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[[quoteright:350:[[Theatre/TheComedyOfErrors http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cower_conga_6655.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:It's the cowering conga!]]

->''"Bob! Prepare for the ass-kicking of your life!" ''(moves behind George)''\\
"And George is the one that's gonna do it!"''
-->-- '''Mega Man''', ''WebComic/BobAndGeorge''

It's only natural to cower in the face of danger[[note]]this is actually a survival mechanism, which works for small animals because many of the larger animals that eat them can see motion really well, but have trouble spotting stationary things. Some animals, like humans and eagles, have good enough eyesight that they may be able to spot the "frozen" animal anyway, though it's still easier to spot something that's moving. Others don't even ''rely'' on eyesight, utilizing other senses such as smell or heat-sensing instead. Still, you'd be surprised how well this trick can work... for smaller animals, anyways. For larger creatures like humans, it's mostly an evolutionary holdover, though it might still work on occasion[[/note]]. As such, many a classic DistressedDamsel and fearful child will cower behind the nearest LoveInterest, parent, or BigDamnHeroes when presented with peril. Of course, most conscientious heroes and even InnocentBystanders will naturally interpose themselves anyway to protect other innocents (and [[TheWorfEffect perhaps]] [[FoeTossingCharge pointlessly]], but they do get props for chivalry). This kind of cowering stems from the classic pose of hero and heroine facing a monster on FilmPosters for TouchOfTheMonster: the hero has a gun in one hand pointed at the beast, his other hand holding the LoveInterest back, while [[SecurityCling she clutches his shoulder]] with one hand and covers her mouth from shock with the other.

There's another kind of character who cowers this way too, the DirtyCoward. He'll grab a nearby InnocentBystander and use him as a HumanShield, hide behind the LittlestCancerPatient when the SerialKiller [[WouldNotHurtAChild with a soft spot for kids]] shows up, and might even shove his LoveInterest towards [[MarsNeedsWomen the Martian Woman Stealer]]. Villains also tend to do this when faced with an [[ImplacableMan implacable hero]], {{invert|edTrope}}ing the cower by using the LoveInterest to ''[[HumanShield hide from him!]]''

Sometimes this is used for comedic effect, with a hero who is AfraidOfNeedles reacting with complete terror to mundane things, sometimes even jumping into his {{Sidekick}}'s arms or ducking behind his LoveInterest like a DistressedDamsel. The FishOutOfWater might hide from otherwise harmless things too (and notice who/what they're hiding behind looks far more threatening). See also PoseOfSupplication. Bonus coward points if the character also ScreamsLikeALittleGirl. Compare EekAMouse

Not to be confused with the former Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In the second arc of ''Manga/{{Gantz}}'', Kurono is treated like a DirtyCoward for momentarily hiding behind Kishimoto when they first encounter a hostile alien. He objects that it is {{justified}} because she is wearing a [[ClothesMakeTheSuperman super-suit]] that provides some protection from injury, while he is in street clothes and thus defenseless.
* ''Manga/DetectiveConan's'' Ai Haibara fulfills the DistressedDamsel version of this trope. She can often sense the presence of a member of the Organization close by. When she gets this feeling she will frequenly cling to and hide behind the closest person available. This is most often Conan and Professor Agasa, but have on occasion also been Ran or Mitsuhiko.
* ''WebComic/AxisPowersHetalia'': [[ShrinkingViolet Poland]] does this after trying to tell off [[FaceOfAThug Sweden]].
* ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'':
** Serena's Eevee starts out very timid and comfortable only around Serena herself or Clemont's Bunnelby. When frightened, she will run and hide behind whichever of those two is available.
** Team Rocket frequently do this behind Wobbuffet, since his Counter and Mirror Coat can repel attacks coming their way.

* Rich Hall's ''Otis Lee Crenshaw'' character has a song called "Do Anything You Want To The Girl (Just Don't Hurt Me)".

