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Invincible Boogeymen

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"They killed us. They got out. The Variants. You can't fight them... You have to hide... Can unlock the main doors from security control. You have to get the fuck out of this terrible place..."
Stephenson, Outlast

Some monsters are Immune to Bullets; some are apparently indestructible, barring the obvious Achilles' Heel; some smother their opponents in hordes of easily-replaceable drones; some just keep coming back no matter how thorough their demise seems... and then there's some that simply cannot be fought at all.

At all.

A native of the horror genre and its imitations in other genres, this breed of foe cannot be opposed in any reasonable way, lacking weaknesses, exploitable character flaws, or even opportunities to counterattack. The reasons for this vary: maybe it's because they're simply too powerful to be harmed in any (at least available) way; perhaps they never give their victims a chance to retaliate; maybe it's because they can't be touched or reached in any real way. In some cases, it's because you and/or the character will probably never level up to be strong enough to do any real damage.

Whatever the case, fighting the monsters fast approaching is out of the question: they can't be hurt, harmed, suppressed or negotiated with, and killing them is damn near impossible.

In other words, it's time to Run or Die.

Though hardly unique to the medium, this trope has flourished in video games. A popular way to enforce the survival part in many Survival Horror video games is to leave the player with no chance to survive (or make their time) in battle against the monsters; the moment the assailant catches up with them, it's game over, so the player's only option is to turn tail and run away as fast as possible. In many instances of this, the player will also be obliged to find a hiding place, turning the game into a tense mixture of stealthily creeping from bolthole to bolthole and desperately fleeing the unstoppable pursuer.

The modern prevalence of this trope can be seen as the antithesis of modern Action Horror games, which are oft considered to be little more than spooky shooting galleries rather than true "horror" games by purists. In these cases, all the enemies are Invincible Minor Minions by default and cannot be harmed in any way; in cases that allow these foes to demonstrate their invincibility should the player be brave enough to stick around and battle, a Hopeless Boss Fight may ensue.

Important Note: to qualify for this trope, the monster or villain has to be played for horror; a simple Hopeless Boss Fight in an action game does not count.

Astute readers may note that this trope has significant overlap with Invincible Villain. However, where the Invincible Villain cannot be defeated by anything including running away and always ends the story victorious, the Invincible Boogeymen are only impossible to defeat in confrontations; the latter can still be escaped or hidden from provided you're fast enough and may even be defeated through the use of some special loophole in their invulnerability. Said weakness won't be discovered until the very end of the encounter, if not the very end of the story itself. Of course, don't count on this being a guarantee in video games; you're better off just running and never looking back.

Not to be confused with Implacable Man. While being physically invulnerable is one way of achieving this trope, not all examples fall under this. This trope can still be in effect simply due to the helplessness of the victim running from the monster, who possesses no way of fighting back, even though in other contexts the monster might not be so invincible at all. May overlap with Things That Go "Bump" in the Night, but not every boogeyman is invincible.

Compare and contrast the Advancing Wall of Doom, Inescapable Horror, Lord British Postulate, Perpetual-Motion Monster, and Super-Persistent Predator.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind: Carne's Stand, Notorious B.I.G, is unique in many respects: it only activates after Carne's death and thus, the standard strategy of "knocking out/killing the Stand user to stop the Stand" is useless. It's a Blob Monster that consumes everything in its path, is nigh-indestructible — having pieces of it chopped off will just make the pieces sentient — and it will chase after any sufficiently speedy thing nearby, and it can move really fast. Its only weakness is that it only acts in primal instinct, so it can be fooled in various ways; the protagonists only get rid of it after it hijacks the plane they're flying in (by partly consuming it) and they escape in midair, while the plane's failing engine causes it to fall towards the ocean. Even then, it's still alive, thoroughly confused with the ever-moving ocean currents (which trigger its instinct); it's said that the ocean it fell in becomes a scary place, with multiple ship sinking incidents caused by the still-living Stand.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who:
    • The Child in "The Holy Terror". An all-powerful Enfant Terrible, nothing in the castle can kill it or even slow it down; the Doctor can't fight it, dissuade it or technobabble it away. By the end of the story, the heroes are reduced to hiding in the throne room while the Child massacres its way through the populace, knowing that there's nothing they can do but wait until it comes after them. As it turns out, as the author of this scenario, Eugene can destroy the Child, but that just results in the entire Vicious Cycle repeating itself and the damn thing reappearing later anyway. The only thing Eugene can do to escape is let the Child kill him, ending his suffering and deleting the Child from existence.
    • Death in "Master". Both the Doctor and the Master find out the hard way that there's no way of opposing her in any way, shape or form: attempts to talk her down only end with the recipient being Mind Raped; the one effort to actually attack her ends before it can even begin. In the end, the only sane thing to do is run like hell, all while pursued by nightmarish stimuli across the house. The story concludes on a Bad Guy Wins note, with the Doctor in indentured servitude to Death and the Master still trapped in her schemes.

    Comic Books 
  • Immortal Hulk. Given his enormous strength and healing factor, you could argue that the Hulk was already this before, but since this series started, it has been revealed that while Bruce Banner can die, the Hulk will always rise up when the night falls. And given his new "Devil Hulk" persona seems to enjoy sadistically punishing others, he's more of a horror monster than ever. The Bad Future sequence reveals that once he's fully possessed by the One Below All, the Hulk becomes this to the entire universe.
  • Uncanny X-Men: Unless you're a strong mutant with a team of other strong mutants backing you up, good luck trying to fight Magneto. Never mind that he's Immune to Bullets, never mind that he can throw up Deflector Shields to protect himself from other attacks, the guy controls the fundamental forces of the universe. His dignified persona prevents him from sinking to down-and-dirty movie monster levels, but during his solo series the Marauders had a terrifying encounter with him that showed readers just how horrifying Magneto can be when he isn't fighting the X-Men and no longer feels any need to practice restraint.
  • X-Men: The Unstoppable Juggernaut got his name for a reason. Aside from a select few immensely powerful individuals, he is impervious to physical harm. The one way to put a halt to his rampage is to get his helmet off and let the resident telepath subdue him or teleport him somewhere he can’t hurt anyone. Even then he’s managed to come up with counter measures to these weaknesses over the years.
  • Superman: Doomsday, originally introduced in the Death Of Superman storyarc, is one, especially in his original incarnation. A product of a mad scientist trying to create an Ultimate Life Form on ancient Krypton, Doomsday is usually portrayed as a nearly mindless force of destruction with an overwhelming hatred of every living thing. On the rare occasions that someone do manage to kill him, he'll simply regenerate and resurrect, with a new resistance to whatever killed him. In his first appearance, it took Superman doing a Mutual Kill to bring him down, and even then, he was only dead for a few weeks. The closest he's ever been to being permanently destroyed was being thrown to the End of the Universe, where the forces of entropy would have killed him for good, had Braniac not used time travel to save him (as part of a plot against Superman).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Art the Clown of All Hallows' Eve and Terrifier. An Ambiguous Humanoid Abomination, stopping him seems almost impossible and he may actually be capable of teleportation. In the finale of Terrifier, he escapes capture by shooting himself in the head... only to come back to life in the morgue not long afterwards.
  • The Babadook may eventually be repelled with screaming, but it is also the Anthropomorphic Personification of depression and connected mental illnesses and it's utterly inescapable as a result — the best Amelia can do is accept that the damned thing is going to haunt her basement from now on and if she ever slips up, all of the horror she had to endure is going to start all over again.
  • As an Evil Counterpart of Superman, Brandon Breyer of Brightburn is just as impervious to bullets as good old Kal-El. The only thing that can hurt him is metal from his spaceship, and given that he's got Super-Speed, good luck trying to stab him with it. And since he went so far as to drop a plane on said spaceship at the end, it's very likely that it has been destroyed.
  • In Friday the 13th, Jason Voorhees is practically nigh unstoppable and will kill about everything in his path once he sets his eyes on a target. He constantly attacks or prepares to do so and is reasoning with him is roughly impossible. The only defense is slowing him down or running. The lion's share of the movies' end is spent trying to find some way of putting him down for good, with the final blow delivered near the end of each installment... but he never stays dead, as every subsequent film will end up reviving him somehow so he can spread further terror and carnage.
  • Final Destination sees Death hunting those who escaped it through prophetic visions they experienced. Death is both all-powerful and eternal, meaning it's not really a fair fight so much as a sadistic boy squashing a bunch of helpless ants. This is because by at least a form of order, death itself is inevitable.
