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Take A Third Option / Anime & Manga

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  • In Naruto, The Power Trio of Nagato, Yahiko and Konan is cornered by Hanzo, who has young Konan as his hostage. Either Nagato had to kill his best friend Yahiko, or refuse and let Konan die. What happens in the end? Yahiko takes the third option: commiting suicide by grabbing Nagato's hand, which held a sharp kunai, and stab himself with it.
    • The Chuunin exams in one of the first arcs plays this slightly differently: the point of the insanely-hard test is to force the student ninja to cheat, so either they get caught cheating and are kicked out, or they prove their ninja skills by cheating without getting caught. Naruto turns in his test completely blank, and Sakura works out the answers herself. Both of them pass because they were never caught cheating.
  • While he rarely lets enemies limit his freedom to just two options, the Crazy Awesome Magnificent Bastard Lelouch Lamperouge in Code Geass constantly turns the tide of seemingly lost engagements by doing what nobody would expect of him, i.e. always taking the hidden "third" option.
  • The ending of Darker Than Black leaves Hei with the choice whether to envelop Hell's Gate — and Japan with it — in his quantum powers, allowing the Contractors to exist without fear of interference but isolating Japan from the rest of the world (and possibly killing off every non-contractor inside), or do nothing and let the humans destroy Hell's Gate, killing off the other Contractors and returning the world to normal; this choice is Hei effectively choosing whether to be a Contractor or a human. He decides to pick 'both'; his personae, combined, ruin the weapon intended to destroy Hell's Gate. This breaks the masquerade in the process and leads to an open human/Contractor coexistence.
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  • In Half & Half the third options are ignored. Shinichi and Yuuki are in the void with the voice that originally told them that one of them had to die after 7 Days. Shinichi asks if they can pick third options: Both die or both get to continue to live, with the current restrictions. The voice tells them no, one of them has to die. Yuuki was originally chosen after discussing it, but after Shinichi hears a voice coming from Yuuki about wanting to live, he realizes that she's pregnant with his child and chooses to die himself so she and the child can live.
  • Case Closed: Due to a series of events, Ran is on the brink to find out that Conan is Shinichi. This Leaves Conan with two options: Either continue to lie to her (which would make her figure it out sooner or later) or telling her the truth (putting her in danger). He is about to choose the latter until Haibara shows up threatening him... and giving him a third option: Introducing the temporary cure to the apotoxin, he turns back into Shinichi and has Haibara dressed like Conan, "proving" that the two are different individuals
  • Used in an episode of Trigun involving two lovers on the run from a slaver caravan. Said caravan is en route to a fortified city which will only grant entrance to travelers with a special key, which happens to be tattooed on one of the runaways' arm. The protagonists are faced with two options: help the couple elope, thereby stranding the caravan outside the city and condemning its inhabitants to slow death by starvation, or return them to the caravan, forcing them into a life of slaving and/or slavery. Instead, Vash fakes the runaways' deaths, thus allowing them to live free and sparing the caravan from responsibility for losing the key - nobody is going to blame them for the Six Million Double Dollar Man's actions. The trope is explicitly claimed in Nicholas Wolfwood's closing monologue: "All along I thought there had to be a sacrifice, but there was another answer: Vash the Stampede".
    • In a later episode, in response to a nasty Hostage Situation that is clearly a trap for all concerned, Wolfwood initially favors rushing in as the only course of action that will leave any of them alive. However, he adds...
      Wolfwood: I know a guy who whines and cries until he finds a way to save everyone. A man who takes a stand, though it scares him from head to toe. And he's right here.
    • This is in fact Vash's standard policy in a hostile situation - try to find a way to let everybody live. At one point he suffers a Heroic BSoD when he can't figure out how to save everybody in time and is forced to kill the bad guy before he can harm anybody else. When he finally snaps out of the Heroic BSoD he promises that next time he'll find the third option.
    • This, combined with an examination of pacifism, is the Central Theme of the story. In the backstory, we see a moment when Vash and his twin Knives disagree over how to save a butterfly from a spider's web. Knives simply crushes the spider, while Vash complains that he wanted to save both. Knives points out that this policy would only result in the spider starving anyway. This is the essential conflict: Knives maintains a monoperspective realism about the relationship between humans and his race, while Vash idealistically seeks an alternative that allows everyone to benefit.
