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Series: Running Man
"Don't Walk. Run."

Running Man is a popular South Korean Variety show focused on a main cast of seven celebrities who compete in various games and races throughout a number of locations in Korea. The show became famous with its signature set up of velcro-ed nametags of the players on their backs and ripping them off in the final game to ‘oust’ other players.

The earlier episodes featured the popular ‘hide and seek’ game where half the group became the mission team (with some special task to do) and the chasing team (who must rip the mission team’s nametags in order to win). The show has since developed from locking the group in an empty building overnight into a race around the city with minor games at different places that eventually lead up to a nametag-ripping game among the teams or individual members at the end. The show is responsible for creating the new sub-genre of ‘urban variety’ for its unique structure. While the show's action-oriented format helped the show earn early fame, the camaraderie and chemistry of the cast is the main reason for its continued popularity.

Not to be confused with The Running Man.


This show provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Song Ji Hyo's nickname. Kim Jong Kook could also apply since he's proved to be talented at almost everything (much to the cast's annoyance).
    • Yonghwa from CNBlue is a frequent guest who also has this nickname.
  • Accidental Pervert: When Ji Hyo spills tea on her chest, poor Gwang Soo instinctively tries to dry her with his napkin. Cue uproar from the rest of the group.
  • Acting Unnatural: Ji Suk Jin. Full Stop.
    • Gary used to be this, until he proved he's gotten a lot better in Episode 130, where he successfully deceived everyone that Kim Jong Kook won the game "eighty" years ago.
  • Action Girl: Song Ji Hyo. Part of her popularity comes from the fact that she can hold her own against the guys and often show them up.
  • Adorkable: Kwang Soo can fall under this trope at times, especially when he gets really bashful around Yuri from Girls' Generation.
  • Agony of the Feet: Acupuncture mats anyone?
  • Air Hugging: A natural way to hug someone when you have to be mindful of them backstabbing you and tearing your name tag.
  • The Alcoholic: Jihyo is frequently framed as one by Gwang Soo.
  • All-Star Cast: Jae Suk and Suk Jin are comedians and MCs, Kim Jong Kook was a former member of the band Turbo, Gary is one-half of the hip-hop duo LeesSang, Ji Hyo is a TV and film actress, Haha is a recording artist, actor, and a stand-up comedian, Gwang Soo and former cast member Joongki are both actors.
  • Amusing Injuries
  • Anchored Ship: After the announcement of Song Ji Hyo's relationship, the Monday Couple was ended. Sort of. Doesn't stop determined shippers though.
    • Shippers for the 'Secret Couple' still exist despite Ji Hyo's relationship and Ha Ha now being a married man with a kid.
    • Though the Monday Couple has been making quite a comeback since the start of 2013.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Whenever Kim Jong Kook is eliminated. Except for his partner(s) (if any), of course.
  • Animal Motif: See picture caption above. A fan even draws it for clarity.
    • In episode 141, the "Animal Kingdom" themed one, guests Eun Ji-Wonnote  and Jessicanote  gets their own motifs as well.
  • Assassin Outclassin': In the first round of episode 93, all six other members must hunt down and take out Kim Jong Kook within thirty minutes. It doesn't go as planned.
    • The subtitles even have to remind the viewers who should be the hunted and who should be doing the hunting in case they're confused.
  • Assumed Win: Any 1v9 or 9v1 challenge in the early days when the fooled one(s) didn't figure it out.
    • The Tru-Gary episode (60) was one of these, but The Ending Changes Everything.
    • The third Hunter episode (118) where the Running Man aren't actually capable of winning until all but one of them are eliminated.
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: Usually when a group of people try to team up to take out Kim Jong Kook only to have Jong Kook eliminate one of their guys.
    • In the Romantic Comedy episode, the entire group gathers to watch Jong Kook punch Gwang Soo a few times with a boxing glove before ripping off his name tag. Gwang Soo then rips off Jong Kook's (who is the only one with the power to eliminate Gwang Soo at that point) name tag causing the rest of the cast to run off
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Ji Hyo grabbing Jong Kook's hair.
    • And when his hair is too far away to grab, she's fine with attacking other places.
  • Audience Participation: The last event in episode 114.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Gary and Jihyo in episode 159, when they both choose their partner over gold, much to the happiness of Monday Couple fans.
    • During Song Joong-Ki's time on the show, Gwang Soo would often claim to be close friends with him due to similar age, only to have Joong-Ki deny it. In his departure speech, Joong-Ki finally admits to being close friends with Gwang Soo.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Yoomes Bond (and other characters too at times) is always offered a wide variety of water guns, including some huge ones with awesome water capacity, or others that can shoot powerful blasts extremely far. He always chooses the smallest and most unassuming one because he can't be a very effective spy if he's lugging a huge water gun that everyone can see.
