Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!
"We're not retreating, we're advancing in a different direction!"
Someone shouts an order or entreaty, but is suddenly forced to change their stance and start chanting the opposite. A Comedy Trope
The standard formula goes like this: repetition of a word or phrase; alarming change in circumstance; repetition of an inversion of the first. Or a straight reiteration of the first statement, given a humorous context by the new circumstances.
For example: "Chaaaaaaarge!" (giant rolling boulder appears)
Commonly spoken by a Small Name, Big Ego
. The change of circumstance often prompts an Oh, Crap
expression. See also Verbal Backspace
, On Second Thought
. Tactical Withdrawal
is a non-comedic variant Be Careful What You Wish For
often involves this, though more long-term. Compare Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...
. Contrast Attack! Attack! Attack!
. May be a comedic Underequipped Charge
. If the character Attack-Attacks anyway, they're probably a Boisterous Weakling
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Anime & Manga
- Girls und Panzer:
- In episode 8, the Ooarai girls' team gets a bit too excited chasing down a Pravda tank during the match. They are then led into a town, and are completely surrounded by other Pravda tanks. Miho, the Oorai's tank captain, has them retreat into a large church, where they are then asked by a Pravda representative to surrender the match to them.
- In the final battle, they fall victim to this again: when they enter a city, they spy a lone enemy tank. They chase it to gun it down before the rest of the enemy team gets there... only to be ambushed by a freaking Maus! The retreat order is sounded pretty quickly after that.
- Early in Attack on Titan, Hannes declares his intentions to fight and defeat a Titan to save Eren & Mikasa. He charges ahead, gets one solid look at the Titan, immediately grabs Eren & Mikasa, and runs away with them instead.
- In OVA 1.1 of Shinryaku! Ika Musume, Eiko and Squid Girl are playing an RPG game. In one scene, they are rushing towards a bunch of Mooks and mowing them down. In the very next scene, they're running away from some giant monsters chasing them.
- During The Orange Island Saga on Pokémon, Jesse's Lickitung chases after a pair of Nidoran and chases them into a cave. Two seconds later, it's running out in terror as they come back out with Nidoking.
- Magic: The Gathering:
- The flavor text for Withdraw reads:
We outnumber them! Charge! Charge! Hey, where'd you guys go? Retreat! Retreat!
- Killer Instinct:
Take the bridge, men! Victory! Victory is ou— Retreat! RETREAT!
- Eddie Izzard, explaining how Russia's geography repelled both Napoleon's army and the Nazis:
Eddie Izzard: Napoleon had been steaming in there 100 years before: "I'm going to kill them, I'm going to kill them, going to — Oh, it's a bit cold, it's a bit cold. Right! OK, OK, bad idea." And then Hitler, "I've got a better idea, got a better idea — Oh, it's the same idea! It's the same idea, it's the same idea..."
Films — Animation
- Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. On hearing that their vegetables will be used as bait to attract the Were-Rabbit, Mrs. Mulch flees with her giant pumpkin, whilst the townsfolk yell at her "Come back! Come back!" The Were-Rabbit then approaches, prompting her to about turn. The villagers then realize what is happening and start yelling "Go away! Go away!"
- Ice Age 2, with Sid the Sloth near the end.
Sid: We're gonna LIVE!
(beat for the realisation of rising water all around them)
Sid: We're gonna DIE!
- An American Tail: "Welease the Secwet Weapon!" "Stop the Weapon!" "Release the Weapon!" "Make up your mind!" "Release the blasted weapon!" What was happening: A false alarm caused the mice to start to release their secret weapon too early. But the effort to stop the weapon before it was loose takes them right to the scheduled release time, forcing them to scramble once again, this time to release it.
- Robin Hood (Disney), when Robin is chained up and about to be executed:
Prince John: (throwing a tantrum) Off with his head!
(Little John secretly threatens him from behind with a dagger) Let him go, for heaven's sake! Let him go!
(the Sheriff distracts Little Jon, who releases Prince John) Kill him! Don't stand there, Kill him!
- The Lion King:
Zazu: (in a cage) Let me out, let me out!
Timon: (being chased) Let me in, let me in!
- Mulan: During the fight against the Huns, Mulan runs out by herself armed with a cannon and a totally crazy idea. Her three friends in the army follow after her to help. Then they see the avalanche Mulan caused with the cannon, and immediately run as fast as they can in the opposite direction.