  • Examined as the subject of ⅓'s episode of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, though focusing on everyday third options. You know, the ones where you cannot make up your mind in a choice between two desirable options, and ends up choosing a third, undesirable option instead, and then ends up regretting it later on... Everyone together now: I'M IN DESPAIR!! BEING TROUBLED WITH CHOOSING SOMETHING AND ENDING UP SELECTING A THIRD OPTION HAS LEFT ME IN DESPAIR!!
  • While Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is fond of the heroes choosing difficult options, Episode 26 has a moment when the Anti-Spiral re-explains the consequences of using the Spiral power, then asks Simon if he is willing to destroy the universe for a "fleeting emotion." Simon grips his controls, glares through his star-glasses and declares he will save them both: the girl and the universe. Then he destroys the enemy by blasting through space and time.
  • This was a common tactic of Gon, the Kid Hero of Hunter × Hunter. In particular, in the beginning, the three heroes find that Only Smart People May Pass through town on their way to the Hunter Exam, in the form of a purely hypothetical Sadistic Choice that must be answered immediately with an "A" or "B" response. The two Kid Heroes figure out, by carefully examining the rules for loopholes and using their Super Senses to hear someone that got a "right" answer screaming in the distance, that silence is the real right answer, as no such decision should be taken so lightly. They then have to explain this to The Watson, who only passed because his moral outrage initially stunned him into silence for the duration of the time limit - outrage because no such decision should be taken so lightly. Later, in one of the official rounds of the tourna- I'm sorry, I mean Exam, this trope is played much more straight. Having picked up another hero and a by-then-revealed Lovable Traitor, and progressing down a timed dungeon of trials on a strictly all-or-none basis, they are told they must choose between leaving two people behind (presumably the Lovable Traitor and one close friend and take the short path to victory, or all run out of time together taking the long path. Gon, being All-Loving Hero, refuses either, and since the doors are right next to each-other, he gets them to open the door to the long path, and work together with the LovableTraitor to dig through the wall to the short path.
  • In Rave Master, the main character had to choose between killing his girlfriend or dooming the whole of time to destruction at the hands of her out-of-control powers. Haru instead elects to Take a Third Option, sealing Ellie's powers to stop the threat and spare her life; his Well-Intentioned Extremist opponent, having failed to consider such an alternative due to his eagerness to Shoot the Dog, is broken down in defeat. This trope also played a part in a Prophecy Twist that foresaw the scenario, but lacking appropriate context, implied that Haru really did Shoot the Dog.
  • Gash in Zatch Bell! is given the choice of either saving a friend and dooming the rest of the world or letting the friend die and save the world from the threat. He takes the third option of first saving his friend, then the world.
  • In Cowboy Bebop, Spike is given the choice of surrendering or watching a mook put a bullet in Faye's head. Considering Spike is known to be a gunslinger of godlike ability, and that he's pointing a gun straight at said mook's head, you'd think they'd have foreseen his taking the third option...
  • Near the end of Case 6 of Ghost Hunt, the main cast finds out that the haunting is being caused by a a curse that the students of a school unknowingly put on the vice-principal. There are only two ways to end the haunting: allow the curse to complete, thus killing the VP, or turn the curse back on the students, possibly killing all of them in the process. At first it seems like Naru is going to take the latter of those two options, but then he takes a third option: he has Lin create effigies of all of the students, and those effigies are destroyed when the curse 'turns back on the students'.
  • In Irresponsible Captain Tylor, Earth is caught up in an inter-galactic war. Tylor is put in command of the whole fleet, ready for the big face-off with the approaching enemy fleet. All-out conflict seems inevitable, and no-one is sure whom will come out the victor. When the time comes, he gives one order - "Full speed ahead". The enemy commander, Dom, who's Tylor's Worthy Opponent, gives the same order. Members of both sides are screaming at them to order the attack, all while the ships get closer and closer to each other. Their respective flagships get close enough for them to physically see each other, and Tylor goes to the window. Standing there, he sticks out his hand, as if to give the order to attack, and Dom does likewise. Gun batteries are readied. The tension is unbearable. Then Tylor slowly and deliberately salutes the enemy commander, who, seeing his plan, returns and holds the salute until their fleets pass harmlessly by. War averted, both sides win.