  • The entity from It Follows. It always knows where its targets are, it can't be seen by anyone except its future victims, and nothing can stop its pursuit: sooner or later, it always catches up. The only way to escape is to have sex with someone and spread the curse to them, or spend the rest of your life on the run. The ending reveals that it's impossible to kill as well.
  • Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street is more or less this trope distilled to its core. He's literally a boogeyman, having transcended the boundaries of life and death to haunt the world of dreams, and in that world, he has the Imagination-Based Superpower writ large. If he wasn't a Sadist and a Combat Sadomasochist some suspect he'd be completely invincible; as it is, his personality disorders inevitably allow the Final Girl to (temporarily) slay him after he's inevitably killed off the rest of the cast. Since this dream demon form is, effectively, his afterlife spirit, he'll reform as it even if brought into the real world and killed there. So far, nothing potent enough has been found to erase it.
  • Kayako of Ju On is a ghost with the goal of killing everything that gets her curse and nothing can be done about it — you can't run, you can't hide, you can't appease her, and you surely can't exorcise her. One film even has her being deliberate summoned by the victim of the film in an act of insane desperation in the hopes that she will fight another killer ghost and hopefully they will destroy each other. That film is Sadako Vs. Kayako — look below on the Ringu bullet point to see how much it didn't work.
  • In The Matrix, Agents are basically invincible killing machines who have Super-Strength, Super-Speed and the ability to Body Surf. All Red Pills are advised to Run or Die as any encounter with them is practically suicide unless you're The One like Neo. The kicker is even if somehow you manage to kill an Agent's current body, they'll just jump to another body good as new and continue their pursuit. For good measure, every single encounter with them takes on a tense note out of a horror film as the Red Pills struggle to escape or futilely fight back; it's not until Neo begins unlocking his true power than the encounters become remotely winnable, and even then, the agents still have the upper hand. And then Neo returns from the dead with all power unlocked, and easily trounces Agent Smith in single combat.
  • The Tall Man from Phantasm movies is an Eldritch Abomination inhabiting the human corpse of an old man who journeyed into his dimension one day. He's super-strong, impervious to almost anything, can send deadly flying spheres against his targets, and even completely disintegrating him just means an identical Tall Man emerges from the portal.
  • Samara of The Ring is, for intents and purposes, utterly unstoppable: once you've seen the cursed tape, your death is totally assured. When she finally appears in person to claim a victim, she seems intangible to the point she cannot be fought in any way. Even finding her mortal remains and putting them to rest doesn't stop her. The only way to escape Samara once and for all is by getting someone else to watch the tape, transferring the curse to them instead.
  • Sadako from the Ringu movies is even worse: she eventually evolves her curse into a literal disease, an airborne virus that is incurable and subjects it's victims to die the same way that those tho saw the tape did. Even tossing another effectively Invincible Boogeyman at her doesn't works — the film Sadako vs. Kayako ends with both homicidal ghosts undergoing a Fusion Dance and spreading a combined version of their respective modus operandi onto the world.
  • In Terminator most Terminators are Implacable Men who can sustain heavy damage and keep on killing, but special mention goes to the liquid metal T-1000 Terminator from Terminator 2: Judgment Day which is virtually indestructible as its Blob Monster construct means almost no damage done to it is permanent and it'll just reseal holes blown in its torso or head. For good measure, the climactic encounters tend to do away with the action elements and take on a sci-fi horror note, with main characters being forced to flee through extremely narrow, hazardous environment as the Terminator slowly but implacably pursuing them.
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, the Future Sentinels are truly Nigh-Invulnerable juggernauts who cannot be beaten in a fight by any means. The only way the surviving mutants have managed to stay alive is by running and hiding, then going back in time to warn their past selves to relocate whenever their base gets compromised. The only permanent way to defeat them is to go back decades in time and prevent their existence.

  • In The Precipice, Stitchskin quickly becomes this in Grace's brief encounter with the shapeshifter. It doesn't help that she is a very green Super with a power not particularly well suited to direct confrontation and no weapons prepared that can hurt Stichskin through his shape-swapping ability.
  • In the John Connolly short story "Mr Pettinger's Daemon," the eponymous monster is beyond being fought in any way by the protagonist and it's not even certain if it can be harmed much less killed. All our hero can do is run like hell and collapse the supports holding up the tunnel the daemon is just about to escape through. Even this isn't enough to kill it, unfortunately, for the story ends with the protagonist revealing that he can still hear it slowly digging its way to the surface...
  • Par for the course in the works of H. P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos: more often than not, the Eldritch Abominations encountered over the course of the stories cannot be fought or killed in any way, and the main characters usually have no choice but to run for their lives. The nearest thing to a fight in humanity's favor was when Cthulhu himself got his head split open by the prow of a ship — and even that ended with Cthulhu easily regenerating.
  • When first introduced, The Beast of Lev Grossmann's The Magicians is a pretty obvious case of this: when accidentally summoned, he freezes everyone in place as he prowls around the classroom, manages to prevent an entire faculty of trained magicians from entering the classroom to rescue the students, and when one of the students tries to retaliate, the Beast just eats her alive - while Quentin and Alice can only look on in paralyzed horror. Nobody ever gets a chance to fight back, and it's made clear they wouldn't have been able to do much anyway. By the time they meet again, Alice and her fellow Physical Kids have graduated into fully-fledged magicians and actually manage to put up a serious fight against the Beast - but he's still virtually invincible until Alice makes use of a Deadly Upgrade.
  • In Robert Sheckley's "Ghost V", the heroes visit a planet with an atmosphere full of a drug bringing out hallucinations of their childhood bogeymen, potentially lethal due to Your Mind Makes It Real. They take out a couple of monsters with a magic word and a water pistol, but the last bogeyman is absolutely invincible. It's also capable of getting past any lock and door. But not through a Security Blanket, fortunately.
  • Most of The Night Land is treated this way by the humans of the Last Redoubt; while it's clearly possible to kill individual Night Hounds and Rat-Creatures and other lesser dangers, it's likely to just attract more, which will also the attention of the Silent Ones and others who are implicitly too unearthly to die. And in the long run, the largest horrors - the House of Silence, the Fixed Giants, and especially the Watchers - are warded off from attacking the Redoubts by the Earth-Current, but they are just patiently waiting the last few millions of years it will take for it to finally did.
  • Ghost Roads: Rose spends most of the series (and her 60+ years as a ghost) running from the immortal serial killer who murdered her in the first place, Bobby Cross. The only way to escape him is to run to somewhere he can't follow, or get a Power Tattoo from the routewitches.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • The eponymous child in "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances". On top of having a host of powers that make him effectively unstoppable, any physical contact with him will only turn any attackers into more gas-masked zombies; plus, he might not be inclined to run after his targets, but once he's gotten interested in something, he will not stop following you. As such, the only sensible move is to either run or hide. He's stopped when he finds his real mother, allowing the nanomachines infesting him to correct their original mistake and restore him to normal.
    • The Weeping Angels, especially in their original appearance in "Blink", when they're up against ordinary humans. The Angels are not only indestructible in their stone state, but when nobody's looking at them, they move too quickly to be attacked; all it takes is one blink at the wrong time, and you're dead. In their first outing, they're defeated when they're tricked into looking at each other, freezing them in place. They are not completely indestructible as another instance has them be frozen... and unable to escape being sucked into a black hole.
    • The Vashta Nerada from "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead". They are microscopic organisms that appear as Living Shadowes when gathering in swarms, described as "piranhas of the air" — and their diet includes humans. They seem only marginally Weakened by the Light, as it slows them down rather than actually harming or stopping them; worse still, they can also turn characters that they've already devoured into vessels by inhabiting their space suits, allowing them to walk in the light. When asked how to deal with the Vashta Nerada, the Doctor lampshades this trope by listing off weaknesses of various monsters, before adding "Vashta Nerada... run. Just run." In the end, they aren't really defeated, only intimidated into delaying their advance by the Doctor's own feared reputation so he has enough time to teleport everyone off the planet.
    • The Flood from "The Waters of Mars": essentially a waterborne disease capable of infecting any biological lifeform so long as they contain water, its hosts are swiftly converted into zombielike monsters that continue the spread of the virus. While Flood hosts can be slowed down, nothing in the long run can stop them — as the Doctor puts it, "water always wins". One by one the crew of "Bowie Base One" on Mars become infected, as only one drop of water is all that takes to convert someone. In the end the only way to dispatch them is by activating the Self-Destruct Mechanism on the base while the Doctor evacuates the survivors via TARDIS.
