Villain Exit Stage Left
aka: Villain Exit Stage Right
"We could stop 'em, but I'm sure today's events put a complete end to his megalomaniac tendencies forever."
Once their plot is foiled the villain (less often, a hero) will always
get away in the most undignified
fashion imaginable. If they didn't, who would the hero fight next episode? This is probably why
the heroes either don't even bother chasing them, or else send Red Shirts
after them with predictable results, or even help them get away.
Other times, they're just being sporting
No blockades, no manhunts, not even pursued by a bear
. After all, it's at the end of the episode.
Regardless of the means, the escaped Smug Snake
about how it "all went according to plan"
, maybe set off the Self-Destruct Mechanism
in the Collapsing Lair
, and return "triumphantly" next episode. Less often, you'll see them lick their figurative and literal wounds at having not only been beat, but forced to show the better part of valour and try to come up with a new
Plot Of The Week that will work, throwing in a "Next Time, Tropeworthy!"
for good measure.
Most villains who exit stage left also favor the Friend or Idol Decision
and Sadistic Choice
as backups, setting off small bombs or traps on loved ones to force the hero to choose between their capture or their friends' lives.
See also Screw This, I'm Outta Here!
for when the mooks
try this. Compare So Long, Suckers!
, Karma Houdini
and Know When to Fold 'Em
. Contrast with Last Villain Stand
where the villain decides to stick around and fight to the end.
There may be unmarked spoilers ahead!
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Anime and Manga
- In Bleach, Gin walks away from his fight with Hitsugaya after Rangiku persuades him to stand down. Hitsugaya initially wants to continue, but Gin tells him he should tend to the unconscious Momo first.
- Naraku of InuYasha had an irritating habit of doing this. Every episode Naraku was directly involved in ended with him either running away after getting his ass handed to him or him doing something that made it impossible for him to be directly attacked. And every single incarnation he created would inevitably run like hell when things got sticky. Honestly, how many times can the Big Bad get savaged and still claim to be all powerful?
- Thankfully inverted with the Band of Seven. Except for maybe once or twice, they all fight to the death. Inuyasha even tells the leader that he can leave, but he refuses because he wants to avenge his friends. Is it any wonder why a group of specters who got curb-stomped in only a handful of battles are seen as more bad-ass than the Big Bad of the entire story?
- In the Mai-Hime manga, Nao leaves her fight with Mai and Yuuichi after Yuuichi knocks Nao's key away, preventing her from using her Child. Mai and Yuuichi demand an apology for remarks Nao made about the other.
- Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch: Every time after the heroines perform their song, which end with a "Love Shower Pitch!" (and followed with "How about an encore?"), the villains (most of them) they just beat always teleport away afterwards.
- In Naruto, Itachi Uchiha is a master of the Art of Run. Most likely explained by the revelation that he was a double agent who wanted to limit any damage done to the good guys.
- Kabuto and Orochimaru seem to be impossibly good at escaping when at a disadvantage, especially when compared to the majority of other villains. A fair amount of the time, their opponents are also badly injured or out of chakra, though.
- A rare villain-villain example: Gecko Moria in One Piece at the end of the Marineford arc was supposed to be killed as his performance simply wasn't impressive enough. However, Doflamingo reports that he used his abilities in a way he hadn't been seen to before in order to escape.
- No one in Pokémon ever bother to chase Team Rocket after they "blast off again". This was addressed in one episode, an Officer Jenny blasted them off, disappointed that they got away but remarking that there were more powerful members of Team Rocket around that the police force should occupy their time with catching.
- As of Black and White, instead of "blasting off", they simply escape, usually by jetpack, when they lose.
- Pixy Misa in the Pretty Sammy series always leaves just before her Monster of the Week gets vaporized. One particularly weird exit was when she left on a huge cruise ship that randomly appeared in Pretty Space.
- In Sailor Moon, after the Monster of the Week is deployed, the member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad who did it virtually always teleports, drives or runs away while the main characters are distracted by the monster. In some cases, they actually watch the battle without participating, and then escape after the monster is defeated. Of course, nobody bothers to stop or chase them; except once when the Outers try attacking Kaolinite. She summons up incredible power to beat them all...and then runs away anyways.