  • Al of Fullmetal Alchemist does this when Kimblee asks him which option he and Edward will choose: getting their original bodies back or saving the world. Al asks why they can't do both, and goes on to explain that striving for what shouldn't be possible is the road to progress. Kimblee turns right around and deconstructs the trope by suggesting that, if the third option exists, there must then be a fourth option: fail in both their goals.
    • In the climax of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Edward finds the solution to recover Al's body without either using a Philosopher's Stone or sacrificing another human. He gives up his Portal of Truth, which is what gives him the ability to perform ANY alchemy.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Setsuna is forced by Evangeline in a Secret Test of Character to either be a cold, limitless swordswoman to better serve her princess Konoka or take her happiness beside the girl and live her life in peace without protecting anything. She choose to have both.
    • This comes up again in one of the later chapters, post 250, where Setsuna having lost, more or less, to the crazy swordswoman who's got a crush on her, believes she may actually have to give up on happiness, or leave protecting Konoka to others. She fails to notice, and it fails to interrupt her inner conflict, when a weapon comes flying out of a nearby fight. She slices with weapon in half without even breaking stride, leaving dear Konoka standing in awe. Konoka then proceeds to berate her, convinces her to make up her mind, and then we finally get the kiss we've all been waiting for. Well, most fans have been waiting for...
  • In Maoyuu Maou Yuusha the Hero doesn’t choose between the Demon Queen and Lady Knight, the Light Novel series ends with the three of them, and only them, deciding to retire and travel together to some faraway place to live quietly.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Heero Yuy given the choice to either give Wing Gundam to his enemies or have them slaughter everyone in the colonies by a Lady Une who's in full puppy-kicking mode. What does he do? He calmly steps out of the cockpit, says his mission in life is over and pushes the self-destruction button, destroying his Gundam and almost killing himself in the process. That way Une won't have the Gundam, but she won't be able to kill the colonists due to the intervention of her leader Treize.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and its sequel, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, has the patented method of resolving the wars of the Cosmic Era by building up another faction that proceeds to wipe the galaxy with the original sides.
  • Busou Renkin, with the tendency of Kazuki, the main character, to always choose a third option, even actually calling them out loud while doing so in certain occasions. The series also cruelly mocks this by revealing Kazuki is really using a Black Kakugane and is actually Victor The Third. Yeah. The Third.
    • Kazuki is faced with the choice to either use the white kakugane on himself and save his own life, or use the white kakugane on Victor and save the world. With Papillon's help he comes up with a third option of simply making another white kakugane and saving them both, but the white kakugane doesn't work entirely on Victor. So obviously he comes up with the fourth option of sending them both to the moon and supposedly killing both of them.
  • Bleach:
  • In the "Land of Adults" chapter of Kino's Journey, a little girl (a younger Kino) is given the choice between death and a brain surgery that will render her a cheerful slave to her job. Hermes offers her a third option: escape and become a traveler.
  • Subverted in the original Yu-Gi-Oh!. Crazy-Prepared Marik sets up the Yugi vs. Brainwashed and Crazy Jounouchi (Joey) duel in such a way that there can't be a third option to take. If one wins, the other dies due to being dragged into the sea by an anchor that he's cuffed to. If one tries to forfeit to help the other, both will die. If someone else tries to interfere from the outside, a girl (Anzu/Téa) taken hostage and strapped to a seat near to the arena will be crushed to death by a HUGE metal box dangling over her head (in the original manga, she's Brainwashed and Crazy and has a pill of lethal poison that she'll swallow on command). And if they try to stall the Duel, the anchor is set to a timer that will drag them both into the sea after a set time. How did this end up? Yugi still takes a third option: debrainwashing Jounochi and willingly setting himself to die. Then Jounouchi takes his as he manages to save Yugi and sets himself to die. His sister Shizuka/Serenity (in the anime) or Kaiba (in the manga) rescues him. Oh, and in the anime, Kaiba saves Anzu right before Jounouchi almost perishes, since she had saved his brother Mokuba earlier; in the manga, the pill falls harmlessly from her mouth when Marik stops his brainwashing.
    • The video game adaption adds a simple option: Draw.
    • Ending a duel in a draw is also one of the very few ways that both duelists in an Orichalcos duel can escape with their souls intact (which, apparently, Dartz's Co-Dragons were aware of.)
