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Deadly Lunge

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Imagine being in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse. You rush to some safe place, but the way is blocked by a few aimlessly shambling zombies. Well, no big problem — zombies are slow, aren't they?

Well, it seems that getting close to a zombie triggers some reflex in the remains of its brain, resulting in a really fast lunge which, apparently, you weren't prepared for. Too bad for you.

Frequently featured offscreen: in every zombie film some character is due to be ambushed by a zombie, which then suddenly lunges into our field of view.

The trope isn't limited to just zombies, see below. The lunge may be replaced by a jump or a sprint, the essence being the same: drastic increase of speed triggered by prey proximity.

Note that the trope does not apply to the enemies which just have a surprisingly long attack range (e.g. stretching hands) or which are always fast (e.g., 28 Days Later).

This is a favored tactic of the Personal Space Invader. Not to be confused with a Deadly Lunch, which may be thrust unexpectedly at one by a Lethal Chef.

Compare Dash Attack, which is a videogame equivalent. See also Ankle Drag, another beloved tactic of zombies.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Zombies in Blassreiter, known as demoniacs, can leap up to 30 feet in the air.
  • The mannequin soldiers in Fullmetal Alchemist seem to have two speeds: Slow shamble and sprinting into a leap. They change between them suddenly and randomly.


    Films — Live-Action 

  • In the Boojumverse story "The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward", the Artificial Zombies called the reanimated seem to move at a slow, clumsy shuffle. This lulls one character into a false sense of security, and he meets his end by getting too close to a reanimated which suddenly lunges with unexpected speed.
  • The Day of the Triffids. Triffids have a slow means of locomotion, but once they are close they can strike a surprising distance by whipping their trunks forwards while simultaneously lashing out with their stinger.
  • In The Dinosaur Lords, the hordelings are usually slow and lumbering, but get a sudden shot of speed and energy whenever the enemy is in sight.
  • Zombies in Heretical Edge usually move slowly but can move quickly in short bursts. They typically use this to surprise prey by shambling towards them before covering the last few yards extremely quickly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones. In Season 7, a wight is captured at great cost and brought before the Royal Court to convince doubters that there really is an army of the undead marching on them from Oop North. But when the lid of the crate holding the wight is cautiously opened, nothing happens. Sandor Clegane then kicks over the crate... and the snarling wight goes straight for Queen Cersei, only to be stopped at the last moment by Sandor pulling on its chain.
  • In Helix, this is standard M.O. for "Vectors," animals and humans infected with NARVIK-B, a Synthetic Plague that compels its carriers to get close enough to victims to vomit Bad Black Barf into their mouths and transmit The Virus.
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One" (S02, Ep21), the Acheri demon leaps at Andy and rips open his stomach.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is a power zombies can have in All Flesh Must Be Eaten.
  • In Exalted one of the Exalt types, the Abyssals, have abilities that mimic the powers of the undead. Their signature martial arts style, Hungry Ghost Style, includes a move called Unnatural Shambling Deftness which is described as specifically imitating a zombie's ability to switch suddenly from immobility to a startling burst of speed. In game terms, though, it's just a regular extra action Charm. But the Style also includes such gems of fear as Leaping Horror Approach and Lunging Phantom Method.
  • The same is true for zombies in the New World of Darkness book Antagonists.

