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  • Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown has Colonel McKinsey, the base commander of the Spare Squadron, a penal unit in the Osean Air Defense Force. On each successful mission that the Spare Squadron partakes in, he hoards all of their successes for himself so that he’ll be transferred over to a desk job. Instead, he gets sent to the frontlines, so that he can get the glory he so desires.
  • The mayor in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. A non-humorous example who gets a well-deserved Karmic Death near the end by trying to bargain with Big Bad Caulder to save himself after selling out the heroes to him.
    • From the same game, Waylon, whose own men desert him en masse after his first appearance because he would throw their lives away to cover his own. His theme song is even called "Flight of the Coward".
  • Constantly justified in Assassin's Creed. more than a few of Altaïr's targets in Assassin's Creed I would flee from him (though him being Altaïr might have something to do with it); city guards may quit the field if you show off your prowess as well.
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    • And in Assassin's Creed II, Borgia captains and couriers are more than likely to flee Ezio's grasp, though then again the same applies for Ezio, who's arguably deadlier than Altaïr.
    • The Baron de Valois from Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, who takes Bartolomeo's wife hostage to try and get the latter to surrender, makes a break for it when surprised by Ezio, and will execute her quickly if Ezio is detected trying to reach him.
    • The Doctor character from Multiplayer and Project Legacy is one too.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Khaled Al-Asad nukes a whole city to cover his own ass. While hiding in a safe house in Russia, while the war is in the Middle East. Doesn't get much more cowardly than that. Subverted, as it turns out that it was Vladimir Makarov who nuked the city in the first place.
  • Patches the Hyena of Demon's Souls, and later Dark Souls and Bloodborne.
    • Also from Demon's, Long Bow Oolan, who chose to wield a bow so she could avoid the frontlines, defended by her legionaries. When she was turned into a demon by the colorless fog, she became the helpless Phalanx, relying on the Hoplites to defend her.
  • In Dark Souls II, a couple invader spirits use cowardly tactics against the player.
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    • One invades while you are descending a ladder into an enclosed space full of zombie dogs.
    • Maldron The Assassin does this as his career. In his first encounter, he will run away into an area full of enemies when he loses some health. And in his second encounter, he disguises himself as a White Phantom, only to pierce you from behind with a lance.
  • Mark from Demonheart is an opportunistic coward who wants to become a knight only for the prestige, but doesn't actually want to do any hard work or expose himself to danger. He will ask his fiancée to help him become a knight, and then abandon her when she is innocently sent to prison because she's bad for his reputation. When he is actually assigned to a military outpost, he whines about it.
  • In Disgaea 2, we have Axel the Dark Hero, who, in the style of Disgaea demons being Card Carrying Villains, is a Card Carrying Dirty Coward (hence the "dark" part). Further, in Disgaea style, he's actually a Lovable Coward.
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  • The pompous and lazy Prince Charmles from Dragon Quest VIII is both a Dirty Coward and a Jerkass, and makes you do all the work for him on the one story quest where you're forced to take him along.
  • Porky Minch from EarthBound. At the start of the game, he ditches his brother in the night and proceeds to go bug Ness for help with finding him so that he won't get disciplined, only to prove totally useless in battle, spending most of his time hiding behind you. After he starts viewing Ness as his nemesis, he shows up from time to time to simply taunt him, then run off. It's only at the very end when he has Giygas backing him up that he actually has something of a spine, but even then, he bails out and leaves Giygas to deal with you once he takes a little abuse. He even runs off the screen multiple times during the ending cast parade. And in MOTHER 3, he not only sends his minions to do all the work, but upon being defeated retreats to an “Absolutely Sage Capsule” which cannot be penetrated... which winds up trapping him for all eternity.
    • There's also the man in the tent in Threed, who abandoned his wife and children to the zombies. He doesn't seem to understand why they're angry with him.
  • Shinji Matou from Fate/stay night is an arrogant Jerkass who likes talking about how much better he is than everyone, but quickly loses his superior facade once he is confronted and shown what a pathetic and sniveling coward he really is.
  • In the Fire Emblem series:
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn:
      • The boss of the Part 3 Prologue, Septimus, is shown to be immensely paranoid about Laguz attacks and runs off as soon as the player or allied armies get close, leaving his second-in-command to guard the seize point. He later shows up in 3-8, assigned to enter the lava-filled caves and bring back the bodies of the enemies that no doubt perished there as proof that they were dead — and is quite dismayed to find them (that's the player's army, again) very much alive.
