Fear Is The Appropriate Response


(permanent link) added: 2010-10-10 17:45:21 sponsor: WarriorSparrow (last reply: 2010-11-06 07:42:50)

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"It's impossible to kill 'em all, so I usually run away."
- Heihachi Hayashida, Seven Samurai

Usually Played for Laughs. A character is faced with a conflict. The Big Bad or a similar foe has finally been revealed at last. This may be the moment of triumph for the protagonist... however, instead of standing and fighting it like a Hero would do, they do the (usually) sensible thing: freeze, scream, run away as fast as their legs can manage, or a combination.

Also used with a party of two or more, when they are cornered. One asks "What do we do now?" and one says something along the lines of "we...RUN!", often having about a 3 second head start before the others realize what is happening. Sometimes this may be used to save another character, who is completely oblivious to the danger. This, of course, is only one type of example of this trope.

The fear responses ordinarily come in four different types:

1. Stun Gun - Freezing in fear, often just narrowly escaping the foe's notice.

2. Roadrunner - Running as fast as their legs can carry them.

3. Scream of Terror - Screaming (which may or may not work against them)

4. A combination of the three above.

Related to You Can Panic Now, and Run or Die. The distinction between this and Run or Die is that with this, you're choosing to break off the engagement mostly on your own terms, but with Run Or Die, you're narrowly avoiding (or escaping) what you know is a Curb-Stomp Battle.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Unusually for a shonen series, in Slayers it's a common gag for Lina to throw a Burst Rondo in the face of powerful foes that don't go down in the first few volleys and skedaddle.
Film
  • In 9, the Trope Namer, 1 says this right before the Winged Beast attacks. However, considering 8 tries to fight the Winged Beast before they run, this trope applies more to the awakening of the Fabrication Machine, in which 7, 9, and 5 immediately run away as soon as it's awakened.
  • A good villainous example for that one would be from The Princess Bride, when Inigo finally catches up with Count Rugen, and Rugen... runs away.
  • There are several instances in The Road to El Dorado, one of which involves Miguel and Tulio being cornered by a raging bull.
Miguel: What do we do now?
Tulio: You... pet him. And I'll... RUN!
  • In the Jimmy Neutron movie, Nick runs out into the arena, holding a spear, to face Poultra and the Yolkians. Suddenly, Poultra starts hatching and her three eyes glare down at Nick... who then screams like a girl and runs away.
  • Lord of the Rings, when the hobbits first meet the Ringwraiths, pretty much their only strategies are running or hiding (both things Hobbits can be very good at in a pinch).
    • Gandalf is listed in Run or Die already, but it's worth pointing out that, in the film version, he doesn't just inform them that the Balrog is unstoppable. He calmly explains what a Balrog is while it's coming at them, pauses to take a deep breath, looks shaken, and then shouts... "RUN!" and takes off ahead of the others, while they are still standing there looking at it. Making an about-face in the process.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The Rabbit of Caerbannog has just killed several of Arthur's knights.
Arthur: Run away! Run away!
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Salah has just met Marcus Brody in Iskenderun. A German comes up to them and invites them to a museum. Sallah realizes that there is no museum in Iskenderun and that they're in danger.
Sallah: Run.
Marcus: Yes. [snip]
Sallah: Run!
Marcus: Did you say...?
Sallah: Run!
  • In Lady And The Tramp 2, Scamp and Angel are talking on a railroad about what they could do living in the wild. There is a train coming towards them, unnoticed by Scamp.
Angdl. Run.
Scamp: Yeah, and run!
Angel: No, I MEAN RUN!
  • "Once more into the breach, dear Meanies. You're advancing in the wrong direction! Retreat backwards!"
  • Before they were the Ghostbusters, Doctors Stanz, Venkman, and Spengler do this in the New York public library, after attempting to bum rush a ghost.
    Librarian: Did you see it? What was it?
    Ray: (still fleeing) We'll get back to you!
  • From the (now infamous) 1998 version of Godzilla:
    Animal: What do we do now?
    Philippe: Running would be a good idea.
  • Played for Laughs in Star Wars, Han Solo and Chewbacca foolishly charge a squad of stormtroopes, who run away. A moment later, Han and Chewie reappear running the other way with a larger group of stormtroopers in pursuit...
  • When the "Blood-Red Van" comes after the dogs in Homeward Bound 2:Lost In San Francisco, they immediately react by running and hiding.
  • One of the more notable examples of the screaming response is directly advised in Lion King 1 And 1/2:
    Uncle Max: (to Timon) What do you do if you see a hyena?
    Timon: Scream "Mommy!"
  • In District Nine, the main character Wikus initially turns and runs away when finally confronted by his bounty hunter Koobus.
  • Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks. After it becomes clear that their weapons are useless against the animated armor/costumes, the Nazi soldiers run like bunnies.
Literature
  • A running gag in the Captain Underpants series involves this exchange of dialogue between George and Harold:
George: I've got an idea.
Harold: What?
George: RUN!
  • Ciaphas Cain's reaction to Necrons tends to be like this. Then again, he's one of the few people to have survived an encounter with them, so he's well aware of how deadly they are.
  • Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files reminds us that running away from things you cannot hurt is the best strategy at least twice in every novel. And he really knows best.
  • Rincewind from the Discworld series adapted this as his default strategy in any remotely dangerous situation (particularly the running type).
Live-Action TV
  • Red Dwarf - Frequently, but standout moment is from Meltdwon the 6.28 mark here:
    Rimmer (having just beamed onto a planet from a ship): "Now What?"
    Kryten: "Now we run, sir. I'd suggest we ambulate as fast as the local gravity will allow!"
    Rimmer:"Why?"
    Kryten:"Well, because of that, sir." (points to gigantic Kaiju-esque moving wax work monsters, then when Rimmer makes no response he turns around and sees that he is now half a field away and still running).
  • My impression is this happens quite a bit on Doctor Who; the default modus operandi seems to be: Go somewhere, walk around until you find something horrid that wants to kill you, then run away from it until you find something whose Polarity you can Reverse, fixing the problem.
Real Life Theater
  • From Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers:
    In enterprise of martial kind, when there was any fighting
    He led his regiment from behind (he found it less exciting),
    But when away his regiment ran, his place was at the fore, o!
    That celebrated, cultivated, underated nobleman, the Duke of Plaza-Toro!
Video Games
  • Not sure if this counts, but... In Left 4 Dead's opening cutscene, when a Tank appears, Louis asks Bill "Run or shoot?" He has to repeat his question several times before Bill comes up with "Both!"
Web Original
  • In one of the first episodes in Red vs. Blue, Grif and Simmons both turn around and are looking right down Sheila(the tank)'s cannon. Simmons says, "Alright, on 3, we make a break for it." As he starts counting, Grif quietly runs away. (Ironically, this made him a better target and he was the one who got fired at immediately.)
Western Animation
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door Operation L.I.C.E, the doorway is surrounded by tons of giant lice. Numbuh 2 asks Numbuh 1 what to do.
Numbuh 1: Follow my lead.
(scene change later)
Numbuh 1: RUN!.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar, "Cat's Cradle":
    Skipper: Kowalski, options.
    Kowalski: I suggest a strategic retreat.
    Skipper: Elaborate.
    Kowalski: It's like running away but manlier.
    Skipper: Execute!
  • Even though Shaggy and Scooby-Doo run away from everything as a Running Gag, around a third of the time it works in their favor.
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