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[[quoteright:300:[[Webcomic/PennyArcade http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_run_sideways_9163.png]]]]

Logically the fastest way to avoid something that's coming straight at you is to move a few steps aside of its path and let it pass by, but in fiction nobody ever seems to do this. At all.

So like a flightless version of AcrophobicBird, characters being chased by a car, falling rocks, or anything else that travels in one direction will inevitably run straight ahead and try to outrun the threat. They appear to only be able to think in one dimension -- escaping that oncoming freight train by jumping off the track just doesn't occur to them.

This looks very dramatic on camera, but FridgeLogic kicks in a little while later and you ask "Well why didn't she enter one of the buildings instead of letting the car chase her down the freeway?"

Note that this doesn't apply when there's an actual ''reason'' that the character can't simply leap to the side: Maybe that car is cruising down a narrow alley where there is no "sideways" for the runner to go, that [[Film/RaidersOfTheLostArk boulder is rolling down a tunnel with no sidepaths]], [[Film/StandByMe or those railroad tracks are currently crossing a bridge over a hundred-foot canyon]]. (These [[Film/StandByMe highly specific examples]] are [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment highly specific]] because they're some of the few times there's ''ever'' been a good justification for outrunning the danger.)

TruthInTelevision: In real life, many animals (including humans) have a natural 'herding' response to danger, so having a terrified character run directly ''away'' from an approaching threat may not be tactically sound, but it does make sense psychologically. (And if the threat is a predatory animal, simply leaping to the side wouldn't help in the first place because the predator would take note.) Savvy military conquerors have exploited this fact for centuries to herd panicked civilian crowds to where they want them, although they need to keep the crowd in a state of panic so that no one has a chance to consider the tactical advantages of veering off to the side. And it is the way to maximize the distance between you and the object; if you veer off, the pursuer can follow the straight line to cross less space than you can.

See also {{Two-D Space}} and BlindAlley. SlowerThanASpeedingBullet is a common subtrope of this. Can easily come off as TooDumbToLive in especially egregious cases.

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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* During Asuna's TrainingFromHell in ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'', Evangeline uses her [[AnIcePerson Malleus Aquilonis]] spell to suddenly send an ice boulder rolling down a mountain after Asuna. Having just been thrown out into the icy wilderness naked and now scared out of her wits, Asuna naturally tries to outrun the boulder until she luckily falls on a lower ledge.
* In the ''Manga/{{Gantz}}'' manga and anime, after being caught on the train tracks, Kurono and Katou decide to try and outrun the train to get beyond where the front car will stop. Even if [[spoiler:the train hadn't turned out to be a non-stop express]], it's unlikely they would have been able to run far enough in time, and the fact that they break off an attempt to climb onto the platform in favor of running seems pretty counter intuitive. They probably would have made it up with help from the bystanders. Then again, the theme of this scene seems to be [[HumansAreBastards general apathy and the onlookers' interest in seeing someone die]].
* In the second ''Manga/CardcaptorSakura'' movie, Sakura is on a roller coaster track with the coaster coming right at her. She first tries running straight along the track rather than taking one step sideways onto the emergency walkway. Then, when it's about to hit her, she ''stops time'', then [[TooDumbToLive stays right where she is, rather than getting out of the way before the spell wears off]].
* In episode 17 of ''Anime/DigimonAdventure'', the chosen first dodge the [[WorldGoneMad cruise liner in the middle of the desert]] by, sensibly, running to the side. When it it actually start chasing them, though, the trope promptly kicks in full force. Late, in Episode 49, it shows up again as they are fleeing a balled-up Waru Monzaemon.
* In ''Anime/TokyoMagnitude8'', [[spoiler:the Tokyo Tower falls, but the characters run parallel to the direction of the falling tower rather than running off to the side.]]
* In ''Anime/AngelBeats'', one of the traps in the hallways leading to [[ElaborateUndergroundBase Guild]] is a rolling boulder. Apparently, this is massively averted, as not only the resident ninja Shiina managed to find a small nook to hide from the boulder (and pull away most of the members, Hinata tackles Otonashi to the corner of the hallway, thereby evading the boulder (remember, a boulder is spherical, the hallway is rectangular, so the edges on the bottom won't be swept by the boulder). Indeed, the only casualty is the guy who kept running.
