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The Soul Tree, the great source of our race.
But for its ultimate power and by those whose minds were blinded by it,
it also became the catastrophic cause that had brought never-ending wars between the tribes.
Tortured by the agonies of the wars,
the leaders of the tribes finally came to a peace agreement that they would instead open a competition.
Players, equipped with special watches and shields,
compete against each other as winner’s tribe would be awarded with Materion,
the sacred fruit of the Soul Tree.
These brave players, who throw themselves in this fierce fight,
we call them the Running Man.
— Running Man WORLD VIEW
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Are you ready? It's...running time!

Running Man (런닝맨) is the animated version of the Korean variety show with the same name. The setting of the show is inside an animal kingdom. The main plotline of the cartoon is about the 100th Annual Running Man Championship, a series of team or individual competitions, led by Charming Gold. Seven animals from each tribe represent their tribe in the competitions. Those animals are Liu the Grasshopper, Kuga the Tiger, Gai the Ninja Monkey, Lonky the Girrafe Prince, Popo the Penguin, Pala the Impala and Miyo the Cat.

The English Dub of the show is released on Cartoon Network Asia airing by 10:15 am and new episodes are aired by 6:45 pm with two episodes each in weekdays. For weekends, episodes are on repeat in 6:30 pm.

In the Korean YouTube channel, online episodes are published every Friday.

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A season 2, Running Man 2: Pulululu's Counterattack (런닝맨:풀룰루의 역습), is introduced last November 13, 2018 of the new game created by the Pulululu called Running Man - Survival.

Extremely Needs Some Love.

Warning: There will be massive spoilers for the people who watched the Cartoon Network Asia version of the show.


Tropes appearing in the show include:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Liu. Who is still in shock after he saw his lost sister, Jean. She is not only alive but also brainwashed.

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Includes futuristic bullet trains, robots, and other modernization that is mixed both with fantasy and science.

  • Absurdly Cool City: Tree City. A stadium is on top of the said city with the Soul Tree branching from above.

  • The Ace: Kuga and apparently, his whole tribe. On the first minigame, he destroyed the others by stealing their bells in one fell swoop. According to Liu's Facebook profile, his older sister, Jean, is also this from the Bug Tribe prior to the Running Man series until she disappeared.

  • Achilles' Heel:

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    • Laser pointers for Kuga and Miyo.
    • Lonky's neck can be easy to grab on to by Kuga.
    • Sometimes it can be Popo's tarot cards or his short stature.

  • Action Prologue: The whole Opening Game episode.

  • Adaptation Name Change: Despite the characters are the Expys of their human counterparts.

  • A Day in the Limelight: Miyo note , Gai note , Kuga note , Lonky, Popo, and Pala note  got the chance of them. Heck, even Charming Gold note  has some.

  • Ad Hominem: Lonky, whenever he's being a Royal Brat to others.
    Lonky: (after presenting a valid argument) Well, I don't expect a mere meathead like you to understand - (get's Neck Lift by Kuga)
    Kuga: Oh, this meathead DOES understand!

  • Adorable Abomination: The God of Earth.

  • Adult Fear: Inverted when Liu's backstory is revealed. Jean, his older sister, was thought to be dead by a red explosion in her room. Leaving Liu alone and the tribe made him as a replacement in the recent game.

  • A Fête Worse Than Death: Most of the audience in-universe might not have any ideas of this twisted game masterminded by Charming Gold. Especially for what happened to Gai of all people had to be this.

  • After the End: The story starts years after the war, it also revealed that the world ended before the show even began.

  • A God Am I: Especially for the people who waged in the war for the Soul Tree. And then comes Charming Gold, who wants to destroy the world and start a new one with him as the new ruler.

  • Alchemy Is Magic:
    • Studied by the Empa Tribe. Except for Black Magic, because it's bad.
    • Meanwhile the Peng Tribe also practices this.

  • All of the Other Reindeer: Thousand years before, Charming Gold is tormented by his own kind because of his looks. Now, in Running Man, he is currently the only living Pikok tribe resident.

  • Ambition Is Evil: Some of the main like Lonky or Popo. Charming Gold's ambition is much, much more.

  • And I Must Scream: The D.V 7 were once the champions of the previous Running Man championship. When they got kidnapped by Charming Gold and were forced to inhale a drug that brainwashes them, the only way of escaping is for someone to remove the mask. But it's risky because Charming Gold has more power than the others were.

  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Charming Gold presented the D.V 7 as the new characters after Gai quits on him.

  • And Your Reward Is Interior Decorating: Whoever wins the championship will get a piece of the Soul Tree's fruit, Materion. The Materion is a part of the Soul Tree's energy core which could give a source of power from different tribes. But Charming Gold is getting greedy that he doesn't want to share it with anyone.

