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Take Athird Option / Comic Books

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  • Ratchet in the 80s Transformers comic makes a direct reference:
    "Trusting Megatron doesn't seem a particularly wise course of action. And using this opportunity to escape is no alternative either—he still holds my comrades! I must think like a warrior, as Optimus Prime instructed me. I must think of a third option!"
  • In Lucifer, the titular devil is given two dilemmas in a row, as a ruse in which each choice will insult his hosts and give them an excuse to kill him. He's warned by one of their servants beforehand, and manages to come up with a solution to both of them.
    • Also at the end, God presents Elaine Belloc and Lilith two possible outcomes—that he would either destroy the Creation, which is crumbling in his absence, or restore it to as it was. Lucifer interferes and offers a third option: to do nothing—the most difficult thing for an omnipotent being. God accepts, and leaves Elaine to replace him as the power that binds the universe together.
  • Green Lantern Hal Jordan, in a story arc concerning the Star Sapphire, which had, throughout the arc, taken over both Carol Ferris, his perennial love interest, and Jill "Cowgirl" Pearlman, his current love interest. The Zamarons, who sent the Star in the first place, held them captive and had Hal choose which one to be his mate. In response, Hal kissed one of the Zamaron captors, causing the Star to bond with her, go berserk, and forcing the other Zamarons to take her home to remove the stone.
    • The panel where Hal kisses the Zamaron queen immediately found its way to the Internet with the caption "Hal Jordan Will Fuck Anything", and we're still having fun with that.
    • The third option was lampshaded in an earlier story arc where Kyle Rayner met up with a younger Hal Jordan. Kyle let the villain Sinestro go when he saved Hal instead of pursuing the villain. Hal admonished him by saying he let Sinestro trick him into making a choice when all he had to do was cut the ring-generated rope hanging Hal.
  • Subverted in the conclusion of Final Crisis:Rogue's Revenge when Libra forces Weather Wizard to either pledge allegiance to the Secret Society of Supervillains or watch Libra kill his son. In the end the kid still dies because Inertia gets fed up with the situation and blows him up. Even Libra is dumbfounded after this.
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  • Captain Marvel figures out an appropriate third option between all the superhumans dying and their battle rampaging over the whole world in Kingdom Come. Sadly, he doesn't survive the results. Come to that, Captain Marvel is a Third Option.
    Superman: And that choice—
    Norman McCay's inner monologue: That choice is too big for me. I'm not a god
    Superman: (oblivious)— I'm not a man. But you, Billy… you're both.
  • The Rebels, a futuristic spin-off of ElfQuest, offers this one.
    • As well as this in Quest's End.
  • When Jason Todd (who had been Robin II) came Back from the Dead and went on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, he forced Batman to choose between letting Joker die and killing Jason himself. Batman responded by sending a batarang to cut the side of Jason's throat to send him into shock.
    Jason: If you won't kill this psychotic piece of filth… I will. You want to stop me? You're going to have to kill me.
    Batman: Stop this. Enough. You know I won't—
    Jason: All you've got is a headshot. I'm going to blow out his addled, deranged brains out—and if you want to stop it… you're going to have to shoot me. Right in my face. [...] It's him or me. You have to decide.
    [Batman sends the Batarang. Jason collapses.]
    Joker: You got him!! You expert, rooting-tooting, eagle-eyed, goth marskman sonofa*** ! Ya banked that bat-thingie off the pipe!!! Oh, god!! I love it!! You managed to find a way to win… and everybody still loses!! Except me, my dark little pumpkin pies.
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  • In IDW's Transformers, the defeat of Nemesis Prime leads to an entity called the Darkness to start possessing Optimus Prime. Galvatron gives Optimus a choice: throw himself into a sun before the Darkness takes away his free will, or give it to Galvatron. Optimus's choice? Give Galvatron the Darkness and throw him into a sun.
  • In a recent X-Force issue, as Rahne Sinclair lay dying of apparent complications from pregnancy with a half-Asgardian child, her lover Hrimhari begs a boon of his many-times-great-aunt the Death Goddess Hela and was told that if he surrendered his soul to her she would save the life of either his love or their child (never mind the question of how a first-trimester fetus is going to survive the death of it's mother). He agonized over it for a moment, then pointed at the next bed over to indicate the unconscious form of Josh "Elixir" Foley.
