outta Here! in literature.


  • Richter in The Affix is a small-time paranormal artifact hunter trying to obtain and sell the gem for profit. Thanks to body armor he survives being shot by a ruthless collector, but decides enough is enough and bugs out. In the sequel he owns his late attacker's artifact stash, having decided to steal it in retaliation.
  • In Animal Farm, Upper/Middle Class stand-in carriage horse Mollie runs away from Animal Farm so she can enjoy sugar and ribbons in her mane, both of which are not allowed at Animal Farm. Given how Animal Farm turns out, one could make a definite case for her being Smarter Than She Looks.
    • It's implied that the Cat (who disappeared a few chapters in) also did this.
  • Both Marco and Cassie do this in Animorphs. Of course, both return, either because It's Personal now or because their conscience won't let them go off the hook so easily.
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    • Elfangor does it too, in The Andalite Chronicles. He doesn't go back until the Ellimist makes him, several years later.
    • And David in The Threat.
  • In The Ashes Series, this becomes more and more common as the Rebel army (not those Rebels) goes from a guerrilla force to an unstoppable international army. Eventually most minor-league baddies will run away or surrender without firing a shot.
    • The author also makes it a point to show this at a personal level; often with the deserter(s) giving a short speech to their companions about expecting to live longer.
  • A mercenary captain's reaction upon learning that a Bolo is active. Though he can't leave as he's already taken delivery of his payment, and his employers would be... unhappy.
  • In The Book of the Dun Cow, Scrape the Otter attempts to get the other animals to desert Chauntecleer's army because he is afraid of fighting Cockatrice. Chauntecleer defies the trope by dealing with Sc rape immediately, picking him up and dropping him in with the Weasels, persuading him to abandon the plan.
  • Trout of the Chanters of Tremaris trilogy tries to do this shortly after falling in with the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits. They don't let him.
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  • Clue: In book 5, chapter 2 ("Midnight Phone Calls"), Mr. Green abandons his duel with Colonel Mustard partway through and leaves to go to bed. Some of the guests also try this in book 7, chapter 9 ("Mr. Boddy's Wild Ride"), as they're terrified out of their wits from the "Monsters of the Caribbean" theme park ride that they're on, but it doesn't work out like they planned.
  • Subverted in Deathlands Homeward Bound. When their mad leader, Baron Harvey Cawdor, comes back without his Elite Mooks from Hunting the Most Dangerous Game, his Sec Men realise that his successor will soon be turning up and quietly slip away. They should have stayed and fought it out, as the Baron's men are so hated by the locals they're all tracked down and killed by the end of the day.
  • Discworld:
    • Part of being an Igor is "getting out before the angry mob arrived." Igors often have long resumes, with all previous employers deceased. As one clan elder said to his soon-to-be-former boss, "We belong dead? Excuthe me, where doeth it thay we?" Igors will also sometimes suggest to other servants that it might be time to take a vacation.
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    • In Making Money, Cosmo's secretary Heretofore gets the hell out once Cosmo's madness reaches its peak.
    • Lovable Coward Rincewind has an entire philosophy based around running away from the plot. It never works.
      Rincewind: I know what's going to happen. I'm going to be dragged into things that shouldn't concern me. And you're just a hallucination caused by rich food on an empty stomach, so don't try to stop me!
      Scrappy: Stop you? When you're heading in the right direction?
  • The Dresden Files:
    • This is Harry's standard response when he runs into something out of his weight class, without anything to even the odds.
    • At the climax of Grave Peril, when Harry is facing down Bianca, she starts by sending her mortal security after him. After a quick display of his power destroys their weapons, they all run away. Considering what happens next, this is probably the smartest thing anything of them has ever done.
    • In Changes, when Harry confronts the Red Court team in his office building, one of them takes one look at him and runs away screaming. Even more impressive, this later turns out to have been one of the Eebs, the Red Court's two most dangerous assassins.
  • Boris Akunin's Erast Fandorin: Punch-Clock Villain Washington Reed does this at the end of Dream Valley.
  • Flashman mentions running away is his default plan B in Flashman's Lady. He mentions in another story that almost all his wounds are on his back, inflicted while escaping, and supposes elsewhere that he's had more fast exits than hot meals.
    Flashman: ...suddenly I saw that there was only one way, and a slender hope at that, but it was that or unspeakable death. The Flashman Gambit — when in doubt, run.