  • And You Thought It Was a Game: Gai pointed it out in Episode 26, when he realized his friends are getting hurt because of the game that was rigged by Charming Gold. That the players risked everything just to win, and that irks Liu.
    Gai: Stop the game? I don't think so. People get hurt while playing this game. If we stop for everything, it's no longer a game.

  • And You Thought It Would Fail: In-universe when the Running Man team seemed to be losing in the Zone Battle when it's actually Liu's plan going in action.

  • Anguished Declaration of Love: In a form of a hug. Miyo dives to Gai's mind when he was brainwashed. Miyo is trying to reach him out, but she's about to get dragged out of Gai. But he is able to break free and finally reaches Miyo.

  • Animal Eye Spy: Liu's robotic companion named "Mr. Suitcase" can be this when spying on other competitors note .

  • Animal Motifs: The show takes place in an animal kingdom with animal versions of the main 7 from the original series.

  • Animal Religion: Miyo's tribe, Nyanya, are said to be able to communicate the gods and the spirits.

  • Animal Superheroes: The Running Man have their special abilities, but Kuga is praised as the most popular player in the game. This is gradually implied when Charming Gold is up to something bad and they need to stop him.

  • Animated Adaptation: Of the original Running Man.

  • Ankle Drag: Liu was dragged by Lonky with this because Lonky got kidnapped by the Kuphaman / D.V 2 / Makhan.

  • Another Story for Another Time: Some episodes end with a cliffhanger that doesn't reveal answers until the later episodes.

  • Anthropomorphic Animal Adaptation: Of the real-life Running Man casts.

  • Anyone Can Die: For a show that is targetted to children, the main seven are slowly killed on-screen one by one. This is before Popo rewinds the time, but still.

  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: Especially because of the war that happened years ago. Now, they want to compete in the Running Man championship.

  • Apocalypse How: From the war itself, it's a Class 1. The tribe leaders wanted to stop the devastation by making the Running Man Championship. But Charming Gold has other plans in recreating mankind.
    • And then it went intensely when Charming Gold attempts to make a Class 3A apocalypse to make a new race.
      • That's until it backfired and the Soul Tree shattered. It is noticeably slowly going up, starting from Class 5.
      • And then it went Up to Eleven as Class X. Nice going Charming Gold, you almost destroyed the world without a Reset Button.

  • Appeal to Popularity: In-universe, Kuga is voted as a leader of the Team Change Battle because he's the most popular by the audience in the competition.

  • Appropriate Animal Attire: Averted except for the characters who belonged to the Bars Tribe.

  • Appropriated Title: Since the show is inspired by the real-life version.

  • Armored Villains, Unarmored Heroes: The D.V 7 and the Running Man.

  • Armor-Piercing Attack: The Super Paw. An attack used by the Bars Tribe as their Limit Break, this is technically the only ability that can actually wreck an obstacle aside from Liu's long ranged weapons and Gai's shurikens.

  • Armor-Piercing Slap: The slap is received by Liu from the brainwashed Jean. When Liu saw her, his first instinct is to run towards his lost sister. By the time he's close, Jean raised her hand and slapped her younger brother. He's so shocked that he remained motionless for 40 seconds.

  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • The Soul Tree has its basis on the Mangrove tree. However, the Mangrove tree grows on swamp or saltwater coasts. Based on the stories that the characters presented, the Soul Tree grew on land instead on the waters. The location where the Mangrove trees are present is in the southeast of Asia.
    • Some of the characters who are based on their animal selves have different anatomy and features.

  • Artistic License – Chemistry: Pala and Dr. Mala's alchemy in the series. The Empa tribe is known for making potions. The portable use of carrying and mixing ingredients is a staff with only one glass vial on top of it. What is odd is when they mix by shaking it. Of course, Dr. Mala has a more advanced staff than Pala has since there's a mechanized mixer inside of it and is connected to a tube to where the D.V 7 have slept.

  • Artistic License – Economics: Depending on what tribe a character originates from. It can either be powerful like the Giraf Tribe or having a bad history such as the Mong Tribe.

  • Artistic License – Engineering: For the Bug Tribe mostly, as they have advanced technology despite being a nation focused on farming.