      • Hetzel's entire life is ruled by his fear of Lekain. Despite knowing full well how horrible he is and having genuine remorse for his actions as part of his cabal, he refuses to turn against him out of sheer cowardice.
    • In Fire Emblem Awakening, the Hierarch, who Chrom and his sisters had known for years and who had helped Emmeryn during the early years of her rule, sells them out to the Plegian army to save his own hide. When the Plegians begin the ambush, the very first thing they do is kill the man, stating that they were told to bring back a man, not a coward who betrayed his own country; the Hierarch's last words, other than begging to go free, are a terrified "EEEEEEEEEEEEK!!"
  • Goblins, the weakest unit of the Stronghold Faction in Heroes of Might and Magic V: Tribes of the East. In gameplay, their cowardice causes them to run away from their attackers instead of retaliating. If enough of the stack is killed, they actually defect to the other side. Storywise, this attitude earns them a great deal of contempt from the rest of the faction, which primarily consists of Proud Warrior Race Guys. As a result, their "comrades" have no problem with letting their Shamans sacrifice Goblins for mana-replenishing rituals or with letting the Cyclops treat Goblins as snacks and ammo.
  • Tavion, The Dragon to Desann in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast:
    Kyle Katarn: Why should I believe you?
    Tavion: Because... I'm not brave enough... to die.
    • She returns in the following game as the new Big Bad, even taunting Kyle Katarn that he was stupid to spare her. When Jaden gets her at their mercy, she shows she's outgrown this.
  • Kai Leng of Mass Effect 3 is a particularly unlikable case. He's not above playing dirty tricks on his enemies, and pulls several on Shepard, including calling in a gunship to provide fire support while his shields recharge and using the salarian councilor as a shield. Even worse, he endlessly taunts Shepard when he's out of danger, including sending them an email mocking them about the events on Thessia. In the final battle, Shepard points out that Kai Leng always runs, which the latter responds to rather ungracefully. When Shepard shatters/dodges his sword and guts him like a fish, it's not easy not to cheer.
  • Metal Gear
    • The original Metal Gear features a boss fight against "Coward Duck" (later renamed "Dirty Duck") who, although a nearly a non-entity as far as characterization goes, lives up to both his codenames in his fighting style. He strikes at Snake from the relatively safe position of being surrounded by three hostages, and killing any of them makes the game Unwinnable by virtue of being unable to get the Rocket Launcher.
    • Sundowner from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Despite his imposing size, scary weapon, and talk of how awesome war is, he's revealed to be rather pathetic as an adversary. His only story accomplishments are pretty much just killing one unarmed and unaugmented man in cold blood, and tormenting a bunch of orphans and homeless kids. When you fight him, he clearly can't keep up with Raiden head-on and has to resort to "gimmicky shit" like an explosive shield, not to mention he calls in helicopter drones to back him up when the fight starts going badly for him.
    • In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Huey Emmerich becomes a Dirty Coward with a severe case of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: after screwing over Militaires Sans Frontières and selling Big Boss and his allies out to XOF, he becomes a trusted scientist in XOF. At least until he begins to fear for his life and begs Big Boss and his new army, the Diamond Dogs, to bail him out. He spends his time imprisoned at the new Mother Base pathetically claiming he was on Big Boss's side the whole time, but no one's buying it.
  • Brad Vickers, S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team helicopter pilot from the Resident Evil franchise, who immediately turns tail and runs off, abandoning his teammates during the events of the first game when the zombie dogs attack. When Chief of Police Irons dismisses the rest of the team's claims about the mansion, Vickers goes along with them to keep his job. To the satisfaction of the player, he eventually is killed off.
    • Though to Brad's credit, he did he show up just in time to drop them a rocket launcher to use against the final boss, and then did his damnedest to extract the remaining members of S.T.A.R.S. before the mansion went up in smoke. Brad will never hold a very high place in the eyes of the fandom, but if he hadn't worked up the nerve to turn back, there wouldn't have been any survivors of that mission.
  • Alfonso in Skies of Arcadia is established as this in the game's opening sequence: once his ship is attacked by the Blue Rogues, he is more concerned with escaping than fighting, and once he secures the means to do so, he murders his vice-captain in cold blood and tosses the corpse overboard in order to frame the vice-captain as a traitor and cover his own ass. However, the surviving crewmen rat him out to Galcian, who strips Alfonso of his command of the Mid Ocean Fleet and immediately reassigns him to Ixa'Taka.
