Just when you thought you were out, they teleport you back in. The hero who comes out of retirement for One. Last. Mission. is one of the great cliches of science fiction. Here are twenty heroes who can't go quietly.
The "old soldier who gets dragged out of retirement" story is a great old chestnut. Last week, we were wondering what comes after the "young hero gets called to his/her destiny" story and the "hero tries to reject his/her heroic calling, with disastrous results" story — and the "older hero tries to retire, only to get drafted back into service" story is certainly one of the classics that comes afterwards. It's just that it comes long, long after the "young hero is called for the first time" story.
We won't touch on its close relative, the "getting the old starship crew back together" story, in this post — but we'll deal with it next week. For now, though, here are 20 great heroes who didn't quite manage to give up all the excitement for good:
Widowmaker by Mike Resnick
Who comes out of retirement? Jefferson Nighthawk, the awesome bounty hunter also known as — wait for it — the Widowmaker.
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? Nighthawk was frozen for a century to keep a deadly disease at bay. But now the costs of his care have risen, plus there's a dreaded assassin causing chaos on the frontier, so Nighthawk has to come back out of retirement one last time.
Heretics Of Dune by Frank Herbert
Who comes out of retirement? Miles Teg, military genius and former Supreme Bashar of the Bene Gesserit.
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? Bene Gesserit Mother Superior Taraza seeks out Teg at his family home on the planet Lernaeus, hoping he'll mentor the new Duncan Idaho. And then he gets drawn into a sinkhole of intrigue, torture and super-speed powers.
Doctor Who: Battlefield
Who comes out of retirement? Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, retd.
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? Strange, ominous goings on! Arthurian knights in power armor. England's greatest need! But mostly, the Doctor needs someone to give him his yellow roadster back.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, "All Good Things".
Who comes out of retirement? Jean-Luc Picard
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? He starts having weird timey wimey stuff, involving a crack in space. Everybody thinks it's just a crack in his brain, until they learn better. Sort of.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Who comes out of retirement? Spock
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? He's on the verge of embracing universal logic through the Kohlinar ritual, and becoming some kind of logial monk, when V'Ger calls to him. Also, Kirk sort of comes back from his semi-retirement behind a desk.
Metal Gear Solid: The novelization
Who comes out of retirement? Solid Snake, a former agent of FOXHOUND.
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? Worldwide crisis, man! Genetically engineered agents are stealing warheads, and only another genetically engineered ubermensch can stop them!
The Last Colony by John Scalzi
Who comes out of retirement? John Perry and Joan Sagan.
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? They're needed to lead a new "seed" colony of 2500 people, representing people from 10 existing colony worlds.
Use Of Weapons by Iain M. Banks
Who comes out of retirement? Culture agent Cheradenine Zakalwe.
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? He's had enough of doing the Culture's dirty work, but Diziet Sma needs him to do one last job — and Zakalwe will make them pay handsomely this time around.
Who comes out of retirement? Former "Blade Runner" Rick Deckard
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? Fellow "Blade Runner" Holden got shot, administering a Voight-Kampff test to a Replicant, so Deckard has to step back in. If he doesn't agree to play along, he'll just be one of the "little people," and we all know what happens to them. And don't ask who the origami unicorn sings for — it probably sings for you.
X-Files: I Want To Believe
Who comes out of retirement? Fox Mulder
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? The FBI promises to call off the manhunt for the elusive Mulder in return for his help in the search of several missing women.
The Affinity Trap by Martin Sketchley
Who comes out of retirement? Alexander Delgado
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? Alexander is asked by Earth's military dictator to escort alien Seriatt named Lycern on a diplomatic mission.
Who comes out of retirement? Nite Owl II
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? After the murder of a former colleague Nite Owl can't help but return to old habits especially with Silk Spectre and Rorschach egging him on.
Chindi by Jack McDevitt
Who comes out of retirement? Hutch
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? In a desperate attempt to find Spacefaring alien life Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchkins accepts one final flight in search of an alien race.
Masters Of Science Fiction, "Awakening"
Who comes out of retirement? Major Albert Skinner (Terry O'Quinn)
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? The X-Files' cigarette smoking man seems to have trouble keeping his alien invasions under control, so he calls on the retired UFO professional to help him out, in this segment based on the story by Howard Fast.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Who comes out of retirement? Wildcat
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? Lonely and depressed and sparring with Batman in his boxing gm, he decides to venture out into crime fighting again to see if he's still got it.
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Who comes out of retirement?Col. Jack O'Neill
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? After the Stargate is deciphered, he's recalled to duty because he's the only guy who can handle the situation.
The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
Who comes out of retirement? Constable Moore
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? Constable Moore gets back into his powered Hoplite armor for the war against the Fists of Righteous Harmony.
Who comes out of retirement? Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? After Luke Skywalker's adoptive parents are killed Obi-Wan decides that it is finally time for Luke to assert his role as a Jedi.
The Fifth Element
Who comes out of retirement? Korben Dallas
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? As a former major in the Federated Army's Special Forces Korben finds himself accidentally entangled in an Apocalyptic race against time.
Escape from New York
Who comes out of retirement? Snake Plissken
Why can't they let an old soldier rest? After robbing the Ferderal Reserve Depositiory, Snake Plissken, a former soldier is one of the U.S.' most infamous criminals. He's called out to rescue the President after he's been taken hostage in the country's largest prison, New York.
This list is really only scratching the surface of a venerable cliche. What classics did we leave out?
Additional reporting by Alexis Brown, who heroically stepped into finish writing up this feature after Comic Con ate our brains. And thanks also to Ashley Edward Miller, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, Richard Hartzell, James Limbach, Chris Hsiang, Georgie Thomas and Drax Ireland, plus anyone else I missed.