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


  • 2666:
    • Few of General Entrescu's men — most notably Popescu — stay behind once the Russians get close.
    • Liz Norton leaves Mexico much sooner than the other critics.
    • Oscar Fate, once he realizes that he’s gotten into something way over his head.
  • 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.
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    • 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.
    • 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.
    • The opening scene of the series also features several senior military officers gathering at a hunting lodge to discuss their recent discovery about a conspiracy to start World War III. Then they compare notes and realize that senior government figures are complicit (as is one of the people at the meeting), meaning that there's no one they can trust to bring the information to, and that the nuclear missiles will be launched in just a few days. A chapter or two later, a Four-Star Badass wh wasn't part of either that meeting or the conspiracy is alarmed to start hearing reports about senior generals and colonels who were at the hunting lodge are going AWOL and fleeing as far away from any areas likely to be targeted in a nuclear exchange.
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  • Atlas Shrugged: The job deserters after Directive 10-289. Rather than let the government nationalize their businesses and force them to maintain a system they view as corrupt, they dismantle their businesses and flee off the map.
  • 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.
  • Bazil Broketail: When Thrembode is fending off Baguti who want to rape Besita and kill him for stopping this, his men start deserting as they don't want to die too.
  • 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 Scrape immediately, picking him up and dropping him in with the Weasels, persuading him to abandon the plan.
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  • The Cat Who... Series: In book #14 (The Cat Who Wasn't There), after her and her sister's valuable teddy bear collection is stolen from their house, a furious Grace Utley abandons Pickax and Moose County, moving away and selling her home from a distance.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Cutie: During Clay's summation, Starkweather the mob accountant, quickly realizing the direction this is going, excuses himself and hurries away due to not wanting to be a witness to a murder.
  • Cycle of the Werewolf:
    • Milt Strumfuller attempts to do a short term version of this by driving over to a different town on the night of the November full moon, while also using the opportunity to see his mistress. Unfortunately for him, the werewolf also drove out of town to avoid the hunting parties and runs across him there anyway.
    • Earlier on, a handful of minor townspeople move away from Tarker's Mill due to the werewolf attacks, such as barmaid Elise Fournier.
      ''But she plans to leave the Mills by summer, crush or no crush, this wolf business has begun to scare her. She has begun to think that the tips might be better in Portsmouth. . . and the only wolves there wore sailors' uniforms.
  • 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.
  • The Deed of Paksenarrion: Paks quits Duke Kieri Phelan's mercenary company at the start of Divided Allegiance because she objects to their current assignment to conquer a barony for a former pirate (to pay him back for his help defeating the Big Bad of the previous book).
  • 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.
    • 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?
  • Doctor Sleep: Multiple low level members of the True Knot grow alarmed with the casualties their taking and their leaders growing fanaticism, pack up and flee into the night. Notably, one member who tried to leave with them is refused due to having an infectious disease.
  • 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.
  • The Hardy Boys: : Done fairly often by villains, with varying degrees of success or originality.
    • In the reprint of the Secret of the Old Mill Peters nervously takes his share of the money and runs shortly after the boys are captured, only to be picked up by the arriving police a little before his partners as a result.
    • In the reprint of The Shore Road Mystery most of the thugs try to make a run for it in the climax but are stopped by the boys through Good Old Fisticuffs.
    • In The Disappearing Floor minor henchman Waxie did this not because of the authorities, but out of fear of his boss after he accidentally forgot to raise up the elevator/floor where the title came from, causing his boss to suffer a nasty fall and an injured leg. This action makes him one of the only henchmen in the series who doesn't get arrested, given that the police round up the gang shortly afterwards.
    • Sweeper and Green in The Secret of Skull Mountain were being kept from quitting by their withholding promised money and blackmail material respectively. Fed up with this, they decide to and crack their employers safe to steal that money and evidence before skipping town, but have the poor timing to be doing it at the same time the Hardy Boys are investigating the building.
    • In "Breakdown in Axeblade," the brothers block a road to prevent trucks dumping toxic waste in a national park from leaving before the cops from a neighboring town arrive. One of those cops finds the trucks empty a few minutes later and quips to the Big Bad that his drivers have developed a sudden interest in cross-country hiking.
    • In The Casefiles book "Tagged for Terror," Ted, a member of the baggage theft ring, goes on the run about halfway through the book and is eventually arrested near the border.
    • In "A Killing on the Market," When a courier delivering some evidence to the Hardy Boys sees a pair of books who beat him up earlier, he abandons the evidence and runs for it.
    • In "Bonfire Massacre," chain store owner Nicole Leveaux disappears shortly after the Hardy Boys and Nancy find a map of several buildings targeted by an arsonist in her office. Nicole is innocent, and fled town to avoid being killed by the real culprit after figuring out his scheme.
  • 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.
      • Then, in a somewhat-heroic example, there is Fred and George's infamous farewell to Hogwarts (at the time being run by Dolores Umbridge, later revealed to be a Death Eater). Given how nasty the school had become under Umbridge, the two of them (already Rebellious Spirits who had been waging a covert rebellion with their mischievous talents) decided at last to (very flashily) tell higher education where to stick it and went into business instead.
      • 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.
  • The non-fiction book Igntion! An informal history of liquid rocket propelants describes some of some very nasty chemicals rocket scientists experimented with. On the subject of of Chlorine-trifluoride, he notes that while it can be stored in coated metal containers, if that coating is damaged "the operator is confronted with the problem of coping with a metal-fluorine fire. For dealing with this situation, I have always recommended a good pair of running shoes.”