- Averted in episode 3. After the monster is defeated, Jedite takes on Sailor Moon in combat and almost defeats her before Tuxedo Mask shows up.
- In Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, this trope is subverted in "Get Berg Katze" where the episode begins where the stories typically end, with the destruction of the Galactor mecha of the week and Katze escaping in his personal craft. Afterward, Professor Nambu orders the team to actually pursue Katze for once, and the villain is shocked (Shocked!) to see the team do so. But he must have thought about it at some point, since he escaped his escape craft via smaller escape craft. Then things got really weird.
- You mean the exploding bananas? Katse was king of this trope, what with the mooks blocking the heroes, the innocents needing to be rescued, the sliding doors, and the bombs.note
- Eggman tended to pull this in Sonic X episodes.
- Quartz Christie runs away at the end of the Bodacious Space Pirates series after the Grand Cross was curbstomped due to mostly her overconfidence. To make matters worse, she promised Kato Marika that she would not "run and hide", but a minute later, heads to her escape craft and activates the self-destruct mechanism. She is later shown in her escape craft, pleased to save the battle strategy data that may have led to her easily being defeated, and that she destroyed the last Grand Cross ship to eliminate any evidence of her humiliation... but points out what a humiliating defeat it still was, though she still hopes to face Marika once again.
- The members of the Quirky Mini Boss Squads from Fresh Pretty Cure! and Suite Pretty Cure ♪ have to left the battlefields without Villain Teleportation because they cannot teleport like all other villains. And they can't fly by their own either.
- Dragon Ball Z: Double subverted at the end of the Saiyan Saga, when its main villain Vegeta tries to leave Earth in his spacepod after the proud warrior has been defeated and humiliated by Goku and his allies, and lost his tail in the process. Just as he's about to get away, Krillin tries to off him with Yajirobe's sword, but then Goku telepathically talks Krillin out of it and Vegeta goes on his way to recover for the next arc.
- Subverted in Cable & Deadpool #49, after Deadpool and Ka-Zar thwart one of Brainchild's latest plans to take over the Savage Land he and his minions try to escape on pterodactyls. Ka-Zar laments that Brainchild has escaped even though he's really not that far away and he could go after him on foot as it's hard to loose a flying lizard with people on it. Deadpool, Genre Savvy as he is, simply shoots the pterodactyl Brainchild is riding sending it tumbling down into the waiting jaws of some very hungry T-rexes. Deadpool then tells Ka-Zar that he should really try using guns.
- In the Marvel Universe, The Red Skull justifies this trope by preparing his escape routes with care with obstacles that justifiably discourage the heroes from pursuing him.
- For instance, his first Silver Age appearance has him escaping through a hidden wall panel door. Bucky is all for smashing through it to begin the chase, but Captain America realizes that panel is a disguised steel door and by the time they get it open to the escape tunnel, the Skull would be long gone. As Cap says in the story "Whoever this Red Skull is, he's no amateur!"
- In a modern version, Cap pursues the Skull in one of his buildings and loses him just long enough to find a veritable maze of multiple possible escape routes the Skull prepared for this situation and decides trying to guess correctly which one he took would be unlikely and a waste of time to try.
- Subverted at the climax of Captain America: Reborn. Here, the Red Skull's consciousness is forced back into his robot body after being forced out of Rogers' by Rogers himself. Unplugging himself, the Red Skull tries to make a break for it hoping the big fight around would cover his tracks. Sharon Carter stops that in a brilliantly counter-intuitive way by using Dr. Hank Pym's size changing technology to make him a giant before he got away. Yes, that means that there now is a giant Red Skull trying to stomp the superheroes, but it also means that there is no way he can sneak away now and fighting with Colossus Climb tactics is old hat for Captain America and his friends, not to mention Sharon gets the Vision to access the Skull's ship's weapons systems to hit a now really big target.
- Invoked but not carried out by Harley Quinn in volume 2 of "Hush". As she flees Batman she quotes Snagglepuss, "Heavens to Murgatroid, exit, stage left." but is caught before she can fully escape.
- Invoked in Sonic the Hedgehog issue #8. After beating Robotnik's super hero themed robots, Sonic is about to beat him up but slips on some motor oil. Robotnik then escapes riding Crabmeat, after which, Sonic pulls out the Comics Code handbook and comments that the villain always gets away in the end.
