The day has finally come. You’ve been told that you are the only one who can stop what is to come. You must fulfill the prophecy and take up the mantle of the chosen one. You are destined to save everyone from the peril that awaits; to put your life on the line and ultimately triumph in the end. Maybe. If things work out that way. The prophecy gets kind of vague. Everyone is counting on you to play your fated role.
You absolutely refuse.
You didn’t ask for this. No one prepared you to be “the one.” Prophecies aren’t even real, and there are a thousand other people more qualified for the peril and great adventure and brushes with death that no doubt await you. You’d much rather stay at home and live a quiet life, please and thank you. No, no, you will not be persuaded from your decision. Find another chosen one.
This list is dedicated to you, who opted out of answering the call of the chosen one. To all of the prophesied and fated chosen ones who took one look at their future responsibilities and took a hard pass.
Not every anti-chosen one on this list was able to fully turn away; after all, some reasons to answer the call are too compelling to ignore (the death and destruction of everything you love is a difficult one to shrug off), but it took a LOT OF CONVINCING to get you to agree, and by god you weren’t going to make it easy on them for upending your entire life when you did not ask for this, but fine, have it your way I guess.
Here are eight books about chosen ones who absolutely refused their call (at least at first).
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Although there are three main storylines interwoven in this tale of end times, one of the three, and the most important, is about an Antichrist who refuses his calling. Adam, as the son of Satan, is meant to destroy the world (who said the chosen one was chosen to do good, eh?). Except there was a mixup at his birth, and he was given to the wrong family: a kind, absolutely normal couple that would give him a normal upbringing in the English countryside. When destiny comes calling, Adam really isn’t keen on using his frightening powers for their original purpose.
Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
Evie Tanaka has been doing a great job at avoiding the spotlight and keeping her superpowers under wraps. She’s more comfortable in the background, working as an assistant to her superheroine best friend, because her self esteem battery is low and Evie is just struggling to make her day-to-day work, she cannot be a superhero, okay? Until she has to pose as her boss one day, and then everyone knows about Evie’s powers. When a demonic invasion looms, will Evie be able to take the reigns of her life and become the superhero she was meant to be?
John Dies at the End by David Wong
David and John really didn’t want anything to do with stopping the Shadow Men, who are able to make their way into the world via a drug known as “soy sauce” that turns users into vectors for their emergence. David tries everything in his power to ignore the rise in bizarre and terrifying incidences, because he’s not qualified for this, but him and John are some of the rare few who know the horrors that the Shadow Men are unleashing. They’re left with no choice but to try (although David is also given chosen one status by another dimension; he absolutely and wholeheartedly refuses their plea for help).
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
Alex’s deathday is coming, where she will fully come into her powers as a bruja, fulfilling her role as the most powerful witch in a generation. Except she hates it with a passion, and she uses her deathday to wish her magic and the responsibilities that come with it away. She didn’t realize, though, that her magic is intrinsically tied with her family, and they disappear right along with her magic. Alex has to journey through Los Lagos, a strange in-between land shrouded in darkness, to find them, with the help of a brujo named Nova.
Lord Foul’s Bane: The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson
Thomas has recently been diagnosed with leprosy, and it is systematically ruining his life. A weird encounter leads Thomas to accidentally stumble into a road and get hit by a car. When he wakes, he’s in an alternate universe, healed, and the locals claim that he is the reincarnation of a great hero who saved the land from the very evil that plagues it now. He’s destined to help them…except Thomas doesn’t even believe any of this is real. He absolutely refuses to help them, and instead does everything in his power to figure out a way to return home.
That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon by Kimberly Lemming
The last thing Cinnamon wanted was to go on quests. She is a spice farmer, and she wanted nothing more than to stay on her farm and live a peaceful life, until she gets attacked by one of the demons that regularly haunt her part of the world. She saves herself, and in doing so, frees the demon Fallon from the spell he was under. Cin learns that everything she knew was a lie, and who they thought was their protector is a fraud that can only be defeated by destroying four ceremonial chalices. Of course Cin gets roped into helping.
Unchosen by Katharyn Blair
This time, the chosen one does not refuse. The chosen one never had a chance to. Charlotte’s little sister, Vanessa, is the chosen one, who is (according to legend) destined to end the curse that turned most of humanity into flesh-eating monsters. When a group of alarmingly smart zombies come looking for the chosen one, Charlotte lies to take her sister’s place, to both protect her and buy them time to fulfill Vanessa’s legendary role. Charlotte can’t keep her unchosen status a secret much longer, although in the end, it may be the unchosen one who saves them all instead.
Un Lun Dun by China Miéville
Zanna and Deeba stumble upon a secret entrance to a Wonderland-like version of London where all the lost and broken things of the city also find themselves…but that’s not all they find. Their presence apparently fulfills an ancient prophecy, where Zanna is the chosen one destined to help defeat the forces of darkness. When Zanna takes up that mantle, however, everything goes wrong. Not only is she unable to help them, but she takes so ill that they have to return to London. This doesn’t sit right with Deeba, who has to return alone to help them…and she might just be the one to save them all.
And there we are! Quite a mixture of reluctant chosen ones, chosen ones who flat out refuse, and unchosen ones taking up the reigns when the chosen one couldn’t.
Looking for more literature on chosen ones in general? Look no further: