So, the Pope resigned.
Ratzinger (as he may rightly be referred to now), voluntarily gave up the power over the entire Catholic church and whatever Babelfish he’d stuck in his ear that could translate the direct commands of God.
This got me thinking about all the times when you might need a really good resignation speech for super legit reasons. Maybe you’re leaving a partner. Maybe you’re quitting a job. Maybe you’re telling God to talk to his own damn kids, you’re not his messenger anymore. Whatever the reason, I think all of us can learn something from these fictional resignations, and apply them to our own lives.
6. For When You Don’t Want to Burn Bridges
Martha Jones, Doctor Who
This is one of those delightful examples of someone who manages to say something they really need to say without being too critical and with no one feeling attacked.
Have you ever felt the need to tell someone that their behavior makes you feel shitty, without blaming them? It’s super difficult.
Sometimes you have to tell your boss that it hurts that he never comments on the quality of your work. Or you have to explain to your partner that the way she leaves toenail clippings on the bathroom floor means that you must leave her forever. Or you have to explain to your friends that by not reading your blog, they are slowly destroying your happiness.
Martha Jones exemplifies the classiest way to do this without playing the blame game. She gives good, rational, professional reasons for her decision to leave, making it clear that the Doctor is not at fault. Then she comes back and says what’s been bugging her for over a year: she likes him, she knows he doesn’t like her, she has to protect herself emotionally. Notice she doesn’t ask if the Doctor likes her back. She doesn’t put any pressure on him. She doesn’t even explicitly state that he “never looked at her twice.” She avoids “you” words at all costs. Then she makes a gesture.
She gives him a phone and says she’ll keep in touch. They end on a good note. She gets her big speech off her chest, he doesn’t have to awkwardly try to make her feel better or lie about his feelings. They stay friends, she gets over him. And that, folks, is how you manage to leave a bad situation and keep from burning bridges.
5. For When You Want to Burn Bridges
Lester Burnham, American Beauty
I don’t like to get too far outside of the realm of sci-fi/fantasy with this blog, but let’s face it, this is a fucking great speech. This is something every single one of us has wanted to do. Not just quit a shitty job, but quit a shitty job with relish.
Not only does Lester look really satisfied through this entire exit interview, he’s typed up a description of sick fantasies and masturbation jokes, and then he mouths along while the guy reads it out loud. That is dedication to your craft right there.
Most of the time, you can never use a speech like this. Unless you won the lottery or you’re prepared for some messed up blackmail, you have to continue kissing ass long after you walk away from a potential reference. But if you are, as Lester so eloquently puts it, “an ordinary guy with nothing to lose,” use this speech.
And then videotape it and send me the link.
4. For When You Want to Come Back
Han Solo, Empire Strikes Back
Youtube does not believe I should show you this particular clip. Clearly it’s because the sheer sexiness of it would melt your eyeballs right out of your goddamn head (and that’s just when Han is talking to General Rieekan.) Here’s a run-down of the speech I mean*:
Han Motherfucking Solo approaches General Rieekan on the Hoth Base, while Leia stares covetously at him from the corner.
Rieekan: Old person noises about going outside.
Han Motherfucking Solo: General, I’ve got to leave, I can’t stay anymore.
Rieekan, totes indifferent: I’m sorry to hear that.
Han Motherfucking Solo: I’ve got a price on my head, if I don’t pay off Jabba the Hutt, I’m a dead man.
Rieekan: A death mark’s not an easy thing to live w–oh, you’re not even paying attention to me anymore, you’re eye-fucking the only female within three hundred solar systems from across the room. Jealous.
Han Solo is already gone. He approaches the Ice Queen.
Han Motherfucking Solo: Well, I guess this is it.
Leia IceBitch Organa, coldly: That’s right.
Han Motherfucking Solo, not taking this shit: Well, don’t get all mushy on me, so long, princess.
This is the greatest resignation speech ever given for two reasons: 1) There’s no bullshit and 2) It is just begging to be rejected. First of all, the professional resignation: he doesn’t beat around the bush, he doesn’t kiss Rieekan’s ass, he doesn’t get emotional. He just says he has to leave and he gives a really good reason for doing so, i.e. his imminent death. When you’re not caught up in “oh, um, I really learned a lot and I loved working here and killing lots of people” you can hear that this guy doesn’t really want to leave. He may want to come back. You will always give that man back his job, because he’s a man and he just does what needs to be done, no bullshit required.
Which leads us to the rest of it. This is the way to say goodbye to a girl if you really want her to chase you down and bring you back. Be distant. Out-aloof her. Say as little as possible. Then piss her off a little bit and add just enough irritation to show that you’re a little bothered by her indifference. Oh, but one thing: you have to be the hottest badass in the universe to pull that off, or she’ll probably just let you go.
[*Note: This dialogue is pulled directly from my memory. Instead of correcting it, just do what I do, and play Han Solo’s voice in your head. Now you don’t care.]
3. For When You Realize You’re Better Than This
Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Okay, I couldn’t find a clip for that one, so I have Michael Scott giving the most ridiculous resignation speech ever, complete with a cliche that isn’t even a cliche. It’s the right idea but, sadly, it doesn’t work out so well for him, so it doesn’t count.
The Buffy scene I’m referring to is the finale in Season 3. Fed up with the Watcher’s Council testing her, firing her Watcher, giving her a new one and refusing to keep Angel from dying, she quits. But she doesn’t rage quit or (holy shit are we sure this is Buffy?) throw a whiny tantrum to get her way. It’s actually very professional.
Buffy: Wesley, go back to your Council and tell them until the next Slayer comes along, they can close up shop. I’m not working for them anymore.
Wesley: Don’t you see what’s happening? Faith poisoned Angel to distract you, to keep you out of the Mayor’s way and it’s working. We need a strategy.
Buffy: I have a strategy. You’re not in it.
Wesley: This is mutiny.
Buffy: I like to think of it as graduation.
This is Buffy at her best, when she embraces her powers and comes up with a kickass plan. She’s not trying to get anything out of the Watcher’s Council anymore, so why would she need to follow their stupid rules? This speech is for that moment when you realize that just because someone is older/more experienced/in a position of authority, doesn’t mean that they’re right. It doesn’t mean they’re better than you and it sure doesn’t mean they get to tell you what to do.
The lesson here is, when you’re in that position, don’t get emotional, keep your head, make your point and don’t take shit from anyone.
2. For When You’re Sick of This Shit
Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, Game of Thrones
The Hound is one of the most interesting characters in the GoT universe, possibly because it’s so difficult to read him. Burned and disfigured by his own brother as a child, he doesn’t lack courage and he has no aversion to bloody deaths or ambiguous morality. Other than helping Sansa in the creepiest ways possible, he seems to have no moral code at all. His nickname comes from contradictory impulses: the fact that he will obey the prince’s orders, no matter how horrid, and the idea that if allowed to do as he pleased, he would behave wildly and without honor, like a mad dog.
The whole show, Clegane never hesitates, speaks up, or acts out. Which is what makes his battle speech so awesome. Fire frightens him and there’s no way in hell that he’s going to face it. So he doesn’t. He doesn’t all the way. When this man is done taking shit, he just doesn’t care anymore. The Hound doesn’t try to run or sneak away or make excuses. He says “Fuck the king” right to Joffrey’s inbred little face.
This speech is great for when you are ready to give absolutely no fucks about your future and you feel like you might as well get some good digs anyway because, hey, someone has to call your boss a dick twizzler. Otherwise, how will she know?
1. For When It’s For the Best
Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones
Sometimes the world wants you to resign because it’s For The Best. It’s like being politely asked to quit. You’re getting too old to be an action star. You’re no longer the hot young thing at your work. You’re the hapless fiance/unfortunate obstacle keeping the two romantic leads apart in a romantic comedy.
At this point in your life, it’s better to give a moving resignation speech and pass the torch to a new, capable hero who can carry on the legacy, right?
When the world tells you you’re too old for this shit, make four sequels. When the producers take your iconic hat and try to give it to Shia “Shit-the-Bed” Labeouf, as they do in second 55 of the video above, you take that shit right back. They can pry it from your cold dead hands. Resign when you hate your job, resign when you want to move on, resign when you have nothing to lose.
But sometimes resigning isn’t the way. Sometimes you have to go down fighting.