- In Daredevil #17, the Masked Marauder slips away from view long enough to beat up a security guard and steal his uniform, escaping capture to menace New York another day.
- Parodied in The Simpsons Comic: Bart and Lisa have just survived a run-in with Sideshow Bob, Kang and Kodos. Bob sees a helicopter with a rope-ladder hanging from it and assumes his henchmen have prepared his escape. He gives the standard "We shall meet again" speech and flees - only to realise something:
Bob (halfway up the ladder): Wait a minute! Good Lord, I don't have any henchmen!
Wiggum (inside the copter): Looks like our new "hands-off" approach to fighting crime is working.
- Judge Dredd: At the end of "Necropolis", the Dark Judges are recaptured by Justice department and placed in high security containment. With the exception of Judge Death, who takes a dive into city bottom after getting cornered and disappears. It's later revealed that he hid himself among the buried corpses for several months to rest and plan for his next assault on the Big Meg.
- This trope is frequently subverted in The Legend of Spyro: A New Dawn. Commander Hades attempts this after his defeat, only to be cut off by Drake, who effortlessly curbstomps him. Empress Tyrania's The Dragon attempts this after the curse keeping the slaves from hurting him is broken and all his guards are demolished. Sparx slams his exit door in his face.
- Used successfully by Gaul in The Legend of Spyro: New Frontier, assisted with a Sadistic Choice.
- Kaworu in Shinji And Warhammer 40 K does this three times, each time soundly thrashed despite the horrific casualties of the heroes and each time completely unwilling to accept that he was defeated. That he got into the habit of this might be the reason the author decided to have Gendo demonstrate that he was Eviler Than Thou.
- Inner Demons: When Scootaloo's forces are defeated by the protagonists in Ponyville, she runs off and escapes, swearing revenge.
- Jewel Of Darkness: When Midnight is defeated in her lair by the Titans at the end of the Jump City arc, Slade rescues her and then triggers the lair's self-destruct to cover their escape.
- Unlike canon, Mad Mod escapes his first confrontation with the Titans scott free, leaving only a mocking message behind.
- Subverted in Queen Of All Oni. Lung flees from his fortress when Left and Right attack it to save Jade. However, just before he can get on his escape boat, Right cuts him off (literally) and then kills him.
- Usually played straight by Jade and her minions, however.
- The Immortal Game: When Esteem realizes that Twilight is too powerful for him to defeat, he flees. Twilight intercepts and kills him.
- Discord sticks around just long enough to temporarily reduce Titan's power — giving the heroes a chance to prepare for the Final Battle — and then flees. Luna implies that he left the planet altogether.
- In the Dark World arc of the Pony POV Series, Rancor ultimately walks away from the fight with the Elements of Harmony and returns to the Draconequi dimension after succeeding in stealing Destruction's power from Discord.
- In the Death Note Crack Fic The Game Light makes his escape after Near made everyone lose the Game and they forget about him for a moment while they're bickering about it.
- A Future of Friendship, A History of Hate: Even though Ruinate is defeated at the end of Episode 2, his heralds manage to rescue him from being resealed, and they escape.
- The heralds always manage to escape after their episodic plots are defeated.
- Justice League of Equestria: After Rainbow Dash/Supermare destroys his enchanted-to-cut-through-anything sword, Deathstroke hides from view with a smoke bomb and flees. He comments that he's already been paid, so there's really no reason for him to have still been there, anyway.
- Played for laughs in Tealove's Steamy Adventure. When the evil cultist's minions are defeated, she flees the scene. On a Segway. She could have gotten away faster by running. Nevertheless, the heroes just remark that they probably haven't seen the last of her, without even trying to pursue.
- Jade does this repeatedly in her confrontations with her former family and friends.
- Daolon Wong escapes after losing his duel with Uncle, due to a fight with Jade providing a distraction.
- After Chang completes his transformation into a full Oni, he overpowers Jade and Jackie and flees.
Films — Animated
- Syndrome attempts a variation of this at the end of The Incredibles. It doesn't work, mostly because the hero isn't in the mood to just let him get away.
- Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker:
- At the end The Joker is apparently so used to this trope through the years tangling with Batman that when Terry destroys his Kill Sat control and sends the ensuing Death from Above heading right towards the Joker's hideout, his only response is:
Joker: Oh, good
, the beam's headed here
. Now I'll have to start all over again. Thanks for wrecking everything, kid. See you around...
- There's an earlier example when the Joker first confronts the elderly Bruce Wayne; when he leaves, he sets off explosives to put the civilians in danger, in order to stop Terry from pursuing him in his getaway hovercraft...knowing that Batman would have to save the civilians.
Films — Live-Action
- In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Jade Fox is almost killed by Li Mu Bai, but escapes the legendary warrior - who is capable of Roofhopping to the point of flight - by jumping over a wall. And he just lets her get away.
- Subverted in Smokin' Aces. The last living member of the redneck neo-Nazi assassins is accosted by the last living member of a group of bounty hunters that had run afoul of them earlier. At first, the Nazi walks away... and then the audience hears, "Fuck this" and the Nazi is brought down by repeated shots in the back.
- Austin Powers does this a couple of times, with Dr. Evil flying off into space.
- The rewritten version of Gandalf vs. Witch-King in The Lord of the Rings has major shades of this. In The Movie, the Witch-King actually has Gandalf at his mercy, then quickly exits when The Cavalry arrives.
- In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a super-powered Optimus Prime doesn't bother killing a damaged Megatron after giving The Fallen a gruesome death; in fact, right after The Fallen dies, Starscream comes to Megatron and suggests that they flee, attempting to justify the villains' side of this trope with his memorable quote.
- Note that Prime's super-armor was provided by Jetfire, who complained about being low on energon, sacrificing his body for the parts. Prime discarded that armor pretty quickly right after the fight, in which the Fallen destroyed one of the turbines, so he must've burned through what little reserves were left.
- The inspiration for Dr Evil, the James Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, does this in You Only Live Twice. He tries this again in On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Diamonds Are Forever, but neither ends quite as well for him.
- Count Dooku in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones does this after the clone army attacks, fleeing to his personal space craft, and though Anakin and Obi-Wan (and then Yoda) pursue him they aren't that effective, leaving him alive for the next film.
- Darth Vader does the same after the Death Star is destroyed. (Not that he had much choice, since his TIE Interceptor was damaged and he had to land on a nearby planet for repairs.)
- Subverted in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.At first it looks like Destro and Cobra Commander are going to do this, but Duke refuses to let them escape and catches them.
- Played straight in G.I. Joe: Retaliation: Cobra Commander escapes on a helicopter near the end of the movie.
- In the earlier books in A Series of Unfortunate Events, Count Olaf would always get away, while Mr. Poe comically and ineffectively attempted to get the police to chase him. The first book, he literally walks off a stage after another villain turns off the lights for his escape.
- This was even lampooned in an issue of MAD Magazine, in which Count Olaf goes into a showing of Return of the King and Mr. Poe says it's too much trouble to go after him.
- Used in the Ender’s Game-universe novel Shadow of the Giant to create a moral dilemma: in order to save a hostage, Bean promises the villain he'll let him escape, and then has to decide whether to keep that promise, knowing that doing so will probably result in many deaths.
- Parodied in Discworld novel The Last Hero. Cohen's band of heroes would always let Dark Lord Harry Dread escape, and he would always hire stupid minions and make easily-escaped dungeons. They all refer to it as The Code; either you live by the code, or you don't. If you're a villain this means being a Card-Carrying Villain, and if you're a hero you benefit from Plot Armour. If you don't live by The Code, then that means that those ineffectual villains can stop playing around, or that the heroes don't have to let the villain escape. It's not just tradition, it's a way of life. Which means either you live by the code or, you know. Not.
- The Old Count from Carpe Jugulum benefits from a variant of this: he always makes sure that his castle is full of easily-improvised anti-vampire weapons, and the villagers who defeat him never actually scatter the ashes so he'll stay dead-dead.
- Justified in Warrior Cats, where the Warrior Code makes it so that the winning cats have to let the defeated cats escape, to prevent unnecessary bloodshed.
- Also played straight at the end of A Dangerous Path, where Tigerstar just runs away without putting up a fight.
- In Star Trek: The Battle of Betazed, the Vorta overseer Luaran beams out in a climatic scene using a Dominion long-range transporter. She leaves her Cardassian colleagues behind to be captured, though.
