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Comicbook: Runaways
Clockwise from top left: Karolina, Alex, Chase, Gert, Molly, and Nico. (The dinosaur is Old Lace.)

Gert: What? How is it possible that parents lied to us? Let's see: Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, um, God. "You're the prettiest kid in school. This won't hurt a bit. Your face will freeze like that..."
Alex: "Everything's going to be all right."

Imagine if your parents were superheroes! More than that, imagine that, one day, you and your friends discover that your and their parents were a secret organization of superheroes! Sure, they don't cry out for attention like The Avengers, but that's okay, right?

Now imagine that, about five seconds after discovering this, you find out that they are actually supervillains. Imagine you discover this when you see them kill a teenage girl and place her soul in a jar. Suddenly, you and your friends are in a very different situation. Your parents are supervillains and you are next in line to the family name.

This is how we are introduced to the Marvel Comics series Runaways. Chase, Alex, Nico, Karolina, Molly, and Gert are old acquaintances. Once a year, their rich parents meet up and hold a charity meeting, and they are stuck in the family room to play while the parents discuss grown up stuff. But one year, when the parents were having their meeting, Alex discovers a secret passageway which allows them to see what really happens in their meetings. They discover their parents are a secret organization called The Pride.

After discovering this, the children run away from home and set up a hideaway called The Hostel. During their escape, one by one, they discover powers and abilities that they have inherited from their parents. But will they use these powers to become heroes, or will they follow in their parents' footsteps?

With these new powers, a team of supervillains working for their own mysterious goals, and a large superhero community that is convinced it knows what is best for these kids, these friends are thrown into the Marvel Universe to survive however they can. Even if that means they are on the run forever.

Not to be confused with The Runaways, a film starring Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart, or the real-life band that the film is based on. A casting call has gone out for a movie based on the series but it has been delayed.

Check out the character sheet to learn more about the individual runaways.

See Young Avengers for another young but more "traditional" Marvel superhero team (which the Runaways actually crossed over with more than a few times). Also see Avengers Arena and Avengers Undercover (co-starring Chase and Nico, with cameos by Molly and Karolina) and Avengers A.I. (co-starring Victor).

As for December 2013 Nico, in her post Avengers Arena appearance, has been announced, alongside Agent Venom, to join the Marvel Avengers Alliance character roster.

This series provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The sewer that the kids escaped through after their first hostel base got destroyed was big enough to fit about four kids across plus a dinosaur.
  • Actually a Doombot: Played with. We're set up to think that Dr Doom is Victor's dad. Then it turns out to be a Doombot, but one controlled by a completely different supervillain instead of the real Doom.
  • Adult Fear:
    • The kids fight vampires, aliens, and evil robots, but the only reason they have to deal with these things in the first place is that their own parents turn out to be evil. For most of them, this comes as a shock; for Chase, not so much. Then they all start living in underground hideaways and putting themselves in danger to keep LA safe from the power vacuum created by their parents, resulting in even more physical and emotional trauma and, in Gertrude aka Gert's case, death.
    • In one of the earlier chapters, Frank Dean attacks other members of the Pride and completely freaks out when Karolina disappears.
    • When the kids accidentally travel to the past and run into the Yorks (before they died), the Yorks are quite panicked and ask straight away if their daughter is with them. When they learn that Gertrude is dead, they immediately plan to return to her and make sure she's safe. Then they bring over a futuristic bomb to get revenge on the kids for letting Gert die in any timeline.
    • In the Age of Ultron alternate universe Victor Mancha is the caretaker of a bunch of orphans, and the last of the original Runaways alive. The Ao U Mancha has two simple fears, less glamorous but scarier than his past ones: he fears to be unable to protect his protegees, and he fears the day he'll start forgetting about the past and the happy moments he shared with his now absent friends.
  • Adults Are Useless: The story is an homage to every teen angst film ever made, as in the initial arc all adults are either direct minions of the Pride or under their influence by more subtle means. Numerous heroes appear in the later arcs who, if not incompetent in their own areas, are nonetheless unable to help the main characters because of their attempts to treat them as just children.
  • Aliens and Monsters: The kids fight aliens (Skrulls, Majesdinians, Kree), supernatural beasts (Demons, vampires) and criminals both mundane and super powered.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Xavin loves Starbuck's caramel machiato, referring to it as the finest accomplishment of our galaxy.
  • Alien Invasion: The team gets wrapped up in a Secret Invasion tie-in.
    Chase: "Xavin, what is it with you Skrulls invading things? Not cool."
    Molly: "It's raining Xavins!!"
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Averted. Despite Gert's initial shock, no one seems to mind that Molly is a mutant.
    • Played straight with her parents who are seen in a flashback defending themselves from an angry mob after being outed as mutants.
  • All Your Powers Combined - In the final battle of the third volume, Alex ends up in control of Chase's fire-blasting gauntlets, Nico's Staff of One, and Gertrude's psychic connection to Old Lace. All of which would have been much more helpful if he weren't The Mole. He had no way to take Molly or Karolina's inborn abilities, but it's still a pretty impressive accomplishment for somebody with no powers of his own.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Stein is traditionally a Jewish surname, but Chase once recited a bit of the Lord's Prayer when his life was in peril, which indicates a Christian upbringing. It's possible that he's half-Jewish on his dad's side. He might also be ethnically Jewish but religiously a Christian or a Messianic Jew, though unlikely. (The Yorkes are unambiguously Jewish; Gert has mentioned having a bat mitzvah, though she now claims to be agnostic.)