  • The Spathi from Star Control are a Planet of Hats devoted to craven cowardice and borderline paranoia as a way of life. A traditional Spathi prayer goes "Oh God, please don't let me die today! Tomorrow would be so much better", and the entire race lives in fear of a nebulous alien race they refer to (always in the same ominous tone) as "The Ultimate Evil". However, they can and will fight if backed into a corner (and they can fight quite well; the Spathi Eluder is one of the best ships in the game). However, this doesn't stop the Spathi from backing out of their alliance with the "hunams" and sealing their home world beneath an impenetrable force field the first chance they get.
    • The Spathi can fight quite well — mostly because their ships are so fast no one can catch them, and because they pelt anything that tries to catch them with a hailstorm of Backward Utilizing Tracking Torpedoes fired out of the back of the ship as it flees. Which means, fittingly, that they fight best when they're running away.
    • A memorable quote comes from the Spathi High Council, about a Spathi (named Fwiffo) who has been "captured" by the protagonists: "If you held a weapon to Fwiffo's head, he would say anything you wanted him to say. In fact, if you held a vegetable to his head, he would probably say anything you wanted him to say."
  • Yuber from Suikoden is a perfect example of this trope: Once he realizes he's in danger, he will flee, be it in a one-on-one duel or in a big-scale battle as commander of his troops. On the other hand, if he's feeling superior, he will destroy a village out of boredom or summon a huge monster to deal with the hero. What a dick.
    • Snowe from Suikoden IV is a particularly sickening example. Late in the game, after everything he has done, you are given the chance of either adding him to your team or killing him, and it is very easy to make the second choice. Although if you kill him, you won't get the True Ending. And the main character will die. And if you do forgive him, he gets better and becomes more humble and respectable. It could be said, though, that only the sudden escape from marauding pirates at the beginning of the game is cowardice. Everything else, he faces with at least a modicum of courage, including the three times he's captured by the player and threatened with death.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • Alduin, the draconic Beast of the Apocalypse, turns out to be one after the Last Dragonborn defeats him at the Throat of the World. Dragon culture teaches that one must face defeat with dignity. It is this moment that the other dragons realize he doesn't deserve to lead. A true "dovah" would fight to the end or submit to his better.
    • The Orc chief Yamarz has the dubious distinction of being a deceitful weakling amongst a race of proud warriors. When his tribe is besieged by Giants, he opts to hole up in the village and let everyone else fight them off rather than lift a finger to do it himself. When he is tasked by the patron deity of the Orcs with slaying the Giant chief, he tries to bribe the player to do it for him and let him take the credit. If the player agrees, he then tries to kill them too to keep his cowardice from being discovered.
    • During the introductory scene, Lokir the horse thief spends his last moments desperately pleading to his captors, his fellow captives, and finally to every one of the Eight Divines for salvation. When you reach the chopping block, he attempts to run for it and shouts "You aren't gonna kill me!", only to be unceremoniously shot in the back by an archer.
  • Deputy Beagle from Fallout: New Vegas is a prime example. He was the deputy of Primm under his brother-in-law Sheriff McBain, but after his sister and the Sheriff were murdered in their sleep by escaped NCR Correctional Facility prisoners, he hid rather than confront them and was captured as a result. When the Courier rescues him, he tries to run away, but is so weak-willed that it doesn't take much Speech to threaten him into staying and helping to fight. Afterwards, he refuses to take the position of Sheriff, and the townspeople mock him, saying they need "a lawman who can shoot a gun without wetting himself".
  • The Mean Emcee from Wario World is this. He is absolutely terrified of Wario and will hide under a cup after he punches him enough.
  • Anub'Arak in the Old Kingdom dungeon in World of Warcraft is widely regarded as a despicable coward due to his fight mechanics, where he constantly burrows underground, becoming untargetable, and sends minions after the players. Far from being a challenge, it is merely an annoyance and prolongs the fight unnecessarily. Although that's probably more due to a Scrappy Mechanic more than anything else. In The Frozen Throne, when he is first introduced, he is pretty brave, serving as Arthas' dragon, accompanying him through Azjol-Nerub and fighting at the front. In one mission, the duo meet a forgotten one (an Old God-lite), and Anub'Arak's first response is to charge the thing.
    Anub'Arak: It cannot be... Look to your defences, Death Knight! Fight as you have never fought before!
    • Many generic enemies in World of Warcraft have a cowardly streak; upon depleting most of their health, they will attempt to flee and the message "[enemy] is trying to run away in fear." is displayed. If not controlled or killed, they could potentially reach other enemy groups for help, resulting in a wipe.