- At the end of the third Spaceforce book, the Big Bad Minty Mazata attacks Jay with her vampire fangs and escapes the planet in her ship before the alarm is raised.
- Malevil forces this trope to zig-zag a bit when Malevil comes under siege. With Vilmain dead, his subordinate, Jean Feyrac, leads their men in an orderly retreat back to La Roque, Malevil's defenders watch them depart from the castle ramparts. Subverted when they mount their horses and ride along a hidden trail to cut off the survivors and set up an ambush. Double subverted when it's realized that Feyrac is alone, riding on a bicycle ahead of the soldiers, and Emmanuel must risk letting the leader go to avoid alerting the bulk of the army to the trap. Finally subverted again they remember Colin's bow allows for a silent kill and their enemies walk blindly into the ambush a few minutes later.
- At the end of Curse of the Wolfgirl Big Bad Distikka manages to vanish unseen during the confrontation between our heroes and her Dragon.
- In Moon Over Soho the "Faceless One" decides that having a chimney stack thrown at him is more than enough, and takes advantage of the distraction afforded by a crashing helicopter to disappear in the confusion. He'll probably be back.
- Septimus Heap: When Alther exposed DomDaniel as a necromancer and took the Amulet of Akhu in the backstory DomDaniel jumped from the top of the Wizard Tower and escaped into the Abyss.
- Happens in the end of Sukhinov's Emerald City series in a most egregious way. After the Big Bad loses his army, he starts fighting the good guy's champion, then in the middle of a fight says "Oh, I don't think i can kill you!", and flies off into ''space'' The End!
- In the Rainbow Magic series, Jack Frost escapes this way in Joy's book, leaving behind a taunting message for the heroes to find.
- In the Venus Prime series, Big Bad Nemo pulls this twice - first after his cover as Editions is exposed by Blake (he escapes because Blake gets injected with a drug that causes him to rant uncontrollably, meaning that even if he'd gone to the police, nobody would have believed him), and later after Sparta slaughters most of the prophetae of the Free Spirit. He nearly escapes a third time in the last book, but instead gets erased from existence.
- At the end of Island in the Sea of Time, Walker manages to escape from Alston's forces, albeit seriously injured.
Live Action TV
- In one of the six endings (the canon one) of the hundredth episode of Red vs. Blue, Red Team lets Blue Team go without trying to kill them, because they've had enough for one day.
- The final mode of Junk Yard, "Outer Space", always ends with Crazy Bob escaping once you're out of firecrackers to throw at him.
- Almost literally at nCw Femme Fatales XII, where Portia Perez (who shot a pretaped promo explaining that she would not be present before attacking Pink Flash Kira from behind) was confronted by Courtney Rush when trying to run for the exit, only to slip out le Centre St-Barthélemy's opposite exit. Show XIII put her in a strap match with "lumber Jills" to ensure she wouldn't be able to escape Kira's vengeance and even that nearly failed.
- Employed as a game mechanic in the role-playing game Mutants & Masterminds where players are rewarded for the villain escaping by fiat with "hero points" that allow them to increase their chances of success in later encounters.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, it's traditional for the Big Bad wizard to have at least one teleportation spell prepared for when he drops under a certain number of hit points or his plan is spoiled. In 3rd Edition, it's usually Dimension Door, but that only gives a head start of a few hundred feet to whatever serves as an escape pod. However, a magic item, the Corrupted Unicorn Horn, takes this a step further and returns the possessor to wherever the horn was obtained. Ever since this item was published, more and more villains have been getting away easier...
- Other core spells that provide similar functions include Plane Shift, Word of Recall, and, at really low levels, Invisibility (which even comes in potion form for non-spellcasting cowards).
- Appears in Warhammer 40,000 with the Necrons. If their army is reduced to 25%, they teleport away. Problem with that in gameplay is, it means the Necron player loses automatically even if they might be winning.
- As of 2011 this rule has been removed entirely, although none of it's appearences in the "fluff" have been retcon'd out.
- Also, Cypher. If he's ever "killed", the Chaos gods just teleport him outta there.
- In superhero RPG Truth & Justice, villains get a pool of Villain Points they can spend to do things like turn out to actually be a robot double, or have a secret exit immediately to hand that closes and locks itself behind them. Game Masters were in fact encouraged to do this to make a villain into a recurring character instead of a one-off thing, with several encounters and last-minute escapes culminating in the villain (finally out of Villain Points) getting captured and locked up. Only to spend the time in prison regenerating their Villain Points through devious scheming...