    • House quickly becomes one of these in "The Doctor's Wife" once he transfers his mind into the TARDIS. Not only is it impossible to harm him since his body is now a pan-dimensional time machine, but he's also capable of using his control over the TARDIS's internal systems to Mind Rape Amy and Rory in particularly cruel ways. For good measure, during his scenes, the tone of the episode takes a sharp turn away from drama and comedy and into flat-out horror. The only way to defeat him is to sneak the TARDIS' current body on board and allow her to force House out of the system.
    • The Whisper Men, Mooks of the Great Intelligence appearing in "The Name of the Doctor". As they're completely intangible, nothing the heroes do can hurt or slow them down, and they very nearly kill the Doctor's friends over the course of the episode. In fact, they're never defeated at all: they only stop when the Great Intelligence achieves his goals, causing them to disappear with their purpose fulfilled.
    • The Foretold of "Mummy on the Orient Express". Effectively intangible, its touch kills instantly, and nobody else can see it except for its victims. As with most monsters on this show, it's Immune to Bullets — but also to all potential technobabble solutions. Once you're targeted, you have exactly sixty-six seconds to live before it catches up with you, amping up the horror and tension significantly. As it's actually a soldier from a long-forgotten war kept alive through unbelievably powerful tech, the only way to stop the Foretold is to formally surrender to it.
    • "Flatline" features two-dimensional beings which The Doctor dubs "the Boneless". They will kill anyone they come across by turning them 2D as well and dissecting them. Due to the bizarre nature of their anatomy, they cannot be fought at all and the only defence against them is to run. The only way the Doctor gets rid of them is by sending them back to their own plane of existence — and only once he's gotten the TARDIS working again.
    • The Veil in "Heaven Sent". A childhood nightmare empowered with a lethal touch, it can't be harmed, persuaded, intimidated, outsmarted, or technobabbled away — meaning that all the solutions that the Doctor usually resorts to are officially useless. The Doctor has only two options: confess his deepest secrets or run for his life. And though the Veil doesn't move very fast, it's impossible to escape the Castle through conventional methods, and the Doctor has to stop long enough to eat or sleep — meaning that the Veil will catch up sooner or later. It's defeated by the Doctor finally breaking through the wall between him and the exit, causing the Veil to collapse into inert junk.
  • The Haunting of Hill House ultimately reveals that the eponymous house is one of these; not only is its power just about impossible to resist, but the building is seemingly indestructible. Trying to burn the place down only results in the fire instantly extinguishing itself, followed by swift retaliation from the ghosts it commands. Only the intervention of Nell's ghost saves her siblings from the Red Room, and even then, she can't do much more than keep them safe until the family's out of the building. In the end, the only thing you can do is remain as far away from it as possible, and never visit after nightfall.
  • House of Anubis has the season 2 villain, Senkhara. Compared to the other villains, she's much more dangerous and unstoppable, being a ghost that can enter dreams, lay curses, and kill people with her magic, while everyone else is just a human with shady intentions and ulterior motives. The Sibuna gang are forced to work for her and do as she says, and are unable to stop her or escape her control. The only thing that defeats her is being inside the mask when Rufus puts it on, which causes them to both be dragged into the underworld thanks to Rufus's evil nature, rather than anything the students could've done.
  • Merlin features the Dorocha a Monster of the Week in "Darkest Hour". Their name literally translates to "Shadow people" and are malevolent spirits of the dead with the appearance of gaseous flying skulls and whereby they come into contact with a person, they are almost always instantly dead (Merlin being the only exception due to his magic). Unlike most monsters on the show, they cannot be fought in any way, being completely unaffected by blades and even magic. The only defense against them is that they are Weakened by the Light, but even this only repels them and doesn't kill them. The only way of stopping them is by one person being chosen as a sacrifice to restore the natural order that released them, to which both Arthur and Merlin attempt to, but ultimately it is Lancelot who performs the deed.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Generally speaking, the only way for a DM to really accomplish this in a TTRPG is to not give their monster any solid HP total until the final encounter where it's meant to be killed, and even then that may not be a fullproof solution as most TTRPGs give the player other means of dealing with them, such as in Dungeons & Dragons having a myriad of spells such as teleporting, putting to sleep, paralyzing, and other such abilities to make the threat it presents moot. If a DM really wants them to be invincible, they would also need to imploy Contractual Boss Immunity, and even then they will need to be careful to not make it feel like Rail Roading or potentially killing the entire party.
  • The End of the World:
    • Cthulhu of "Wrath of the Gods". As with his original counterpart, nothing can stop him; as you're playing a lone everyman caught up in the apocalypse, you don't have access to the kind of weapons that can even mildly inconvenience the chief of the Great Old Ones, so all you can do is run like hell and avoid looking at him.
    • The nanites of "Revolt of the Machines". Most of the time, they're too small to be seen until they start eating something — or someone — leaving you effectively helpless; when a nanoswarm gathers in large enough numbers to be seen by the naked eye, nothing in your arsenal can hurt them. All you can do is put an ocean between you and the infestation, and that won't work for long. The post-apocalypse scenario features 80% of the human race being wiped out, the survivors either sheltering in Arctic bases or living as nomads just out of the nanoswarm's reach.