  • Back to School: There are several high school-themed episodes, notably episode 98 where they are all high school classmates going on a field trip.
  • Bad Liar:
    • Lee Gwang Soo can't lie to save himself. Though considering he's an actor by trade, this may be a case of Bad Bad Acting.
    • Gary cannot lie to save his life. Until he could in later episodes.
    • Also see Cannot Keep a Secret.
  • Badass: Kim Jong Kook. Other members get to have their moments though.
    • Song Ji Hyo is the only Running Man member brave enough for the bungee jump in Macau.
    • Even Lee Gwang Soo gets to have his moment in episode 132.
    • Yoo Jae Suk, Ha Ha and Song Ji Hyo managed to get one during the Ryu Hyun Jin episodes, completely eliminating all of EXO during a hide-and-seek mission BY THEMSELVES. It's an achievement in itself, especially considering that their usual ace-in-the-hole, Kim Jong Kook, was eliminated early in the mission.
    • The entire cast has their moment in Episode 178. See Badass Crew below.
  • Badass Crew: Played with. Sometimes the cast works well together and other times they completely fall apart because they start betraying each other left and right.
    • Put to the test in Episode 178 when the cast had to cross the Han River in nothing but a boat made out of cardboard. Cold winds, exhaustion, freezing waters and even one of the boats capsizing didn't deter them. AND they passed!note  Truly a moment of glory for the crew, and very well-deserved.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: In episode 76, the PDs enforced this trope on the four guests for the episode's Killers theme. However, Reality Ensued when the guests realized how eye-catching their wardrobes were, making it incredibly difficult for them to blend in with the crowd.
  • Bathroom Break-Out: Averted. Usually leads to said breakout attemptee being cornered instead.
  • Battle Aura / Burning with Anger: The producers frequently impose a fiery aura around Kim Jong Kook. Occasionally it's because he's pissed off at someone (*coughGwangsoocough*).
  • Battle Couple: Any pair in a couple race could qualify as this.
    • There are just some pairs that much stronger than others. Spart-Ace is one - their first appearance happened because Ji Hyo was frustrated by how pathetic the others were.
  • Berserk Button: Don't mention Ha Ha's height. Or Ji Hyo's weight.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: In Episode 151, the members have to shut off 108 surveillance cameras around the SBS building before they can confront Jung Woo Sung, who is using them as his eyes.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Happens pretty often in team battles as they try to save their own team members from opposing teams during the nametag games. It's also extremely common for anyone on Jong Kook's team to start screaming his name when they are on the verge of getting eliminated, hoping this trope happens.
  • Big Eater: Jung Junha from episode 148, the appropriately named "Eating Race".
  • Big "NO!": Gwangsoo likes to scream "ANDWAEEEEEEEEEE" whenever the PDs give a tough mission. It's extremely irritating to the other members, and he got arrested for it in episode 175. When his 'crime' is revealed to him, he promptly screams "ANDWAEEEEEEEEE".
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: In episode 13, after getting cornered by no less than three members of the seeking team, Yoo Jae Suk essentially invokes this to his advantage, pretending to give up so they don't even bother ripping off his name tag right away. True to the trope, this ends up biting the "villains" in the ass, costing them the whole game.
  • Break the Badass: Choi Min Soo's easy 'defeat' of the Commander.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Given the show's format, there's technically No Fourth Wall to begin with, but it's worth mentioning that the cast members often interact with elements of the show that you might typically expect to be "off-limits" on a show like this, e.g. borrowing a VJ's camera to disguise themselves as members of the production crew.
    • Of note, Yoo Jae Suk's VJ, Kwon Ryeol, is probably one of the most well-known crew members due to Jae Suk frequently interacting with him and, at times, asking for his assistance; among other things, this has included blocking the doorway to hold off the chasing team, acting as a Body Double while the real Jae Suk prepared an ambush, and even impersonating Song Ji Hyo over the phone.note 
  • Brick Joke: In episode 13, Gary at one point stakes out the 16th floor by propping up two poster boards in the corner of the room to use as a makeshift hiding spot, where he sits down and waits patiently. The game then carries on as normal for a while, until Jae Suk eventually makes his way up to the 16th floor himself...
  • Bully and Wimp Pairing: Kim Jong Kook and Lee Gwang Soo whenever they're coupled together
  • Butt Monkey: Lee Gwang Soo. Full Stop.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: How all the superpowers are activated. It is always extremely embarrassing and impossibly cheesy, and the very first time Yoo Jae Suk got a superpower in episode 74, he hesitated to use it precisely because it was too embarrassing to scream "THE ONE WHO CONTROLS SPACE" and tear up a map to activate his power.