- When Voldemort and Bellatrix are faced with the sheer power and brute force of the dragon that the main trio are riding on in Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, they are quite quick to turn into black smoke and flee.
- Nicely subverted in The King of Fighters XI. Magaki opens a portal to escape, the entire time talking about how The Battle Didn't Count. The player's characters, meanwhile, openly mock him for abandoning the fight. Just as Magaki is about to enter the portal, however, Shion, The Dragon whom was previously thrown into it, hurls a spear through Magaki's chest from inside the portal and kills him.
- A notable attempt at aversion is seen in Final Fantasy VI, where Sabin (and maybe Shadow) confront Kefka in the Imperial Base outside of Doma. Kefka repeatedly employs a Villain Exit Stage Left after being hit, but Sabin does try to chase him down. The only reason Kefka gets away is because of conveniently placed enemies.
- Kefka employs this trope an awful lot in the early parts of the game, while he's still being portrayed as a minor comic-relief villain. Pretty much everything goes to hell when Kefka stops running.
- A couple times he also jokes as he runs. They yell at him to wait and he responds "Wait he says. What do I look like a waiter?"
- In Final Fantasy VII, Rude's defeat animation consists of him looking at his watch and walking away, with the heroes making no effort to pursue. But then again, said animation is too badass to interrupt.
- Seifer in Final Fantasy VIII does this every time you fight him. One gets the impression that Squall really just doesn't want to kill him.
- However, unlike Reno, you do knock him out once.
- Deliciously averted in Shadow Hearts: Covenant. Near the end of the game's first half, Rasputin has shown his true colors and launched a full-scale attack on Petrograd. The party catches up to him on the roof of the Winter Palace, but he jumps off and begins to fly away on his giant evil blimp. At this point, anyone who has seen this trope in action before is expecting the standard "Well shucks. You live to fight another day, villain. If only there was a group of meteor-slinging wizards and near-superheroes who could pursue you" reaction. Instead, Yuri has the entirely sensible recollection that he's an incredibly powerful shapeshifter, transforms into Amon, and beats down both Rasputin and the zeppelin itself with his bare hands.
- In Return to Castle Wolfenstein and its sequel, Wolfenstein, the Nazi Mad Scientist Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse always gets away. So far it's happened four times: first with an U-Boat from Kugelstadt, then with a rocketplane from occupied Norway, then from the top of his personal castle after a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere destroyed his extradimensional battery, and lastly from a parallel dimension, through an ancient portal that led to an exploding Zepellin. The producers don't seem to want to kill him off since, as far as Those Wacky Nazis go, he's actually a rather competent villain. He even gets promoted to General between the two games. However, in The New Order, this trope is averted and Deathshead is finally Killed Off for Real at the end of the game.
- This happens several times in Odin Sphere. Most notably when Cornelius allows the obviously insane and world-destruction-seeking Big Bad King Valentine to stumble away after besting him, TWICE. Not only that, Belial manages to survive FOUR boss fights before finally being killed, and that was only because he asked to be killed. And if that weren't enough, four characters didn't the foresight to kill Leviathan before he grows to full power, though Gwendolyn has the defense of Oswald's safety being more important to her at the time. Remarkably this IS subverted at one point though when Oswald decides to kill Skuldi rather than let him live. A good thing too, because the latter was about to attack him again. This is also partially subverted at another point when Cornelius seems to really consider killing Ingway before the latter asks him if he could deal with the guilt of killing his lover's brother.
- In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Falco lets Bowser get away after destroying his Dark Cannon.
- Mega Man's Dr. Wily. His case is especially bad, considering one time he literally escaped through an ordinary Goddamned door.
- In Mega Man 7, Mega Man was about to give Wily a face full of plasma until Bass rescued Wily.
- Shadow Man in Rockman 4 Minus Infinity does this every time you beat him until Cossack Castle Stage 1.
- In Mega Man Powered Up, Dr. Wily escapes if you beat him on Easy. Beating the game on harder difficulties causes Wily to go to his usual routine of begging Mega Man to leave him alone, claiming to have learned his lesson.