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Played with in volume 3 of ''ComicBook/ScottPilgrim''. When [[ActionGirl Ramona]] is fighting against [[TheVamp Envy Adams]], she's only able to get a hit in when Envy is distracted by Wallace's [[IShallTauntYou taunts]]. Envy accuses Ramona of hiding behind Wallace, which she denies [[HypocriticalHumor while suddenly standing behind Wallace]] (who then runs off to the restroom while Ramona protests that she enjoys his company).

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Fanfic/KyonBigDamnHero'': After Haruhi's reaction to Tsuruya's report on what she and Kyon did to disband a illegal photographic ring (which included sleeping with him and bathing together -- ItMakesSenseInContext), Mikuru automatically hides behind Tsuruya. [[OCStandIn Kanae]], noting that hiding behind Tsuruya isn't the best idea in this circumstances, decided not to follow this trope and only hide behind the table.
* In ''WebVideo/DeathNoteTheAbridgedSeriesKpts4tv Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv)'', Near after Mello kills most of his agents:
-->'''Near:''' [[EverybodysDeadDave Light, everyone's dead... at my Clubhouse, everyone's dead.]]\\
'''Light:''' What do you expect me to do about it?\\
'''Near:''' I need an adult.\\
'''Light:''' I'm hanging up now.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Crane does this in ''Film/SleepyHollow'' when he approaches a particularly creepy hovel, using Young Masbeth as a shield and aiming his pistol over the boy's shoulder.

* The book and movie of ''Literature/TheDeadZone'' use this to let the world know its villain is a bad man. Or at least this is what ruins him. [[RuleOfPerception We, the readers/audience]], know from early on that the bad guy is really bad. But this is what [[spoiler:destroys his image to the [in-story] public. We mean, '''NO ONE''' would vote for someone for president of the USA who used ''[[EatsBabies a baby]]'' to shield himself from an assassin]].
* In Creator/RobertEHoward's ''Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian'' story "Literature/ThePoolOfTheBlackOne" Sancha grovels after being thrown to the ground.
* In the second book of the ''Literature/{{Gone}}'' series, Hunter cowers behind Astrid, who is protecting him from Zil's lynch mob.
* ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear: Army of Terror''. Faced without warning with a being that psychically forces people into very convincing illusions of their worst fears, the Rebels are utterly unprepared and do anything from dropping their weapons to falling to their knees to assuming the PoseOfSupplication.
* A parody cover for the sci-fi magazine ''Andromedea Spaceways'' had an astronaut cowering in fear behind a raygun-wielding babe in a gold bikini who was fearlessly fending off a tentacled monster.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Doctor Smith from ''Series/LostInSpace'' would cower behind Will Robinson ''at least'' {{once an episode}}. Sometimes the Robot, for variety.
* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'s'' River Tam does this occasionally, because the mental trauma she suffered, her uncontrolled PsychicPowers, and her inability to control her own emotions render her unable to handle the terror she feels when threatened.
* ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' has a hilarious moment in the fourth season where Sheppard and [=McKay=] are rewarded with a portrait that features them and a young princess who they'd just saved from the Genii and her treacherous older sister. Sheppard, who the princess grew to dislike, is depicted cowering fearfully behind the little girl, while Rodney stands out front firing his gun and (presumably) letting out a war cry. [[CrowningMomentOfFunny Very amusing]].
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', of course, has a gender inversion from the movie poster description above.
-->'''Xander:''' Where'd you get that accent, ''Series/SesameStreet''? 1, 2, 3 victims, nyahaha!\\
'''Buffy:''' Xander, I'm pretty sure that's {{Dracula}}.\\
'''Xander:''' ''[jumping behind Buffy]'' Hey, sorry, man.
* On ''Series/EverybodyLovesRaymond'', whenever the main character's wife is in conflict with another person, she will usually bully her husband into confronting the other person for her, almost always growling "You need to back me up on this!", to the point where that line is almost her catch phrase (and even if [[{{StrawmanHasAPoint}} the other person has a perfectly valid point]], they will still be treated as being [[{{DesignatedVillain}} horrible]] simply for opposing Debra). Then when Ray inevitably caves in to her demands and starts doing the verbal battling on her behalf, Debra always finds a way to sneak into the back and [[{{CowerPower}} hide]] behind Ray while ''he'' takes all the heat from the other person. Then when he gives her a chance to speak her mind and join in, Debra always says something like "hey, it wasn't me, [[{{BlatantLies}} this was your idea]]," and goes back to cowering behind Ray's back and letting ''him'' be the target of the other person's anger. What's really infuriating about this pattern of behavior is the fact that Ray himself is usually in favor of [[{{Pacifist}} making peace]] with the other person and wants everyone to get along, but he gets dragged into the argument anyway because his wife wanted him to, and yet she herself is totally unwilling to actually take responsibility for it, even when the whole conflict is entirely her idea. And yet she still treats him as if he's an unworthy husband, even though he always ends up doing her dirty work for her.
* ''Series/KaizokuSentaiGokaiger'': When the crew is confronted by a monster, Doc will almost always hide behind Luka, who will in turn elbow him in the gut for his cowardice.
* In one episode of ''Series/TheSuiteLifeOfZackAndCody'' where the main characters believe a certain room of the hotel to be haunted, most of the characters end up screaming, jumping into each other's arms, running from the room, and using this trope at some point. At one point in particular, Cody and London try to cower behind each other, and end up screaming and chasing each other in a circle.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'':
** In the episode "[[Recap/SupernaturalS02E21AllHellBreaksLoosePartOne All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One]]" [=(S02, Ep21)=], when they find Lily's body, Ava covers mouth as if she is going to be sick, and Andy hugs his arms around himself. They both have trouble looking at the body. While Jake and Sam are unflinching and seem to stand taller.
** However in "The End", Dean hides behind Chuck when an ActionGirl [[WomanScorned he's been cheating on goes to thump him]].