- Kung Fu Panda 2: When the Furious Five attempt to bring down Shen's cannon factory.
Monkey: (dropping a dozen barrels of explosives inside) Here's your New Year's gift!
Mantis: Hope you like it, 'cuz you can't return it!
Tigress: Po?! What's he doing here?
Monkey: (as he frantically tries to snuff out the burning barrels) Return it! Return it!
Duke: Stop that coach! Close those gates!
(Cinderella's coach slips through before the gates close)
Duke: Follow that coach! Open those gates!
- In Treasure Planet, during the supernova, Captain Amelia orders: "Secure all sails!" And then when Dr. Doppler points out that he can predict the next magilla wave coming out of the black hole, and she decides they can ride that out of there, she turns to the crew, who have just finished tying down the sails, and we have this exchange:
Mr Arrow: All sails secured, Captain!
Captain Amelia: Good man! Now release them immediately!
Pirates: But we just finished tying them down! Make up your bloomin' minds!
- In G.I. Joe: The Movie, there is a nod to this trope when a Cross Country chases his runaway HAVOK out of sight, shouting "Stop, mule! Stop! STOP!", only to almost immediately come running back shouting "GO! GO! GO! It's..." (cue entrance of COBRA forces shouting "COBRA!")
- In the German animated movie The Fearless Four, Buster the dog grabs Tortellini the rooster by the tail to keep him from falling. Tortellini snaps "Let me go, silly dog, let me go!", only to see guards below and say "Don't let go, don't let go!"
Films — Live-Action
- Subverted in The Avengers. Captain America gives a policeman directions on how to best control the situation when an alien army attacks the city. The policeman at first dismisses his advice, then once he sees a giant alien whale-thing fly down the street, immediately repeats Captain's orders to his men, verbatim.
- In The Delta Force, a hundred terrorists charge a schoolhouse, thinking their opposition consists only of two Delta Force operators, only to turn tail and run when one operator sets off the explosives that they had planted in the building before the terrorists arrived.
- 300: Those in back cried "Forward!", those in front cried "Back!" ... The guy in front screaming "Back!" gets brutally stabbed just after saying it.
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
- The heroes are being pursued through the Death Star: "Close the blast doors! Close the blast doors!" (doors close immediately after the heroes dive through) "Open the blast doors! Open the blast doors!"
- Earlier, Han, Luke, and company turn a corner and run directly into about half a dozen stormtroopers. Han shoots one and the rest flee in a panic. Han chases them screaming only to find a huge contingent of stormtroopers around the corner. Oh, Crap. Cue Han's headlong screaming retreat. One of the few things the Re Cut improved was replacing the handful of soldiers with an entire hangar full of them, making Han's reaction much more justified (and funnier). Nonetheless, the original cut is (arguably) just as funny, where the stormtroopers hit a dead end, and then turn around to chase Han. It's very obvious that they just did a check head count and went "Hey, wait a minute..."
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom:
- Another all-screaming version with the title character chasing one of the bad guys armed with nothing but a sword... until the bad guy's friends show up (similar to the above Star Wars example), causing a hasty retreat.
- Also, later, Indy stops the runaway mine-cart by pressing his foot against the wheel, causing his foot to catch on fire. He hops around while Whillie tries to kick dirt at it, shouting, "Water, water! Water!" A few seconds later, the deluge unleashed by Mola Ram comes flooding through the entire tunnel, destroying everything in its path. "Water! Waaater!" While it's the same word, Indy is extremely panic-stricken and clearly doesn't want it anymore.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
- In Part 1, Harry tests his newly acquired wand by attempting to make a flame in a jar grow using an engorgement charm. He has to use the Reduction charm almost instantly as the tiny flame in the jar turns into a monstrous column of fire.
- Part 2: In the Room of Requirement, Ron chases Goyle furiously after he tries to AK Hermione, only to run away screaming, "Goyle set the bloody place on fire!"
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail:
- The hero's Battle Cry quickly breaks down into a rather disorderly call for retreat. The French counterattack by launching farm animals at the attackers.
- Also brilliantly done when the group confronts the Killer Rabbit.
- Pirates of the Caribbean:
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The cavalry rides out through the city gates, followed by one lone foot soldier screaming "Charge!" — cue the gates being closed — "Let me in!"