* Averted in episode 8 of ''Anime/TheThirdTheGirlWithTheBlueEye''. Honoka and her tank, Bogie, find themselves on the wrong end of a stampeding herd of sand dragons. Bogie's response, rather than drive ''away'' from the dragons, is to drive off to the side and get out of their path. They aren't ''quite'' fast enough to get out without damage, but do survive nonetheless.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The title hero of the comic book ''Series/NightMan'' also realizes there is space when a circle (a giant ball) rolls down a square hall. He lays down and rolls to the left, where the floor meets the wall.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* In {{Sharknado}}, no one being chased by the rolling dismounted Ferris wheel thinks to run sideways.
* In ''Film/StarWars [[Film/AttackOfTheClones Episode II]]'', Count Dooku uses the Force to push over a giant pillar, directly in the path of a helpless Anakin and Obi-Wan. Yoda just uses the Force to push the pillar off to the side and set it down gently on the floor, right? Nope, he pushes directly against the pillar's momentum, brings it to a stop directly above them, and ''keeps it floating in the air for a moment''. This visibly exhausts him, and it stalls him for long enough for Dooku to escape.
* The first ''Franchise/IndianaJones'' film, ''Film/RaidersOfTheLostArk'': Close investigation of the scene where Indy is being chased by the boulder will reveal it is on rails (big viney ones) and he could have run towards it, past said rails, when it first appeared, then safely followed its path out of the cave -- though he would have needed to get past it at some point, as at the end of the scene it blocks what's apparently the only way out. This is [[JustifiedTrope justified]] in the novelization and the script, where it is explained that the ball would seal Dr. Jones in by blocking the entrance and he knows it. Indy has a very good reason to outrun the boulder.
* In the film ''Film/{{Aliens}}'', everyone runs forward when the DropShip crashes, instead of moving sideways out of the path of the oncoming debris.
* Directly parodied at the start of Weird Al's Film/{{UHF}}: The boulder chases the Weird Al version of Indiana Jones around various random locations until he realizes he can just run to the side... ''and the boulder turns to follow him''.
* In the bad TV movie ''[[TenPointFive 10.5]]'', a bicyclist tries to outrace the Space Needle as it breaks from its base and comes crashing to the ground... when he could have easily biked all of six feet to either side of or behind the base, and avoided the whole problem.
* Parodied in ''Film/WrongfullyAccused'', when Harisson flees a runaway train by running into the woods--whereupon the train promptly follows him.
* Played with in ''Film/MarsAttacks'' when a flying saucer, planning to crush a group of Boy Scouts, demolishes the base of the Washington Monument, only for them to run out of the way. The saucer then flies around to the other side of the falling obelisk to make it fall the other way. Rinse, repeat.
* ''WesternAnimation/MonstersVsAliens''. Susan ran forward, and way from the meteor, instead of, you know, going left or right. Actually, she would've been fine where she was at originally, it only hit her because she ran straight into its path.
* ''Film/BackToTheFuture:
** Justified in the second film. When Biff tries to run down Marty, they're inside a tunnel and Biff has the speed advantage (and can swerve his car if Marty attempts to dodge.) Then later on, it's subverted as Marty ''does'' eventually dodge in a second dimension - upward.
** In the third film, Marty has to think ''fourth''-dimensionally. He's in the [=DeLorean=] being pushed along an incomplete train track, but he travels forward in time, to a point where the track is complete.
* The remake of ''Film/ANightmareOnElmStreet2010'' has the human-Krueger do this for a while as angry parents pursue him through an abandoned factory complex.
* The RuleOfFunny gives an interesting twist to this one in ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'': A way too amorous toon is running full bore towards Eddie Valiant. Instead of running away or stepping to the side, he takes the white line on the road that she's running on and directs it into the wall. Naturally, a wall pizza ensues.
--->'''Eddie''': Toons. Gets 'em every time.
* ''BuckarooBanzai''. While being pursued by a Red Lectroid driving a truck, Buckaroo runs straight ahead down the road, where he would have inevitably been run down if a Blue Blaze Irregular helicopter hadn't arrived to rescue him.
* Countess Lisl from ''Film/ForYourEyesOnly'' is killed when she tries to run away from a car in a straight line.
* Parodied in [[AustinPowers Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery]]. As the protagonists escape on a very slow Road Roller, a lone security guard screams in terror as the roller approaches and proceeds to scream "STOOOOOP!!" multiple times as it approaches, making no attempt to move to the left or right until finally being run over. As he's about 50 feet in front of it (as shown above) when he starts, this takes more than a few seconds.