  • In The Sandman volume The Doll's House, Dream's sister-brother, Desire launches a Xanatos Gambit to hurt him by tearing apart his realm: during Dream's imprisonment, Desire discovered that the comatose Unity Kinkaid was a "vortex" (a mortal whose existence causes the Dreaming to break down, destroying the world unless he or she is killed,) but was currently harmless because she was unconscious. Desire secretly raped and impregnated the sleeping Unity, which, unbeknownst to Dream, caused the power of the Vortex to be passed on to Desire and Unity's granddaughter, Rose Walker. If Dream did not kill Rose, the vortex would tear apart the Dreaming, but if he had killed her then shedding the blood of a family member (even if he didn't know she was family,) would have unleashed the Furies to ravage the Dreaming anyway. They end up taking a third option where the elderly and dying Unity is able to track down her granddaughter in the Dreaming and take the power of the vortex into herself again, and willingly lets Dream kill her and stop the vortex. Unusually for this trope, none of the characters were actually aware that they were foiling a plan; Dream only worked out Desire's machinations some time after the problem had been solved, and at the time all the various pawns thought that the existence of the vortex was simply a random occurrence that happened every eon or so.
  • Slade "Deathstroke" Wilson was supposed to choose between his professional honor as a hitman and his son's life; the enemy holding little Joey hostage wanted the information, really, but he hated Slade enough to be perfectly happy to kill the kid. Deathstroke tried to Take a Third Option and kill Jackal. Joey got his throat cut. And now you know why Jericho can't talk in Teen Titans.
    • Adeline Wilson shot her husband in the face and divorced him in reaction. And now you know why Deathstroke has only one eye. This kind of thing works better for heroes.
  • PS238:
    • During the election of class president, when faced with the choice between Straw Conservative Patriot Act and Straw Liberal American Eagle, the entire class chose to vote for Tyler as a write-in candidate.
    • Emerald Gauntlet II (Kevin) and 84 (Julie) explicitly invoke this trope in the "When Worlds Go Splat!" arc.
  • All-Star Superman: When Superman falls under the influence of black Kryptonite, the leader of P.R.O.J.E.C.T. suggests sending him to the Phantom Zone, an option that Jimmy Olsen refuses for being too permanent. At the same time, he can't run free. Jimmy's third option? Turning himself into Doomsday and fighting his corrupted friend to a standstill. He won.
  • In Fables, the North Wind faced a dilemma when he discovered that one of his grandchildren Ghost was a zephyr. Long ago he swore an oath to slay any zephyr he encountered. The North Wind knew that if he killed Ghost, he would forever alienate himself from his son (who already hated him) and his grandchildren. Faced with the impossible choice between breaking his oath and destroying his own family, the North Wind takes another option: he sacrifices himself to defeat Mr. Dark, both to save his son and his grandchildren and to free himself from his oath.
  • In Knightquest, the Jean-Paul Valley Batman chases down the serial killer Abattoir into a steel mill factory. In the chaos, Abattoir ends up falling down and is saved by a hanging chain dangling over a molten pit. The ghosts of Saint Dumas and Jean-Paul's father give him two choices: shoot him and let him die or fire his grappling line and try to save him. Torn between both actions, Jean-Paul chooses a third option: to walk away from it all and let them fight it out. This causes Abattoir to fall into the pit on his own.
  • In Loki: Agent of Asgard, after their evil future self told them that they'll be the God of Lies no matter what they do, Loki was sent to the metaphorical realm to choose their destiny: A) Become like their evil past self B) Die like their predecessor and save the world from themself. Well, Loki being Loki they opted for reinterpreting God of Lies as God of Stories and remaking themself by burning away everything unnecessary. Which meant they only kept their love for their brother and their only friendship. This. Broke. The. Timeline!
  • In The Batman Strikes Issue #41, Harley and Ivy hold someone as a hostage and threaten to kill him if Batman doesn't let them escape. He uses a gadget to quickly rescue the hostage.
  • Discussed in The Transformers: Salvation by Sludge of all bots.
    Sludge: Who cares what's the right way or the wrong way- Dinobots just blast a hole and make our own way.

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