* Appears on the backglass for ''Pinball/Terminator3RiseOfTheMachines'', where John Connor and Kate Brewster are cowering behind the T-850.
* Natalya does this with James Bond on the ''Pinball/GoldenEye'' playfield.

[[folder:Pro Wrestling]]
* A calling card of Wrestling/TheMidnightExpress and Wrestling/JimCornette. It's one of the leading reasons why fans thought the latter was gay.
* A favorite tactic of the heels, who are not above grabbing a female at ringside (either the face's girlfriend or their own) to stop from getting attacked, and then shoving said female into the opponent! Wrestling/{{Edge}} used to do this all the time. Wrestling/EddieGuerrero made it particularly reprehensible when he grabbed Wrestling/ReyMysterioJr's young son Dominick; [[PapaWolf this made Mysterio]] [[ThisIsUnforgivable very angry]].
* Leva Bates cowered behind the ring announcer when she realized Coastal Championship Wrestling was going to have her referee a match between [[TheGiant Isis The Amazon and Calypso]].
* Allysin Kay and Taylor Made reacted this way in Wrestling/{{N|ationalWrestlingAlliance}}WA FUW after [[Wrestling/CarleneMoore Jazz]] brought back Wrestling/AmazingKong. "Made In Sin" became much bolder after [[LegionOfDoom the formation]] of Valkyrie in SHINE.
* Wrestling/StevieRichards clinging to [[Wrestling/LisaMarieVaron Victoria/Tara]]'s leg to protect him from Wrestling/{{Carlito|Colon}} in Wrestling/TommyDreamer's House of Hardcore.
* The Best Friends Chuck Taylor and Trent Barreta did so multiple times during the Global Force Wrestling debut against the Tate Twins.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'' has [[SpoonyBard Edward]] who has an ability that lets him do this. He also does it when he's low on HitPoints.
* ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER}}'':
** In ''VideoGame/EarthBound'', [[SpellMyNameWithAnS Porky/Pokey]] Minch does this as one of the many useless actions he's capable of performing in battle while accompanying Ness at the start of the game.
** ''VideoGame/Mother3:'' When traveling with [[TheWoobie Salsa]], [[JerkAss Fassad]] will occasionally do this in battle, despite the fact that (as an NPC) monsters don't target him anyway, ''and'' he's easily several times stronger than Salsa.
* ''VideoGame/AmnesiaTheDarkDescent'' has this trope as the player's only means of defense. You are given no weapons of any kind and any time you're attacked, the only thing you can do is run and hide in the dark, usually behind crates, until the monster gets bored and leaves.
* From one standpoint, '''any''' StealthBasedGame or game with a StealthBasedMission could be seen as utilizing this. You need to hide from enemies, often by crouching in dark corners, because you can't take them on. Certain Horror-genre games will have the character give indications that they're afraid, like Amnesia listed above, or ''VideoGame/CallOfCthulhuDarkCornersOfTheEarth''.
* In the online game ''Sissyfight'', cowering protects you from the first Scratch or Grab move or from any damage from a Tattle, but cannot protect you from a successful Tease. While the game's rules are such that the goal is to survive rather than do as much damage as possible to your enemies, "cowerbotting" is frowned on.
* In ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'', during the Spirit Kings encounter, Meng the Demented, during his Cowardice phase, runs away from players while reflecting damage onto them. He still periodically uses his Maddening Shout ability, though. Lei Shi, a water spirit corrupted by the Sha of Fear, will hide at certain points, and must be forced out into the open through area of effect damage.
* ''VideoGame/PokemonSunAndMoon'' has Wimpod, a wimpy little isopod and its special ability "Wimp Out" where "The Pokémon cowardly switches out when its HP becomes half or less" and lets one of its stronger teammates take the heat for it. Wimpods's evolution, Golisopod, a massive samurai isopod, [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial does not "Wimp Out"]]. Rather it makes a [[TacticalWithdrawal "Emergency Exit"]] when its [[HypocriticalHumor HP becomes half or less]].
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/ReturnToCastleWolfenstein''.
-->'''MadScientist:''' It's the spy! [hides behind SS officer] You must protect me!
-->'''SS Officer:''' No, HerrDoktor, you are the one who will protect me! [throws him through the portal, only for scientist to come back as a mutant monster [[GoneHorriblyRight and kill him]]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'' it seems like people tend to hide [[http://egscomics.com/?date=2008-04-21 behind]] [[http://www.egscomics.com/index.php?id=629 Elliot.]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Mortifer}}'', Valentine comments on Cole's "Impressive Hiding".
* In ''Webcomic/BobAndGeorge'', VideoGame/{{Mega Man|Classic}} [[http://www.bobandgeorge.com/archives/001222c threatens Bob, then hides behind George]], saying he'll carry out the threat.
* ''Webcomic/QuestionableContent'' has [[http://questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=2700 Sam hiding behind Faye]] when Veronica comes back with her father.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Gaea from ''Franchise/{{Noob}}'' is both a DirtyCoward and a SquishyWizard, which has caused her to do this several times over the course of the story.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* PlayedForLaughs ''and'' played straight in ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans''; both examples feature teams of males hiding behind their female leader. In the humorous version, The Titans East hides behind Bumblebee when Control Freak drops in unexpectedly; the serious one features the H.I.V.E. five hiding behind Jinx in nervous anticipation for Madam Rouge's verbal abuse.
* Used in every ''Franchise/ScoobyDoo'' episode '''[[OncePerEpisode EVER]]'''
* Fluttershy's default reaction to anything unexpected in ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic''.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Kaeloo}}'': In any instance when the characters are in danger, like being attacked by zombies or ExploringTheEvilLair, Kaeloo winds up hiding behind Mr. Cat.