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Cower Power
It's the cowering conga!

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

It's only natural to cower in the face of dangernote . As such, many a classic Distressed Damsel and fearful child will cower behind the nearest Love Interest, parent, or Big Damn Heroes when presented with peril. Of course, most conscientious heroes and even Innocent Bystanders will naturally interpose themselves anyway to protect other innocents (and perhaps pointlessly, but they do get props for chivalry). This kind of cowering stems from the classic pose of hero and heroine facing a monster on Film Posters for Touch of the Monster: the hero has a gun in one hand pointed at the beast, his other hand holding the Love Interest back, while she clutches his shoulder with one hand and covers her mouth from shock with the other.

There's another kind of character who cowers this way too, the Dirty Coward. He'll grab a nearby Innocent Bystander and use him as a Human Shield, hide behind the Littlest Cancer Patient when the Serial Killer with a soft spot for kids shows up, and might even shove his Love Interest towards the Martian Woman Stealer. Villains also tend to do this when faced with an implacable hero, inverting the cower by using the Love Interest to hide from him!

Sometimes this is used for comedic effect, with a hero who is Afraid of Needles reacting with complete terror to mundane things, sometimes even jumping into his Sidekick's arms or ducking behind his Love Interest like a Distressed Damsel. The Fish out of Water might hide from otherwise harmless things too (and notice who/what they're hiding behind looks far more threatening). See also Pose of Supplication.

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


Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • In the second arc of Gantz, Kurono is treated like a Dirty Coward for momentarily hiding behind Kishimoto when they first encounter a hostile alien. He objects that it is justified because she is wearing a super-suit that provides some protection from injury, while he is in street clothes and thus defenseless.

Comic Books

Fan Fiction
  • Kyon Big Damn Hero: After Haruhi's reaction to Tsuruya's report on what she and Kyon did to disband a illegal photographic ring (which included sleeping with him and bathing together — It Makes Sense in Context), Mikuru automatically hides behind Tsuruya. Kanae, noting that hiding behind Tsuruya isn't the best idea in this circumstances, decided not to follow this trope and only hide behind the table.

Film
  • Crane does this in Sleepy Hollow when he approaches a particularly creepy hovel, using Young Masbeth as a shield and aiming his pistol over the boy's shoulder.

Literature
  • The book and movie of The Dead Zone use this to let the world know its villain is a bad man. Or at least this is what ruins him. We, the readers/audience, know from early on that the bad guy is really bad. But this is what destroys his image to the [in-story] public. I mean, NO ONE would vote for someone for president of the USA who used a baby to shield himself from an assassin.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Pool of the Black One" Sancha grovels after being thrown to the ground.
  • In the second book of the Gone series, Hunter cowers behind Astrid, who is protecting him from Zil's lynch mob.
  • Galaxy of Fear: Army of Terror. Faced without warning with a being that psychically forces people into very convincing illusions of their worst fears, the Rebels are utterly unprepared and do anything from dropping their weapons to falling to their knees to assuming the Pose of Supplication.

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

Pinball

Professional Wrestling
  • A favorite tactic of the heels, who are not above grabbing a female at ringside (either the face's girlfriend or their own) to stop from getting attacked, and then shoving said female into the opponent! Edge used to do this all the time. Eddie Guerrero made it particularly reprehensible when he grabbed Rey Mysterio Jr's young son Dominick; this made Mysterio very angry.

Video Games
  • Final Fantasy IV has Edward who has an ability that lets him do this. He also does it when he's low on Hit Points.
  • In Earthbound, Porky/Pokey Minch does this as one of the many useless actions he's capable of performing in battle while accompanying Ness at the start of the game.
    • Mother3: When traveling with Salsa, Fassad will occasionally do this in battle, despite the fact that (as an NPC) monsters don't target him anyway, and he's easily several times stronger than Salsa.
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent has this trope as the player's only means of defense. You are given no weapons of any kind and any time you're attacked, the only thing you can do is run and hide in the dark, usually behind crates, until the monster gets bored and leaves.
  • From one standpoint, any Stealth-based game or game with a Stealth-Based Mission could be seen as utilizing this. You need to hide from enemies, often by crouching in dark corners, because you can't take them on. Certain Horror-genre games will have the character give indications that they're afraid, like Amnesia listed above, or Call Of Cthulhu: Dark Corners Of The Earth.
  • In the online game Sissyfight, cowering protects you from the first Scratch or Grab move or from any damage from a Tattle, but cannot protect you from a successful Tease. While the game's rules are such that the goal is to survive rather than do as much damage as possible to your enemies, "cowerbotting" is frowned on.
  • In World of Warcraft, during the Spirit Kings encounter, Meng the Demented, during his Cowardice phase, runs away from players while reflecting damage onto them. He still periodically uses his Maddening Shout ability, though. Lei Shi, a water spirit corrupted by the Sha of Fear, will hide at certain points, and must be forced out into the open through area of effect damage.

Webcomics

Web Original

Western Animation
  • Played for Laughs and played straight in Teen Titans; both examples feature teams of males hiding behind their female leader. In the humorous version, The Titans East hides behind Bumblebee when Control Freak drops in unexpectedly; the serious one features the H.I.V.E. five hiding behind Jinx in nervous anticipation for Madam Rouge's verbal abuse.
  • Used in every Scooby-Doo episode EVER
  • Fluttershy's default reaction to anything unexpected in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.

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


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