* In ''Film/{{Prometheus}}'', [[spoiler:Shaw and Vickers]] are running away from a collapsing Space Jockey ship, which hits the ground sideways and begins rolling towards them. They run in a straight line for several minutes before [[spoiler:Shaw]] falls down, and only then does she roll away sideways, while [[spoiler:Vickers]] stays the course and gets crushed as a result. ''Webcomic/PennyArcade'' [[http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2012/06/13 parodied]] this scene.
* In ''Film/{{Daylight}}'', SylvesterStallone runs straight away from a metal tank that's rolling toward him through waist-deep water. Initially it's this trope, but when the terrified woman who's helping him freezes in the tank's path, he has to keep going straight to intercept ''her'' and drag her sideways to safety.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Naturally, the narrator of ''Literature/{{Flatland}}'' visits Lineland, a world where this is literally true. The inhabitants of Lineland can't pass each other, and each being only ever sees two things: his two immediate neighbors' eyes/asses. Reproduction is pulled off by having sex partners ''sing'' to each other over long distances, which is handy, since at least one of a Linelaner's neighbors will always be a parent or sibling.
* Deconstructed/Parodied/somethinged in DrSeuss' "The Zax", a short tale in his book ''The Sneetches and Other Stories." A creature called a North-going Zax and another called a South-going Zax run into each other, and both refuse to go around the other since it would require them to move, very slightly, in a direction different than they're used to. Their refusal to compromise means they basically stand glaring at each other forever while a highway overpass is built over their heads.
* One of the {{Dragaera}} novels makes reference to the Street of the Nine Pleasures in old Dragaera City's red-light district. One of the Pleasures there is the chance to see two Dzurlords -- a highly-combative branch of the nobility, with much the same attitude about veering aside as Seuss's Sneetches -- confront one another in a street that's too narrow for them to pass by each other easily.
* Averted in NeilGaiman's ''Literature/AmericanGods'', where the Technical Boy is able to run down Bilquis with his limo because she was trapped on a road with a sheer, muddy climb up on one side and a sheer drop off a cliff on the other. She tried to get out of the way, but the surroundings themselves had her trapped.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* An appearance of this trope in ''Series/MacGyver'', episode "Fire and Ice" almost suggests that there is a mystical force that compels people to run in a straight line in front of oncoming objects. A man hit by a truck at the beginning of the episode would have been perfectly safe if he had not ''gone out of his way to run in front of the truck.''
** TruthInTelevision. In real life, panicked people instinctively run directly from threats, and the panic keeps them from tactical considerations of veering sideways.
* In the pilot episode of ''Series/{{Lost}}'', Jack, Hurley, and Claire run from the plane's falling wing. None thinks to run sideways out of its path.
* Appears in an episode of ''Series/CriminalMinds'', where a serial killer runs over people with a truck. What makes it worse is that he's a ''serial killer'', so he has done this repeatedly without anyone just running off the side of the road.
* Justified in an episode of ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise''. The crew learn that a highly radioactive NegativeSpaceWedgie is heading straight towards them, and it's going faster than the ship can. They proceed to evacuate the whole crew into heavily-shielded areas to survive. They consider the idea of simply getting out of its way. But it's too large for them to try to get out of its way before it hits them.
* Played hilariously straight in an episode of ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'', in which Chakotay is running from the bad guys, and he stays on a winding path instead of just cutting across the grass.
* Subverted in an episode of ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'', where Sheldon, who shown as afraid of hospitals, dodges a gurney carrying a sick person by ducking into a nearby door. Unfortunately for him, the room is an isolation ward for a patient with a highly infectious disease.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* Music/{{Radiohead}}'s music video for "Karma Police" features nothing but a long, straight road, a car, and a man on that road running away from the car. He never once thinks to run off either side of the road. However, the expected outcome of such a chase is subverted, since the car actually ''slows down'' to match the man's running speed. [[spoiler:The man later gets revenge on the car by lighting a trail of gasoline leaking from it, which inverts the trope when car's unseen driver exhibits One-Dimensional Thinking by [[TooDumbToLive driving backwards on the road]] in a futile attempt to escape the flames.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* This is/was prevalent sometimes in ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons''. In cases where the players get in a minor fight and the DM decides it's not worth drawing a map, or when they go OffTheRails into a space the DM hadn't mapped, everything tends to become one dimensional, since all you generally know is everyone's distance from you.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/SamuraiShodown'' is the first and probably only FightingGame franchise in which you can lie down on the floor to dodge a horizontal swipe or a projectile.
* In ''VideoGame/NarutoShippudenUltimateNinjaStorm2'', a giant sword is about to crash into the ground blade side down. Sasuke tries to dodge this by running parallel directly underneath the sword. (Whether it works or not is up to PressXToNotDie).