    • Played straighter in the final duel between Dark Yugi and Dark Marik, where Dark Marik sets up a Dark Game where the winner would lose the soul of their host or other personality; however, unbeknownst to everyone but Dark Marik, Dark Marik could live without his dominant personality, since, unlike Dark Yugi, Dark Marik is not a spirit living in a host body, but is merely a split personality. This is foiled when the original Marik finally gains the spiritual strength to switch places with Dark Marik, and then peacefully surrenders the game, eliminating the evil personality for good.
  • Happens in Akagi where Akagi wins a mah jongg game by making what would appear to be a stupid, illogical move. When asked to explain himself, he says "I'm not limited by your reasoning".
  • Sailor Moon will find a way to save everyone, specifically in the anime. Even when every other soldier is captured, she's beaten to a pulp, and the ONLY way to save the world is to give the bad guys what they want, Usagi will use the power of love, the power of friendship, or straight-up luck to save the world and her friends—and usually the bad guy, too.
    • Although in the Manga - Sailor Cosmos tries to take a third option by traveling to the past in the guise of Chibi-Chibi and convincing her past self to destroy the Galaxy Cauldron and the newborn Eldritch Abomination inside it. This is shot down when Sailor Moon realizes that destroying the cauldron won't actually fix anything - said Abomination would be destroyed, yes, but the scenario would just repeat elsewhere. So no matter what happens, millions will die in a war against an invincible enemy. ...yay?. She still manages to take a different third option, by purifying the Cauldron of Chaos' influence rather than destroying it or letting it remain as is. It's not a perfect solution as even that won't eliminate Chaos permanently, but it's better than the alternatives which would leave Chaos entirely unchecked, or similarly set him back temporarily and doom the galaxy to a slow death.
  • Prunus Girl: Ambiguously-crossdressing Aikawa puts Maki on the spot about what gender he regards him as by giving Maki a choice of two candies to feed him—to turn him into a boy or girl (respectively) in body and soul. Maki feeds Aikawa both.
  • Attempted in Shitsurakuen. When Sora rescues Tomoko, Tomoko asks to be released back into slavery as she doesn't trust Sora's protection. Sora thinks about the situation and transfers Tomoko to a male accomplice for safety. The accomplice is actually the Big Bad in disguise. Oops.
  • At the climax to the "Chapter of Egg" in Princess Tutu, Kraehe has captured Prince Mytho and challenges Tutu to a competition to win the affection of Mytho's feelings of love. What Kraehe is counting on is the fact that if Tutu confesses her love for Mytho, she will disappear. This being Princess Tutu, the show where the main character routinely uses her magical ballet dancing to accomplish her goals, so no points for guessing what happens next.
  • Saint Seiya:
    • A rather beaten up Pegasus Seiya is cornered by Dark Action Girl Ophicus Shaina and Silver Saint Crow Jamian. Problem is, he's holding Saori Kido in his arms and cannot fight directly since they're atop of a cliff and she'll inevitably get hurt. The enemy says: "Either fight us or hand us the girl". What does Seiya do? He asks Saori if she trusts him, she says she does, and then they hug and jump off the cliff together. Since it's late at night, Shaina and her partner cannot go for them; Seiya is unconscious for quite a while, but he manages to buy time for himself and Saori.
    • In Saint Seiya Soul Of Gold, the Heel Face Turned Deathmask can't kill his rival Fafner, or a group of children that Fafner is holding hostage will die, and he certainly can't let him off the hook either. So... he finds Heroic Resolve thanks to the cheers of the children, and after activating his temporary God Cloth, he uses a brand new technique to submit Fafner to a Fate Worse than Death, chained forever in Yomotsu Hirasaka between life and death.
  • My Bride is a Mermaid has the young mermaid Sun saving an Ordinary High-School Student Nagasumi's life, but upon doing so and letting him see a glimpse of her - she broke the code of secrecy between merpeople, and their existence will be revealed to humans. To keep the secret, either Sun or Nagasumi must die... but Sun demands Nagasumi to marry her instead so neither of them will be executed.
  • In Yu Yu Hakusho, Doctor Kamiya uses his powers to infect the city with a horrible plague. He informs Yusuke that the plague will disappear if he dies or is knocked unconscious, since he is maintaining it with his powers. Doctor turns out to Feel No Pain, making it impossible to knock him out. Doctor orders him to choose: break his Thou Shall Not Kill creed, or watch as the innocent people die horribly. Yusuke punches him into the sky, knocking him out of range and unable to maintain the plague.