- Subverted in the comic during the first game adaption. It looks like Wily is about to get away, but Mega Man proves too quick.
- Present in most Sonic the Hedgehog titles, especially when Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik is the main (and only) boss. Every time you defeat him, he'd come back again in a bigger and sometimes-more-dangerous mecha to menace Sonic again and again.
- As are Captain Whisker and his crew, the robot pirates (from Sonic Rush Adventure. As the cut scenes are just character art and text on a background, they didn't have to explain how this was possible, and so the phrase "he got away again!" and variants thereof were used many, many times. This is also repeatedly Lampshaded:
Sonic: Argh! He ran off again!
Blaze: Those guys just will not sit still!
- The Poacher from Jade Cocoon, who's only role in the story is to provide a mini-boss battle when it would be a good time for a mini-boss battle. Levant lets the guy run away each time he beats him and makes no attempt whatsoever to stop him. Admittedly, it leads to a damned hilarious line after defeating the poacher for the third time:
Poacher (on the brink of tears): I can't believe I just lost to a little kid. I guess I'm over the hill. Maybe I should just retire... See ya around, kid.
- Giacomo, the one-man Quirky Miniboss Squad from Baten Kaitos Origins fights you three times, and twice he flees. The third time Sagi leaves his unconscious body where it fell, admitting that he envies him for his determination. Naturally, this becomes a serious case of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero when you consider what he became in the sequel.
- Archer vs Caster in Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works.
- Pokémon villains, upon defeat, will always get away from the hero, who at the end of the game might even have a fire breathing dragon. We don't know how they do it, because the game conveniently turns the lights out.
- At the end of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky, Big Bad Darkrai attempts to escape through a portal, but Palkia shows up just in time and destroys said portal with Darkrai still inside it!
- Averted with Ghetsis in Black2/White2, in which he simply goes insane and unable to function as a person.
- Lord Yuna of Breath of Fire IV constantly does this. Whenever someone confronts him over his monstrous deeds, he quickly teleports away like a coward. Unfortunately, it seemed to work quite well for him.
- Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter in Dawn of War does this in both Dark Crusade and Soulstorm, and implied to have done this after Winter Assault (given he managed to escape Lorn V). Both Tau commanders also do this after their Ethereal is killed.
- Lampshaded in World Destruction. Immediately after killing someone, members of the World Salvation Front catch your party. Agan exclaims "Exit, Stage Left!" and your party proceeds to run off through the same door your opponents have just used to enter while they watch you leave.
- The Ghouls in Fallout Tactics will sometimes say "Exit, stage left" when fleeing from a battle.
- Tales of Symphonia makes an art of this. You fight and several antagonists several times, but they always get away. Sometimes as easily as just getting up and walking away, and none of the heroes feel like chasing after them. That is, until the end when they all either die or join you.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's has the Big Bad Alduin do this before you can actually kill him if you defeat him on the Throat of the World. He then spends the rest of the game in Sovngarde feasting on souls to make himself strong again. However, this also causes a lot of his fellow dragons to desert him, including his then second-in-command,Odahviing (after you defeat him) who then turns around and helps the player reach the portal to Sovngarde ensuring Aludin's defeat! The reason for the switch in sides? No true dragon flees from a fight.
- In Alpha Protocol, Conrad Marburg attempts this at the end of the Rome mission and Sergei Surkov attempts this at the end of Moscow. Depending on your choices and how you've interacted with them up to that point, they may or may not get away. Marburg, if he escapes, can later be convinced to say Screw This, I'm Outta Here! and wash his hands off the whole affair.
- Bowser Jr. at the end of every world in New Super Mario Bros. Wii will jump onto the airship as Mario runs up to him, stays a good four or five feet away, and just stands there watching as he flies off with the princess.
- Except for two worlds, where the airship actually left without him. This results in him running after it and Mario finally chasing him to it. An airship level ensues. You fight him at the end, although he just jettisons you each time you beat him. Stupid Kamek.
- In the final world (save the secret one) there isn't any chase scene, you just run up to the airship, infiltrate it, and engage him in his really final boss fight. I mean it this time.
- Also used repeatedly in the Paper Mario series; at one point, to escape, minor baddie Mimi simply floats up and apparently passes through a wall, perhaps by flipping to 3-D.