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: Lee Gwang Soo and Ji Suk Jin. Sometimes they give away that they have a secret before the members even knew there was supposed to be a secret at all.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Haha constantly asked female guest to "Be my last love!" until he got married. He promptly swung to the other extreme and turned into an extremely enthusiastic Would Hit a Girl character.
  • The Chew Toy: See Butt Monkey, Lee Gwang Soo. Ji Suk Jin can also apply, well known as the easiest member of the group. Guests often say that their goal for that episode is to rip off his nametag. He's even nicknamed the 'Race Starter' since he's usually the first to go and it's as if the real race starts after he's been ousted.
  • Catch Phrase: Feel! Chok! Cross!
  • Cassandra Truth: Two different examples happen to Kim Jong Kook. One in episode 62 where no one believes him when he says Jihyo is the thief, and another in episode 130 where no one believes him when he says Gary was the winner eighty years ago.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Lee Gwang Soo. To the point that Kim Jong Kook thinks it's an actual disease.
    • To a lesser extent, Yoo Jae Suk and Ha Ha.
    • There's even the Betrayal Trio comprising of Lee Gwang Soo, Ha Ha and Ji Suk Jin. Episode 146 centers around them.
  • Class Clown: Ha Ha.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Not strictly adhered to, but noticeable throughout the series (especially in episodes 74 and 91).
    • Yoo Jae Suk - Green
    • Kim Jong Kook - Red
    • Song Ji Hyo - Purple
    • Gary - Blue
    • Ha Ha - Yellow
    • Ji Suk Jin - Orange
    • Lee Gwang Soo - Black
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Lee Gwang Soo had this going on in a few episodes, of both "pants splitting" and "pants falling off" varieties.
  • Conspicuous CG: Every time super powers show up.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: The punishments in the earlier episodes all invoke this, particularly wearing the infamous Hot Pants around the city.
  • Coordinated Clothes: Usually when they're grouped into couples.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Gary may act kind of slow and innocent, but he's the Ensemble Dark Horse when the chips are down. He's won the first two individual all-out battles between the members.
    • He's recently gained the "Sudden Commander" nickname. When he bothers to make the effort, even Kim Jong Kook might not be his match.
  • Crack! Oh My Back!!: Ji Suk Jin and his leg cramp during the 'Once Chance' aquarium mission. Ridiculed by the other members because he literally wasn't doing anything but standing around.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Although this can apply to Kim Jong Kook in any physical competition against the members, Kim Jong Kook's wrestling matches with Yoo Jae Suk are infamously... one-sided.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Yoo Jae Suk in Episode 13. And how badass he was. To elaborate: after his entire team was eliminated with only half of the mission completed, he singlehandedly carried the rest of game, surviving multiple close shaves in the process.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Every now and then, there will be an episode focusing on a specific member.
  • Deadly Hug: Hugging someone just allows them easier access to tear off your nametag.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Sort of. It's not deliberately set up that way but because some of the members Wouldn't Hit a Girl, it falls to Jihyo to eliminate the female guests.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The Ultimate Ddakji, which in 158 tries the producers couldn't flip once. Jong Kook flips it on his first try
  • Dog Pile of Doom: In order to subdue the Commander in episode 75. And it was hilarious.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Ji Suk Jin tries to bluff about his power in front of the Commander. Thanks to Ji Hyo's tip-off, he sees right though it. And the inevitable happens.
  • The Dreaded: Choi Min-Soo for the entire crew. But especially for the Grasshopper.
  • Drunk with Power: The "To Be A King" episode (number 124).
  • Dumb Muscle: Averted. Kim Jong Kook may not be the smartest cast member, but he's definitely better than most of them.
  • Easily Forgiven: Gwangsoo's betrayals. Lampshaded himself in a recent episode, where he teaches another guest how to properly betray other people. Gwangsoo mentions that it's even fine to hit or kick Jong-Kook, as long as he makes sure to apologise later.
  • Easily Overheard Conversation: Usually happens right when someone is about to betray someone else.
    • The PDs take special care to avert this trope when they have to inform one of the members of their secret mission or spy status by bringing them somewhere isolated.
  • Elevator Escape: Yoo Jae Suk has done this on a few occasions.
    • Subverted for Ji Suk Jin - he runs into the elevator and asks the cameraman why the door isn't closing. That's because Kim Jong Kook already has a hand on the door.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: A kind of inversion of this trope with the nickname "Kookie". The name refers to the Commander when he's acting cute or like a child much to the annoyance of the rest of the cast. But Jong Kook embraces the name (even sometimes getting it on his nametag with little hearts) while it embarrasses everyone else to watch or say. Even the staff.
  • Embarrassing Old Videos: One episode had a challenge that involved this.
    • "I Swear..."
    • Kim Jong Kook's early days as a young singer/actor...
    • Yoo Jae Suk's self camera...
  • Enemy Civil War: From the perspective of the hiders, this is pretty much what's happening any time the chasers are divided into two competing teams, such as in episode 41. At times, the chasing teams clamoring over each other trying to capture the same person proves beneficial to the target in question.
  • Enemy Mine: In free-for-all games, or at least games that split the members into three or more teams, it's not uncommon to see these types of temporary team-ups. Not surprisingly, the common enemy that they're teaming up against is often Kim Jong Kook.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: Episode 89 in particular. Spy or X-man episodes also count.
    • The basic motto of Running Man is "don't trust anyone". Since secret missions can be issued in any episode, suspecting everyone else has become a natural part of the show. Some guests are shown to be completely paranoid, while other guests are not Genre Savvy enough.
      • The guests that claim to be a fan of the show and have watched a lot of the episodes tend to fall under the first category. Moon Geun-young is so proficient at tearing off the members' name tags that they start to suspect her of being a saboteur 20 minutes into the episode she's not.
      • Similarly Go Ara is accused of secretly carrying out a mission when she eliminates Jaesuk and Gary quickly and without much fanfare justified, as she really IS carrying out a mission.
  • Everyone Chasing You: Obviously. Most clear examples are the matches in episode 93 where their mission is to take out one member of the group specifically.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Haha.
  • Exact Words: In Episode 62, the thief is a Running Man member. That means the thief could also be a Running Man cast member who was supposedly away filming a drama, i.e. Jihyo
  • Facial Composite Failure: Episode 101.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: It's a variety show so no one's gonna be whipping out guns obviously! They like to use water guns instead.
  • Fake Defector: The guests in Episode 101 tried to do this, only to fail miserably in what the captions called "The Worst Operation in Running Man History". The male Running Man members and the three guests had been chasing after Ji-Hyo for the whole episode because she stole the gold meant to be the day's prize (unknowing Ji-Hyo's carrying the fake). At the final location, the guests decide to trick Haha by gaining trust. The plan is Bum-Soo catches Do Hyun(both are the guest),makes an excuse that Do Hyun is leaving the criminal side while confessing that they were the true criminals for the day and ask Haha to rip Do Hyun's tag out since he can't do it. A bewildered Haha (and Gary who had been reduced to silent laughter commenting "There's actually a worse spy than me") are almost speechless as Haha tell them "You're not supposed to tell me that!" and even turning to the production team to express his disbelief. Realize their plan backfired, they try to eliminate Haha, only for the hiding Gary to help out causing Bum-Soo to fumble and get Do Hyun eliminated.
    • Jaesuk, Jihyo and Haha forced Gary to be one to Kim Jong Kook ... only for their plan to immediately fall apart when the suspicious Jong Kook makes Gary call Jae-suk, and mistakenly thinking Gary was trying to back out, he promptly spills everything when he tries to encourage him to go (episode 42).
  • Faking the Dead: In episode 79, Ji Suk Jin is revealed to have pulled off the Running Man equivalent of this, in a shocking turn of events; specifically, he had his two agents drag him off with his mouth covered, giving the appearance that he was eliminated, and then spent the rest of the game eliminating members in secret. It even leads to a He Knows Too Much moment when Gwang Soo is unfortunate enough to witness him eliminating Ha Ha.
  • Feel No Pain: Kim Jong Kook and acupuncture mats... usually.
    • Gary in Episode 8, when they use chopsticks to hit themselves on the forehead.
  • Fight Magnet: Any guest that wants to show that they mean business will do so by challenging the Commander.
    • Choo Sung-Hoon was dying to do so. He won.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Although they started out basically strangers, Kim Jong Kook and Song Ji Hyo now make a great team and trust each other a lot even when they're in an individual battle.
  • Follow the Leader: Japan would later make their own version, Run For Money, throwing out the idea of a regular cast to include as many celebs as they can find, from sportsmen to gravure models.
  • Friendly Tickle Torture: Choi Min Soo does this to Yoo Jae Suk whenever he captures him during his second episode special.
    • Also invoked on Jae Suk in order to get his heartbeat racing as part of a challenge.
    • Ji Hyo also invokes this on Jong Kook in episode 128. There was no chance that she could win and fit into the chair, so this was purely for torture.