    Video Games 
  • The Xenomorph in Alien: Isolation. It's almost immune to all weapons, trying to tackle it up close is suicide, and the only item that's of any use against it is a flamethrower — and that's only because it's afraid of fire... at least until it begins to learn how to react to it. More often than not, the safest option is to hide in a locker or run for your life in as quiet a manner as possible, ideally while it's distracted by hunting down other human targets.
  • Alex Kidd in Miracle World has the Grim Reaper, who cannot be fought, only scrolled off the screen. If he shows up in a bonus room, though, You Are Already Dead.
  • In Alone in the Dark, disturbing any of the ghosts in Derceto Manor results in them shapeshifting into an invincible spinning conglomeration of translucent pastel-colored orbs that relentlessly pursues the Player Character, even through walls, and inflicts a One-Hit Kill upon contact. Your only option is to avoid angering them in the first place.
  • Almost every monster in Amnesia: The Dark Descent is one of these, but they do give up and go away if the player hides themselves well enough. Just looking at them is enough to drive the player character mad, and as soon as one catches sight of you, you're practically dead. However, the most prominent example is the Shadow, as unlike other monsters which you can hide from or distract, the Shadow will find you wherever you go and is truly unstoppable. It will NEVER stop chasing you until it decides otherwise.
  • Berzerk has Evil Otto, a bouncing smiley face with the ability to phase through walls who will hunt down the player after a certain time in each level, increasing in speed as the robots are cleared out. In the sequel, Frenzy, he can be temporarily fought off, but will quickly respawn, becoming faster each time. Worse, in the room with Big Otto, shooting him will summon four "Baby Ottos" to mob you.
  • Bubble Bobble has Baron von Blubba, a ghostly Monsta who will hunt down the player in each level if enemies aren't defeated in time. He moves diagonally, can phase through walls, and is completely invincible, and if you still take too long, another Baron shows up.
  • In Bug Hunt (the Macintosh World Builder game), the Xenomorph Xerox can be neutralized in its larval form if you manage to assemble the Flamethrower fast enough, but once it metamorphoses into an adult, it becomes Nigh-Invulnerable, whereupon your only recourse is to run from it and activate the space station's Self-Destruct Mechanism, or lure it onto the emergency shuttle, rig it to explode, and remotely launch it.
  • Celeste:
    • The Dream Sequence in Chapter 2 sees Madeline pursued by her dark reflection, "Badeline", who later in the chase spawns duplicates of herself. At this point in the story, Madeline has no means of fighting back and can only Run or Die. She eventually gets to settle the score with "Badeline" in Chapter 6.
    • At the end of Chapter 3, Mr. Oshiro becomes enraged and chases Madeline through a Death Course while bombarding her with lightning bolts and dash attacks. Being a ghost, he is physically invulnerable.
    • The Seekers in the second half of Chapter 5 can be stunned with a Goomba Stomp, but not directly killed. It is possible to bait them into being crushed by a closing gate or platform, but this takes a lot of skill and luck to pull off.
  • The Scissorman in Clock Tower (1995) and Clock Tower 2 is a textbook invincible slasher who stalks the player throughout the game, and can only by hid from or slowed down by environmental traps until the ending, where Jennifer finds a way to defeat him.
  • The unregistered shareware version of Combat Tanks spawns an invincible black helicopter known as the Death Chopper to kill the player once the time limit is exceeded.
  • In Darkwood, the Protagonist must reach his chosen hideout before nightfall begins, otherwise he will be hunted down by the Floor Gore, a mysterious dark mass that cannot be killed or slowed down and can only be repelled away by a strange gas being emitted throughout the Protagonist’s hideout.
  • Dead by Daylight: The Killers are a rare example of being a playable version of this trope. Nothing can actually hurt the killers, save for Victor. The best you can hope for is to stun and disorient them with blinding light or momentarily slow them by throwing something in their path. All of them offer a different variation on the trope through their skills. The Killers can additionally equip various perks that make them even more resilient to attempts to slow them down. Lightborn completely negates flashlights, Enduring reduces the amount of time that they are stunned when a wooden pallet is dropped on them, Iron Grasp makes trying to wiggle free of them less effective, and so on. Depending on this and the innate powers of the Killer themselves, running and hiding may be the only option survivors have.
  • Deep Rock Galactic: The "Haunted Cave" mutator makes an Unknown Horror spawn in the level — a completely invulnerable ghost version of a Bulk Detonator which slowly but constantly chases and attempts to blow up any Dwarves within its "Instant Death" Radius. Although it cannot take damage, it can still be attacked to turn its attention to the offending Dwarf. The Dwarves otherwise cannot do anything against it other than have a teammate distract it and let it slowly chase them, while the others focus on the mission.