    Video Games 
  • The Alien in most Alien vs. Predator games can do this. It is not slow on foot to begin with, and some variants can pounce over the map if needed.
  • Assassin's Creed III has some of the wildlife doing this.
  • Almost all enemies in Boktai, but mainly the Boks (zombies) and the mummies.
  • This is the special movement ability of Tyranid bioships in Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2, and one of two damn good reasons to keep the critters as far away from your ships as possible at all times (the other being their insane boarding strength). All Tyranid ships are naturally stealthed, and some types get massive boosts to ramming damage, which combined with their lunge ability can destroy fully intact Imperial battlecruisers in a single hit virtually out of nowhere. You don't know pain until you've witnessed a Tyranid cruiser One-Hit Kill your flagship that's twice its size and tonnage.
  • In Cataclysm, a few zombies (and animals) can pull this on the player, though a harmless "leap" ability to close the distance is far more common. The experimental builds add feral predators, an upgrade to the feral hunter with a very nasty version that can knock the target over and inflict blood loss.
  • Demonic monsters referred to as "Howlers" pose the primary threat, at least early on, in Clive Barker's Undying. Roughly humanoid with canine features and some ape-like elements thrown in, howlers gallop towards the player until they get close enough to pounce. In this case "close enough" is about twenty meters or so. They always land ready to strike with their razor-sharp claws.
  • Many enemies in Dark Souls have moves that let them close distance very quickly, though some of them are nice enough to telegraph their moves giving you time to get out of the way. Others, like Ornstein the Dragonslayer, aren't that obliging.
  • In Dead Rising, the zombies speed up significantly once they get close. They are noticeably more aggressive at night time and in dark areas, as well.
  • Dead Space: Most of the enemies, frankly. There is a varied pattern between strong foes being slow, and weak, low damage output but quick and agile ones. Unless they're stalkers from the second and third games, which will flank and charge you the moment they (it's always "they") get the chance.
  • Devil May Cry: Shadows, with the lunging spike and the lunging bite they do when they are low on life.
  • Diablo II has some skeletons walking around slooowly with very long swords, and suddenly charging and slashing at you. And they can rise again after being defeated.
  • The majority of enemies in Doom³ have a lunge attack.
  • The regular zombies in Dying Light fit this trope to a T, jumping at the player character anytime he gets too close. Volatiles and Night Hunters, while they're always fast, are capable of extreme bursts of speed when they want to kill the protagonist.
  • Fallout
    • Many of Fallout 3's non-human opponents have access to these, from the lowliest of radroaches to the mightiest of deathclaws. Most of the ones that don't (like radscorpions or centaurs) typically don't serve as any real threat to an experienced player, as their movement patterns are predictable and attacks easily avoided. Also, crippling an enemy's legs (preferably with the poison dart gun) prevents them from doing this.
    • The Geckoes in Fallout: New Vegas do this. The vanilla ones aren't that deadly, but the Golden and Green ones are.
    • Feral ghouls gain this ability in Fallout 4, often lunging hard enough to knock themselves prone.
  • Many a hostile ghost in Fatal Frame use this as their primary form of attack.
  • In Five Nights at Freddy's 2, Withered Foxy can kill you this way.
  • Half-Life
    • Combine zombies in Half-Life 2 (Zombine) sprint up when they get sufficiently close to you. Fast Zombies occasionally leap at Gordon if he's too far away to slash. They can also do it vertically to catch the player off-guard if they're on a higher platform.
    • Regular Headcrabs in all of the Half-Life games are slow, but can jump on a victim across considerable distance. The same applies to the Poison Headcrabs.
  • Halo:
    • Promethean Knights in Halo 4, who are normally quite slow-moving, will sometimes suddenly lunge, sprint or zig-zag-hyperspeed-charge at you to attack you in melee (or with their Scattershot), usually after you've broken their shield at longer ranges.
    • In all games, the Energy Sword can trigger a lunge when an enemy's in a certain range.
    • The Thruster Pack ability, introduced in Halo 4, can also be used to suddenly close distance for a melee or shotgun attack, or to board a vehicle.
    • Halo 5: Guardians allows sprinting Spartans to perform a "Spartan Charge" shoulder bash which does more damage than the standard melee attack.
    • The Flood players from 4's Flood multiplayer gametype possess significantly boosted Thruster Packs, higher base movement speeds, and blade-arms that act like Energy Swords, so deadly lunging is pretty much their baseline tactic.
    • In the campaigns, lunging was commonly used by various Flood forms, and was the primary form of attack by Infection Forms, to particularly lethal effect against unshielded enemies.
  • Golems in Hexen 2 do this.
  • Many enemies in House of the Dead do this, even those that move pretty fast to begin with.
  • Every zombie in Left 4 Dead is a disheveled muddy-colored marathon runner, but the Hunters are particularly bad about this. He's also the only one that can actually jump on you. There's also the Charger; clumsy most of the time, but can charge at remarkable speed.
  • The Legend of Zelda
    • ReDeads, at least in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, ReDeads are always slow, but have the ability to temporarily stun you if you're in their line of sight. Once they get close enough, they will do a startlingly quick leap onto your shoulders.
    • Ropes (i.e. snakes) charge straight at Link when they see him. They're allegedly poisonous, but don't do anything but immediately deal a small amount of damage.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo has this as a common attack for vampire-type enemies who like to lunge out of walls.
    • The deadly lunge is also, rather oddly, a common attack for Smith and his copies in later parts of the game.