- In BioShock 2, It is revealed that the Big Sister was planned to be this. Just being one Big Sister that would always flee after being defeated. However the creators believed that most players would get annoyed at the idea of the Big Sister always fleeing, so they made multiple Big Sisters.
- In In Famous 2, Bertrand does this after the first time you defeat him as The Behemoth.
- Happens with Sekto in Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, who swims off in the now-un-dammed river. It's somewhat justified however, as 1). Stranger wasn't aware of Sekto's 'true form', and 2). he and the Grubbs were generally rather distracted by The Reveal of Sekto's abandoned host body: the previous guardian Steef.
- Iris Sepperin in RosenkreuzStilette. Averted in the sequel.
- Giygas in MOTHER 1, after your party sings the eight melodies to him. Pokey in EarthBound, after you vanquish Giygas outright. The latter is what ultimately leads him to the time in which Mother 3 takes place.
- The enemy commander in Advance Wars do this after every battle, even if you win by capturing their HQ or (In the case of days of Ruin) destroy the unit that the commander himself is traveling with. It's at least parodied with Lash, who even leaves a dummy of herself behind to distract Sami and Nell while she flees.
- It's usually justified, since the commanders communicate by radio and can simply evacuate well before they're in any real danger, and they'll invariably get caught when they run out of territories to flee to. It is, however, played straight with Jugger, Koal, and Kindle, who realize they're beat and set off in a tank to start anew elsewhere, and Vlad does this in Battalion Wars (though in the sequel, the protagonists simply shoot down his escape transport when he attempts this).
- During the second-to-last scenario of the Earth Route in Shin Super Robot Wars, The Daikyuu Maryuu team beats up Lu Cain and the Demon Death squadron to the point where Lu Cain and the Demon Death squadron are forced to retreat to the mothership. To find out what happened to those guys, You have to play through the Space Route and fight them in the last scenario in that Route.
- By the time the final stage of RefleX rolls around, with all but one of the Raiwat's ZODIAC units destroyed, the Raiwat army is retreating, leaving ZODIAC Libra, ZODIAC Ophiuchus, and a pair of KAMUI units to duel amongst themselves.
- Bahamut does this in one of the endings of Contra: Hard Corps. Lance Bean does this in Shattered Soldier and Master Contra does this in Neo. Leviathan does this in Hard Corps: Uprising.
- In Time Crisis, should you take too long to defeat Kantaris in the Special Mode, she will do this. However, she also does this in the spinoff Project Titan after you rescue the VSSE agent Abacus.
- After the failure of his plan in Something Else, The Evil Guy says that he's going home and frees the Village Elder.
- Can potentially take place in Fire Emblem Awakening, if the characters can't catch up with the boss in Cynthia's Paralogue.
- Upon defeating the Scyther in Metal Slug 5, the boss doesn't die, rather, it flies away in the background.
- In Girl Genius, Tarvek beats the crap out of Zola and is about kill her, when Gil suddenly stops him, allowing her to fly away. It matters little that she was unconscious by that time, and the reason she could escape is that her flying coat was already activated, and it was Tarvek's weight that were pulling her down.
- In Minions at Work, the villain not only did this, leaving his Mooks to face the enemy, the severance check bounces.
- The Order of the Stick plays this straight, subverts, and lampshades it on several occasions.
- Lampshaded and subverted in this earlier comic. A minor villain attempts to exit stage left, only to be ganked by the resident Heroic Comedic Sociopath, who is then chided by his Genre Savvy teammates for killing off a recurring villain.
- Played straight here, at the end of the Dungeon of Dorukan arc. The heroes, after defeating Xykon thanks to a Deus ex Machina, completely ignore his henchman, Redcloak, allowing the latter to escape with the lich's Soul Jar.
- Lampshaded again in this strip, when Nale uses a conveniently timed distraction to make an exit, only to return moments later with the evil cavalry.
- Played tragically straight here, where Miko's ill-timed intervention allows the nearly defeated villains to make a last second escape.
- In Bob and George, Megaman lets Dr. Wily ready his escape before the fight.
- Averted in El Goonish Shive with Damien as he self destructs. However, according to the "PB Special Features" strips, in the first versions of the script of the ''Painted Black" arc, Damien would always get away, go into hiding and later return to cause more trouble.