    • Meng the Demented, one of the four Spirit Kings in Mogu'shan Vaults, alternates between attacking the tank normally and fleeing while putting a shield on himself that reflects damage on the raid, in alternating respective "Crazed" and "Cowardice" phases.
  • Mumkhar from Xenoblade should get some sort of award for this, because he left his friends to die in the middle of a battlefield just to save his own skin... 5 minutes into the game. And that’s before he returns as Metalface.
  • Advanced V.G. II:
    • Despite genetically enhancing her own body, Miranda knew she still couldn't defeat Yuka in a fair fight. So she forced Yuka to fight the Material Twins first, then took advantage by attacking Yuka while she was exhausted.
    • Ironically, Miranda falls victim to her own tactic, when Yuka proves stronger than she had anticipated; causing Miranda to exert herself just to finish Yuka off. Which enabled Tamao to return the favor by whupping. Miranda's. Ass.
  • Jyrall in The Last Story, who takes any and all occasions to get Zael in trouble, but flees at the slightest hint of danger. Even when he tries to sell him off to Zangurak, the latter is barely interested in him at all. It takes him being fused with a demonic sword, being at a numerical advantage, and a full-on mental breakdown to actually challenge Zael to a fight.
  • Ben from The Walking Dead could be viewed as a deconstruction. Ben is in the unenviable position of being too old to have resilience and trust of authority to protect him (like Clementine and Duck), but too young to have developed self-sufficiency or determination (like Lee and the others in their thirties and forties). He's old enough to comprehend the full horror of the Zombie Apocalypse and be terrified of it, but not old enough to have a decade or so of adult life experience to strengthen his character and resolve. He's likely watched a lot of his young and vital peers die right in front of him, as well as teachers he thought could protect them. It's hard to say who Ben might have become if he'd had the chance to age a decade more before all this happened. This is likely why characters like Lee sympathize with him. Ben can be viewed as a masterful deconstruction of a lot of tropes, including this one.
    • This gets emphasized in the 5th episode, when Ben tears into Kenny over always being on his case before pointing out that, though Kenny may have lost his family and deserves sympathy, he doesn't even know what happened to his parents and sister, as he was on a bus to another town when the Zombie Apocalypse started.
  • Lenny from Hitman: Absolution is a rare overlap between this and Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain.
  • Monster Hunter:
    • Anyone who has fought a Rathalos will know that the damn thing will fly away the moment the fight begins going badly for it. Luckily, there is a thing or two you can do about that...
    • The Maccao as a whole are this trope. Great Maccao will rarely try to help the Maccao escape from danger and would rather flee than help them fight. Likewise, the Maccao will do nothing to support their leader when the chips are down.
    • The Seltas Queen might be more despicable about it than either of them, however. Not only does she openly abuse the Seltas even in battle, she eats him when things are going bad for her and flees.
  • Ser Jory from Dragon Age: Origins. Introduced as a boastful, proud Glory Hound, the moment the party encounters a wounded soldier and he realizes that he will actually have to fight Darkspawn, he immediately tries to convince the Warden to desert, and continues to do so even after Daveth angrily points out that they're the only true defense against the Blight. This culminates in him outright attacking Duncan during the Joining in a final attempt to desert. Naturally, this costs him his life. This is slightly modified in that he didn't know exactly what he was signing up for, both regarding the Darkspawn as creatures of myth and not realizing that his would be a lifetime oath.
  • Satan in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is revealed to be one. Satan is afraid to face anyone who can seriously challenge or even kill him. The only reason he is returning in the present is because he's certain that Dracula is dead. Dracula exploits this trait by faking his death to draw Satan out in the open, and at the end of their battle by making it look like he is willing to kill his own son Alucard/Trevor (whom Satan is possessing) again just to get rid of Satan. Satan panics at the last moment and leaves Alucard's body, giving Dracula a clear shot at finishing him off.
  • In Diablo III, Holus, the ex-mayor of New Tristram, is regarded as this by pretty much everyone in the game, and not without reason. While the people of New Tristram, most of them being simple farmers, are desperately trying to keep the Zombie Apocalypse at bay, Holus worries more about his broken cart and how he can't flee anymore. The man can't catch a break, because he turns up later in the game as a stranded merchant at Bastion's Keep... which is besieged by The Legions of Hell. He complains about wanting to flee the entire time and the Player Character constantly chews him out for it... only for him to die when Diablo is resurrected. A nearby soldier notes how he had the chance to flee, but never did.