- Zombieland: "Don't swing! Don't swing!... Swing!"
- In a rare scene from Labyrinth not featuring "The Area", when they are fighting their way through the Goblin City: "Chaaaaaaaaarge!... Ruuuuuuuuun!"
- The first American Godzilla film. The Intrepid Reporter's cameraman, Victor "Animal" Palotti (Hank Azaria), runs down a hallway and encounters several baby Zillas.
This way! This way!
(baby Zilla roars; Animal returns
Not this way! Back that way!
- Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome: The set-piece of chasing an enemy until all his mates turn up seen in Indiana Jones is repeated in this film.
- Robin Hood: Men in Tights has the Sheriff of Rottingham telling his men to get Robin until Robin puts a sword to his throat, and his orders become, "Wait, I've... changed my mind."
- Evolution: An alien burrows into Harry Block's leg.
Dr. Paulson: We might have to amputate.
Harry Block: Whoa, Doc! Don't take the leg! Ira, don't let them take my leg.
Ira Kane: Isn't there anything else you can do? He thinks he's an athlete.
Nurse Tate: Doctor, look!
Dr. Paulson: It's headed for his testicles.
Harry Block: TAKE IT! TAKE IT! TAKE THE LEG!!!
- From The Mummy Returns, as the heroes escape from Ahm Shere:
Izzy: (as Jonathan is hanging from a rope ladder) Pull him up! Pull him up!
Jonathan: Pull me up! Pull me up! (sees the giant diamond on top of the pyramid) Wait! Let me down! LET ME DOWN!
- One scene in Hook has Captain Hook holding a pistol to his head:
Capt. Hook: This is it. Don't try to stop me this time, Smee. Don't try to stop me this time, Smee. Don't you dare try to stop me this time, Smee, try to stop me. Smee, you'd better get up off your ass. Get over here, Smee!
- I Come in Peace: From Larry, when he asks Jack to stop driving on the sidewalks as they're being chased by the bad alien:
Larry: Get back on the street, get back on the street! (sees the alien) Stay on the sidewalk, stay on the sidewalk!
- Maverick: Maverick's old pappy used to say "He who fights and runs away... can run away another day".
- In Iron Man, Yinsen does this to some Ten Rings terrorists shortly before he gets shot.
- A rare case of this trope Played for Drama, and definitely not a Tactical Withdrawal, happens in The Film Of The Fellowship of the Ring:
Boromir: (after discovering the long-dead dwarves inside the West Gate of the mines of Moria) We should never have come here. Now get out of here; get out!
(cue attack by Watcher in the Water)
Gandalf: Into the mines!
- The Hobbit: The dwarves are taken from the goblins by giant eagles. "Let go of me!" (looks down) "Please don't let go!"
- In the Left Behind book Glorious Appearing: The GC Unity Army is primed and ready to attack both Petra and Jerusalem. Then Jesus arrives. Cue Curb-Stomp Battle.
- Dave Barry Slept Here has a non-military version, where the famous "Oklahoma land rush," participated in by thousands after the U.S. government opens the Oklahoma territory up for settlement, is followed by the famous "rush to get the hell back out of Oklahoma."
- Monster Hunter International Nemesis: "An intruder! Seize him!...Oh, shit! It's Franks! Run!"
- The Italian army in 'Allo 'Allo! embodies this trope. The bombastic Italian officer and his men keep demanding the place of honour in any German-led act of aggression, but within minutes are either retreating or have surrendered. Their German allies exasperatedly put up with this but are not happy.
- In Blackadder's first series, when Prince Edmund thinks the castle is under attack:
Edmund: Run for the hills! Run for the hills!
Baldrick: My lord, they're coming from the hills.
Edmund: Run away from the hills! Run away from the hills! If you see the hills, run the other way!
- In The Nanny episode "The Playwright", Fran tries to talk a former classmate out of jumping off a building.
Fran: (looking down) Oh my God, Jeffrey, look how high up we are! Oh, Jeffrey, I'm scared! Hold my hand! Hold my hand!
Jeffrey Needleman: I'm gonna jump...
Fran: Let go of my hand! Let go of my hand!
- So Random!, "Kickin' Daisies":
Nolan: Zoey? She is dead to me!
Zoey: Hey Nolan.
Nolan: Zoey? You are alive to me!