    • The trope doesn't apply uncut. In the uncut version, Yusuke actually does land a blow that stops his heart, but Genkai revives him with a chest compression. Still, it's enough to break his psychic territory, and although Yusuke is relieved Doctor Kamiya was revived, Genkai assures him that in his case (a policeman's dilemma), deadly force was justified.
    • The demon Raizen attempted to devour a beautiful human woman who worked as a medic, only to discover that she had incorporated all manner of poisons into her body. The Lady Doctor calmly says that if Raizen devours her he'll die within hours, and adds that killing her wouldn't accomplish anything in the end. So what does he do? He seduces her. And they become Yusuke's ancestors.
    • After Hiei's soul gets taken away at the beginning of the Chapter Black arc. Kaito explains that they have two options. Kuwabara decides that they have a third option. To leave Hiei behind and move on without him. This option isn't viable for Kaito however.
  • In Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA, Illya calls out to this trope specifically, when the Big Bad tells her that she must choose between saving Miyu's life or saving the world. Illya responds that she's going to strive to find a way to do both, and even points out that the whole point of the Holy Grail is to grant wishes that are supposedly impossible.
  • In ep 4 of Umineko: When They Cry, Battler is given a choice between killing the person he loves most, himself, or everyone else on the island. But since he doesn't have anyone that he loves, he elects Beatrice to that spot and chooses her. This is pretty ironic considering he marries her in Ep 6.
  • Almost at the end of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Madoka Kaname is in a very tight spot. If she doesn't become a Magical Girl, the witch Walpurgisnacht will destroy her city and probably kill a bunch of people she cares about. But if she does become a magical girl then she'll become the witch Kriemhild Gretchen, and destroy humanity. To make things worse, two Magical Girls have died, one became a witch and had to be killed, and the only one left is seriously injured and about to become a witch. What does Madoka do? In this setting, magical girls get one wish. So Madoka does become a Magical Girl... and uses her wish to retroactively erase all witches from existence. Not only does this solve the current problem, it changes reality to the point where some dead characters come back and the show's magical girl system is changed forever. Though it's not without a price, since Madoka must Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence.
    • Attempted earlier by Hitomi Shizuki. She's very troubled, emotionally speaking: she has feelings for a guy named Kamijou, but she knows that her old friend Sayaka does too. Will she just go "I Want My Beloved to Be Happy" and give him up without a fight, or talk to him about her own feelings, completely bypassing Sayaka's? The girl then decides to follow the trope: she explains the situation to Sayaka and tell her to confess to him first, while also warning her that if she doesn't do it, she will tell Kamijou what SHE feels. However... Hitomi doesn't know that Sayaka has her own problems... and then, it gets worse.
  • Happens in Vinland Saga, when Askeladd is blackmailed by King Sweyn with the following command: "You either kill Prince Canute or we will invade your beloved Wales". What does he do? Reveal his identity, kill Sweyn, and allow Canute to kill him, knowing that Canute will grow into a Reasonable Authority Figure and protect Wales. Magnificent
  • In a hentai manga Power Play by Yamatogawa, the protagonist, who is a reincarnation of Evil Sex King, is given a freedom of choosing which Heroine will stay with him, and drain him of the power everyday for the rest of his live, so he won't awaken as the Evil Sex King. He chooses his former familiar who is actively trying to awake him, convincing the heroines that he will stop her from trying to unseal him.
  • In Windaria Veronica is torn between a vow to her late mother to protect her kingdom and her love for the prince invading her kingdom. The solution? Kill him and then herself.
  • In Spirited Away, Chihiro is given a pen of pigs and must choose which of the two among them are her parents in order to free them and herself from the spirit world. Her choice? Her parents aren't there. Counts as Fridge Brilliance as the scene has a double meaning that says that her parents are not pigs and Chihiro is human, not just a mere animal.
  • In SHUFFLE!, when Asa and Rin are faced with either having the half-demon girl Asa use her demonic powers freely despite her psychological blocks about them or have her keep them bottled in until they kill her, what do they decide? Since Asa refuses to use her abilities for her benefit, Rin takes a knife and injures himself gravely to force her use them to heal his wounds. That way, Asa releases the magical energy that endangers her own life, and she does this to save Rin instead of harming herself and others.