  • Artistic License – Pharmacology: Pala and Dr. Mala's alchemy is mostly involved mixing herbs to make a medicine.
    • The crystal that Dr. Mala used to make a liquid drug named as "The Amplifier" that brainwashed the D.V 7 and Gai is related to a real-life drug called The Devil's Breath or Scopolamine. The Devil's Breath is a drug from Colombia that is close to hypnotizing a victim that they either won't remember anything when it wears off or forced to do something bad while being aware and conscious about it. No wonder the crystal is red
    • Meanwhile the enegizing potion that Pala and Dr. Mala made has a temporary effect on the user. Where they have more energy to fight the D.V 7 within a time limit like a 'High', this costs their remaining energy when it wears off similar to a 'Crash'. What's more is that some characters (except for Lonky and Pala) use it only once. The answer? Methamphetamine.

  • A Simple Plan: All of the players had a plan on how to win until someone makes it complicated. Nevertheless, it's still a game.
    • One example is in the Team Change Battle when Lonky and Popo are planning to be on Kuga's team and knock Liu out of the game. But it got complicated because Pala has been possessed by the red crystal. Not only their plan didn't work, but Liu and Pala won the match instead of Kuga.

  • A Taste of Defeat: When the characters weren't able to win a match, but it's mostly shown to Lonky.

  • A True Story in My Universe: Tribe, actually. Popo, Gai, Lonky, Pala, and Liu are arguing about which of the interpretations of how the God of Earth created their world by turning into a Soul Tree.
    • The Bug Tribe worships the God Of Earth. And in return, gave life in the land.
    • The Giraf Tribe exploits the God Of Earth by their "sharp divine tongue".
    • The Peng Tribe cried until the God Of Earth turns into a Soul Tree.
    • Both the Mong Tribe and Empa Tribe harvests the Soul Tree instead.
    • Only the Nyanya tribe got the correct one.

  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: When the situation gets out of hand in the game field.

  • Attack Its Weak Point:
    • Liu concluded that the D.V 7 don't work as a group, which they used their weakness as an advantage for the Running Man.
    • The mechanized robot that Charming Gold controls is agile, fast, and strong. But the robot can do one ability at the time. Such as when the robot can be fast, but not agile nor strong. It is also powered by the same Amplifier energy that must be taken down.

  • Authority Equals Asskicking: On the good side, it's Liu. But on the bad side, it's Charming Gold.

  • Awful Truth: Different tribes had several interpretations on how the God of Earth created the world. But the most of the story is a lie that Ulcus shoved the truth to the main characters of what truly happened if the war restarts. Before Ulcus appears, there are seven slates that are hidden within Charming Gold's laboratory. Miyo and Dr. Mala are able to decipher them and they are horrified from the last one.
    • If the Soul Tree is shattered. The 'savior' ends the whole world and restart a new one, killing millions of innocent lives that had nothing to do with the game.

  • Badass Adorable: The majority of the Running Man characters.

  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Charming Gold has the ability to absorb his victim's life energy so he can look young.

  • Bad Samaritan: Lonky.

  • Backstab Backfire: Kuga notices Lonky's style of manipulating others so he won't let Lonky win like what happened in the Opening Game.

  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • When the characters were able to enter the final level of the Opening Game, it appears that Kuga is winning once he plugged the flag. But when the announcer called Lonky's name, it revealed that Kuga unconsciously had Lonky's flag because it was switched.
    • In Catch the King game, the D.V 7 thought that Lonky is the King. When Jean removed his tag, the crown is absent. The real plan is letting the D.V 7 expose who the King is, subdue them, and let the real King rip the tag out.

  • Balance Between Good and Evil: Sure, the Running Man are the protagonists. But there are times when they had to slip into the evil side just to win the competition. Characters such as Lonky and Gai are the examples.

  • Bang, Bang, BANG: Liu's laser gun in his character trailer has the sound of the normal pistol gun when it was fired two times. But the third one now sounded like what a laser gun sounds like.

  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Kuga.

  • Bash Brothers:
    • Lonky and Popo
    • Kuga / Pala and Liu

  • Batman Gambit: Liu's plans applies to this. But his biggest plan actually worked in Gaining Grounds when trying to save Gai from his brainwashing.

  • Battle Couple: Miyo and Gai. Mainly because they are the Expys of Ji Hyo and Gary.

  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Gai's mind against his brainwashing.

  • Battle of Wits: Almost everyone battle against each other using their smarts to win.

  • Battle Trophy: The prize whenever a player won the championship is the Materion, the "fruit" of the Soul Tree.

  • Beat the Curse Out of Him: Pala got possessed by the red crystal. So the others need to save him by removing the vial containing the cursed object. While the others restrained Pala, Liu removed the glass vial by shooting it.

  • Beauty Is Bad: Charming Gold is beautiful because he sucked his victim's energy to be one.

  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Charming Gold has an ability to gain beauty by literally sucking other people's life sources. When he gets too stressed, his face cracks like porcelain. His bullies teased him as a "monster".

  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn: Primarily to Pala, Popo, and Lonky.