  • Gentleman Bastard: When gang leaders loyal to Capa Barsavi start getting assassinated, the Gentleman Bastards seriously consider skipping town with their fortune of stolen booty and living like nobles in some distant city, but Locke is convinced that he'll be safe enough to finish their latest grift. He comes to greatly regret that decision.
    • Earlier in their lives, while they were apprenticing themselves to a selection of local religions, Jean managed to accidentally enter an inner mystery of the cult of the death god. Upon hearing that this includes such sacred rites as exsanguination and taking a dip with the sharks, Jean decides that he's had enough religion for the moment, waits for sundown, and bails.
  • The Great Gatsby:
    • Rather than deal with the many consequences of their actions throughout the novel, Tom and Daisy Buchanan choose to head to Chicago from New York, leaving no forward address.
    • Downplayed with Nick Carraway. Despite leaving to go back to the Midwest, he still waits a few months before heading back, due to planning for Gatsby's Lonely Funeral, tying up loose ends at his job, and giving some closure to his situation with Jordan Baker.
  • In Halo: The Flood (the official novelization of Halo: Combat Evolved), a Grunt named Yayap goes AWOL just before the final battle. He knows that someone's going to destroy the Halo and kill everyone on it, so continuing the fight would be pointless. He is, of course, right. Halo blows up, and kills everyone on it, including him.
  • Harry Potter
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:
      • Percy breaks all ties with his family over an ideological disagreement, while also thinking they've all fallen for a ploy by Dumbledore to take over the Ministry of Magic, or at least remove the current Minister of Magic. He regrets it later and eventually reconciles with them.
      • When Dumbledore shows up at the Ministry and joins the battle against the Death Eaters, one of them completely freaks out and attempts to escape. He doesn't get far and is bound by Dumbledore near effortlessly.
      • Voldemort himself does this after realizing that he cannot defeat Dumbledore and his plans to obtain the prophecy are ruined anyway.
    • As Dumbledore tells Harry in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Merope, once she had free rein following her father and brother being both incarcerated in Azkaban, wasted little time getting the man she loved drugged with Love Potion so that she'd be with him and away from her abusive family. Indeed, she had already left by the time her father was back home.
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
      • Mundungus Fletcher pulls this on Mad-Eye Moody during the escape from Privet Drive in the same book. Moody ends up taking an Avada Kedavra to the face as a result.
      • The Malfoys' defection from the battle of Hogwarts in the film has shades of this trope.
  • Prior to The Mortal Instruments, after the Circle uprising, Jocelyn Fairchild fled Idris with no intention of ever returning.
  • Near the end of Murderess, Hallwad tries to tell Déaspor he's had enough of her attitude and wants out, expecting her to say that if he wants to go so bad, so be it. Instead, she reacts violently and tells him that his mission is far too important for him to be in any position to do anything like that.
  • Peter F. Hamilton's The Night's Dawn Trilogy: Kelven Solanki is a major POV character in The Reality Dysfunction, but vanishes without a trace after leading the evacuation of the planet Lalonde and fails to reappear in the two sequels, whilst a friend of his who had a smaller role in the first book, Ralph Hiltch, goes on to have a major role in the later books. According to Hamilton, he had far too many characters running and literally just forgot about him.
  • Nina Tanleven: In The Ghost in the Third Row, some of the actors wind up quitting the play out of fear of the ghost.
  • Opera co-managers Poligny and Debienne at the very start of The Phantom of the Opera. Once a Phantom starts skulking around their opera and delivering blackmail demands, they waste no time passing the buck and getting out of the opera business as fast as they can.
  • This is your best chance if you're vermin in a Redwall book. Many books see two rank-and-file vermin given names and personalities decide their boss is screwed and take off. It doesn't necessarily work, though; sometimes the boss finds and kills them for being cowards. As for the two in Salamandastron who ran away at the beginning of the book instead of the end, they would probably have had a higher chance of survival if they'd stayed.
  • Rivers of London: In Moon Over Soho, Peter tells an ambulance driver that a patient has been wired to a bomb, then is thrown into the dashboard as the driver slams on the brakes before legging it out the door before Peter even has a chance to recover from the sudden stop.
  • The white-faced women do this in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Apparently, so do Fernald and Fiona (albeit off-screen).