  • Friend to All Children: Lee Gwang Soo and Haha both seem especially popular with kids.
  • Fun with Subtitles: A staple of Korean variety shows.
  • Funny Afro: Gary in Episode 127.
  • Funny Background Event: In Episode 178, the team is expected to complete a relay involving gymnastic routines that sound difficult. They are not given any time to practice, and kick up a huge fuss about this. When a producer tries to prevent one of the members from practicing with the ribbon, Ji Hyo can be seen in the background shoving the PD away while the focus is on the members in the foreground.
  • Genre Savvy: Jihyo shows herself to be this in Episode 140, when she points out that it's been a year since the second Yoomes Bond episode, and people are getting themselves eliminated when their nametags are shot by water guns (which is Yoomes Bond's schtick). It doesn't help that he's been acting pretty suspiciously. Ends up as a subverted trope because she is the culprit and was framing Yoomes Bond for it.
  • Great Escape: The jailbreak premise for Episode 91, where members needed to find hints in their jail cells to escape. Kim Jong Kook manages it twice, a feat the staff weren't even expecting.
    • The earlier episodes were set up with the members locked inside different landmarks and competing for freedom.
  • Groin Attack: Happens more often than you'd think. You can almost guarantee that there'll be at least one if there's dodgeball involved. Never intentional, though. Probably.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: Episode 118, which starts out as a dating episode with guest Park Bo-Young. Then she disappears without any explanation, and Choi Min-Soo shows up and the episode becomes a Hunter vs Running Man mission.
  • Happy Dance: Ji Hyo does one during a 1 vs 8 battle, when Ha Ha asks her a self-created question he thinks she won't answer correctly. She does, and she celebrates by excitedly jumping up and down while joyously shaking her arms.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In one episode, Ji-Hyo and the guest (who happens to be this tiny twenty-something year-old girl) end up the only survivors of the mission team. On their way to retrieve the last mission item, they hear bells approaching, so Ji-Hyo confronts them head-on to create a distraction. She even hugs the guest before heading off.
  • High Dive Hijinks: First appeared in episode 3. Appeared again in the Winter Olympics episode.
  • Honor Among Thieves: Averted. Always.
    • Especially in Episode 146. But really, what were you expecting when they are called The Betrayal Trio.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Essentially the premise of the show. The non-lethal version obviously.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Happens occasionally, usually instigated by Ha Ha or Gary.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Kim Jong Kook may bully or order the other members around most of the time, but he isn't too pleased when one of the guests kept hitting Yoo Jae Suk or when one of the guests tried to push Ha Ha around.
  • Incredibly Long Note: Whenever a team member has to hold a note while those in the same team run around trying to find items. Seen in episode 92 and 119, to name a few.
  • Internal Reveal: With all the mind games the PDs like to play on the cast members, this trope happens pretty frequently in various forms, and the majority of the game is then all about watching to see how long it takes (if ever) for them to finally catch on. At other times, however, this trope is averted, and the audience is left just as much in the dark as the cast, generally leading to a Once More with Clarity recap after The Reveal happens.
    • Episode 70 interestingly plays this trope straight and averts it at the same time. It's played straight in that audience knows the entire time that guest Son Ye Jin is the spy, but the aversion is in the identity of her secret partner, where neither spy knows in advance who they're supposed to be working with and must figure it out during the game. They eventually do so and start working together, but even then, the audience is kept in the dark until near the end, when it's revealed she's been working with Kim Jong Kook.
  • In Universe Nickname: Too many to count. Meat Monster Haha, Framer Gwang Soo, Song Ji Yok, Race Starter, Easy Brothers, Kim Jong Kook and the Kids...
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Yoo Jae Suk in episode 13, who at that point was the only surviving member of his team. He finally finds the last Plot Coupon, but at the pivotal moment, he soon finds himself cornered by almost the entire opposing team. So of course, he resigns to his fate and casually engages in idle joking and chit-chatting with his captors...until he shoves Jong Kook out of the way and makes a mad dash out of the room to turn in the Plot Coupon, with Jong Kook and co. in hot pursuit. He ends up winning the game.
  • I Want My Mommy: Usually invoked by Song Ji Hyo or Lee Gwang Soo.
  • I Was Beaten By A Girl: Ji Suk Jin.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kim Jong Kook's TV persona may seem rough around the edges, but he's actually very sweet and well-mannered in person. He also has certain moments in episodes that show he does care about his castmates and friends, particularly in the later episodes.
  • Jump Rope Antics: Inevitable with a jump rope mission.