  • InCryptid: Plenty of Verity's coworkers skip town in the first book after hearing a Covenant agent is in Manhattan. Most make excuses about family emergencies while one is upfront about her reasons.
  • John Putnam Thatcher: In A Stitch in Time, once the "cesspool" of corruption at the hospital is exposed, many of the relatively innocent employees start taking early retirement or transferring to other hospitals before guilt by association sentiment has a chance to rear its head.
  • The novelization of The Karate Kid has Bobby Brown, the student who reluctantly injured Daniel's leg to try and disqualify him, storm up to Kreese after the match, throw his black belt to his sensei's feet, and leave.
  • Killing Time: Mayor Wanamaker and Councilman Brice flee town near the end as loyalties are readjusted and it becomes more clear who will and won't be able to make a deal with the authorities.
  • Louis L'Amour has this happen on occasion. Notably, in The Shadow Riders The Big Bad does this along with the last three decent members of his gang of confederate holdouts after they convince him that everyone else left are just Psycho for Hire's without any loyalty to the cause who just want to rob and kill and would probably see him as an obstacle to this and kill him.
  • The Mad Scientists Club: In the novel ‘’The Big Kerplop’’ after an unexploded atom bomb is dropped in Strawberry Lake, Councilman Abner Sharples gathers his family and heads out of town for a “camping trip”.
  • 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.
  • Dr Talirr from The Outside has a reputation for walking out of meetings or even seminars when she's frustrated.
  • Peter and the Starcatchers: Happens in the Back Story of Cave of The Dark Wind. A cursed treasure aboard a Spanish galleon makes everyone who looks at it except a cabin boy go blind. The men who spent less time looking at the treasure and get their sight back promptly flee in the two longboats, not wanting to risk being blinded again. Only one of the longboats makes it to land.
  • 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.
  • The Power of Five:
    • In Raven's Gate, a museum security guard flees at the first signs of dark magic rather than try to fight it or spread the alarm. This saves his life.
    • In Necropolis, many residents of Hong Kong are fleeing the city and refusing to say why as the Old Ones take over.
  • Prince Jalan Kendeth, the protagonist of The Red Queen's War, is a Dirty Coward for much of the trilogy, and his gut reaction upon entering any kind of dangerous situation is to run away as fast as possible. This becomes a challenge as he becomes magically bound to an honorable Viking who likes to fight and is trying to save his family. A notable example is when Jalan is tasked by a queen of a neighboring kingdom to beat up her teenage stepson — who is also the Ax-Crazy, Sociopathic Hero, Villain Protagonist of the The Broken Empire Trilogy who had just got done killing his father's captain of the guard.
    Jalan: You’re going to tell me it wasn’t by poisoning his mead?
    Snorri: Single combat.
    Jalan (already heading down the hall): We’re leaving.
  • 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...
    • Several of Flagg's lieutenants (Whitney Horgan, Jenny Engstrom, Ace High and Ronnie Sykes) come to realize how nuts he is and plot to flee Las Vegas. Flagg is revealed to be aware of this, but doesn't consider them important enough to bother stopping. Unfortunately, Whitney and Jenny haven't left yet during the climax and die with everyone else in the city. Its unclear if Ronnie and Ace High had left ahead of them or died as 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.
  • Stephanie Plum: In Look Alive Twenty-Five Dalia the deli waitress quits after one too many mysterious disappearances, declaring that it was bad enough when it was just managers being kidnapped but now that anyone who takes garbage out the back door is disappearing she doesn't want to take the chance. That and she's getting frustrated having to answer the same slew of routine questions for the cops every time they show up to investigate the latest disappearance.
  • 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.
  • Swan Song:
    • The day before the nukes, movie theater employee Emiliano quits his job and runs away after a frightening encounter with the Man with the Scarlet Eyes.
    • As Earth House is being hit by the shock waves of a nearby nuke, Sergeant Schorr leaps out of his chair and goes running down the corridor. This proves to be a wise choice, as seconds later the roof caves in, killing or injuring everyone who stayed behind in the control room (including Macklin, who loses his hand as a result).
  • That Hideous Strength: A downplayed example: Ivy Maggs couldn't handle the discussions about opening a decapitated man's head (that was being kept alive artificially) and experimenting with the My Brain Is Big trope, so she declared she'd had enough and left the room. She didn't abandon the good guys; she just walked away from that conversation.
  • Time Spike a (1632 spinoff) features Danny Bostic, one of the leaders of the rioting cons who take over the prison. During the first leadership meeting, Bostic listens to the others propose to kill a large fraction of the others to conserve recourses, and mounts some protests. When their overulled, he goes to work helping them out while secretly gathering men and supplies to abandon his Ax-Crazy allies and flee into the wilderness to set up an independent faction (which he succeeds in doing).
  • The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury: The main characters all abandon the community of Tent City after they exile Josh for a Crime of Self-Defense.
  • 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.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • In Veil of Shadows, the impostor-Bramblestar gives an ultimatum that anyone who doesn't like his commands can leave. Many ThunderClan cats decide to do exactly that.
    • In Darkness Within, several ThunderClan cats have become disillusioned with Clan life and their current leadership, and decide to leave: whether temporarily or permanently, they're not yet sure.


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