  • The Zombie Soldiers in Metal Slug 3 and 4 use this as an attack. Interestingly enough, it's also a Suicide Attack, and they die in a small explosion of infectious fluids and parts when they hit the player (or sail over and hit the floor).
  • Commando (Pro) perk from Modern Warfare 2 allows you to cover some distance when knifing. Unless they use a shotgun.
  • The Lagoon Creature enemies from Monster Hunter (PC) walks at a brisk pace, until they spot the titular character a distance away, at which point they will utter an audible "huh?" before sprinting towards the hunter.
  • There are various such moves in Ninja Gaiden.
  • Painkiller has a zombie enemy which normally crawls aimlessly on elbows and knees - until it rears up and flings itself at you across surprising distances. One of your first encounters with them is in an unlit asylum.
  • Primal Carnage: Both the Novaraptor and the Oviraptor have this as their secondary attack. The attack functions extremely similar to the Hunter's pounce in Left 4 Dead, where the dinosaur will leap upon a human, pinning them to the ground and mauling them to death, which deals continuous damage. The pinned human is helpless and can only be rescued by a teammate damaging the dinosaur, or if the dinosaur runs out of stamina mid-attack, and otherwise the attack is a One-Hit Kill.
    • Captain Cross breaks this out with his electric baton if you try to make Alex pick up a gun and Just Shoot Him.
    • In [PROTOTYPE 2], James Heller can pounce on enemies with his Claw power active. This is in part to make up for the fact that grabbing things in the first game requires a clear line to the target, which made the process prone to frequent misses.
  • Quake:
    • The Fiends from Quake love to leap across distances to get at you, and can One-Hit Kill you with this attack.
    • Quake II has the Mutants, who leap towards their enemies (be it the player or another mook which took a shot to it) should it be in a long distance. The Mission-Pack Sequel The Reckoning has a weaker version in the Gekk, featuring a slower (and easier to avoid) version of the attack, in exchange for a ranged attack and the ability to attack while swimming.
  • Resident Evil
  • Kleer Skeletons in the Serious Sam series are known for it.
  • Demon Kids and Simians in Silent Hill lunge and jump, respectively.
  • Starcraft:
    • Spider mines are land mines that unbury themselves when they see a nearby enemy and run at it, usually too fast for the enemy to react.
    • In the second game, Protoss Zealots can gain the Charge ability, which greatly boosts their speed as they close in on their enemies.
    • In Heart of the Swarm, Zerglings and Banelings can be upgraded to jump at the enemy. Hilariously broken with Banelings, as they now jump over melee troops and even cliffs to deliver explosive acid death.
    • In Legacy of the Void, one Dark Templar upgrade lets them teleport to an enemy, stab them, teleport to another enemy, stab them, etc.
  • In Sword of the Stars II, the Warp Pulse upgrade allows Tarka ships to do a nigh-instant "lunge" in tactical combat, but with the caveat that any enemy ship in the way causes the lunging Tarka ship to crumple like an egg.
  • World of Warcraft features this as a move for both the player and enemies. Warriors, for example, have four variants of this for different situations. It also has an inversion, the Death Knight's Death Grip. It instantly drags the target to the caster's location.
  • Zombie Dawn zombies lunge when they get close to a person.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Viral By Committee: As Alex leaves the radio tower, a zombie climbs a nearby fence and tries to pounce on Alex as they flee on bike.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Many cold-blooded animals do this, saving up energy in lieu of using it up by stalking prey; even reptiles as big as crocodiles pull off some impressive stunts. That their anatomy makes it harder to breathe while running doesn't let them keep it up for too long.
  • Active swimming predators, such as tuna or several sharks, move at a consistent speed, but when needed, will do a sudden and extremely fast sprint. This can be seen in their meat: The muscles used to constant speed are small and dark, implying low power but high endurance, while the ones used for sprinting are clear and fill the whole of the section of the fish in several areas. Crocodiles pull something akin to this as well; most of their body is filled with white muscle.
    • Herons and similar wading birds have the same type of muscle in their necks, allowing them to perform a lightning-fast lunge attack with their heads while the rest of their body remains motionless to avoid alerting fish to their presence.
  • Preying mantids' grasping arms and elongated thoraxes are specifically equipped for snatching up prey in this manner. Likewise, their marine equivalents and namesakes, mantis shrimp.
  • Most grappling martial arts, such as Sambo, Judo, and Wrestling, have techniques that basically consist of shooting in and taking you down. A common misconception (possibly due to the prevalence of "big giant wrestlers" in video games) is that "shoots" are like slow football tackles that are easy to counter by, say, sidestepping or throwing up a knee. Those who subscribe to this belief usually find themselves taken down and ground-pounded.
  • Fencing: Even a beginner with only basic footwork under his belt can attack from about six feet away in a half second. A good fencer who's practiced their lunge a lot can hit from 9 to 12 feet away in the same time. Straight, thin, light thrusting swords became the premier civilian weapon partly because of the speed of lunging attacks. We shouldn't forget fleche attacks either, which can really freak out an unsuspecting opponent.
  • In the Assyrian wall relief, the Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal has several scenes where vicious Asian lions lunge at the king. One of the scenes has a dying lion lunge at the chariot, each muscle beautifully defined, as it gets impaled upon Ashurbanipal's assistants' spears. Another scene has Ashurbanipal kill a lion mid-jump by grabbing its neck and stabbing it in the gut.
  • The Tueller Drill; e.g. Never Bring A Knife To A Gunfight meets Surprisingly Realistic Outcome.