- In the Mudpit episode "Travelin' Band":
Fitsy: I'm in.
G: Great! See you tomorrow.
Fitsy: I'm out.
- Game of Thrones: The season 2 finale:
Two blasts is Wildlings. Edd:
You're not fighting them alone. Come on.
Three blasts? Edd: RUN!
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "The Zeppo", an axe-wielding Xander chases a zombie down a corridor, only for them both to come tearing out again chased by members of a demon cult.
- Used as a pun in the André Manuel / Krang song "Ten Aarzel". The Dutch phrase "ten aanval!" means "attack! / charge!". The verb "aarzelen" means "to hesitate". Thus, the trope is evoked using clever wordplay.
- The Muppet Show: Season 4, Episode 20 (featuring Alan Arkin). Miss Piggy doesn't like Arkin's choice of a closing number ("Pig Shuffle") and decides to voice her protest with a karate chop. Thing is, Arkin had drunk a Jekyll & Hyde potion earlier, and the blow switches Arkin to his monster side. Miss Piggy quickly flees.
- This trope has been in video games for a long time. Two of the intermissions of the classic Pac-Man feature this. The first well-recognized one has a ghost chasing Pac-Man... only to be seen in vulnerable form going back the other way as a giant Pac-Man closes on it. Then in the third intermission, the ghost runs across the screen... then runs back the other way dragging its ghost suit with it. It's also constantly present in regular gameplay, with the ghosts turning away from Pac-Man the second he grabs a Power Pellet.
- Jak II: Renegade: Daxter inadvertently activates a handful of bombs, with Vin trying to keep him and Jak calm. Vin: "Don't move! (Beat) On second thought, move! Far away!"
- In a slight variation, in Halo 3, Grunts will sometimes shout "Charge... backwards!"
- In Halo Wars, the ally usually attacks with just one unit, and when greeted with one bullet, immediately runs in the opposite direction.
- In the fifth installment of Dynasty Warriors, the barbarian king Meng Huo is repeatedly bested in battle by Zhuge Liang. One of his event quotes follows this trope.
Meng Huo: No more retreating, I swear!
(Meng Huo and his Nanman army are soundly thrashed for the fourth or fifth time that stage)
Meng Huo: RETREAT! RETREAT!
- Infinity Wars has the Fleeting Footman, who retreats whenever he would go into combat with an enemy.
Fleeting Footman's Flavour Text: ATAAAAAAAAAACK! Wait… RETREEEAT!
- Modern Warfare 1 (Call of Duty 4) has an inversion (Retreat! Retreat!...Attack! Attack!): after Price's squad's been forced to retreat up a hill towards a helicopter landing zone (LZ) by a neverending army of Russian forces, they're told that the LZ's no longer usable due to the presence of anti-air missiles in the area, and that the nearest safe LZ would be at the bottom of the hill... right through the Russians.
- Star Fox 64 had a boss which gave commands to a train throughout a level. For most of the level, you chase him down as he shouts "Step on the gas!" to his subordinates, but if you hit a series of 8 switches before a certain point in the track, you can change his route so that he crashes into a supply depot. Upon realizing what you've done, he shouts "No! Hit the Braaaakes!", but it's too-little too-late. The resulting explosion takes out the entire base, which was the actual intent of the mission.
- God of War:
- This happens with Sparx in The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night:
Sparx: I want out! I want out! (dragon roars at him) I want in! I want in!
- Unintentional in Guild Wars 2 with the speed-boosting warcry "Retreat!" Rarely used to retreat, mostly used as the most demotivational gap closer or travel convenience in history.
- Portal 2:
Announcer: Stalemate detected. Transfer procedure cannot continue.
Wheatley: Pull me out pull me out pull me out pull me out pull me out pull me out pull me out!
Announcer: ...unless a stalemate associate is present to press the stalemate resolution button.
Wheatley: Leave me in! Leave me in! Leave — Go pre... Go press it!
- In the Kingdom Under Fire games, some of the more chaotic battles will have you attacking and retreating repeatedly as events unfold on the battlefield. It's not uncommon to hear your commander invoke this trope word for word.
- In the opening of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, Jack finds Colonel Zarpedon at the escape ships, having earlier mentioned that the first person to shoot her in the head "gets a high five and a turbomansion." True to his word, he immediately orders an attack when he spots her at the escape ships.