    • Surprisingly averted for the One Chance jump rope mission that they beat in only three tries. The staff was not happy, and made an even crazier One Chance mission for the next episode. It didn't work out for them either.
  • Just in Time: Some of the games can come remarkably down to the wire. There have been multiple occasions where either the last surviving member of the mission team barely survives to complete the mission or the chasing team catches the last person just in time to stop them. Of course, depending on who you root for, this could also count as a Hope Spot.
  • Keet: Haha every now and then.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: In one citywide find-the-mystery-guest manhunt, the two teams at one point end up taking the same subway line, both heading for the same location. The blue team, however, soon makes a change of plans and intend to get off an earlier stop, and to deter the red team from following their lead, they pull this trope; namely, they feign getting back onto the train, making it look as if they were trying to fool the red team into following them off.
  • Kinda Busy Here: When teammates try to communicate via walkie-talkie with a member who is currently being chased.
  • Large Ham: Jong Kook and Haha. Kwangsoo has his moments as well.
  • Laugh Track: Of course - it's a staple in Korean variety shows.
  • Leitmotif: Most famously "St. Agnes and the Burning Train" by Sting for Lee Gwang Soo.
    • Kim Jong Kook: "What We Need is a Hero" from the Beowulf OST
      • In addition, his song "Loveable" whenever there is a karaoke or other singing mission
    • Song Ji Hyo: The Angry Birds theme song
    • Ha ha: The Pororo theme song
    • Ji Suk Jin: "The House You Live In" by JYP
    • Yoo Jae Suk: "Step by Step" by New Kids on the Block
    • Kang Gary: "Leessang Blues" by Leessang
    • Song Joong Ki: "Pretty Boy" by M 2 M
    • Even Choi Min Soo as "Cranes" by Losif Kobzon
    • There are also theme songs for certain moments or running gags like Playboy Ha Ha, the Jail, the Easy Brothers, the Monday Couple...
    • And most of the guests get their own theme songs as well. For example: if the guest is an actor/actress, the leitmotif would be his/her show's OST, and if the guest is a singer, the leitmotif would be his/her/their latest single or signature song.
  • Lethal Joke Item : Water guns. Using this, Yoomes Bond manage to eliminate the whole Running Man, twice.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Members do this often when outnumbered or disadvantaged somehow.
    • Sometimes averted and used instead just as a trick to get their opponent's guard down.
  • Like Brother and Sister: The guys all refer to Ji Hyo as part of the family and like a sister even with the temporary love line in the show with Gary. That doesn't stop shipping though.
  • Live-Action Escort Mission: Inverted. The guys were tasked with escorting Ji Hyo to the soccer goal in episode 95, but they end up being more or less useless as she was the one who spotted the "assassins".
  • The Load: Female guests tend to fall into this category, much to the annoyance of some fans.
  • Lured Into a Trap: Given the show's many "combat" and/or "hunting" oriented games, this trope inevitably happens from time to time.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": In episode 93, the group thought that voting for who you'd want to oust the most would actually oust them. When they realize that the person they vote for is actually now their target, their faces say it all.
  • Maximum Fun Chamber: Choi Min-Soo.
  • Mission Briefing: Some episodes have particularly dramatic ones.
  • Mistaken for Spies: The hunt for spies usually starts with ousting the wrong people. Typical traitors Gwang Soo and Ha Ha are often suspected early.
    • The Actors team on episode 132 had this going on for almost the entire episode when their leader believed that either Jae Suk or Kwang Soo was the enemy spy on his team. It was actually Ji Hyo.
  • Mood Whiplash: Song Joong Ki's farewell. It comes very abruptly at the end of episode 41, so sudden that you barely have time to stop smiling before his tearful goodbye. The members also crying doesn't help matters much.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The show heavily uses a lot of tongue-in-cheek dramatic editing, and suddenly a bunch of grown men in their 30s and 40s playing hide-and-seek or blasting each other with squirt guns becomes this climactic battle for the ages.
  • Mysterious Watcher: This trope frequently occurs in episodes involving secret mystery guests, usually with their identity eventually revealed to the audience. Episode 62 even dramatically unmasked Ji Hyo, who was supposedly absent due to scheduling conflicts.
  • Noisy Guns: The added sound effects are a comically exaggerated use of this trope in that the guns in this case are water guns. Of particular note, Jae Suk pumping up his BFG in episode 67 was accompanied by mechanical powering-up noises, and the blasts fired were appropriately loud and explosive.
  • Not Worth Killing: BigBang's Taeyang treats Ha Ha this way whenever he finds him.
    • Ji-hyo's answer when Ji Suk Jin asks her why she didn't kill him when he wandered around as bait.