  • In Mawaru-Penguindrum, Masako is given a very odd Sadistic Choice: she and Mario have to eat potentially poisoned food as a test from her grandfather Sanbei, who is possessing Mario's body. If she chooses the harmless dish, Mario will eat the harmful one and die; if she eats the poisoned food, Mario will win but end up as his grandfather's Soul Jar and puppet. How does this end? With Masako eating both dishes. She ends up in a coma that lasts several days, but saves Mario from Sanbei's soul's control.
  • One Piece
    • During the Arlong arc, Nami asks Luffy and crew to leave the island and not interfere with her business. Luffy does not want to argue with Nami, but he does not want to leave the island either, so he goes to sleep in the middle of the road.
    • It's not so much a third option, but a fourth option. When someone first comes to the New World, there are three islands that they can go to: Risky Red Island, Mystoria Island, and Raijin Island. Luffy was planning on going to Raijin Island, which Smoker anticipated, because its needle on the Log Pose is the one shaking most violently. However, Luffy and the crew evade Smoker and Tashigi, due to a timely distress call and pure chance as to where their ship landed from their underwater trek; they go to an island the Log Pose didn't even register. Thus began the Punk Hazard arc.
    • Rather nicely lampshaded when Luffy faces Katakuri, who had been this close to defeating him recently:
    Katakuri: "So why have you returned? Have you chosen death over the shame of being called a runner? Or have you seen the difference the truth of the difference in our skills, and come to beg me to allow you to join us?"
    Luffy: "I'VE COME TO BEAT YOU!"
    Katakuri: "I don't believe that was one of the options!"
    • At some point, Capone Bege's beloved wife is captured by her antagonistic brother Charlotte Oven, who threatens to execute the poor woman right there. Rather than abandoning her (even when she tells him to leave her) or surrendering to the captor and his group, he chooses to... blast Oven in the face with his ship's cannon and rescue Chiffon himself.
    • When attempting to peacefully leave Big Mom's crew, Jimbei was forced by Big Mom to choose to either remain with the crew or spin her consequence roulette where Jimbei can lose an arm, legs or his head in order to leave. Knowing that Big Mom has rigged the roulette and he will lose either his or his crew's lives regardless, Jimbei decides to quietly back down in the meantime before openly rebelling against Big Mom with Luffy.
  • In the Grand Finale of SoltyRei, Roy Revant gets the Sadistic Choice of having to choose which of his daughters, bio-child Rose or adoptive kid Solty, will he save from Ashley, the Big Bad. What happens? Roy chooses... to shoot his own arm so he won't have to take Ashley's options. Ashley counterattacks and wounds Roy, but by that time Solty has managed to free herself and attacks him too.
  • Kenichi Shirahama from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple takes one to save Miu Furunji from Junazard, who has gotten her Brainwashed and Crazy and has pit her against Kenichi himself. Instead of seriously harming or killing her in self-defense or letting her beat him to death before she can even recognize him, he decides to smash the helmet she's wearing, which enhances the brainwashing. It sorta works as Miu snaps out of it, realizes what's going on and stops attacking Kenichi... though not completely, as there's a high possibility of her being mentally re-taken.
  • In Kare Kano, when Arima confesses for the second time, Yukino is very troubled over her inability to give him a proper reply. Will she reject him definitely? Will she openly accept his affections? She chooses to reach down and grasp Arima's hand into hers during a student council meeting.
  • In You're Under Arrest!'s first season, Natsumi breaks her arm and Nakajima breaks his leg while trying to catch the rogue officers that cause accidents. They don't want to stay aside in that very difficult case, but at the same time their physical injuries would make them loads. So they invoke the trope via getting a specially outfitted motorbike that lets both of them drive, since Nakajima is in charge of the steering wheel and Natsumi manages the pedals.
  • In Claymore, the eponymous women are able to tap into their Superpowered Evil Side to gain speed, strength and various supernatural powers. However, surpassing their limit will cause them to transform into a monster. During the "Carnage in the North" storyline, an extremely powerful Awakened Being is laying waste to the Claymores assembled there, and Clare realizes she can't defeat this opponent without exceeding her limits. Rather than give in and transform completely, she only allows her legs to change, thus granting her the speed she needs to save her friends.
