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Cowardly Boss

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A boss that the party fights, then randomly runs after taking a certain amount of damage, forcing you to have to hunt that boss down and fight them again. Thankfully, most followers of this trope will retain the damage they took in the previous fight.

The biggest difference between this and a "Get Back Here!" Boss is that the cowardly boss actually does stop and fight you at some points of the Boss Battle, which is most often the best (or maybe only) opening you have to deplete its health. A "Get Back Here!" Boss doesn't do this if it can help it, and you have to chase it constantly, usually fighting it on the fly.

Compare the Recurring Boss, who runs as a matter of the storyline. Cowardly Mooks are when regular enemies behave like this.



  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening: The Master Stalfos is the first Mini-Boss of the fifth dungeon (Catfish Maw, whose second miniboss is a pair of Gohmas). It tries to confront Link in one room, but upon taking some damage it flies and has to be found elsewhere. Link has to chase him across a total of four miniboss rooms and inflict enough damage in every rematch to finally kill the Stalfos and retrieve the Hookshot.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: The Skull Kid, fought in the Sacred Grove. He spends time sending puppets to Link (who, in that moment, is stuck in his wolf form) and never attacks directly, and upon taking damage he'll open up a different area of the grove and go there. Link has to chase him all over the place until making him give up and unveil the path to the Master Sword. Later in the game, Link is able to confront him in his human form, and can shoot arrows to attack him from a diatnce, making the fight much easier.
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid Prime: The Final Boss of the game, the titular Metroid Prime, runs away and burrows deeper into the Impact Crater after each phase (and eventually reaches its One-Winged Angel form), forcing Samus to follow it a short distance below.
    • Metroid: Samus Returns: Some of the Gamma Metroids will flee to another nearby room through some webbing in the walls after taking a certain amount of damage.
  • Koji Shindo in Yakuza 2 uses a katana in order to fight you, but runs after taking set amounts of damage. You eventually corner him in a Japanese courtyard, where Yayoi throws you a sword for the Blade Lock duel to the finish.
  • In American McGee's Alice, the battle with the Mad Hatter is a borderline example. Every time the clock strikes, he retreats from the arena for a couple of minutes and sends two automatons to fight Alice. (This is actually to the player's benefit, because they're much easier to deal with than he is, and killing them is the best way to regain Meta Essence in this fight.)
  • The first time the player goes to the ruin known as Hag’s End in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, they will encounter a hagraven. Every time the hagraven loses a quarter of her health, she will teleport herself deeper into the dungeon until she gets to the end with a quarter of her health left, at which point she can be killed.
  • The Hunchbacks from Grabbed by the Ghoulies will spend the entire fight either gesturing at the player to come fight them or cowering in fear when the player comes too close. They will only fight back if the player pushes their limits enough, which happens randomly.
  • The titular monster of Choo-Choo Charles will occasionally attack the player throughout their explorations of the island of Aranearum, only to flee and recover his health once the player does enough damage to him. This is actually a problem, as unlike most horror games, killing Charles is the entire reason the player character is there in the first place, so in addition to upgrading your weapons enough to kill the beast, you also have to search for a way to force Charles to stand and fight.

Action Game

  • Mahasti of Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones. Every time the Prince attacks her, she jumps away to a separate rooftop and fires arrows at him from there. The Prince will have to use his Time Master powers to slow her down and get close enough to injure her.
  • In the NES version of Jaws, the titular shark will sometimes disappear after you wound it, forcing you to track it down again. Often, it will have healed forcing you to start over before getting to the actual attempt to kill it. Possibly a subversion, since the shark doesn't run away as much as the timer for attacking expires.

Beat 'em Up

  • The fight with Dr. Mueller in Splatterhouse 2 is of this kind. He dies in one hit, but you got to chase him down his lab while he runs away throwing at you potassium bombs and Invincible Minor Minions and trying to avoid some explosive traps.
  • In Super/Return of Double Dragon, the Acrofatic Monster Clown McGuire briefly attacks you after the truck ride in Mission 4 before running off, with you fighting him properly at the end of Mission 5.

Fighting Game

  • WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009's Road to WrestleMania mode actually has one of these — in Chris Jericho's story mode, he is being harassed by a masked man who will repeatedly escape by some way or another; every time Jericho has the chance to get his hands on him he escapes. Depending on what choice you make at a crucial point, you either eventually attack him and reveal him as Randy Orton or never fight him.


  • This is how Hunt mode is supposed to work in Evolve. The monster encounters the hunters at a lower stage and they fight briefly, with the monster losing health and the hunters taking strikes, before they break apart again. If done correctly, several minor encounters will weaken both sides before one manages to finish the other off. If the monster player is feeling particularly obnoxious, this can easily become a "Get Back Here!" Boss.


  • In City of Heroes, some bosses (or at least mission notables) are programmed to run after hitting a certain health threshold, and you're supposed to stop them from running. If they escape (i.e. zone out of the map), you fail the mission, so there's no rematch.
  • The Ghostring in Ragnarok Online can pack quite a wallop. However, and rather frustratingly for players, when its hitpoints drop below a certain threshold, it'll spam teleports and move randomly around the map in an attempt to avoid the player (to be precise: 50% chance of teleporting every time it attacks).
  • The Stonecore, one of the 5-man instances in World of Warcraft Cataclysm, has a gnome sorcerer named Millhouse Manastorm that is this and a Bait-and-Switch Boss. You find him at the beginning of the instance with a group of mooks, and when he takes some damage he flees to another group of mooks further in. Repeat twice more, and he finally takes a stand with a huge crowd of mooks and begins charging his ultimate spell of doom... when a gigantic gyreworm smashes through the cavern wall, wiping out Millhouse and his backup in one fell swoop.

Platform Game

  • The second part of the boss fight with the giant possessed tree in Drawn to Life consists entirely of trying to track down a small, shadowy lizard thing that leaps erratically between the platforms of the area so you can shoot him. He dies in three hits and doesn't even try to attack; however, he is exceptionally annoying to keep track of, and there are bunches of shadowy tentacles scattered about the area that lash out at you if you get too close.
  • Spyro the Dragon (1998): Most of the "bosses" fight you in various parts of a level, switching between them after each hit.
  • The Mean Emcee from Wario World. He spends most of the Boss Battle hiding from Wario using a trick that's a lot like three-card-monte, forcing Wario to find him before he can hit him.
  • Ristar has a boss that forces you to engage it in free-fall after every couple hits.
  • Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon: The Overset Possessor combines this with Flunky Boss. The arena is on a huge clock, and the Boss hides inside, sending a bunch of Mooks after you; defeating them causes the hand to move, and a new set of Mooks to appear. However, the Overset Possessor himself comes out after you defeat the ones at the four o'clock, eight o'clock, and midnight positions, and he's vulnerable then; like all the Possessors he has to be hit with the Poltergust three times to defeat.
  • The first two times you fight Mr. Quinn in The Cat in the Hat, he flies away and mutters some angry words before you can actually defeat him.
  • In Shadow of the Colossus, you have Phalanx, the thirteenth boss. Phalanx spends half of the battle out of range and the other half trying to flee from Wander. When Wander actually gets on it, after a while it dives back into the sand, knocking Wander off its back. This is the only time Phalanx can actually hurt you, and it's a side-effect of fleeing rather than an actual offence.

Real-Time Strategy

  • Asdrubael Vect in Dawn of War: Soulstorm when assaulting the Dark Eldar stronghold. He often attempts to solo your base within his Pimpmobile Dais of Destruction, but after taking fairly minor damage, he will scream to be taken back for repairs and repeat the process. The player can potentially tech up enough so that the next time he pays a visit, you can unleash your own wave of destruction and hopefully blow him up before he returns to the base, thereby winning the battle and beating the Dark Eldar.


  • The final boss in JauntTrooper: Mission Firestorm will teleport away to recover her health. Overcoming this is a major test of your ingenuity.
  • In FTL: Faster Than Light, the rebel flagship will retreat whenever you reduce its hull to zero, each time losing a wing section (containing one weapon and two subsystems), but gaining a new attack and changing its strategy when you jump to its next location. It dies on the third attempt. Justified, as its main goal isn't to stop the player, but to destroy the Federation base — if you prove too much of a nuisance, it's going to need to get repairs and reinforcements to do so.

Role-Playing Game

  • Final Fantasy:
    • Ultimate Weapon in Final Fantasy VII flees the first few times you defeat it, only finally dying when he's above the Ancient Forest. When he shows up in World of Final Fantasy he takes his cues from VI's Deathgaze. His HP can't be seen with Libra and he flees after a set period of time, but he does not heal between fights. The average player needs to engage him 3 times before he finally goes down.
    • Final Fantasy VI
      • Deathgaze (also known as DoomGaze in the SNES version) roams the overworld, and the player has to chase it down by airship. After a few turns of battling the heroes, Deathgaze will escape, forcing them to scour the overworld and finish the job. Unlike most enemies that can run away from battle, he sustains the damage he takes in each fight permanently, progressively lowering his max HP with every fight. This way, the player will be able to seal the deal once and for all... at least, eventually. He has the same M.O. in Final Fantasy IV: The After Years.
      • Kefka early in the game, when he's just a funny clown. He casts a few spells before running away and the chase starts anew.
    • The Jumbo Cactar in Final Fantasy VIII. This rather annoying boss has a ton of HP and can kill a character in one shot regardless of stats. After a certain point, it thinks about running away. If it does, you have to do the whole fight from the beginning.
  • Pokémon:
    • Roaming legendary Pokemon, like the Legendary Beasts, Cresselia, the Lake Guardians, Tornadus and Thundurus, among others, run from you when you entire them in battle. You need to chase them around the map, and not even putting them to sleep or trapping them will keep them from fleeing.
    • The Titan pokemon of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet run away from their initial battle spots to a cave nearby, where they begin to munch on some Herba Mystica that is not only the reason for their much bigger sizes, but also fully heals them and powers them up further. Fortunately, they aren't able to run away a second time.
    • They aren't bosses, but in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, Pokemon with the ability 'Run Away' will flee if they're hurt too much. (Even your own Pokemon do this, unless they're the head of the party.)
  • Knights of the Old Republic The final boss fight, when every time you do a certain amount of damage to him, he runs off and sucks a Jedi captive's life energy out, completely healing himself. You can't attack him while he's running, but you can either kill the Jedi, allowing them to become one with the Force (they're basically dead anyway,) or suck their life out yourself.
  • The Greenbottle Fly in Breath of Fire II is a minor example: you only fight him twice, but in between, he leads you on a chase through two boss fights and a minefield of enemies.
  • Ozzie from Chrono Trigger runs across the bridge, then animates the dead bodies into a giant skeleton to stall you. Then later in Magus' castle, he only confronts you in the second-to-last room, meaning you've defeated literally everything in Magus Castle except for Ozzie and Magus. And then Ozzie casts an impenetrable barrier on himself.
  • Most boss monsters in the Monster Hunter series will either run, dig, swim, or fly to another area after you've damaged them enough, either to find food(to recharge their energy), sleep in their lair(when near death), or simply to continue the fight in a different area. To finish the job you'll have to find them again. Marking them with a paintball, paint shot or paint-coated arrow will save you a lot of time figuring out exactly where they flee to. Monster Hunter: World removes the need for paint, but the more vertical stages means some monsters can run really far away during their hunts. It can be painful to do decent damage to a Rathalos in the Ancient Forest in the dense forest floor for it to suddenly fly all the way up to its next at the top of the stage, then have it return to the same area as soon as you catch up.
  • Not really a boss, but a really strong enemy. The Amazee Dayzee in the Paper Mario games will run away as soon as it can. Made worse by the fact that it's super rare, and in the first game, it's the only thing that will give you exp at high levels (aside from Dry Bones, but those only yield Star Points if you burn them to ashes.) In Super Paper Mario, it'll even jump into bottomless pits to escape you.
  • Mario & Luigi:
    • Popple in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga runs away if you defeat his partner first.
    • Kamek does this in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. You have to fight him in three different dream worlds to fix the doors in the real one, and only after the last battle does he actually go down/do you get experience for it.
  • Earlier, in Super Mario RPG, each showdown with Croco sends you on a wild chase after him. The first time, you have to catch him by surprise thrice. The second time he's better-prepared, and sets traps for you before scurrying off.
  • Several bosses in Dragon Age: Origins vanish and reappear in different locations after taking damage. The Arcane Horror miniboss in the Brecilian Ruins teleports whenever a character gets near it and leaves a lightning storm in its wake. The Giant Spider Queen in Ortan Thaig will retreat back to the ceilng after webbing you up and summons a couple of its offspring. Both pale in comparison to the Archdemon. He flies to different locations after taking enough damage while Darkspawn reinforcements hassle you. At one point he lands in a spot that melee characters can't reach (so if your party is a melee-centric one, you're in trouble), leaving him free to spam his ranged Spirit attacks.
  • The Mega Man X: Command Mission gives us the rotund, untrustworthy, power-hungry would-be traitor Botos. He tries to attack X and crew, goes down like a chump, then runs for the hills a good couple of times, forcing you to waste time and energy chasing him down. Frustratingly, the game doesn't even let the player actually beat him properly. That's because someone takes the liberty of relieving Botos of his head before you get to him.
  • The first battle with a Red Cape in Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army is this. In fact, it'll keep running away, until you block its path with a car.
  • Tielle in Recettear is fought in three stages, with her running away and hiding among piles of cardboard boxes after you deal enough damage to her.
  • Omen Deng in Alpha Protocol. First he leads you on a chase/shoot-out through an intricate construction scaffolding, disappearing every time he takes a certain amount of damage (and leaving behind Mooks armed with assault rifles). When you finally get him alone, his M.O. is to hide behind a pillar, take some shots at you from cover, run off and disappear, run back to you and beat the snot out of you in melee, then run off and disappear again. Rinse and repeat until one of you is dead.
  • In NeoQuest II, Ramtor, in the first chapter, who runs away like a coward after a bit of beating up. The Faerie Thief takes this to a whole new level later on in Faerieland, in which she actually flees twice.
  • In Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan, your party's first encounter with a Bloodbear starts out like this. You fight it until its HP are knocked down to about 50%, at which point it runs away from you to a lower floor where you have to go to finish it off.

Shoot 'Em Up

  • The original Star Fox's Professor Hangar started the fight by saying BYE BYE!! and flying away. You then needed to take out his minions and then deplete his massive health bar before he uses his Shadow Thrusters. If he uses those, he flies away again and you need to take out more minions before he fully heals.
    • The most cowardly boss ever is the penultimate Golem-style boss from Star Fox 64 on the easy route. He runs away from you constantly, fleeing down an endless corridor, never attacking you in any way. But he conjures pillars out of the walls and floors which you have to avoid — flying your Arwing into them really hurts. He makes a comeback in Command, along with smaller forms that pretty much act the same.
  • In Area 7 of RefleX, ZODIAC Virgo duels with you for a few minutes, then flies away. It then reappears and kills you dead, only for your ship to resurrect itself, prompting Virgo to retreat again and try to escape until you catch up and destroy its engines, at which point it stands its ground and fights you to the death.

Third-Person Shooter

  • Jerry Ying from Stranglehold, in keeping with his Dirty Coward persona after killing Billie at the Chicago History Museum, runs off after losing only a quarter of his health in his first major clash with you and yelling "This isn't over yet, Tequila!" You then have to kill your way through a good number of more mooks before finally cornering him in the stage's final showdown.
  • Boba Fett behaves this way in one level of Jedi Academy. He'll harass you periodically as you try to accomplish the mission, and can't be defeated for good until you've accomplished all other objectives. Luckily, the level is skippable.


Video Example(s):


Choo-Choo Charles

Charles, whenever he shows up while the player is in the locomotive. Charles will pursue the player along the tracks while tearing at the engine, while the player shoots back at him with one of their train-mounted turret weapons. If Charles doesn’t cause enough damage to the train to drag the player out and eat them, the monster will retreat into the forest to recover after enough of his health is shaved off.

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Example of:

Main / AdvancingBossOfDoom

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