- Red vs. Blue:
- In the animation proper:
Simmons: Any second now the Blues are going to come running over that hill, guns blazing, screaming CHAAAAARGE!
(cuts to the Blues)
- They had some fun with this in the bloopers.
Simmons: Any second now the Blues are goin to come running over that hill, charging, guns blazing, screaming—[stammers]—fuck!
(Blues come running over the hill)
Church and Tucker: FUUUUUCK!
- One has to look carefully in order to find it, but the Leeroy Jenkins video has Leeroy himself doing this after his guildmates rush in.
- In strip #181 of The Order of the Stick, the adventuring party is walking through a slightly damp corridor before stumbling upon an area of magical darkness. When Haley finally finds the edge of the darkness, she calls for her comrades to join her... before realizing she's nose-to-snout with a black dragon.
Haley: Back into the darkness!
Roy: But you just said—
Haley: BACK INTO THE DARKNESS!!
- A close variant in strip #31 of Rusty and Co.:
Princess & Mimic: Cross the bridge!!!
Rusty: No cross!
Princess & Mimic: Cross the bridge!!!
Rusty: No cross!
Princess & Mimic: Don't cross the bridge! Don't cross the bridge!
- This strip of Irregular Webcomic!.
- This happens to Dellyn Goblinslayer:
Get over there and kill anything that isn't human!
(two strips later
Close the west gate! Close the west gate!
- And to Kin shortly afterward:
Don't throw the spear!
THROW THE SPEAR! note
- 8-Bit Theater provides this:
- In Bob and George's first actual gag, Mega Man went from the Badass Boast about big trouble the other guy was in, to talking about how much it would hurt.
- This page of The Senkari
- Looney Tunes
- In the Darkwing Duck episode "Just Us Justice Ducks Pt.2":
Pedestrians: (running towards a squad car) Help, Police!
(Quackerjack's chattering teeth emerge, wearing patrol hats)
Pedestrians: (running in opposite direction) HELP! POLICE!!!!
- Codename: Kids Next Door:
- The Simpsons: Groundkeeper Willie tries to save the wee turtles when the school catches fire.
If I don't save the wee turtles, who will?!
(emerges covered in turtles
Gaahh save me from the wee turtles! They were too quick for me!!
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 has Mikey pull a good one...
Mikey: (caught by Raphael) I'm saved! I'm saved!
(Triceraton starts tearing apart the car)
Don: We're going down!
Mikey: We're doomed! We're doomed!
- Jimmy Two-Shoes:
Jimmy: We demand you lower the wall! (gets crushed under wall) Raise the wall!
- In one episode of Adventures of the Gummi Bears, an Evil Sorcerer has had a monster minion steal the Great Book of Gummi:
Sorcerer: Give me the book! (is flattened under gigantic tome) Take the book! Take the book!
- Many toy-sized dogs have the same territorial nature as their larger brethren, but are unable to gauge the relative size of another dog intruding on their territory until they get really close to it. This typically results in the smaller pooch running towards the bigger one while fiercely yapping, and then quickly running away while yelping pitifully after it realizes just how much larger the other dog actually is. And it's hilarious.
- This can also happen when a dog goes after a cat, since cats can make themselves look significantly more fearsome when backed into a corner. And some cats prefer to stand their ground and attack the dog once it gets close rather than run from it (particularly large toms, who tend to be relatively slow runners). The dog approaches, barking fiercely, only to be sent running with multiple claw marks across its nose. A similar scenario tends to play out the first time a dog encounters a skunk or porcupine.
- The Korean War was like this for both sides. First at Pusan when the North Koreans were about to win and MacArthur landed at Inchon, causing a helter-skelter retreat. This led to the Americans chasing the North Koreans all the way to the Chinese border when — you guessed it — the Chinese came over the border and sent them running back again.
- The Battle of Cannae in The Punic Wars has an example on the Roman side: after finding themselves encircled, some Romans launched a Death Or Glory attack on the Carthaginians, broke through the enemy forces... And kept running before the enemy finished the bulk of their forces and killed them too.
- The Italian offensive of late 1940 designed to push the British out of Egypt got so far. Then stopped. And was then turned into humiliating retreat back into Libya by a makeshift British army about an eighth of its own size. The Italian invasion of Albania and Grece was similarly humiliated. Both disasters required heavy German intervention to rescue their hapless ally.