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Discussed, while Karolina is mourning one of her friends Xavin points out that their entire planet was destroyed. If one person dying his tragic than a million people dying must be a million times more tragic.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Well, not that ancient; twenty-five years, at the most.
    • Unless you consider that the Gibborim were actually behind (and the origin of) the twenty-five-year conspiracy of the kids' parents).
  • And I Must Scream: Happens to Gert's parents, who are cursed to know everything that will happen to themselves and their daughter, up to and including the deaths of all three of them, and witness it all while being unable to change their actions.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Karolina when the first Hostel is attacked by the LAPD.
  • Appeal to Obscurity: Chase tells Nico that for New Yorkers, seeing a superhero is the same as seeing Steve Guttenberg. "Who's Steve Guttenberg?" "Exactly."
  • Arranged Marriage: Xavin and Karolina had one set up by their parents.
  • The Artifact: Old Lace's name. It makes sense when the person she has telepathic link to calls her self Arsenic. After she drops the code name...not so much. It does get a Lamp Shade Hanging though.
  • Badass Adorable: Molly, a 12 year old mutant girl with cute hats and superhuman strength.
  • Badass Normal: Gert, Chase, and Alex have no real powers, but still manage to have their place on the team.
  • Bald Black Leader Guy: Knight Templar example - Geoffrey Wilder fits the dscription to a T and is the defacto 'leader' of the Pride.
  • Beat Panel: In the second issue.
    Molly: Duh. S...E...X. I'm not a baby.
    Alex and Gert look at each other
    Gert: Fine. Come on, kid. Let's go powder our noses.
    Molly: That's code for pee, right?
    • For reference, Alex and Gert were talking about whether or not to tell Molly that they found out that her parents were supervillains. She tells them she already knows what they're whispering about, before delivering the sex line.
  • Bed Trick: When Karolina is dating Xavin, but also has her crush on Nico, Xavin tried appearing as Nico because she thought that this was what Karolina really wanted and that it would help Karolina deal with her emotions. It did not work; Karolina thought it was "some kind of sick test". Xavin, not being from around here, is somewhat baffled.
  • Betrayal Insurance: Chase gives Niko a list of Logic Bomb questions that will shut their resident robot down if he ever does the Face-Heel Turn that a friendly time traveller warned them about. Given Niko's oft-stated feelings about the possibility of any of her friends betraying the group again no one should be surprised if she has spells thought up for all of her comrades.
    • Nico even mentions during the Secret Invasion story that she has a spell on hand to stop Xavin's heart, and it was highly likely that she was going to use it when the group assumed that Xavin was betraying them.
  • Big Bad: For the first seven volumes, the Gibborim.
  • Big Book of War: The Abstract, a book given by the Gibborim to the Pride. It contains info about everything related to them, including their future. It can only be read with a special ring that decodifies it.
  • Big "NO!": Played entirely straight on numerous occasions, but also probably the only instance of a robot (Ultron) shouting "NOOOOO10100101!" upon defeat.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Victor does this on two accounts. The first is the Spanish swearing he manages to sneak in. (Also a case of Getting Crap Past the Radar.) The second is his binary rambling after Chase flips his safety switch. The stream of ones and zeroes out of his mouth? They spell W-T-F.
  • Black Cloak: The Minorus' outfits fits the trope to a T, complete with face masks and hoods. One problem, the cloaks are crimson.
  • Bloody Murder: Not quite, Nico's blood just summons the Staff of One. Though she probably could cast a spell that would allow her to play this trope straight.
  • Bound and Gagged: Pretty much the effect of Chase using a "be quiet" spell on Nico in Live Fast
  • Buffy Speak: Tons of it, especially when Whedon is writing.
  • Captain Ethnic: Averted. Despite having several non-white main characters, none of their powers is based on their cultures or stereotypes.
  • Cassandra Truth: No one believes them when they say that (in famously meta-crime free LA) their parents are a cabal of supervillains.
    • Strictly speaking, there are people who believe them, but they are either with the cabal, or are too incompetent to do anything about it.
  • Changeling Fantasy: "Evil real family" subversion. This is described at the top of the pagea.
  • The Chessmaster: Alex Wilder. He gets it from his father.
  • Children Are Innocent: Used and Averted. The kids had no idea of their parent's activities, but were understandably left fairly bitter by the aftermath.
  • Cliffhanger Copout: Issue 24. The kids have finally dragged Chase back, they've beaten their foes once and for all, and they're tired and weary as they arrive home... To find Iron Man and a bunch of mooks waiting. In Issue 25, they begin by... Meeting with the Kingpin.
  • Clothing Damage: Volume 3 Chapter 11, Nico's top gets destroyed by Klara's plants going berserk. Not that there was much there to begin with...
  • Code Name: Subverted; they made them up, but hardly ever use them (though Molly is still fond of "Princess Powerful").
  • Combat Stilettos: Nico, on at least one occasion
    Victor: Holy... did you see how high I jumped?
    Nico: Yeah... did you see how high my heels are? (Kicks him in the face) Look closely.
  • Competence Zone: Anyone over a certain age is useless, even super heroes. Spider-Man managed to get a cool big brother spot, though, and Cloak & Dagger have some competence (because their backstory is that they were also runaways). This is subverted with Molly. Everyone treats her as naive and weak, needing protection, but she is really powerful and knows a lot more than she lets on.