  • In Dino Crisis, the T-Rex is unkillable, can only be momentarily slowed down with gunfire, and will swallow Regina whole if it gets within striking range.
  • Divinity: Original Sin has the Death Knights, who hit like a truck and are perfectly unkillable when you first run into them in the Luculla Mines (a unique status effect renders them impervious to any and all HP loss and there are no insta-kill abilities in the game). The only way to progress is to sneak around or to teleport, and if you aggro them, run like hell (thankfully, they are also quite slow on their feet). Later on, this is subverted when you discover a way to disable their invulnerability, after which they become regular, if tough enemies.
  • In Fe, the titular protagonist by themselves is defenseless against the Silent Ones, who will immediately capture them once alerted, but there are at least two situations where other creatures can be lured in to drive off the Silent Ones. There's also the Border Patrol catfish that will swallow Fe within a few seconds of swimming into open water.
  • The eponymous character and his friends in Five Nights at Freddy's. Due to a cascade of horrible ideas by the pizza company, you're basically stuck playing security guard to a bunch of animatronic performers who want to fatally jam you into a Freddy Fazbear suit; you can't fight them and you can't escape until 6 AM, so all you can do is lock the doors if any of them get too close and hope that power doesn't run out.
  • Karen Sees: The knife-wielding Karen cannot be fought. Bob's only hope of survival is to run and hide from her.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, once you grab one of the Sols present in the Palace of Twilight, a large mechanical hand similar to the Wallmasters will start chasing you. It cannot be killed, only stunned, and it aims to claim back the Sol to put it back to the spot you took it from. "Psycho" Strings play while it's roaming, and your objective is to take the Sol to its outer slot in the Palace's entrance. Once you do this process with both Sols, you'll be able to progress to the dungeon's second half and won't have to worry about the hands anymore.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, as you progress through the game, the tracks on the overworld feature Dark Trains and Armored Trains which can't be destroyed (the Dark Trains can be temporarily stunned by shooting them enough times, Armored Trains No-Sell your shots). They don't actively chase you (fortunately), but it's all too common to be trapped between two of them on a portion of track where you can't move out of the way, which is an instant Game Over. There's a grand total of one time in the game where they can be hunted down and killed, and that's just before the final boss.
  • Little Nightmares and Little Nightmares II use this a good amount of the time, with the games's sequences with the major antagonists playing as a mix of stealth and chases in the absence of a way to fight back against them. There are boss fights and several monsters get their comeuppance by the end, but most of the gameplay features the player at an absolute power disadvantage.
  • In MediEvil, the overwhelming majority of the monsters can be defeated no matter how tough they seem at first, befitting the horror-comedy atmosphere. However, in Scarecrow Fields, there's something living in the cornfield that cannot be fought, cannot be killed and cannot even be seen. If you stray into the cornfield and don't leave immediately, you'll be rewarded with an ominous hissing noise as something large rushes through the corn towards you, and then you will instantly lose a life. That's it.
  • Metroid:
    • The SA-X of Metroid Fusion is a copy of Samus at her full strength, and as such can kill her in a few hits, freeze her in place and generally forces the player to run when its telltale footsteps show up.
    • The E.M.M.I. of Metroid Dread are Federation research drones that have not only been reprogrammed to kill Samus, they are almost impossible to defeat and will very likely kill her if they catch her (they can be counter-attacked if caught, but the timing for doing so is much tighter than on any other enemy in the game and is a last resort at best). Unlike the SA-X, there are no exploitable flaws in their AI, and they will react to sounds even if Samus isn't in their line of sight. The only weapon that can destroy them is an Omega Cannon, which will stop working as soon as it's used to destroy one of them.
  • Daniel Remar's Metrojd features this: the crux of the game is spent jumping across the map as an unseen monster howls in the distance, shaking the area as it gets steadily closer. When it does show up, it can't be killed, hurt or even attacked; getting too close to its jaws will result in game over. All you can do is run.