  • Because I'm Good at It: Lonky didn't stop betraying the others even though he got tagged out numerous times.

  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Miyo opens up to Gai slowly because he interacts with her more, this act of love helps Miyo to pursue in saving Gai. Meanwhile, Liu treats his friends as family, including Kuga. This makes Kuga to have more confidence in teamwork and cooperates with Liu in his plans.

  • Behind Every Great Man: Liu is the player who got the highest number of wins in the game, but Popo questions him because he knows that Liu is a 'Second Place'. The first champion is actually his older sister, Jean.

  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil:
    • After years of bullying and being discriminated by his peers and his family just because he looks ugly or a monster, Charming Gold becomes the Big Bad.
    • The former champions or famous people from different tribes are kidnapped by Charming Gold and were experimented by forcing to ingest a drug into their systems. They are now brainwashed and are stronger than the Running Man team.

  • Belief Makes You Stupid: All of the seven tribes has their story of the God of Earth name Ulcus, who is supposed to 'save' them right after the Soul Tree gets destroyed by Charming Gold. That's until they found out that 'saving' means restarting the world even if it means killing people and destroying their home.

  • Betrayal by Inaction: Lonky's method of winning a game.

  • Bewildering Punishment: Because of his attitude and his 'strategy' to win a game, Lonky had to face multiple even if he deserves it. An example is when he (and Popo) picked Kuga as the leader of the Team Change Battle's Blue Team when the two betrayed Liu after he thought they were going to join him. But because Kuga's team had too many players, the two leaders will have to pick which teammate they’re going to choose instead.
    • As punishment for what they did, Liu picked Lonky and Popo.
    Lonky: This. Isn't fair! ISN'T FAIR! ISN'T FAIR!
    Popo: How did this all go wrong? Why? Why?

  • Big Bad: Charming Gold, the host, and the Mastermind. Though, he's already suspicious from the start.

  • Big Brother Instinct: Lonky shows this much towards Popo. Meanwhile, Kuga develops this in the later episodes.

  • Big Brother Is Watching: The facilitators of the Running Man championship are robots commanded by Charming Gold.

  • Big Damn Heroes: This happens to Gai, Lonky, Kuga, and Liu the most.

  • Bittersweet Ending: In episode 48, the Running Man were able to convince Ulcus in giving the world a second chance. However, the Soul Tree remains destroyed and Popo turned into a baby. With Charming Gold dead, the Running Man competition is over... until season 2.

  • Black and Gray Morality: Surprisingly, the villains have good reasons to be evil and the protagonists sometimes do bad things to benefit themselves or the game.

  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands:
    • Gai uses his shurikens as his weapon when fighting against the D.V 7.
    • Kuga with his Super Paw attack as he was able to overload Charming Gold's mecha if he's confident enough to do it.
    • Meanwhile, Liu is armed with a gun in which he shoots it with precision and can sometimes use it outsmart his enemies. Such as when he shoots the concrete pillars with his gun and uses the third bullet as a diversion. Gai ended up getting buried underneath the pillars that Liu shot at.

  • Blessed with Suck: Popo's tribe and his ability are actually powerful when using the tarot cards. His only problem is when they don't work only because he didn't execute them right. Even if he used it correctly, Popo will have to suffer the consequences.

  • Blood Sport: In-universe, the characters noticed that the games are not only getting harder but more dangerous too. This became one of the clues for the revelation.

  • Body Armor as Hit Points: Charming Gold has a motion controlled robot and it can absorb Makhan and Kuga's Super Paw attack to return it back to them. Once the robot is malfunctioning, the voice starts to inform Charming Gold about the growing percentage of the instability.

  • Booby Trap: Lots in each of the games.

  • Brains and Brawn: Liu and Kuga became a duo in some scenes.

  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Pala early on by the stone left behind by the red-eyed beast followed by the D.V.7 themselves and, unfortunately, Gai.

  • Breaking Out: The theme of the Escape Game. The first person who escaped wins the game.

  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Pala when he won the Hammer Bingo Game. Right after he shouted Bingo, he smirked and faced the camera. But while he talked to the audience, his voice cuts off as the screen blacks out and the end credits start to roll.
    • This would also make sense since they're still in a reality competition
    Pala: (points to the viewer) Are you watching this? Ignore me and I'll - (screen blacks out)

  • Break the Badass: Gai. He was forced to join the game as a mole and is also brainwashed when he tried to rebel against Charming Gold.