  • Continuity Porn: Hey, did you know that during the 90s Rick Jones wrote a book called Sidekick? No? Well he did!
    • The fact that they brought in the good Green Goblin may also count.
    • Bringing in Ricochet from Slingers doubles. Considering how unpopular and unknown the title was, bringing him in was a bit risky, but ultimately worked.
  • Cousin Oliver: Klara. She is randomly found and recruited by the Runaways in 1907. Other than the occasional Deliberate Values Dissonance due to being a Fish Out of Temporal Water, she has little personality and little effect on subsequent storylines.
  • CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable): Gert gives Chase CPR after he nearly drowns. He's in no shape to move immediately afterwards, but recovers quickly enough to hotwire the Leapfrog and interrupt the big fight.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Averted. Molly is actually quite happy to discover she's a mutant. Similarly, Victor doesn't at all seem to mind finding out that he's a robot, although that might be because he was too busy being traumatized about the circumstances around the revelation. Only Karolina is upset by her non-human origin, but even then it only takes a few seconds for her to be distracted by how awesome her powers actually are.
  • Cute Bruiser: Molly is the Cute Bruiser, in that her code name is "Bruiser" and she is adorable.
  • Cross Over: Runaways has its own plotlines, but it seems like it is also open house for every other Marvel character to appear.
    • Not to mention in two out of the three Crisis Crossovers (Civil War and Secret Invasion) they were involved in they were forced to team up with the Young Avengers. The remaining one (Mystic Arcanna) was a solo adventure of Nico's.
    • Recently, after their own ongoing series was 'put on hiatus' they have appeared in numerous recent series:
      • Daken: Dark Wolverine: Where Chase explains what happened after he was hospitalized in a car accident with "I got better".
      • Age Of Ultron: Where Victor is the only one alive after Ultron killed off the rest of the Runaways.
      • Avengers Academy: Where Nico reveals she saved Old Lace by shunting him into a parallel universe which has the same magic signature as Reptil's amulet. Karolina also begins dating Julie Power.
      • Avengers Arena: Where Nico and Chase are participants, with Molly searching for them. Nico dies, but Comes Back Strong.
      • Avengers Undercover: Following the events of Arena, Nico and Chase join the other survivors as they infiltrate the Masters of Evil.
      • Battle Of The Atom: Where a future Molly Hayes is a member of the Brotherhood of Mutants.
      • Avengers AI: Where Victor is recruited to join the team by his "brother", the Vision, and "grandfather", Hank Pym.
      • All-New X-Men: The Molly Hayes from Battle of the Atom returns, along with the rest of the future Brotherhood.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Molly once had an issue revolve around her and some kidnapped children.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone gets snarky lines, especially with Joss Whedon writing them. Mostly Gert, though. She gets the most.
  • Deal with the Devil: Well, with the Half-Human Hybrid descendants of fallen angels.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Klara and the primary cast grew up a century apart, and there are occasional conflicts over different social norms. Karolina is shocked at abuse Klara deals with, while Klara freaks out when she sees Xavin (who chooses to be black in human guise and chooses to be a woman for Karolina) and Karolina kissing. Molly, meanwhile, (seemingly) completely misses the implications of Klara saying that she does not enjoy her "marital duties". ("He makes you do chores?")
  • Department of Child Disservices: Portrayed as incompetent in the series. Karolina, for instance, is placed with drug-addicted foster parents who don't notice her disappearance.
  • Depending on the Artist: Especially striking with recent Chase and Victor. Some people didn't even recognize the latter in Pichelli's rendition.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Seriously. Victor using a neighbour's unprotected Wi-Fi to pirate music may or may have not caused a plane to crash into the Malibu house killing Old Lace, though Chase survived.
  • Discount Lesbians: Karolina and Xavin. Karolina is the traditional embodiment of the trope, an alien, whereas Xavin (Who is also an alien) compounds the issue by also being a shape-shifter.
  • Ditto Aliens: Mrs. Dean makes a comment about how all the Skrull look alike to her.
  • Double Standard: Happens in-universe, when Nico has a dream that her parents are slut-shaming her for having been with three guys thus far in her life. She points out that it's unfair to consider her a harlot while her father was implied to have had several girlfriends before he got married.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The original Hostel was an entire mansion underground, though some of the Pride facilities are more standard versions of this setting.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Karolina's not alone in finding Nico attractive. Some goth girls and the evil witch from Nico's Mystic Arcana tie-in are seen expressing sexual interest in her.
  • Everyone's Baby Sister: Molly and Klara fill this role, to varying degrees - Molly is everyone's baby sister, but Klara is more of a little sister to Nico and Karolina, while Chase and Victor treat her more like a Ladette. Oddly enough, the baby sister aura even seems to affect other people in the Marvel universe - for instance, during Secret Invasion, Speed of the Young Avengers literally went out of his way to keep Molly and Klara safe during a battle with the Skrulls.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Old Lace, a Deinonychus.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: The Pride's evil, and the kids are all heroes trying to stop them. Mostly.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: LA from volume two onwards: with the Pride gone, minor supervillains are pouring in, wanting either to replace the Pride or simply take advantage of an easy target.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Alex Wilder
  • Fastball Special: Almost namedropped when Victor asks Molly to throw him at the Gibborim.
  • The Fagin: Provost fits this trope to a T, getting runaway kids to steal for him.