  • Taken by Ranka in the Vampire Princess Miyu OAV. She must transform her lover Kei into a doll to sustain herself or lose him to Miyu who has her eyes set on him and wants to drink his blood. What does she do? Since she loves Kei so she neither wants to make him a mere puppet nor lose him to Miyu... she transforms him into a Shinma instead. That way they stay together forever in the Darkness, and it doubles as a last laugh to Miyu.
    • Lampshaded right afterwards by Himiko, who tells Miyu that she lost in the end, not as a shinma hunter or a vampire, but as a woman. Miyu at first denies it since she technically did win (the Shinma were vanished), but when Himiko adds the "as a woman" bit, she can't bring herself to speak up and just leaves with Larva.
  • In Suzuka, the lead female Suzuka takes one when her boyfriend Yamato gets upset upon learning that she wants to visit her dead boyfriend's grave one last time, which he sees as a reluctance to truly let go of her past. Instead of complying to his demands and deny herself the chance for closure, or just go there without his input and risking a bigger fight, she calmly asks Yamato to come with her in the cementary trip.
  • In Yes! Pretty Cure 5, Karen finds herself overwhelmed by the various clubs - their stuff is worn out and they want replacements now. Unfortunately for everyone, Karen isn't part of an Absurdly Powerful Student Council and approaches the headmistress for more money. The headmistress urges her to find a third option, which she does - taking the old gear from each of the clubs and re-purpose them for the others.
  • Terry Grandchester takes one in the Boarding School arc of Candy Candy, when he and Candy are tricked into meeting up in the night and caught, which means Candy will be expulsed and Terry punished. Between throwing Candy under the bus to save himself and taking all the blame which will ruin his future, the person decides to call out his father (one of the school's benefactors and basically the only reason why he hasn't been kicked out already) and willingly drop out of school so he can pursue his actual dream of being a succesful actor.
    • A person taking another is vital to the plot. Rather than taking over the leadership of the Andree clan despite his inexperience and the opposition of the older members who see him as Just a Kid or refusing to be the leader and thus leaving the family at the mercy of said older members, William Albert Andree decides to create the fake identity of The Patriarch, Grand-Uncle William Andree, who will become He Who Must Not Be Seen. That way the younger and more problematic members will believe they're under the thumb of an older man so they won't rebel, and at the same time the older members won't be "embarrassed" and "bossed around" in public by a man barely in his 20's/30's.
  • In an episode of City Hunter, Ryo is faced with a rather tough Hostage Situation in a restaurant. The villain knew how powerful Ryo's gun was, so he placed himself in front of a window leading to a crowded street, presenting Ryo with a Sadistic Choice: either don't shoot and let the villain go free, or risk shooting and having the bullet pierce right through him and injure/kill an innocent civilian. Ryo shoots through his hand, slowing the bullet down enough for it to take out the villain without injuring anybody else.
  • Shion of No6, having decided that leaving things as they are is not good and that destroying No. 6 isn't either, comes up with the third option of destroying the wall between No. 6 and West Block. Nezumi calls him a dreamer and an idiot but it kinda works out in the end.
  • Three of these are taken in Sorcerer Stabber Orphen:
    • In the first series — When Orphen is about to save Azalie-in-Childman's-body and Childman-in-the-body-of-Bloody-August-Who-Once-Was-Azalie, the Smug Snake Flamesoul destroys Childman's body, leaving the souls of both Childman and Azalie hanging around by a lifeline since only one can be placed in Azalie's returning body. Orphen's solution is to place Azalie's soul and what remains of Childman's own inside Azalie — then, Azalie becomes pregnant with her and Childman's baby.
    • Also in the first series, and played far less seriously — Orphen is Childhood Friends with Hartia, a sorcerer who badly wants to help him save Azalie/(Bloody August, but cannot leave the Tower of Fangs. Both were fanboys of a certain novel hero named "Black Tiger", and Hartia still adores the character... Three guesses as to who he dresses up as, to give Orphen a hand without actually leaving the Tower. Subverted in that Orphen easily guessed the truth but, realising Hartia's intentions, accepted his help until, thanks to someone else's manipulations, he was led to believe that Hartia was just pretending to help him.
