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You know, just leaving the rest of the kids behind to waste their "non-prophesized lives" away;

"Of course you're welcome to Thorn Valley, there's plenty of education for everyo- ooh, you're not a Messiah, are you? Yeah, public school's down the street..."

Your Hero hears The Call and, desperately wanting to fight evil aliens or demons or whatever jumps at it eagerly only to be told "Nope, sorry, not who we're looking for". Often the rejected party will become an antagonist and get powers of their own somehow, but sometimes they just become annoyed and bitter. And envious.

May be a Secret Test of Character.

Compare Missed the Call, when the Call went to you by mistake and was aimed for someone else. Contrast Refusal of the Call, where the hero is the intended recipient of the Call, but isn't interested. See also The Unchosen One, where they get over with it and still doing heroes' thing.

Examples of Refused by the Call include:

Anime And Manga

  • In The Twelve Kingdoms, there's Yuka, an Ordinary High School Student who doesn't really fit into class, and spends all her time reading fantasy-stories and dreaming of going to another world - somewhere she'd BELONG! Then, suddenly, a mysterious, golden-haired Bishounen appears at the school, searching for a missing queen... and finding Yuka's classmate, Youko Nakajima. Yuka, eager to escape her dreary existence, talks Youko into bringing her along into the Twelve Kingdoms. However, as Youko manifests more and more 'specialness' in the other world, Yuka finds it harder and harder to convince herself that SHE should really be the 'Main Character', with her desperate need to be 'important' eventually driving her to become an antagonist. At the end, however, she realizes that Youko is somewhat Blessed with Suck, and that she's lucky to be just a 'side-character'. Understanding that she DOES belong back in the 'real world', she returns home with a smile, intending to live a normal life. And failing, but that's another story...


  • In The Matrix, after Neo takes the red pill and joins Morpheus, the Oracle tells Neo that he isn't The One. Except he is, and the Oracle is just a Manipulative Bastard. Some of the dialogue is consistent with an alternate theory that she was telling the truth, just not the whole truth; he wasn't The One yet because he had to accept it and believe it first.
  • In The Incredibles, a Buddy Pine wants to become Mr. Incredible's sidekick, and Mr. Incredible refuses on the grounds that it's too dangerous. Buddy later becomes Syndrome, the Incredibles' arch enemy.
  • Tai Lung of Kung Fu Panda. A Kung Fu prodigy, raised by Master Shifu, trained to be The Chosen One... but then, just as he was about to receive the Sacred MacGuffin, the Old Master declared that he was unsuited, causing him to flip his lid and attempt to prove his strength against the master. (Which, as always, is a bad idea.) In the end, the REAL Chosen One turned out to be Po, an overweight Ascended Fanboy panda. When Tai Lung breaks out of prison, the first thing he does is, of course, to track down Po and challenge him in order to prove his supremacy. 'cuz dammit, The Call was SUPPOSED to be for HIM!
  • The Kit in A League of Their Own. The league scout has no real interest in her and only recruits her because her older sister won't join without her. This builds up resentment on her part (she had already spent her life in her Dottie's shadow) that culminates when the Dottie goes to the bosses saying they just can't play on the same team anymore (hoping to be traded) and accidentally gets her little sister shipped off to another team.


  • In Orson Scott Card's Homecoming series: Elemak becomes his younger half-brother, Nafai's sworn enemy, mostly because the Oversoul chose Nafai over him, thereby stealing his legacy (He was slated to be heir to their father's trading fortune, before Volemak signed on 100% to the Oversoul's cause). The Oversoul admitted later that Elemak would've been Its first choice as leader, but couldn't trust Elemak not to hijack the entire expedition for his own purposes.
  • In The Saga of Darren Shan, it's Darren's best friend Steve who wants to become a vampire. Mr Crepsley tests his blood, declares it "evil" and refuses, causing Steve to vow to kill Crepsley when he grows up. This is made worse when Crepsley makes Darren a (half-)vampire; although Darren only did it to save Steve's life, Steve thinks that Darren conspired to deliberately ruin his dreams. Years later, Steve reappears, in league with Darren's enemies and out for blood.
  • There's a Dragonriders of Pern short story called 'Ever The Twain' about a pair of twins called Neru and Nian who live in a hold on Ista Island. Neru is fanatic about dragons and desperately wants to be a rider, and Nian doesn't really give a damn. Dragons come on Search and find Nian to be acceptable, but they pass by Neru until Nian convinces them to give him a shot. Neru is quite resentful, even though he Impresses a bronze, but he gets over it.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40000 Deus Encarmine, Rafen's Backstory: Koris rejected him for his arrogant independence, Rafen walked out into the desert on the verge of despair and nearly let a scorpion kill him when he thought he saw a vision and was encouraged by it; then he realized that the Blood Angels shuttle had been crash-landed. He found the Space Marines dead or out cold and rallied those young men who had been chosen. Koris recovered and concluded that Rafen had learned his lesson, so he got to be The Hero anyway.
  • Antigra in the Redwall book Taggerung is convinced her son Gruven should have been the Taggerung (the chosen super-warrior) rather than Tagg, the hero of the book. She raises Gruven to be as bitter about it as she is, and everything goes horribly wrong for both of them because of it. It's even known among those that really know Gruven, as during the time that he's tracking Tagg he is whiny, an ineffective leader, and all-around useless. No wonder Valug Bowbeast and Eeffra abandon him.
  • In Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, their is a flashback to Lily and Petunia arguing on the train platform. Petunia had written Dumbledore asking to attend Hogwarts, but was refused, because she was not magical like Lily.
  • In Tim Powers' The Drawing Of The Dark, there is a background character who believes he is the reincarnation of King Arthur, and that he has been summoned to Vienna to resist the forces of Suleiman. He continually tries to foist his tactical opinions on the local leaders, and reawaken the memories of his Knights of the Round Table. Sadly, while he was right about King Arthur being reincarnated, it was not him, and by the end of the story he is a drunken pitiful wretch, and somehow cobbles together a set of armor and a horse and charges alone against the Turkish army. It ends exactly the way you would expect that sort of thing to go.