  • Failure Hero: The team is understandably this in the first volume. Having just discovered their abilities, they barely manage to survive encounters with their parents, Topher and Cloak and Dagger. They finally beat their parents, but only because they were unarmed. This gets averted later on when they become competent in fighting groups of super powered people. After the second volume ends, however, thing Snap Back. In Dead End Kids and Rock Zombies, where the team spends large amounts of time being hindered by an alien bubble weapon, or ridiculous side effects from Nico's spells which have suddenly become ridiculously powerful.
  • Family Values Villain: While their styles of parenting range from hands off to strict/abusive, the supervillain parents in maintain normal upper middle class lives when not involved in villainy and have typical expectations of their children being successful and want to make the world a better place for them, and believe they are doing what is best for them... by letting the Gibborim destroy and remake it so their kids can live in paradise. The series is practically the poster child for Even Evil Has Loved Ones / Evil Parents Want Good Kids.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The Gibborim exploited this for all it was worth when picking the Pride. Time-travelers, magicians, glowing aliens, mutants, scientists and Badass Normals, all in one group.
  • Fictional Counterpart: In the first few volumes the kids often went to a Circle A convinience stores, a light-hearted parody of the real life Circle K chain.
  • First Kiss: The first one in the series is between Nico and Alex. Later on in Volume 1, we get a Kiss of Life (see below) between Gert and Chase, which soon becomes the real deal.
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water: Used twice. Happened first with Geoffrey Wilder but made moot at a later point of the story because his memory was erased. Now current with Klara who is still adjusting.
  • Foreshadowing: When Chamber confronts Molly, she asks him who he thinks he's fooling with that fake accent. The very end of the arc reveals that this isn't the real Chamber, but someone using an artifact of the Minorus' to impersonate him. Later still, it's revealed to be a time-displaced Geoffrey Wilder, who calls Molly out on it, telling her that he knows she's smarter than she's acting.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Karolina's code name, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", referencing The Beatles song.
  • Gender Bender: When Xavin finds out Karolina is a lesbian, and that is why they can't be together, he nonchalantly informs her that Skrull can change their gender as easily as humans can change their hair, and shapeshifts into a woman.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Chase's not-so-subtle joke regarding his girlfriend in Volume 2, Issue #1.
    Nico: We're the ones who created the power vacuum.
    Chase: Heh, "power vacuum". That should be Gert's new codename.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Invoked to emphasize the Pride's Moral Myopia. Chase's mother refused to give up her baby, claiming she wasn't a monster...while she and the rest of the Pride were about to sacrifice an innocent girl.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Victor has his bouts of this.
  • Green Lantern Ring: Nico's spells. Except the ones she's done before, and that's only in theory. In the original series, before Cloak and Dagger found them out looking for bad guys to fight, she used "Burst!" to pop paint cans, and in Secret Invasion: Young Avengers / Runaways, she uses "Pop!" to pop force fields. On the other hand, in Young Avengers / Runaways: Civil War, she asks the Vision to give her some help with new words for her spells, implying that only the actual one- or two-word incantation (on one memorable occasion, five: The show must go on.) can't be repeated, which should really let her do a lot more things.
    • She has to be careful about her word choice, however, especially in earlier comics before she increased her magical mastery. There was no guarantee a certain combination of words would do what she intended. Saying "Rock and Roll" with the intent of just making the ground shake a bit caused a cave-in that nearly killed the whole team.
  • Hand Wave: The logistics of living as runaways (where do they get food, etc.) are mentioned every now and then, but usually just gilded over. Though it is implied that as they start using abandoned Pride bases as "The Hostel" that these places were already fully stocked with supplies, and possibly money, should the Pride themselves need to hide out there.
    • And then there's Frank Dean's explanation of how the Abstract works:
      Dean: It's magic, mutant. If you think about it too hard, your brain will explode.
  • Happily Married: All six couples in the Pride, despite being supervillains.
  • Hellfire: Nico casts it at least once.
    • And one of them is mocked by Spider-Man, as he dodges it.
    Spider-Man: Ah, hellfire. When regular fire just simply won't do.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Molly Hayes grows up to become a member of the Brotherhood of Mutants in a crossover with All-New X-Men during Battle of the Atom, and again during a story arc beginning in #26.
  • Heroic BSOD: The "blue screen of death" is referenced by name. Also a more literal example than most cases, as Victor is actually a cyborg.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: Nico once asked Gert to use Old Lace to bite her to summon the Staff of One. Gert refused so Nico threatened to choke Gert to death if Old Lace didn't do anything. She bit her.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: Gender flipped with Chase's reaction to Gert's death.
  • "How Did You Know?" "I Didn't.": Twice - played seriously with Karolina's blood killing Topher in volume one, because she had no idea it would happen and honestly wanted to die. Played for laughs in volume three.
  • Human Aliens: Majesdanians in their powered-down form look just like H. Sapes. Powered up, they look like humans in a particularly overlit nightclub.
  • Human Outside, Alien Inside: Majesdanians. On the surface they look like normal humans, but their bodies apparently store and then expel solar energy.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: A random thug tries to do this to Karolina in the 1907 arc. Fortunately, she blasts the crap out of him in the next panel.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Victor Mancha became an important part if the team's plot, has significant links to greater Marvel Universe, and now that the book is on hiatus he's the only member of the team to be in an ongoing. He doesn't make his first appearance until Runaways' second volume. Likewise, Xavin, a character that gained the series some minor attention for being gender fluid, doesn't appear until a few issues after Victor's first appearance, and doesn't join the team or really have much effect on the plot, aside from having a character Put on a Bus for an arc, until Volume 3.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Nearly all the collected editions have titles that reference songs.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Karolina is gay and likes Nico. Nico, however, is not — or at the very least very confused.