    • In Orphen Revenge Cleao's best friend Lycoris turns out to be a girl who once died of illness and then was revived through her father and sister's a Deal with the Devil with the monster Escalena — and to keep their part of the deal, they have kidnapped and killed several mages, with Orphen as the next prospect victim. Unwilling to allow her family keep doing such shady deeds to keep her alive and also unwilling to let her friends harm the father and sister she still adores, Lycoris decides to kill herself so Escalena won't tie her family's hands and Orphen and Co. will be free. Fortunately, Cleao is fast enough to ask Leki for a fourth choice: to morph Lycoris' blade away and prevent her from taking such a drastic measure.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Jack Atlas and his Unwanted Harem. Will it be Carly, whom he confessed once in the Dark Signer arc? Mikage, his manager who was always on his side? Or will it be Stephanie, the waitress who always serves him his favorite coffee, the Blue-Eyes Mountain? He Dumps 'em All in the final episode and disappears.
  • In Unlimited Fafnir, Yuu figures out a way to save Iris from turning into a dragon against her will, or being killed by his sister Mitsuki, while also stopping the dragon that was attacking the school.
  • Towards the end of Basilisk, when Princess Oboro is faced with the option of either killing her beloved Gennosuke or letting him kill her, her decision is to... go to him, give him an Anguished Declaration of Love... and then kill herself.
  • In InuYasha, Kagome is one forced into a Sadistic Choice by Naraku... He possesses a priestess and has her attack Kagome, trying to force the girl to choose between allowing herself to be killed or killing the priestess in self-defense. Since the other woman is currently committing evil under Demonic Possession, she will be condemned to hell if Kagome kills her in this state; and if Kagome willingly chooses to kill her knowing this, she will lose her holy powers and cease to be a threat to Naraku anyway. Kagome manages to invoke the trope by finding a way to exorcise the priestess of Naraku's possession.
  • In Bloom Into You this happens in a Show Within a Show. A high school girl loses her memory, and meets with three people who knew her. Her schoolmate describes her as highly popular and reliable at school, her younger brother describes her as cold and distant at home, and her lover says that she was willing to show a vulnerable side around her. The main character, facing an identity crisis, feels pressured to "choose" one aspect of herself, and in the original script, chooses the one her lover saw, since she believes that's most likely to be real. However, in the revised script, the main character's nurse tells her that she also sees another facet of the main character, one that the nurse would be sad to lose, so the main character instead decides to be herself and start over with everyone else.
  • In episode 6 of Tweeny Witches, Arusu is forced to decide whether to learn flight magic at the expense of the freedom of a griffon or refuse to rob a griffon of its freedom and be unable to learn magic. She manages to get around this by getting a feather from a griffon that she saved from the special capture squad.
  • In Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Diamond Is Unbreakable, Aya gives Yukako the chance to restore her deformed face if she can identify her face among dozens of faces. The truth is that none of the faces are Yukako's; only if she realizes this will Aya fix her face. Yukako takes a fourth option and asks her boyfriend to choose for her, saying that she will be satisfied with his choice. Furthermore, when he requests to be blinded in case Yukako ends up ugly to ease her pain, Aya is so moved by the couple's love for each other that she restores Yukako's features anyways.
  • In The Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village the titular character tracks down a youkai which is stealing organs from young children for a trafficking ring. When she attempts to reverse the theft the youkai points out many of the stolen organs have already been implanted in sick children. Returning the organs will kill many innocent children while not returning them will kill a small number of equally innocent children. The zashiki warashi responds by rewriting destiny to duplicate the stolen organs so all of the children are saved. Doing so damages her "core" as a youkai.
  • Ooku: The representative of the Shogunate, who is negotiating with the Americans, is put in a position of either signing an extremely unpopular unequal treaty to open Japan to foreign trade (which will delegitimize the Tokugawa Shogunate and cause the hardliners to rise against the Shogunate for bowing to the foreigners), or to refuse to sign the treaty (which will cause the Americans to declare war on Japan to open it to foreign trade). He chooses to bring the Emperor's Court into the proceedings to attempt to stall for time, by claiming he needs the Emperor's approval for any treaty. This unfortunately turns out to be the worst thing to do, as not only does the Emperor command him to refuse, but the direct involvement of the Emperor in Shogunate business ends up delegitimizing the Tokugawa Shogunate and causes the hardliners to rise against it for bowing to the foreigners, now with the Emperor as a rallying figurehead.


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