  • Break the Motivational Speaker: Liu and Charming Gold
    • Charming Gold is the game's host while being the Big Bad in disguise. When his plans are being foiled by the Running Man, he postpones the game and decides to kill the players in order to move on with his plan.
    • Liu's case is different because he acts as the motivational speaker to his teammates. But when he saw his older sister, the very reason why he joined the Running Man game, is actually alive but brainwashed, he had a 10-Minute Retirement breakdown. He was able to come back with the help of his friends.

  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: The representative of the Mong Tribe, Gai, became the spy for Charming Gold. The host of the game rigged everything so Gai could win.

  • Broken Masquerade: In a world where competing is the main priority of the main characters. That's until the show reveals the truth of the twisted game and they need to save the world.

  • Bully and Wimp Pairing: Kuga and Liu are treated like this by some of the members. That's until they became friends and the two are one of the most seen battle duos.

  • Bullying a Dragon: It is revealed that Charming Gold is bullied for being a 'Monster'. But when he discovered his powers of absorbing life-forces to look young, Charming Gold turned all his tormentors (and possibly the whole Pikok Tribe) into dust.

  • Bus Full of Innocents: In the Hidden Game, the passengers all played a role in reality.

  • Call-Back:
    • Kuga is the first person to plug his flag (until it revealed to be Lonky's) in the opening game. In the final moments of the series, Kuga is the first person to insert the artifact to trap Ulcus.
    • Gai caught Miyo in the Opening Game and it happened again in Battle of the Throne. While Gai begins to fall in love in Miyo in the former, same same scenario happened to her in the later episode.

  • Calling Your Attacks: There's such thing, but doesn't happen much unless it's necessary such as in Ttakji Battle. The only one who does the most is Popo when summoning a weak element card attack.

  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: In the Escape Game, Lonky had to play the game just so he can pee. So during the whole episode, he's been running around the battle arena just to find a bathroom.

  • Came Back Wrong: After getting kidnapped and brainwashed, Gai enters the game field with the D.V 7. The Running Man, including Miyo, are in shock.

  • Camera Sniper: In the Team Change Battle, Liu is about to shoot Pala's cane. Despite the gun has no scope, Liu's eyes are treated as such including the reticle.

  • Camp Unsafe Isn't Safe Anymore: Figuring out the truth of what happened to Gai, Jean, and the D.V 7, the Running Man team concluded that enough is enough of the game and decided to fight against Charming Gold.

  • Canada Does Not Exist: Seven tribes are mentioned, but the setting and the location of the tribes are not mentioned. And then, there is the introduction of the Pulululu and the mysterious player from an unknown tribe in season two.

  • Cane Fu: But it's played for laughs by Pala in the 30 second trailer video. He mostly whacked his cane against Lonky in his appearance.

  • Cannibalism Superpower: Though Charming Gold doesn't literally eat his tribe, the effects is almost treated as one.

  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Lonky always got the bad karma for betraying the other Running Man members.

  • Card-Carrying Villain: Dr. Mala was exiled from his tribe for practicing dark magic works with Charming Gold as he demands respect. This attitude can sometimes played for laughs when with Pala.

  • Cartesian Karma: Lonky. AGAIN. Though he already got lost, he's still determined to win the game even if it means causing a betrayal. Popo lampshaded this, but he's just as the same as Lonky in the Team Change Battle.
    Popo: That Lonky! He betrayed us again!

  • Cassandra Truth: Happened two times
    • Popo accused Liu for working with Kuga in order to win the competition. Liu had no idea what Popo was talking about and he ended up getting locked in a closet. In reality, it’s actually Lonky works for Kuga and framed Liu so he wouldn't get tagged out. However, Kuga ripped Lonky's shield anyway.
    • In the aftermath of the Pyramid Pursuit game, Lonky, Popo, and Pala accused Miyo for being the spy. She releases her claws and scratched their faces just to make a point that she's not.

  • Cat Fight: A literal one whenever Miyo fights Kuga or vice versa.

  • Celebrity Toons: Implied according to the original Animal Motifs of the live action Running Man contenders.

  • Cellphones Are Useless: Their main line of communication are their watch.

  • Character Death: Mostly mentioned such as Jean, whom Liu thought she died. And the prominent one was when four of the six Running Man competitors died from Ulcus, until Popo restarted the timeline. Leaving Charming Gold, the only person truly dies.

  • Child Prodigy: Some of the tribes sent one of their kind who are this to join the competition.

  • Combat by Champion: Each of the tribes send their chosen competitor in the Running Man Championship.

  • Chekhov's Gun: The bus in the first episode. It comes back to help a sleeping Pala boost to first place, for about two seconds......

  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: As always, Lonky. Justified, as he is an Expy of Kwang Soo from the main series. This sometimes bites him hard in the end.

  • Cloak & Dagger: Provided by the D.V 7.