    • Played with in the case of Karolina and Xavin. Karolina explains to him that she can't date him because she's a lesbian, at which point he says that it's not a problem and shapeshifts into a woman.
  • Irony: Early on in the series, the Runaways encounter a vampire who dupes them into thinking he's in the same situation as they are. When he gets Nico alone and tries to turn her, he gets stabbed through the chest with her staff. When she seems surprised that he hasn't dusted, he tells her "Whedon got it wrong," and that the only thing that would kill him is sunlight. Joss Whedon, of course, later joined the writing staff.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Chase is more a more traditional jerk, Xavin on the other hand is a jerk due to alien cultural misunderstandings regarding various things (IE: the treatment of robots). Both are good people despite their flaws.
  • Just a Machine: Victor gets this a lot especially from Xavin early on.
  • The Kid with the Remote Control: Gert, for Old Lace.
  • Killed Off for Real: Alex, Gert, and Old Lace, though as of the last issue it looks like Gert and Old Lace might come back.
    • Old Lace? Yes (''Avengers Academy' #27-28 contains the story of how). Gert? Not so much
    • And it looks like Alex is back as well..still no sight of Gert.
  • Kiss of Life: Gert and Chase's First Kiss (above) is one of these.
  • Knight Templar Parent: All of the Pride could be said to fit in this category, in that they're planning on giving the reward they earn for their Deal with the Devil to the kids. Not everyone is planning to honor this arrangement. And being a Knight Templar Parent does not necessarily translate to being a good or bad one in everyday life: the parents range from being informal and friendly (Karolina's) to outright abusive (Chase's) and everywhere in between.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: To preserve their secret, the Pride wipe memories from Cloak and Dagger. At least they use telepathy, legitimizing the trope. But then Cloak regains his memories after a swift smack on the head from Luke Cage, and this is played totally straight.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The first thing we see in issue #10 (book five) is Wolverine, and Iron Man commenting:
    Iron Man: A Wolverine appearance? How novel.
  • Literal Genie: The "Staff Of One" becomes one in Vol. 3, and it still keeps the "Only cast the same spell once" rule.
  • Logic Bomb: Poor Victor; justified in that it's a deliberate failsafe. And the logic bomb itself (and the reset switch) are hilarious.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Nico has a track record of bad guy boyfriends and failed relationships.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Chase goes off the deep end after Gert dies. He gets better.
  • Mad Scientist
  • Metallicar Syndrome: Averted but discussed early, where Chase drives the Runaways around and one of them complains about how uncool his plain white van is; he responds that he got it on purpose because a plain white van is the most inconspicuous vehicle possible.
  • Miko: The costume of the Witchbreaker, who is Nico's great grandmother is based on that of the miko.
  • The Mole: Key part of the plot for the comic's first year and half. It is revealed to be Alex Wilder, by self-admittance. See The Reveal below.
  • Mons: Old Lace is an emphatically bonded velociraptor genetically engineered from the 82nd century for Gert. She's at her beck and call.
  • Moral Dissonance: Nico's "The show must go on" spell that she cast on the Yorkes was a HUGE dick move, but the subject is dropped the very next panel and events move on without a word about it.
    • Nico's attitude in general was forgotten for awhile after. She was tortured and then showed up performing much more powerful spells and it was implied that the spell she cast on the Yorkes was a sign that she was developing a Dark Side. This was pretty much glossed over until the whole "Don't take the Staff of One from me" thing.
  • Motive Rant: There's super-villains about, they happen.
  • Mundane Utility: Nico using powerful ancient magic to renovate a freakin' condo "Ocean View!" indeed...
  • Mysterious Backer: It's pretty much how it starts the second series. A phone calls the superheroes for One Last Job; they call him out on it, but they still take the offer.
  • Nice Hat: Molly's collection of adorable hats. At one point, she puts one on the team dinosaur.
  • The Nicknamer: No one individual, rather all members of the team toss nicknames around that range in use from one-time teases to regularly calling to Nico as "boss".
  • No Periods, Period: Averted not once but twice, first as a mention of how convenient those days are for Nico to use magic as she doesn't need to hurt herself to use the staff (which, at that point, required her to 'shed blood' to summon it), second time as she and Karolina once went shopping for supplies.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted with the Leapfrog.
  • No Romantic Resolution: The third series was apparently supposed to end with Chase being reunited with Gert, but the series was abruptly cancelled halfway through the last arc, so instead, he runs into a girl who may or may not be Gert, then gets hit by a car while chasing after her.
  • Not So Different: Many, many sly moments where one of the kids acts just like their parents without realizing it.
  • Not Wearing Tights: Mostly. Molly once wore a self-made Civvie Spandex costume. It failed to catch on.
    • They get costumes in the non-continuity story "What if the Runaways Had Become the Young Avengers, which runs as a 5-part backup story in the 2008 series of What If?