  • Now It's My Turn: The hide-and-seek switching game for the Running Man Olympics. This trope gets invoked every ten minutes when the hiding team becomes the chasing team.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Much to the concern of fans, Kim Jong Kook continues to participate and give it his all even if he's injured. He used to take pain medication to relieve his back pain and ignore it to film, but eventually had to have back surgery. Even while recovering from surgery he returns to the show.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Choi Min Soo and Yoo Jae Suk seem to have this sort of relationship.
    • Also Ji Suk Jin and 2NE1's Minzy in episode 156.
    • Also Ha Ha and Big Bang's G-Dragon in episode 85.
  • Pain Powered Leap: Acupuncture mats. Even Jackie Chan was hopping about and screaming in pain.
  • Potty Emergency: Lee Gwang Soo in episode 91.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Jong Kook makes it clear that he is not happy being voted as the person they'd want to oust the most.
    Jong Kook: Everyone listen well. Everyone can hear me, right? You wrote my name? That's too much, isn't it? I'm telling you now: This may be a variety show, but Round One is not variety. Take that to heart. I'm going to do this properly today. See you later.
  • Prison Episode
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Running Men. To a T.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Gwangsoo in episode 158, where he completed his final mission of doing the limbo while wearing an animal hat right in front of the guests who weren't supposed to see him.. Also, when he hid under the table in the first part of that mission.
  • Sadistic Choice: A lighthearted example, of course. One 1 vs. 9 game challenges Haha to use only his own knowledge (i.e. no looking things up on the internet) to stump at least three other cast members with trivia questions. Haha admits Jae Suk is more knowledgeable than he is, so rather than attempt to stump him, Haha's plan is to ask him a question that would be embarrassing for him to know the answer to, namely the name of the lead actress in the adult film Emmanuelle. In other words, the choice is between humiliation or bringing his team 33% closer to defeat. Could also be viewed as something of a Xanatos Gambit if you count Haha getting to laugh at Jae Suk's embarrassment as an alternate winning scenario.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Kim Joong-Kook in the China Special. He was the spy but one of the conditions was that he couldn't tell a single lie. Not so much sarcastic, but he did nothing but tell the truth the entire day and managed to keep the suspicion off the real thief Song Ji-hyo completely, despite claiming that it was Ji-hyo every chance he got.
  • Ship Tease: The 'Monday Couple' love line between Gary and Ji Hyo, even if it's mostly one-sided. At the beginning of the show, Ji Hyo was too shy to really keep it up as much as Gary who seemed to use it just to make her more comfortable in the variety setting. Ji Hyo ended it when she began her real-life relationship though. That doesn't stop the fans.
    • Monday Couple also has to compete with shippers of the Spart-Ace couple with Kim Jong Kook and the Secret Couple with Ha Ha.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: The guys make a fuss whenever Song Ji Hyo wears make-up or something more formal to the show.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Ji Hyo, the only running woman
  • Sole Survivor: Song Ji Hyo against Choi Min Soo in his first episode. Kim Jong Kook in the second Olympics.
  • Something We Forgot: In Episode 127, the team forgets about poor Ji Suk Jin who is still hiding long after the game has ended.
  • Special Guest: Most episodes have guest stars competing with (or against) the regulars.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Kim Jong Kukk or Kim Jong Kook, Lee Gwang Soo or Lee Kwang Soo...
  • Spy Versus Spy: Everyone is told that they're a spy in episode 82, unaware the "actual" spy is the guest. The "Tru-Gary" show episode could also be a complicated inversion of this... but it's ambiguous.
  • Suicide Mission: Ji Hyo has to make this sacrifice in both Olympics episodes, as well as in episode 143 as ordered by guest Lee Kyung Kyu. Ha Ha also gives himself up as bait in episode 68.
  • Super Powers for a Day: The super power specials.
  • Swivel-Chair Antics: Episode 128.
  • Talkingthrough Technique: The Monday Couple seem to be very adept at this. In the Avengers episode, they were able to communicate the desire to ditch Jaesuk's team and go over to Joong-Kook's car simply by a leer of the eyes without anyone noticing.
    • Joong-Kook and Ji-hyo do this on occasion, though Ji Sukjin was able to decipher it and jump on board with the plan despite not being in on it, leading to Haha being named the number 1 person the Running Man would like to eliminate.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Because the entire cast is made up of Vitriolic Best Buds, this trope gets invoked in every episode. Especially the alliances that sometimes have to be formed in individual competitions.
  • They Have the Scent
  • The Nose Knows: In episode 98, this is how Jaesuk manages to evade the zombified Jihyo and Gary. He kept smelling her perfume and running away.