  • Colony Drop: When Ulcus judges the world for how corrupted it was, he was about to do this until the Running Man were able to stop him from destroying their home.

  • Color Motif: Their flags have their colors such as pink for Miyo or orange for Kuga.

  • Combat Breakdown: Especially that it's not a game anymore and they have to fight to save the world. The prominent one is in the episode What Makes A Hero, where they fight their doppelgangers to get the required artifact. The succeed their test by reaching their limits. For example, Popo used a time card to win but he aged backwards as a result.

  • Cool Train: In which it became a game field for one.

  • Counterpart Combat Coordination: Liu's plan to expose the D.V 7's weaknesses and trick them into losing in the Zone Battle. He intentionally made Pala, Lonky, Popo fought against the Kuphaman, D.V 3, and D.V 4 as a distraction while finding out the mechanics of the Zone Battle. Once the remaining contestants, him, Miyo, and Kuga, were able to figure out how gravity works, they can lure the D.V 7 into their trap. Winning the Zone Battle game.

  • Crapsaccharine World: In a kids show. At first it was all about seven people competing for a game, and then it digs deeper of the lore of the world they live in. What they found out wasn't pretty, not pretty at all. Especially when their home is being watched by a God that will destroy the world at the sight of war and corruption by the people in any minute. Ulcus will not hesitate to kill if it means restarting the world like nothing bad happened.

  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Instead of the antagonist experiencing this, it's the main characters who had to suffer.
    • Pala, right after he plugged the fake artifact, gets blasted by Ulcus' rays before he could see what's going on.
    • Gai doing his last Heroic Sacrifice and got hit. Miyo had to watch his death even though he's smiling.
    • Both Miyo and Kuga have the most cruel on-screen death even without the blood. Right after they fell down from Ulcus, the God of Earth lifted his foot... and steps on them on screen.
    • Meanwhile, Lonky sacrificed his life to save Popo from death. As a result, he died from getting hit by the red ray. The only survivors left right before Popo restarts the timeline was him and Liu.

  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Oh, if only Gai remembered in the Bingo game that Pala is still in the game .

  • Darkest Hour: Starts from the episode titled The Materion all the way to the ending. This is because that's the time where the Soul Tree collapsed and awaken Ulcus from his slumber. When that happens, he will destroy everything if no one stops him.

  • Darker and Edgier: From Episode 25 until the Finale because of the plot twist. Also, the brutal history of the great war right before the competition was imposed by the tribe leaders. And not to mention, cruel animal experiments and the mention of an in coming apocalypse. This might surprise viewers for a kids show that came from Korea.

  • Death Glare: Given by Kuga to Miyo in the Bell Hunter race.

  • Death Is the Only Option: The only solution for Ulcus in solving the crisis of mankind is to destroy the world which would kill every single living being.

  • Disapproving Look: Most of the Running Man competitors do this when someone does not help them comically.

  • Downer Ending:
    • Find the Golden Key note 
    • Gaining Grounds note .
    • Battle of the Thrones note 
    • The Materion note 

  • Dub Name Change: The Cartoon Network English version applies this to the name of the episode and the names of the game.

  • Expy: The seven Running Men clearly are Expys of their real-life counterparts.
    • Charming Gold could be one of the variety show’s PD, as he does have the nickname Dangerous/Evil PD.

  • Failed a Spot Check: Granted, Gai did get caught in the heat of the moment, but not noticing Pala when he’s beside you is just crazy. That’s all fine and good as he is trying to win, but leaving your emblem, I.e the only thing that can ousted you with Pala is just outright stupid.

  • Fate Worse than Death: Which one? Either getting brainwashed by a psychotic game maker or being ugly after years of sucking up the youth of others. Pick your poison.

  • Fantastic Drug:
    • The crystal that possessed Pala in the Team Change Battle is actually a substance mixed by Dr. Mala that was used to brainwash Gai in a form of a gas mask. Which is pretty ironic.
    • Some of the potions that Pala makes increases the ability of the player, but it wears them down by the time is over.

