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An older character who is still perfectly capable is suddenly faced with mandatory retirement, is despondent at being forced to give up a career and income they enjoy, and is made to feel useless.

The other characters resolve to help the potential retiree and the plot usually concludes with the management cancelling the relevant policy and allow the older character to stay on board for as long as they are capable.

For the opposite of this trope, see Mandatory Unretirement.


Comic Books

  • Setting aside the workplace theme, this is what happens in Watchmen when all capes except the Comedian and Doctor Manhattan are forcibly retired by the Keene act. Some are okay with it, some are not.
    • And Rorschach, once again proving he's on the extreme of everything, leaves a note on a dead rapist outside a police station which just says "Never".
      • Oddly enough for this trope, the only capes forced to retire are the younger ones; the Comedian is in his sixties by the time of the story (making him somewhere in his fifties when the Keene act was put into place), and Doctor Manhattan is older than that (a year older, but still); all other are in their thirties or forties.
        • That's because the Keene act gave two ways for the capes to stop being vigilantes: Either work under government supervision (In which case they are technically no longer vigilantes) or quit. The choice of which option to take was theirs.
  • The supervillain Junkman in Astro City has this trope as his Start of Darkness.

  Is that it then? It doesn't matter what I can do, what I can think of, what I can create... I'm just suddenly obsolete? Oh, look at the calender time to throw out all the old men, just like so much junk! They're fools, all of them! They don't realize what they had -- What they've thrown away! But I'll show them! Hiram Potterstone will show them all!


  • Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan involved The Kirk breaking out of the retirement from service his admiral-ship demanded of him.
  • Part of the story in Police Academy 5 is that Commandant Lassard has reached retirement age and will have to leave the force after he returns from the conference in Miami. At the end his superiors decide that he can continue serving as head of the Metro City Police Academy as long as he wants.


  • Sgt. Jackrum in Monstrous Regiment was past retirement age, but for constant changes of birth year in the records (and superior officers happy to claim no such person was there to receive discharge papers).
    • Captain Vimes in Men At Arms is retiring to get married. Since even his wife feels that not being a copper takes away his Vimesness, he instead becomes Commander Vimes.
  • A Star Trek Strange New Worlds short story makes Boothby, the Academy gardener, the reluctant retiree. In the end, his job is saved by the cadet who would've been his replacement.

Live Action TV

  • Night Court episode "Flo's Retirement." Ironically, Flo only appeared in one more episode because Florence Halop died of cancer.
  • Richard's forced early retirement is a recurring theme in the British sitcom Keeping Up Appearances, although he's more worried about spending more time with his wife than about leaving his career behind.
    • One of the jokes in the pilot is people congratulating Richard on his upcoming retirement... only to then immediately switch to condolences as they realize what this will mean for him.
  • Subverted in the Are You Being Served episode "Goodbye Mrs. Slocombe" -- in the end, the management expands the policy, sending two other characters to an early retirement (Of course, this is all fixed in the Snap Back). The series also used it straight in a separate episode, where Mr. Grainger is terrified of receiving a cuckoo clock - the standard gift for retirees at Grace Brothers.
  • The Office did an episode about this, with Michael Scott and Creed rebelling against ageism and forcing their boss, Ryan, to back off.
  • Subverted on Scrubs, when Dr. Kelso is forced to retire at 65, but the hospital staff tries to make the board change their minds. With the support of Dr. Cox, they successfully convince the hospital board to alter their policy, but then Dr. Kelso immediately resigns on his own terms.
  • Vic Mackey's impending mandatory retirement ends up being a rather significant plot point in the sixth and seventh seasons of The Shield.
  • Victor Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave.


Western Animation

  • The Raccoons has a twist to the plot in the de facto Grand Finale where Cyril Sneer has a serious health episode due to overwork and his age and retires in favor of his son, Cedric. Eventually, Cyril still wants to help his son so badly that Cedric is forced to all but physically restrain him lest he kill himself with overexertion. Eventually, the episode ends with Father and Son compromising with Cyril partially coming out of retirement as a partner of Cedric who presumably will carry the bulk of the workload.
  • An episode of Word Girl, "Granny's Book Club" had Granny May forced to retire, due to the by-laws of the supervillain union all the villains belong to. However, the rules stated she could stave off retirement if she captured Wordgirl and presented her to the rest of the villains, so she set up the titular book club to capture the word loving hero.
  • Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond only retires from being Batman when health troubles make continuing an exercise in futility. He is rather bitter about this.
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