  • Nuns Are Spooky: Black Maria, a nun-like superheroine from the time travel storyline.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Molly acts like a six-year-old most of the time, but every once in a while she reveals herself to be much, much smarter (she is, in fact, twelve). For the most part, her weak little girl persona is an act to hide her real intentions. She fools almost everyone, but a few characters, like her parents, see through it. Her father (who, remember, is telepathic) claims that she "acts childlike to lower people's defenses" but actually has "a ferocious intellect". In one battle with Alex's father, he confronts her with it:
    Molly: Please, mister! Don't hurt me!
    Wilder: Skip the waterworks, kid. Your cloying Rudy Huxtable routine is just an act you put on to get attention from your older friends. Why don't you behave like the bright young woman we both know you are?
    Molly: F-fine. Your son took after you, you know. He was a total frickin' failure.
  • Off Model: Runaways 3...good grief, Runaways 3. It slowly gets better, but at first it was as if the artist had never seen a non-white person. The exaggerated style did not help things compared to the more solid or anime-inspired styles of the past.
  • One Steve Limit: Subverted. Three Victors appear in the series (Mancha, Stein, and Doom). This Doom turns out to be a robot built by Ultron.
    • Which was played with. Doom claims to be Mancha's father and says that "Your mother was brave enough to anoint you with my name, but not to tell you of her dalliances as a young woman, in Latveria."
  • Only Child Syndrome: Justified - the six couples agreed to donate their spots to a single child each, rather than worry about which six of them the Gibborim would select once the plan was complete.
  • Opponent Switch: how the final battle against the Pride goes.
  • Opposites Attract: Gert and Chase, a nerd and a jock.
  • Our Vampires Are Different : Lampshaded with a smug reference to Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon - and how he "got it wrong". Within the Marvel universe there are different types of vampires, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
  • Out of Focus: Old Lace, since the "Dead wrong" arc. She's still there, but nobody mentions her, and she's not even used during the combat situations.
  • Perky Goth: Nico dresses in gothic clothing but stats with a rather positive outlook on things. She hardens as life goes on.
  • Personality Powers: Used straight, subverted, and doubly subverted. Goth girl Nico is a dark witch whose powers are activated by spilling blood...and it annoys her. Valley Girl Karolina is a walking light show who isn't as perky as she looks. The smallest of them has super strength, and the dumb jock is in charge of all the wonderful toys.
  • Politically Correct History: Averted with the team's Time Travel adventure to 1907. Nico encounters racism, the team meets Klara who's trapped in a squicky Arranged Marriage to a much older man, and Xavin changes her default human form to a white male.
  • The Power of Love: In the Dead Wrong arc
    • Subverted in the case of Victor and Lillie. Despite being very much in love with each other, Lillie panics at the idea of going with Victor to the future and stays behind. We later see that she grew up to regret chickening out, to the point at which she tries to warn Victor to bring her with him before he travels through time. She still doesn't go.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Chase occasionally calls Alex "bro", much to the latter's irritation. Later, he calls Victor "amigo", getting a similar chilly response.
  • Put on a Bus: Xavin, and Karolina went through this for a time. Though she came back surprisingly fast for this trope. then Xavin left and there's no sign yet of Xavin's return
  • Reinventing The Telephone: An odd example. When the Wilders need to talk to the other members of the Pride, they use a Video-Phone, presumably just a convenient webcam, but the other couples all use a variant based on their area of expertise. The wizards have a mystical portal, the scientists have a Hologram, etc.
  • The Reveal: When Alex admits to being The Mole (above) for the Pride.
    • While vaguely hinted at earlier in Volume 1, it is revealed that Karolina likes Nico. After Alex's betrayal, when Nico claims she's sworn off boys forever, Karolina blushes and is very pleased to hear this. Karolina later tries to kiss Nico, unsuccessfully. It's implied much later, in Vol. 3 #10, that she did eventually get to, but fans debate whether this was an intentional reveal or James Asmus was just confused about what happened between them before his run.
  • Reverse Mole: Towards the end of the first volume, a few members of the Pride start wondering if one of them is on the kids' side, turns out it's just a Red Herring
  • Rubber Man: Xavin, amongst his other Super Skrull powers.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: The Pride have admittedly bought out most of California, allowing them to do pretty much whatever the hell they want.
  • Secret Legacy: The kids find out their parents are super villains and all get powers/items of importance from them.
  • Secret Project Refugee Family (After running away, the kids adopted each other as a new family)
  • Sex for Solace: Nico has a self-admitted tendency to throw herself at the nearest male in the aftermath of any stressful or traumatic scenario, although she does not progress to actual sex until well into the second volume of the series. She knows it is not healthy and is not fair to herself or whomever she throws herself at, but she cannot seem to break the pattern.
  • Shapeshifting Seducer: Xavin tries this with Karolina, but doesn't tell her before hand.
  • Shipper on Deck: Most of the group was this for Gert and Chase. After the two have a fight, Karolina assures Chase that they'll make up and "You two are made for each other!"
  • Shout-Out: Three characters are named after creator Brian K. Vaughan's family. In addition, The Who get a shout or two: the "hope I die" quotation from Alex, as well as one of the story arcs being called "Teenage Wasteland."
    • Not to mention Molly's affection for Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs.
    • And at one point in Volume 2, Issue 6 Nico shouts, "Shine on you crazy diamond!"
    • Don't forget Gert's codename and her dinosaur's name.
    • Not to mention Karolina's nickname, Lucy in the Sky...with Diamonds.
    • When asked what he was dreaming about, Victor answered 'electric sheep'.
    • Also, one of the story arcs is called Pride and Joy, which may be a reference to a Stevie Ray Vaughn song.