  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Applies to many of the tribes the seven contestants have. It is said that it is inspired by Korean, Japanese, and Chinese culture.
    • Empa Tribe residents are alchemists who didn't participate in the championship much. Some of Pala's equipment are machines and his clothes seemed to be inspired from the steampunk era and Chinese alchemy combined. It is said that Black Magic is forbidden and anyone who practices it will result to getting their horns chopped off.
    • Peng Tribe, based on Popo's character description and the way he dressed, are magicians in a modern setting possibly from South Korea. There's even the strong belief of the culture of tarot cards in one scene, where he read a card make him thought that he will not do well in a match note .
    • Mong Tribe has the culture is based with the Japanese ninja setup. This probably makes sense considering his role as the game's mole in the series.
    • Nyanya Tribe were said to be "communicating with the gods and spirits" and there are Chinese-inspired patterns in her room. There's also the part where her species as a cat has a connection to Chinese and Japanese superstitions the most.
    • Giraf Tribe are the surviving nations from the war. Lonky's "uniform" (which is technically a jacket) has the designs based from a military uniform of the royals. His expy does have a reputation as the "Asian Prince" of the Running Man series.
    • Bars Tribe that is accompanied with a traditionally themed leitmotif for Kuga. His room is filled with banners, weapons including a Mu Ren Zhuang (a Chinese wooden dummy), and posters. The banners have foreign writing that could be similar to Japanese writing especially there's a red stamp (called a Hanko) on one banner that says "人コ".
    • Bug Tribe have people good with technology. And yet, they are known for farming. Asia is known to agriculture and, at the same time, had references from the industrial revolution note .

  • Fish out of Water: The main protagonists leave their homes to compete in the championship. But as they got used to the new environment, evil lurks within as Charming Gold begins his plan.

  • Five-Man Band: Or 'seven' rather as well as there is subversion to the trope.
  • Fixing the Game: The following episodes have the Running Man come to a suspicion that the game is rigged by the spy.
  • Forever War: The reason why the Running Man competition happened.
    Narrator: Tortured by the agonies of the wars, the leaders of the tribes finally came to a peace agreement that they would instead open a competition.

  • Gratuitous English: Aside from the "Are you ready? It's... Running Time!" line, there's also "Nice!", or "So good!"

  • Great Offscreen War: It was stated in the World View video that the war between the tribes happened years ago all because of the fight for the main energy source, the Soul Tree. The war ended when the leaders decided to make a competition and the winner gets the share of the tree's fruit, Materion.

  • Limited Wardrobe: Almost all of the Running Man characters only have one attire to the point that they slept on their beds while wearing it. The only people who averted this were Gai and Jean.

  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The whole Ttakji minigame. The whole round plays out with heavy effects. It’s unclear if the effects are actually real or just in the competitors’ heads.

  • Mood Whiplash: A moment in Episode 7 when Liu admitted of his true status of being a 'Second Place' in the current championship. But while he explained it further, Popo, Lonky, Pala, and Gai had some mood ruining reactions note .
    Popo: Yep, it's true! Liu had come in second place!
    Gai: Uhm... And his champion?
    Popo: Don't know. I heard he died or something.
    Liu: ...It's true. I came in second place. (camera zooms to his lips) And the champion died.
    (the four looked at Liu)
    Liu: And she was my older sister.
    (they jumped with different reactions)
    • The first time the Out Hand pulls Gai to the out zone during the Bell Hunter.The dramatic music plays as Gai is pulled in , and when he throws his marbles to Miyo, Lonky comes in and an upbeat music starts to play.

  • The Mole: Liu in the third game as he puts everyone back in their cells. And soon, Gai. Who is The Dragon of Charming Gold.

  • Mysterious Animal Senses: Cats such as Miyo and Kuga. And mostly to Liu for having heightened senses, strong lower body muscle that he can actually jump higher than the others.

  • Mythology Gag: This show has this in spades:
    • The incident during the ttakji match has a parallel in the original series: A supposedly unflippable ttakji flipped by Jong Kook/Kuga with little to no effort.
    • Another when Jong Kook/Kuga had bells attached to them when he played the role as the Hunter.
    • An odd scenario when Ji Hyo once betrayed her teammates in favor of keeping her nametag, similar to Lonky when he made a deal with Kuga for the same reason.
    • Kwang Soo/Lonky were both looking for a bathroom in the Prison Escape Game.
    • Jae Seok/Liu getting dragged into a cell from both versions of the series.
    • Some of the main seven's powers and abilities came from their Expy.

  • Never Live It Down: Season 2 in-universe as it sets after the events of the first one.

  • Our Gods Are Different: One example is the stories of how the God of Earth created the world. Another one is when the Nyanya tribe are to be said that they communicate with the Gods and Spirits.

  • Our Mages Are Different: First there's an Alchemist (Pala), and then the Wizard (Popo). They both have different methods of conjuring magic; but the former is more focused on science than magic while the latter is more focused on magic than science.

