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Tomalak: First, Captain, you will return the traitor Jarok. Then you and your crew will surrender as prisoners of war.

Picard: Do you seriously expect me to accept those terms?

Tomalak: No, Captain Picard, I expect you won't. You have thirty seconds to decide.

Picard: I do not require one, Tomalak.

The villain has the upper hand, and is being particularly smug and verbose. He may be outlining his plan, demanding the hero's surrender, his cooperation, or even offering a chance to join him. A typical villain gives the hero time (never much) to consider this proposal. But this is not always necessary.

There are cases where the hero replies to the villain's ultimatum without missing a beat.

This can work one of two ways:

A: Usually in the form of a Shut UP, Hannibal, a Get It Over With, or simply a giant "Fuck you," the hero tells the villain exactly where he can stick his ultimatum. Bonus points for offering a counter-ultimatum.

B: The villain offers what he believes to be some sort of Sadistic Choice, which the hero makes without any thought whatsoever. (A third option may or may not be involved.)

Reasons for this may vary. The hero may have come to their conclusion before the villain was even finished speaking, or even before even getting in his current predicament, and was simply being polite in letting him finish. Or he may find the villain completely batshit and was just waiting to see if what he was hearing would get any worse. He may not be the type to think before speaking, or his situation may not be so hopeless as it seems. One way or another, the villain isn't going to get the satisfaction of watching the hero squirm.

A Sister Trope to Defiant to the End.

Examples of Screw Your Ultimatum include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Naruto, Madara is explaining his "Moon's Eye Plan", threatening the Five Kage with war if they do not cooperate and surrender the remaining two jinchuriki. TheRaikage's response is exactly what one would expect.

 Madara: That is my goal, my "Moon's Eye Plan!"

Raikage: *about a millisecond later* DON'T FUCK AROUND!

 Gile: I asked you to come to me because--

Vald: I refuse.

Gile: I haven't told you what I want yet.

Vald: You cannot possibly be up to any good. I have no intentions of helping you with your plans.

  • In the "Into the Blue" arc of Full Metal Panic, Kurz Weber answers Guen Bien Bo's 'join us in our mutiny or die' ultimatum by explaining that he has a much better plan: "I'll kill you, ask Tessa for a picture of herself in a swimsuit as a reward, then make copies of the picture and sell them to the other guys on the ship for twenty bucks apiece!" Then he brains Bo with a fire extinguisher.


  • Men in Black. The Bug has taken Laurel hostage and is threatening her.

 Bug: Put your weapons down!

Agent K: [Without missing a beat] Never gonna happen, insect.

  • In Iron Man, Tony Stark has been captured by terrorists who are demanding that he reproduce his newest weapon for them. Tony responds with a blunt "I refuse".
    • He accepts later... but only after he's subconsciously begun to form an escape plan.
    • A compressed version happens later, during his One-Man Army rampage in Gulmira. Several of the terrorists try to take villagers as hostages in order to hinder his ability to repulsor-blast them. Except his suit AI is fast and accurate enough to shoot them all dead in a matter of seconds.
  • In The Princess Bride, when Westley and Buttercup come out from the Fire Swamp and are caught by Humperdink and his men, Humperdink yells "Surrender!". Westley's response: "You wish to surrender? Very well, I accept."


  • In the Left Behind book Armageddon, Carpathia issues the following to the defenders of Jerusalem: by the count of three, if there is silence for fifteen seconds, then that means that the defenders will surrender to the GC. The defenders' response: shooting their guns into the air, Tsion and Buck included.

Live Action TV

  • The page quote comes from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Defector," where Picard's Enterprise is staring down three Romulan Warbirds after extracting a defector out of Romulan space.
    • With good reason in this case, Picard was Crazy Prepared with 3 cloaked Klingon Birds of Prey holding a surround on the Romulans
  • We see a double example in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Extreme Risk," the captain of a Malon freighter holds Voyager responsible for the destruction of another of their ships and announces that they're taking Voyager's new probe as compensation and demands that they immediately leave orbit of the gas giant in which it's currently trapped (presumably under threat of violence). Janeway, never one to take anyone's crap, reminds him that the other ship tried to steal their probe and was destroyed going into the gas giant after it, against Voyager's warnings. When he continues to press the matter, insisting that their people are salvage experts and Voyager has little chance of getting to the probe first in any event, Janeway just smirks and busts out this little gem:

 "We have a little expertise of our own; we're a very determined crew, so my suggestion is that you leave orbit, and in the future, if you come across anything that bears the insignia of the USS Voyager, head in the other direction."

  • Lost offers a non-heroic version. Season 3 "I Do" sees Ben on the operating table, with Jack warning the Others not to pursue Kate and Sawyer or else he'll let Ben bleed out. Juliet immediately calls his bluff and orders the hunt.
  • An example in Firefly, when Zoe tries to buy back her captain and her husband, who are both held hostage. She then uses Wash's piloting skills to launch a surprise attack on Niska's base and rescue the captain.

 Niska: But, this is only enough for one! Ah, now you have to--

Zoe: (points to Wash) Him.


Zoe: Oh, I'm sorry, you were gonna ask me to choose, right? Did you want to finish?

  • In an episode of Castle, Detectives Ryan and Esposito are captured by the Villain of the Week and are given an Ultimatum: Tell the bad guys what they want to know and die a quick painless death or "Jerk us around, and by tomorrow, you will wish you were." They take one look at each other and respond.

 Esposito: Yeah, we're going to go with option B.

Ryan: Yeah, we're totatlly gonna jerk you around.

Video Games

Western Animation

Web Original

Real Life

  • WWII General Anthony McAuliffe's one-word response to a surrender ultimatum.
  • In 1940, Benito Mussolini demanded that Greece open her borders to allow Axis force occupation or face war. Allegedly, the Prime Ministers reply was just one word: "No."[1] Although Hitler's invasion of Poland, one year before Greece's denial, is generally accepted to be the official start of WWII, this got them involved.


  1. According to historians, the reply was actually "Then, it is war", but the sentiment was the same.
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