  • The French soldier Nicholas in Seven Men of Gascony does this, on the reasonable ground that it is more important to support his wife and child than to prolong the glory of a Corsican mobster for another year. He ends up caught and executed.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: In the book Final Justice, Stu Franklin ends up pulling this. On his way out, he warns Isabelle Flanders that they're going to get caught and that they should flee. This may qualify as a Heel–Face Turn. Then, again, maybe not, if the book Cross Roads is anything to go by.
  • Sleeping Beauties: The night before Frank Geary and his posse will attack Dooling's Correctional Facility to get Eve Black, Terry Coombs decides to bail out, realizing he really isn't up to the task as acting sherriff. Frank watches him go, not sure whether to feel pitty for Terry because he isn't man enough to handle the situation, or envy him because he gets to leave before things turn ugly. A more tragic example than most since Terry proceeds to go home and commit suicide.
  • Several failed attempts in The Stand:
    • Army gate guard Charles Campion kicks off the plot by going AWOL with his family after he realizes something's killing people in the bio-warfare lab. Unfortunately that something is a superflu virus, and he's already caught it. And soon, so does most of humanity.
    • Bobby Terry, a minor minion of Big Bad Randall Flagg, decides to bug out when he screws up a major assignment. His attempt is even less successful than Campion's, as he barely even has a chance to start before Flagg catches up to him through Offscreen Teleportation and, well...
  • In Star Carrier: Deep Space, the Slan decide that the Sh'daar deliberately lied to them both about the nature of their current enemy (humanity), and about the nature of the universe. Lying is a big no-no in Slan culture, and their CO tells the Sh'daar equivalent of a Political Officer to STFU. They jump out to present their findings to their government, with the implication that the Slan may be reconsidering their allegiance.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine — A Stitch in Time, which presents the life story of Elim Garak. By the end of the novel, Garak no longer cares for the manipulative politics of his people, and chooses to walk out on a meeting between reactionary officers and would-be-politicians, declaring that he has no place among them.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • For countless eons, the Voidbringers attacked humanity on Roshar in great Desolations, stopped only with the help of the ten Heralds of the Almighty. At the end of every Desolation (or if they died before the end), the Heralds were forced back to Damnation, where they were tortured for centuries until the next Desolation came, at which point they were resurrected to fight again. At the last Desolation, nine of the ten finally gave up, abandoning their oaths and leaving Taln (the only one who had died that time) to suffer the tortures alone.
      Kalak: What do we tell the people, Jezrien? What will they say of this day?
      Jezrien: It's simple. We tell them that they finally won. It's an easy enough lie. Who knows? Maybe it will turn out to be true.
    • Hundreds of years after the Heralds abandoned their oaths, the Knights Radiant discovered "some wicked thing of eminence" that caused every single one of them to betray their oaths and centuries of tradition to turn their backs on humanity and cast aside their Shardblades and Shardplate like trash. By the time the story starts, it is believed that the Radiants (now called the Lost Radiants) actively tried to destroy mankind, but the truth is they just abandoned them to their fate.
  • In John C. Wright's War of the Dreaming, a minor character realizes that a) there are weird things happening, and b) where weird things are concerned, she is completely helpless. As soon as she's rescued, she gets in her car and floors it.
  • At the end of The Wild Ones, the Flealess have seemingly won, and Titus orders his army to slaughter everyone. Then Gayle comes out the sewer and eats Sixclaw alive. Cue a whole bunch of animals sprinting away with their tail between their legs.
  • In World War Z, the mercenary protecting the celebrities in their fortress decides to sneak out the back door when desperate survivors storm the place, on the grounds that he was hired to kill zombies, not people. And while he's leaving on a stolen jewel-encrusted surfboard, he runs into one of the celebrities' miniature dogs, who evidently had the same idea.
    T. Shawn Collins: I like to imagine that if he could talk, the conversation would have gone, "What about your master?" "What about yours?" "Fuck 'em."
  • After Nellie Dean finishes telling Mr. Lockwood the horrifying story of Wuthering Heights, the tenant loses no time finding accommodations elsewhere and getting as far away from Heathcliff as he can.
  • In Stephen Baxter's Xeelee Sequence, the Xeelee, masters of the baryonic universe, face a Hopeless War against the dark matter Photino Birds that are slowly but steadily transforming all the stars into red dwarfs. The Xeelee eventually throw their hands up and build a portal to another universe - what scientists today call the Great Attractor - and flee, but not before scattering their toys around so that the lesser species can flee too.


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