  • Prison Episode: There are three games that are inspired by this:
    • The first one is the Bell Hunter Game. The six members will have to retrieve the marbles in order to win the match. Meanwhile, Kuga, who actually hid the marbles, is the one who will tag the team out when get caught. Bonus when he's waiting in a laser cage before the game starts.
    • The second is the Prison Escape. Liu knew that something fishy is about to happen when all seven were trapped in laser cages. The game mechanic is to free themselves from prison and getting on top without having the attention of the 'robot police'.
    • Third is the hidden game called Escape Game. The contestants witnessed a 'murder' scene in the train, a cop (who is actually an actor and part of the game) accuses them for being the culprit and handcuffs them as part of the handicap of the game. The real game begins when the corpse rises as a 'zombie' and started to infect everyone. Only Gai and Miyo were able to survive and win the game.
    • The finals round is called Pyramid Pursuit which comes after the Find The Golden Key Game. Right after Popo, Lonky, and Pala betrayed the others, they are in the lead of winning the finals. The game goes when two teams; Gai and Kuga, Miyo and Liu, are the Police team and they have to catch the Fugitive Team which is the three became. And they have to reach to the top and place the Golden Key in order to win the finals.

  • The Psycho Rangers: In Battle for the Highgrounds game, Charming Gold twisted the rules after Gai performed a Face–Heel Turn to him. Thus, assigning seven more contestants who are competing against the running man. They are called the D.V 7.

  • Punk Punk: A mix of Cyberpunk, Diesel Punk, and Steam Punk.

  • Say My Name:
    Running Man Team: (in one episode) Charming Gold...
    Charming Gold: (right before the episode ends) Running Man...

  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Charming Gold manipulates the game by rigging the rules especially for his mole, Gai.

  • Seeking the Missing, Finding the Dead: Inverted. The previous champions of the seven tribes were thought to be dead, including Liu's sister, are actually captured by Charming Gold and forced them into his experiment.

  • Self-Duplication: Being a ninja, Gai has that power, as he can split into four, if not eight copies of himself and run around.

  • Self-Serving Memory: Liu, Lonky, Popo, Gai, and Pala had different versions about how the God of Earth created the world that they argued in Kuga's room of which of their stories were the real one. This is because that was how their original tribes interpreted it.
    Liu: I'm going to tell you a story...
    Lonky: (after Liu's story ended) WRONG! That is not true! That story was a bunch of crazy lies! I'll tell the story. So listen up.
    Popo: (after Lonky's story ended) THAT ISN'T TRUE! Don't you know that is wrong to make up lies like that?!
    Gai: (with Pala agreeing, after Popo's story ended) Nononononnonoonononono! That isn't right! You got it all wrong, guys!
    • The correct story is actually Miyo's as she heard from her family.

  • Senior Sleep Cycle: Pala. Here’s an example, when everyone had already finished part of the opening game, Pala has just woken up from his slumber at the starting point.

  • Sliding Scale of Cooperation vs. Competition: Team Games note  , Individual Games note , Hidden Games note , and Mini / Free For All Games note  .

  • The Reveal: Oh boy.
    • Charming Gold is an immortal who lived thousands of years from the Pikok Tribe. He was bullied by his peers and his parents were ashamed that their son was 'cursed by the gods' because of his 'monstrous' face. When he was able to discover his powers, Charming Gold took it upon himself in creating the new race. He's been a host of the Running Man championship for so long and he's been making experiments to the Soul Tree with the exiled Dr. Mala.
    • The whole game is rigged by Charming Gold. He had an agreement with the Mong Tribe by making their chosen player, Gai, to win.
    • The D.V 7 are the seven tribe residents who are best in their specified abilities. They were kidnapped by Charming Gold and were experimented by the Amplifier Drug that made them brainwashed. The D.V 7 is the last resort after Gai quits being Charming Gold's spy, this is in order for the Running Man to lose so that the Materion will remain on the mastermind's hands along with the Soul Tree.
      • The former champion of the Bug Tribe and Liu's older sister, Jean, disappeared because Charming Gold kidnapped her. For this reason, Liu took her place.
    • True story of the Soul Tree.
      • Ulcus, the so-called "God of Earth", created life by becoming the Soul Tree. The tree became the symbolism of strength to the seven tribes until they waged in a war caused by greed. This made the Soul Tree shattered and destroyed the land into nothingness. The Soul Tree's fruit, Materion, was able to give life once more to the land. And because of the event, the seven tribes had a peace treaty by making the Running Man championship in hopes of preventing the same mistake from the war.

  • There Are No Police: Actually, this is subverted in Episode 15. Where the police is part of a surprise game. But whether the police is an actor or a real deal is unknown.

  • Widely Spaced Jail Bars: Widely Spaced Lazer Jail Bars to be exact. In the Prison Escape Game, Gai, Miyo, and Liu were able to figure out how to escape the cage they're trapped in. Gai has the patience of the cage's time limit, Miyo is able to go through, and Liu concludes the spinning of the lazers are 12 seconds to have an opening.
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