* In ''VideoGame/TwistedMetal (2012)'', at the end of the final campaign, Dollface wishes to model on the "biggest runway in the world", and gets deposited on the tarmac at an airport runway. She sees a plane headed directly towards the runway she's standing on, and instead of running off to the side, she runs in the opposite direction. She then breaks her heel and stays on the ground monologuing (instead of rolling out of the way) until the plane crushes her).
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/ProfessorLaytonAndTheCuriousVillage'', when the heroes are being chased by a giant ferris wheel that broke loose from its frame. They try to escape by turning a corner. The wheel ''follows them round'' and keeps on going.
* ''WorldOfWarcraft'' has a variation caused by MMORPG mechanics. Many people will run away from an enemy attacking them, maybe also using abilities to hide, which is close to 100 percent reliable in solo play. In group combat, though, the smartest thing to do when under attack by a monster you can't handle is to run towards ''the biggest monster around''. Crazy as that may sound, it's because that big monster is probably beating on your party's [[MightyGlacier tank]], whose job is to keep the monster's attention on them and usually can easily survive just one more.
* True of nearly every boss battle and giant boss battle in ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiDreamTeam'', where Mario and Luigi will end up running straight away from the boss in a straight line rather than just stepping a bit to the side. Or in the case of the giant battles, take on a charging foe/fired projectile head on rather than step to the left or right and let it pass by. See, the battles with Grobot, Bowser, Antasma, Pi'illodium, Drilldigger...It is pretty epic though.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Parodied in this ''Webcomic/IrregularWebcomic'' [[http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/1704.html strip]].
* Webcomic example: In [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20030924 this page]] of ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'', Baron Wulfensbach seems to be having an "I'm SurroundedByIdiots..." moment as two of his [[MadScientist top scientists]] demonstrate this trope.
* ''Webcomic/BobAndGeorge'' [[http://www.bobandgeorge.com/archives/001126c Averted here because the author really was annoyed by this trope]]
* ''Webcomic/PennyArcade'' lampshades the ''Film/{{Prometheus}}'' example in [[http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2012/06/13 This PSA strip]] (spoilers).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* {{Disney}} and WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes shorts are not only blatant offenders, but the prime subverters. You know the shorts where the big, hulking bad guy is running full bore towards an oblivious (or waiting) good guy, and the good guy just steps aside, and it takes the bad guy running a good long while to notice? This is often accompanied by a freight train [[StockSoundEffects sound effect]], complete with Doppler effect when the bad guy whizzes past. On the other hand, a character running from a falling tree will only run in the same direction the tree is falling, and thus get hit.Of course, due to OffscreenTeleportation, moving a few feet to one side -- or even ''behind'' the falling object -- would have resulted in getting hit just the same. Really, it all depends on what the writer thought would be [[RuleOfFunny funnier]].
* One of the Halloween episodes in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' features Mr. Burns being crushed by a robot. He hobbles as fast as he can - straight ahead, in the direction the statue is falling, rather than a few steps to the side, which would have allowed him to avoid it entirely.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'': An episode has Princess Morebucks getting hit by a de-powering ray because she's too evil to simply fly out of its way.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'': Rainbow Dash regularly tries to evade ground based hazards by flying along the ground. Given that her greatest flight skill is speed, and she is depicted as BrilliantButLazy, it makes sense she'll go for her strengths and try to outfly things rather than just going up.
* In an episode of ''[[WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries The New Batman Adventures]]'', the police have found the batcave. Luckily, Batman has a [[MythologyGag giant penny on display,]] which is knocked out of its stand and rolled towards the cops. They all run directly away from it.
* Just jump down from the conveyor belt or away from the runaway coal cart, WesternAnimation/ScoobyDoo.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* In real life, human beings have a natural instinct to run directly away from a threat during times of panic. Panicked crowds behave the same way, a fact that has been exploited for centuries by conquering hordes.
** A specific example is running away from shooters, despite the speed of a bullet. In the off-chance you are being shot at, it's better to run in a zig-zag (going to left and right as you run forward) thus presenting the shooter with a moving target, not just a shrinking, ''but stable and thus easier-to-hit'' one.
* If you're ever caught in an [[http://www.wikihow.com/Escape-if-Your-Car-Is-Stalled-on-the-Tracks-of-an-Approaching-Train emergency scenario wherein your car is in the path of an oncoming train]], the safest direction to run ''isn't'' away or to the side, but rather, ''toward'' the direction the train is coming from after moving to the side, to minimize the chance of getting hit by the doomed car's shrapnel. Also, don't go [[Series/AreYouAfraidOfTheDark running back to the car for your boyfriend's class ring.]]