    • The scene in Volume 1 where the entire team is trapped and surrounded by fallen rubble with one character holding everything up should seem familiar to fans of Secret Wars.
    • Victor Mancha owns a copy of Rick Jones's (Incredible Hulk character) book Sidekick.
      • On top of that the copy is even beaten up as though it was published a while ago (the 90s to be precise).
    • In the alternate future of volume 4, Victor as Victorious' appearance and MO is exactly like Syndrome. Killing all superheroes? A black one piece costume with domino mask and the first letter of his codename? Electricity-based powers?
    • When Victor first meets the team, he calls them the Teen Girl Squad.
    • Karolina's parents named themselves after James Dean from Rebel Without a Cause.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Chase and Gert after they start to use pet names for each other.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Karolina gets hit with this in the first arc of Volume 3.
  • Sixth Ranger: After the first volume,t he gang adds quite a few new faces to the crew: Victor (Codename: Victorious (Future self)), Xavin and Klara.
  • Sixth Ranger Traitor: Topher, when he reveals he's a vampire just out to eat them
  • Sleeping Dummy: "What is our son doing with a male mannequin head in his room?"
  • Small Reference Pools: Subverted. Just LOOK at the Shout Outs this series has.
  • The Smurfette Principle: This was deliberately inverted from the beginning - even the pitch included with the first TPB mentions the break from tradition by having more girls than guys.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Gert. She is first shown wanting to join the Communist Club at her school, and correcting her dads Etymology.
  • Soaperizing: More time is focused on the various relationships between the teens than fighting evil. The biggest bits of drama tend to hang around relationship troubles between them—especially Nico.
  • Spin-Off: There was a short-lived series about Excelsior, called The Loners because Stan Lee holds copyright on the word "Excelsior". Um, hang on...
  • Spirit Advisor: In one arc, Alex anonymously gives the Runaways a few vital clues from The Nothing After Death.
  • Starting A New Life: The third series opens with the team trying to establish a new home for themselves, having been driven out of the Hostel by Iron Man towards the end of the previous series.
  • Steam Punk: The Yorkes are rife with it, at least as far as their technology is concerned.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: A mad scientist named Victor Stein.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In the first issue of volume two, two unrelated characters comment on the lack of superheroes in LA, "except maybe Wonder Man, and he don't count."
  • Sugar and Ice Personality: Gert with Chase in the first volume. When they get together, it's much warmer.
  • Super Serum: Cloak and Dagger's backstory has a power-granting drug as their origin.
  • Supervillain Lair: Multiple Pride lairs have been re-purposed as "Hostels" after the original was destroyed.
  • Symbol Swearing: Most notably used by Chase at the prenulmenate issue of volume 1, and by Karolina in the climatic battle in the second crossover with Young Avengers
  • Take That: When Molly sees Old Lace for the first time, this exchange happens:
    Molly: You have a dinosaur!
    Gert: Yeah, but it's a friendly dinosaur. Like Barney.
    Molly: I hate Barney!
  • Tangled Family Tree: Victor's mere existence causes this with some characters outside of the team. As Ultron's son he is: Vision's Brother, Wiccan and Speed's Uncle, and Hank Pym's Grandson. And his sister-in-law's brother-in-law's brother is in fact Scott Summers.
    • Hank Pym actually comments on this in Avengers Academy, after telling Victor that he shouldn't call him "Dr. Pym" (since they are 'related') he decides it's better than "Grandpa".
  • Temporary Love Interest: Topher and later Lillie
  • Thanatos Gambit: Alex attempts one to bring him back from the dead (though in actuality his friends would be transporting him from a moment before death into the future).
  • Their First Time: Nico and Victor lose their virginity to one another, even though they immediately regret it.
  • Throw-Away Country: Karolina's homeworld Majesdane was nuked by the Skrulls. When Xavin wonders why Gerts' death affects the team more, Karolina actually mentions that A Million Is a Statistic.
  • Time Travel: Joss Whedon's arc. Gert's parents are also time travling criminals.
  • Title Drop: Pretty frequently. One good example came in Joss Whedon's run.
    Nico: Runaways! Runaway!
  • Tonight Someone Dies: Twice so far. The first was the good way to execute this trope—lots of twists and turns before a really meaningful death. The second was more gimmicky and Dropped a Bridge on Him. (Protip: the best way to do this is if the death happens near the end of the arc, rather than the beginning.)
  • Totally Radical: Most notably for the use of 'rents instead of parents.
  • True Companions: The Runaways form a very tight surrogate family after they run from their parents.
  • Try Not to Die: The Team Motto, and also the Trope Namer.
  • Tykebomb: In a manner of speaking, the entire core cast.
    • Mainly Molly
  • Unhand Them, Villain!: Molly dodges this the second time the team face the Gibborim. "Put her down..and not, like, down your throat."
  • Unintentional Period Piece: It's set in the mid 2000s, and it shows:
    • Alex is playing an MMORPG with a fee. 10 years later, most MMORPGs are free to play with microtransactions (including Marvel's own!) and it's harder for an MMORPG to get away with a monthly fee - just doesn't draw the crowds like it did then.
    • The cell phones.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: None of the kids ever seems to wear the same outfit twice.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: By the frogload.
    Gert: Sexual tension. Gross.
  • Vancian Magic: Sort of - the Staff of One can perform each spell once and only once. Unless you can think of a word that causes the same affect, or use the same word but mean something different with it.