  "Many are called. Few are chosen." - Aurelianus

Live Action TV

  • Arata Kagami of Kamen Rider Kabuto attempts to become the titular rider only to have the Kabuto Zecter pair up with Tendou
    • A bit of a subversion, because Arata gets the powers of The Bee for a brief time and then becomes Gatack.
  • Adam Milligan of Supernatural, despite being already dead, is fine and dandy with the idea of being The Chosen One, coming Back From the Dead to team up with an archangelto fight the Devil and Save the World. Too bad he's just being used to force the REAL Chosen One into accepting the charges for The Call.
  • Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger: Emiri and Sugishita were initially in line to become AbareYellow and Blue, but their bodies cannot sustain the transformation and the respective Bakuryuu go to Ranru and Yukito. Later happens to Emiri again when she gains temporary superpowers and attempts to become "AbarePink" with them, but ends up turning herself into a pig instead. She can't catch a break.

Video Games

  • Riku in Kingdom Hearts. Maleficent (and the Word of God) says that the keyblade was originally meant for him. What Maleficent doesn't tell Riku was that it was his own fault the keyblade rejected him and chose Sora instead. Had Riku waited one more night and left with his friends on the raft the next day, he would have gotten the keyblade and likely remained their leader as they went on a world-saving adventure. Instead, he gave into his impatience (perhaps with some whispering temptation from the Darkness), and opened the door to his world's heart, allowing The Heartless to spill in and consume that entire world and everyone in it. Riku's two friends only survive thanks to the keyblade, and all three of them are split up from each other and lost. Sora has to go save the world and find his old friends with a new set of friends.
    • In Birth By Sleep, Ven desperately wants to help Terra and Aqua on their mission and sneaks out to do so, but they constantly turn him down and tell him to return home. This is because they want to keep him out of the Big Bad's hands, since he's an important component of the Big Bag's plan. But they can't tell Ven this because it would cause him to remember his traumatic past. Naturally, Ven goes along anyway, does remember, and becomes an emotional wreck. Ironically, at this point they do allow him to join them, because there's nowhere else to hide... but by then Ven's enthusiasm is long gone.
  • Possible Secret Test of Character version in Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater. The protagonist, Snake, is tasked with hunting down and killing his mentor, "The Boss." She's waiting for him right where he's supposed to be inserted into Soviet territory, beats him soundly with her bare hands, and tells him to go home, because he can't defeat her. She sends each of her subordinates after him one after another, which he beats, and each time Snake encounters and fights the Boss, he does better in their hand-to-hand encounters until he's finally good enough to be able to defeat her. Since her mission was to be killed by him, it seems the entire operation was one giant Secret Test of Character to strengthen him up.
  • Dragon Age Origins has a lethal version of this. The Joining that all Grey Warden initiates must undertake to become full Wardens forces them to take in a less virulent but still eventually lethal version of the Darkspawn Taint by drinking a cocktail of Darkspawn blood, lyrium, and Archdemon blood. Not everyone survives drinking it for whatever reason.
  • Epic villain archetypes in City of Villains were refused by the call, so they hacked the database of people who were chosen for the call and added themselves to the list. Then it gets confusing.
  • Sarkli in Star Wars Rogue Squadron 3 has his accomplishments (including personally saving the lives of Luke Skywalker and General Dodonna on Yavin IV) completely ignored in favor of Luke going and grabbing Dodonna from his hiding spot in the first place, then he gets left behind on Dantooine while Luke flies off to rescue Tycho Celchu by himself. It's no surprise that he promptly defects to the Empire where his talents will actually be recognized.
  • In the games Pokemon HeartGold And SoulSilver, Ecruteak City's gym leader Morty is a case of this. He trained for years believing that he would be the one chosen to summon the legendary Ho-oh back to its home, but then the player shows up and takes that role instead. He takes it much more gracefully than many examples of this trope.

Western Animation

  • Legend of the Dragon has the "turns evil" variety where Ling becomes Shadow Dragon when she's unable to become the Golden Dragon.
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