** Alternatively, if your car stalls on the tracks, the starter engine can sometimes be used to move your car off the tracks. Just put your manual transmission in first gear and release the clutch, or put your automatic in forced gear one, then turn the key as though you were starting the car. Unfortunately, almost all cars on the road today have a built-in safety feature that prevents the starter from engaging if the transmission isn't in Park or Neutral, or the clutch isn't depressed. Or, if you have half a minute or so, put it in neutral and push.
* Most people don't realize that rip tides are usually very narrow. Hundreds of people die every year because they didn't realize that they could swim 30 feet to the side to escape the current that's dragging them out to sea.
* When the Gimli Glider was making its emergency landing at the decommissioned runway in Gimli, Manitoba, the pilots were horrified to see two kids riding bikes on the runway, who, when they saw the plane, turned and tried to outrun a 767 coming in at 200+ knots. Fortunately they had enough of a head start, and the 767's collapsed front gear slowed the plane fast enough, that they actually made it. This was dramatically/[[{{Narm}} hilariously]] depicted in the TV movie; the kid in question is clearly so terrified that he can't take the obvious step, but he eventually figures it out just in time and the plane whizzes by him.
* Averted by default and taken advantage of in police chases - officers are taught that when the car in front of them goes around a turn they'll slow down, and this can be good time to ram the car. Many police cars have reinforced bumpers for this purpose.
* Animal experts recommend that when one must run away from a hungry [[NeverSmileAtACrocodile crocodilian]], the best way to do so is by running in a zig-zag pattern, because while crocodilians can sprint really fast in a straight line, they can't turn on a dime. On the other hand, [[http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/mythbusters/db/animals/zigzag-crocodile-run.html they don't usually give chase at all beyond a brief surprise attack.]]
* Animals often run directly away from danger, as this is a better way of escaping from a predator. Turning while running will put them at a disadvantage, as the predator can cut the corner to catch up. This causes a problem with cars, as they don't know the car is not (usually) actively chasing them, moving at a speed they could never hope to run away from, or stuck on a marked path.
** Emus take this fallacy one step further: when approached by a car, they have a nasty habit of dashing in front of it for a few meters before crossing to the other side of the road. The roads in the Outback are littered with emu corpses, for good reason.
** Sheep are apparently known for doing this too. This is where the sheep game comes from; the farmer(mouse) should be providing the sheep food and shelter, but sheep are extremely nervous and run away.
** Averted by eastern gray squirrels, but badly. When presented with a threat, they run towards the nearest tree or the tree they came down from. They will do this even if it takes them into the path of danger more so than sitting still.
*** Small mammals in general tend to go for shelter rather than try to put distance between themselves and threats. This can lead to unwise decisions, like running under a car that's paused at a stop sign.
** There are a lot of videos of cows, moose and camels getting run over by trains as they try and outrun the thing on the track.
* Rabbits and hares have an interesting tactic which avoids this trope, and serves them well against vehicles: They try to outrun a predator in a fairly straight line, but when it has closed in too much, [[WronskiFeint make an instant turn of ninety degrees or more. Most predators will overshoot the turn, increasing the distance again.]]
** Gazelles and the like do this as well, and for good reason, most of the predators they face are bigger than them, and can only chase in short bursts, and stopping in one direction and speeding up in another is more exhausting for bigger animals than smaller ones.
* Bullfighting is humans taking advantage of this trope vs. bulls. See Western Animation above for a fictional example.
** A very specific variant is that, when being chased by an angry rhinoceros of any species, the best situation is not to try and ''outrun'' an animal with that kind of momentum, but to stand one's ground and quickly jump to the side at just the right moment. Of course, you still have a somewhat slim chance of survival any time an animal the size of a truck is angry at you- this is just slightly better. Though if your timing and reflexes are particularly bad, you may be better off trying to run.
** On the other hand, if a dangerous hoofed animal ''hasn't noticed'' you yet, moving directly away from it is better than moving across its field of vision, as such animals' eyesight is better-attuned to spot lateral movement than motion straight towards or away from them. Retreating ''slowly'', and doing so only when it lowers its head to browse, is better than running in such a situation.
* One of the (many) plans to prevent Earth from being hit by a civilization ending asteroid is not to slow it down or divert it, but accelerate the rock. Mass is much easier to manipulate if you have inertia on your side.
[[/folder]]

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