  • In Jurassic Park: The Game, Nima suggests to Miles that they need a distraction when they're surrounded by a pack of Dilophosaurus. Miles' response is to push Nima right in front of one.
  • Antharia Jack from Zork: Grand Inquisitor is not only one, but outright confirms it. He isn't a brave dashing hero, he just played one on TV — though he does help you a few times. In the end, he helps create a plan to have you climb the MacGuffin tower which will save the world, while he creates a distraction… which is telling the Big Bad what you're doing. Then again, if the immortal Big Bad didn't climb after you, he wouldn't have been blasted by pure magic and killed. So...
  • Prince Gordon in Final Fantasy II ran away from Fynn when The Empire invaded, leaving his brother Scott to die. He spends his time moping in Altair, feeling insignificant compared to the three refugees who have become the best agents of the Wild Rose rebellion, until he runs away once the Dreadnought begins bombing towns. By the time he finally gathers his nerve, he finds himself stymied by the monsters that have overtaken Kashaun Keep and inadvertantly causes Josef's death, as the heroes wouldn't have needed to go to the Ice Cavern to obtain the Goddess's Bell if Gordon had been there to hold the door open for them. He joins with pitiful stats, but can level up quickly if you put in the effort and Takes a Level In Badass while accompanying the heroes, eventually taking the role of Commander of the Wild Rose forces and immediately volunteering to join in on the real Princess Hilda's rescue.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's 3: The murderer turns out to have been this; when confronted by the ghosts of the children he killed, he turns into a raving coward and runs away like a scaredy cat before trying to hide in an animatronic, which kills him.
  • When laying siege to a raubritter's castle in Darklands, the party may try to challenge him to a duel. However, a failed skill check will just make him laugh at the heroes, and then he will send more henchmen to the field.
  • Minecraft: Story Mode:
    • Ivor drops everything to save himself after his plan goes off the rails in The Order of the Stone. If you choose to have Jesse confront him about his selfish and cowardly behavior, he simply replies that cowardice keeps him alive.
    • Soren being one is hinted at in The Last Place You Look and comes to fruition in A Block and a Hard Place, where he abandons the group right before the final battle. Jesse is even given the option to call him a coward as he flees.
  • God of War Series:
    • Kratos would normally avert this trope, but ironically, his one moment of cowardice ended up kickstarting his own Start of Darkness and the entire series to begin with. Upon having his forces be curb-stomped by the Barbarian forces, rather than die honorably like a Spartan, he chose to beg Ares for his own life. While he helped manage to defeat all of their forces, including Alrik himself, this act ultimately destroys Kratos's life in the process.
    • For his part, not unlike in actual mythology (see above), Ares, after turning Kratos against him by tricking him into killing his wife and daughter, tries to reason his way out of trouble when the latter is in a position to take revenge, and claims that he was only trying to make him into an unstoppable warrior by destroying the last of his attachments to humanity; Kratos tells him he succeeded, and kills him.
    • Zeus is revealed to be one in God of War II onward. Strip away his grandiose boasts and badass credentials, and it turns out he is absolutely consumed with fear of the son-killing-father cycle: like Zeus had done with his father Cronos, he in turn fears being killed by Kratos. He only fights Kratos when he is too weak to fight back or when he himself is cornered, and after Athena sacrifices herself by jumping in the way of Kratos' attack, Zeus flees without barely reacting to her death. He spends much of the third game hiding from Kratos while he is storming Mount Olympus in search of his father; it's not until after he had killed most of the gods in his way that Zeus decides to confront him head on. It's revealed that Zeus was actually corrupted by Pandora's Box evil of fear, which may have made him extremely paranoid and pushed him to betray Kratos.
  • Master of the Monster Lair: Shovel is accused of being this because he hides whenever the party fights a boss. On the other hand, he is just a shovel, which Owen and Kate eventually come to realize and stop harassing him over it.
  • In Until Dawn, players can choose to play certain characters this way.
    • Chris can chooses to shoot Ashley instead of himself or do nothing during the second death trap.
    • Sam can sacrifice up to three other characters should she choose to blow up the lodge and run out rather than wait for the others to escape.
    • Ashley will insist for Emily to be kicked out of the safe room due to the latter receiving a Wendigo bite and being afraid of infection. Later, Ashley can also choose not to reveal Wendigo bites are harmless rather than admit her fault.
    • Emily can potentially shove Ashley from behind when escaping from the Wendigos to give herself the advantage of escaping sooner and to deliberately leave Ashley one step behind and be more exposed to danger.
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