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The children cannot go without me, and I will not go without the King, and the King will never leave his country.

Sometimes even the Reasonable Authority Figure puts Honor Before Reason.

And it seems to be war that does it most often.

The capital is about to be overwhelmed, the king is fighting the battle, but he must go to organize the resistance or abroad to find allies, and he won't budge.

Sometimes, persuasion can do it; sometimes, force is needed; sometimes, he dies in the ruins of the castle, making a Last Stand, usually with his personal guard. (And when he leaves, he is often the last one to do so.)

He may, on the other hand, have his heir sent off, by force if needed. Can lead to A Child Shall Lead La Résistance and the Rightful King Returns.

Compare The Men First; the military commander may refuse to leave troops behind, but will go with them if they can be gotten out.

If the king is supposed to return In Its Hour of Need (but is otherwise dead or canned), that's the King in the Mountain. If your allies are supposed to come help your nation in its hour of need, that's Gondor Calls for Aid.

See also Stand Your Ground.

Examples of In Its Hour of Need include:


  • In Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novel Cain's Last Stand, Cain goes to rescue the governor when Varan's attack is about to overthrow the capital, and persuades him that it is his duty, it will tell the people that he is organizing resistance elsewhere. Alas, the governor is seriously wounded and can not be removed. Worse, Varan can take over his mind and have him broadcast on his side.
  • In John Barnes's One for the Morning Glory, Prince Amatus has to be carried out the ruined capital by force. And his father King Boniface stays and dies.
  • In Lloyd Alexander's The High King, Math the High King stays in the attacked city and dies.
  • In World War Z, Queen Elizabeth II follows her father's example (referenced below) and stays in Windsor Castle "for the duration" of the titular Zombie Apocalypse. She also lets any and all citizens into the Royal estates who are willing to help with the defense.
  • In Ben Counter's Warhammer 40,000 novel Hellforged, Queen Dyrmida's attitude.
  • Turgon, King of Gondolin in The Silmarillion, remains in his city as it falls to the forces of Morgoth, while his son-in-law Tuor and daughter Idril lead the remnants of his people to "safety".
  • In Jerry Pournelle's Prince of Sparta, upheld in that King Alexander leads the final charge of his palace guard vs. the revolutionary Helots. Subverted in that he was a sick old man with an entirely healthy son, who was at that point safely ensconced in the planet's military command center and running the war.
  • In Tom Clancy's The Bear and the Dragon, President Jack Ryan is given the chance to leave Washington when the Chinese launch a Pyhrric nuclear strike (the one missile left after a commando raid takes out the others). He instead elects to stay aboard a nearby naval vessel that he had earlier ordered placed nearby with a special battery of SAMs possibly capable of intercepting an ICBM, knowing that if it fails he'll die along with the city. His Secret Service detail is not amused.
  • In Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet novel Invicible, Geary reflects on how Iceni remains on planet when it is threatened with attack. Having little to go by to judge her character, he takes it as evidence.

Live Action TV

  • In an episode of The West Wing, when it looks like there might be a terrorist attack on the White House, President Bartlet rejects the idea of going to the bunker, saying that when he got out he wouldn't be able to give orders to any of the people who weren't in the bunker and he likes doing that. Leo points out that the Secret Service can take him by force, if it comes to that; Bartlet responds that they better bring more than a couple of guys.
    • There's also the early episode "The Crackpots and These Women," where Josh finds out that as the deputy chief of staff, he's one of the only people who would be protected by the NSC in the event of a nuclear attack. He's very distressed by this and in the end decides to give up the privilege, because he'd feel guilty working with his friends every day knowing that if nuclear war broke out, he'd be safe and they'd be left to fend for themselves. There are any number of smaller examples with this show, but few of them deal with the actual possibility of death.
    • A more definite example is the president of Kundu, who is told while in the U.S. asking for AIDS money that there's been a coup in his absence, flies home anyway and is immediately shot at the airport.
  • After the constant invasions and disasters that have plagued Britain on Christmas in the Whoniverse, the only people that seem to be staying in London during the Doctor Who episode "Voyage of the Damned" are The Queen and Wilfred Mott (who'd turn out to be very important later on).
  • In The Borgias, Pope Alexander VI stays in the Vatican as the French are about to arrive, despite all advice from his cardinals and the fact that they're all leaving. This does not work out as well for the cardinals as for the Pope, because he's able to convince the French king to go through Rome without attacking, then humiliates the cardinals for deserting Rome.

Web Comics


Haley: And second, Azure City's hour of need was, like, three hours ago, and you were there for that.

  • Erfworld: After a Heel Realization, Slately decides that he can not leave the city before his son leads the attack; his son must leave before he leads the attack.

Real Life

  • Truth in Television: Josef Stalin did not leave Moscow when it was besieged by Nazis. He was right; the city did not fall, but if he ran away, the defenders would be demoralized and the city lost.
    • George Orwell, as a consequence, had a scene in Animal Farm where everyone was frightened by an explosion, ducking in fear, and decided to ensure that Napoleon had been there and stood firm because with all his faults, Stalin's courage could not be impugned.
    • Some historians have even pegged Stalin's decision to stay as the key turning point of World War II, the moment when any chance of a Nazi triumph ended. Had Moscow fallen, it's much more likely that the rest of the Soviet Union would have followed...and Japan might have seen it as enough of a sign of weakness that the advocates of the western strategy (war against the Soviets) might have won out against the advocates of the ultimately disastrous eastern strategy (war against America).
  • King George VI was repeatedly urged, during World War II, to leave Britain and seek the relative safety of another part of the British Empire, such as Canada. He refused. Queen Elizabeth was asked why they did not at least send the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret away, and she replied, "The children cannot go without me, and I will not go without the King, and the King will never leave his country." The royal family's determination to remain throughout the war earned them the lasting affection of their people.
    • Winston Churchill likewise stayed in London during The Blitz. However, he was very concerned for the safety of King George VI as the king decided to stay in Buckingham Palace, and the best of the Luftwaffe had maps telling them where to bomb it. He was actually very close to invoking his executive powers and having George forcibly taken from Buckingham Palace to the Cabinet War Rooms.
    • Alfred the Great did that one better. Instead of leaving his kingdom he hid in a swamp until he could gather enough force to return and have an Awesome Moment of Crowning.
    • The Queen Mother, on the bombing of Buckingham Palace: "Finally. Now I can look the East End in the face."[1]
  • Martin Clemens, governor of Guadalcanal in World War II, when the Japanese first landed, stayed with the local natives to help organize La Résistance
  1. The East End was the most heavily targeted area during the Blitz, and was also the poorest and most heavily populated part of London as well.