  • Villain Decay: When the Gibborim are first introduced they are powerful, nearly all-knowing fallen angels who were out to destroy the world, and they could've have replaced any members of the Pride, and ultimately kill the entire Pride when they failed them. However, when the Gibborim resurface in the Live Fast storyarc, they are reduced to monsters trapped in a weird purgatory dimension and are completely dependant on mortals bringing them sacrifices just to sustain themselves. And a direct hit from one of their fire blasts (which disentegrated Alex onscreen earlier) merely stuns Xavin this time. Even the kid's mocking attitudes reflect this, with only Victor showing any fear at their presence. And Nico only mentions that they killed Alex as a testament to their power, nothing about them killing the Pride.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot "We can't keep bouncing around like this. Klara just barfed all over Molly."
  • Voodoo Zombies: The Rock Zombies. Although they turn out to be not actually undead, but rather people deformed and mind controlled by Magic. And then there's Dead George Pellham from the 1907 arc.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Subverted. The members of the Pride keep saying that they're building a better future for their children, but it turns out that they literally mean just the six kids they spawned—the rest of humanity will die if all goes according to plan. Plus, the original deal with the Gibborim was that three of the couples would get to live eternally in paradise, so their motivations were purely selfish to begin with. Only the Yorkes seem to genuinely think they're doing the world as a whole a favor.
    Stacy Yorkes: Before my dolt of a husband totaled our 4-D portico permanently, we visited thousands of possible futures, each worse than the last...The next generation deserves something new...and that's exactly what we're going to give them.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human? (addressed and occasionally slightly subverted with Victor, whom Xavin at one point refers to as "the house android" because he doesn't understand Vic's relationship with the others at that point, which has actually gotten pretty comfortable and Xavin, the Skrull Gender Bender)
  • Wham Episode: Quite a few, especially towards the end of each long arc.
    • Volume 1, issue 6: There's a mole within the team.
    • Volume 1, issue 13: The Pride's true motivations are revealed: their serving three gigantic monsters, possibly fallen angels, known as the Gibborim that want to extingish all life on earth, leaving only the six runaways, originally the six members of the pride the Gibborim favored the most before a pregnancy led to a change of plans, to inheret the earth.
    • Volume 1, issue 16: Alex is revealed to be the Mole, right after gaining possession of the Fistagons, Chase's goggles, the staff of one, and Old Lace.
    • Volume 1, issue 17: Alex reveals he found out not only what his parents were doing a year ago, but that the Deans and Hayes planned on betraying the rest of the pride, and that he manipulated the team into finding their various equipment and/or ablities. Alex is then quickly dispatched and Molly destroys the vessel for the rite of thunder, leading to the Gibborim destroying The Pride and Alex.
    • Volume 2, issue 5 Victor's "father" is revealed to be Ultron, not doom as the previous issue suggested, who promptly takes control of him.
    • To a lesser extent Issue 6 revealing Ultron's plans for Victor, that his love for supeheroes was imbedded in him so that he'd become a hero/sleeper agent when he grew up and then slaughter them, as seen in the Bad Future, when a trigger is activated. Also Rick Jones was the one funding excelsior
    • Volume 2, issue 12 The mysterious figures plotting against the Runaways reveal one of the team will die
    • Volume 2, issue 18 Gert is Killed Off for Real
    • Volume 2, issue 27 The mysterious individuals running the Sinners are the Yorkes.
  • White Gang Bangers: Parodied in Teenage Wasteland - Nico complains that the group's disguises make them look the sort of politically correct gang that only shows up in bad TV shows.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Volume 1, issue #13
  • Wolverine Publicity: Much like the original Marvel teen hero, a majority of the series revolves around them encountering B-villains and having teamups. Many of Marvel's most popular heroes have made cameos in the series, most of whom have some idea about what is best for the teens. When Wolverine himself made an appearance it was only a brief one, but was lampshaded by Iron Man (Who was also cameoing) who commented that it was the third time this week the two had run into each other. Soon afterwards, Wolverine was beaten up and thrown through a church door by Molly after a series of comic misunderstandings and a request to be allowed to touch his hair (Hey, Molly might be smarter than she looks, but she is still a kid, and he is Wolverine. You would want to touch his hair, too).
  • The Worf Effect: Any heavy hitter facing Molly Hayes gets this. She one-punched the Punisher once and Wolverine twice.
  • Worst Aid: Analyzed and played straight. When it looks like Chase is dead from being held under the water, the other kids all throw out different suggestions to bring him back to life, ranging from sucking the water out to the heimlich maneuver. They do use CPR, but none of them can remember how many compressions to give him. It does cross over into CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable) territory when it brings him back fully even though his heart had been stopped for several minutes.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Gert has purple hair. She dyes it.
  • You Have Failed Me: Lieutenant Flores in the first volume's last arc, after an unsanctioned attempt to bring in the kids nearly gets them killed and destroys the first Hostel. Alex's dad is waiting for him when the cops get him out of the rubble, and is not happy.
    "Oh thank God. I thought I was dead."
  • You Watch Too Much X: When the team discovers Karolina's powers, Alex suggests her that her Med-Alert bracelet is made of something that inhibits them. He gets halfway through the word "Kryptonite" before Chase cuts him off. "You've been watching too many WB shows, bro."
  • Your Vampires Suck: Ironically aimed at Joss Whedon, who later ended up writing for the book.

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