  • Time Bomb: This trope appeared as early as episode 12, which lead to a Wire Dilemma and then Wrong Wire. The James Bond special is also focused on diffusing one, and episode 47 invokes this in a timer race.
  • Tired of Running: On many occasions, particularly when a member is the Sole Survivor of their team.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Lee Gwang Soo in episode 132. And it was awesome.
    • The entire cast has taken several levels of badass over the years. Just compare their first few episodes to the ones where the entire Running Man cast faces off against another team without any handicaps in the Attack/Defend matches. More often than not, the cast proves that their experience and teamwork lets them best almost anyone
  • Train-Station Goodbye: Jongkook and guest Moon Geun-Young in episode 114.
  • Trick-and-Follow Ploy: Used often, most notably in episode 132 to find the suitcase locations.
  • True Companions: The cast in real life seems to be this. They're also good friends with the staff, forming one large Dysfunctional Family.
  • Twist Ending: The ambiguous ending of the "Tru-Gary" show episode seems to imply Gary knew all along. The cast also never mentions the ending ever again, so it's anyone's guess.
    • Though there is a hint in Episode 93, when Gary says the Tru-Gary episode was his favourite. Presumably, he wouldn't choose an episode where he was tricked for by everyone for the entire day, especially since he could have chosen Episode 74 too where he won the second individual battle and a trip to Europe, though he could have chosen it as his favourite because he was the main character. The whole thing is basically ...
  • The Unreveal
  • Useless Superpowers: Gwang Soo's 'Death Note' can only take out one person and can only be used once. The power is even voted the least useful by fans.
    • The aforementioned 'Death Note' superpower may not be useless at all as it may have the an override through certain superpowers like Ji-Hyo's deflection ability and Suk-jin's three lives. However, this was not explored upon as Gwang Soo was eliminated fairly quickly.
    • Jong Kook's 'Red Card' power during superpower soccer isn't incredibly helpful either. In fact, using it would make the team weaker rather than stronger.
  • Unexpected Guest: Lee Gwang Soo's own father in ep. 165. The other cast members didn't know that a mission location was in the building he worked in, with the obvious exception of Gwang Soo who recognized it right away.
    • He even gave three of the cast members, Gwang Soo included, a ride to the next mission location.
  • Unstoppable Rage: If Kim Jong Kook wants revenge, Kim Jong Kook will get revenge.
  • The Virus: The main theme of episode 140, where the cast must find a happiness antidote to stop an anger virus that's plaguing Korea (and Gwang Soo).
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Essentially the entire cast with itself. Also falls into With Friends Like These... territory,
  • Water Guns and Balloons: Yoomes Bond. Also, several episodes have revolved around this.
  • We Will Meet Again:
    • In episode 52, shortly after Jae Suk backstabs Choi Min Soo while their teams were under a temporary alliance, the latter declares he'll return for "Grasshopper Hunting."
    • In episode 69, when Min Soo makes good on his threat and successfully gets his revenge, Jae Suk makes a surprisingly Badass Boast after being terrorized for the majority of the episode and retorts "Min Soo hyung...it's one win, one loss."
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: The members generally go easy on the girls, including Ji Hyo, though Kim Jong Kook is the one who most strongly adheres to this trope. Haha and Lee Gwang Soo have been known to go all out against female guests, with Haha wrestling several to the ground without remorse. As for Ji Suk Jin, he tries his best against them as well, but then again his best is... well...
    • The first no-holds-barrel fight between all of the Running Man cast had this particular gem in the end:
    Jae Suk: He [Gary] outed you? Already?
  • Women Are Delicate: Although it's true that there is a physical difference between the genders (especially when the guests are well-muscled male stars and tiny female stars), this can come into play a lot depending on the guest or the mission.
    • Kim Jong Kook, on his team of three people against another team of three, tried to argue that his team was technically only two people since Ji Hyo was a girl and didn't count when it comes to a fight. He knows how good a player she is, and was probably trying to trick the other team into only approaching them with two people, but no one objected to his logic.
    • The trope is of course, averted by Ji Hyo. It says a lot that the ace of the team is a girl.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: A comedic variant. Expect people to start ripping off their allies' nametags when their goal (i.e. getting Kim Jong Kook out) is accomplished. Sometimes even before that.
    • One of the notable moments example is at episode In episode 76. Gwang Soo(Who's the spy for the PD) keeps screwing up and letting the players run. Knowing they're better off without spies, after Jae Suk is eliminated, one of the P Ds rip Gwang Soo's tag while leaving both Jae Suk and Gwang Soo confuse as they weren't suppose to eliminated their own spies.

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