  • The Hairshreaker in The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories occasionally shows up, and shifts the gameplay from solving puzzles to advance to simply running and clearing obstacles as quickly as possible. Later inverted; J.J turns into the Hairshrieker herself, and has to slay Emily in a boss battle (representing the fact that it represents her own self loathing and suicide ideation, and how it hurts other people).
  • In Mother 3, getting too close to the Ultimate Chimera results in an automatic Game Over, with the usual battle screen not even appearing for a moment.
  • In Mystik Belle, The Grim Reaper, who acts as the school's hall monitor, will constantly pursue Belle if she goes exploring without the Hall Pass.
  • Ori and the Blind Forest's Ominous Owl antagonist, Kuro, is completely unassailable save for one instance where Ori must drop a boulder on her head to divert her, and will swoop down on Ori for a One-Hit Kill once she sights him.
  • In Ori and the Will of the Wisps, an invincible and invisible Grue-like entity lurks in the corrupted Mouldwood Depths, and will close in on and devour Ori if he spends too long in the darkness. Zigzagged with the Big Bad, Shriek, whom Ori can initially only run or hide from as with Kuro, but eventually becomes fightable as the Final Boss.
  • The Outlast franchise leaves the player at the mercy of opponents who cannot be fought, only evaded; as the first game reminds you, you're not a fighter — and the fact that many of your opponents are unnaturally strong or heavily armed doesn't help. However, many of your pursuers do end up getting killed in cutscenes, sometimes even by the protagonist. As such, the purest example of this is the Stalker of Outlast II, which cannot be killed or fought in any way whatsoever; the fact that it's actually a representation of Blake's childhood trauma brought out by Murkoff's brain-warping radio signals doesn't help.
  • In Pathways into Darkness, the level "Warning: Earthquake Zone" has two examples: a gauntlet of green Oozes that are completely impervious to both physical weapons and magic spells but leave you alone if you are poisoned, and a Deadly Gas-belching snake-like demon known as Malice or the "Giant Purple Mutant Hellbeast" that chases you in the last section of the level, in which case the only defense is to Run or Die.
  • In RATUZ, the main antagonist is Prisoner Three, who was injected with a serum that turned him into a deadly and violent Rat Man. Any encounter with him is a Run or Die situation for Prisoner Five, and Three is extremely persistent at pursuing. The only time Three is ever decisively beaten is in the Golden Ending, where he's distracted by Prisoners Four, Five, and Six long enough for the scientist Pamela to inject him with an antidote, turning him back to a human.
  • Rayman 2: The Great Escape abruptly takes a turn for the horror genre during the mission to the Cave of Bad Dreams; the finale of this mission pits you against Jano, master of the cave, who cannot be fought — only fled from. For good measure, his massive jaws frame the screen as he closes in on Rayman, ready to slam shut...
  • Resident Evil is well known for its "stalker enemies", who are special monsters who will pursue you throughout the game and for the most cannot be killed in most encounters save for a final confrontation.
    • Resident Evil (Remake) has Lisa Trevor, the horrifically mutated daughter of mansion architect Sir George Trevor. Umbrella's experiments have rendered her Nigh-Invulnerable to all forms of attack, and so the player must avoid her until the last encounter, which is a Puzzle Boss fight where the player has to release the lid on her mother's sarcophagus, causing her to jump into a chasm. Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles reveals that she survived the fall, and it took a combination of Wesker pinning her under a Falling Chandelier of Doom and the mansion's Self-Destruct Mechanism to put her down for good.
    • REmake's One Dangerous Zombie mode has the zombified Forest Speyer from Bravo team stalk the player while rigged with explosives, resulting in a Non Standard Game Over if they attack or are grabbed by him.
    • Debuting in Resident Evil 2 is Mr. X, a Tyrant and quite possibly the most iconic villain of the franchise. In the remake, he will relentlessly chase the player through the map and he cannot be deterred. The only defense is to run and hide from him, and even that isn't always a guaranteed safety measure as he can search the rooms for you (unless it's a Safe Room). He can only be fought near the game's end and even then he is one helluva boss fight.
    • Resident Evil 3: Nemesis: The titular Nemesis is the Breakout Villain and a Recurring Boss throughout the game characterized by being an Implacable Man who is simply unkillable. While he can be fought, it only amounts to temporarily ceasing his pursuit. He will otherwise show up again, good as new, and keep coming for you over and over and over. He can only be killed permanently the eleventh time.
    • Near the end of Resident Evil – Code: Veronica, Steve Burnside is mutated by the Progenitor virus into a Tyrant-like boogeyman wielding a poleaxe, who cannot be killed or incapacitated, only slowed down to buy time to escape. After the chase, he reverts to human form and frees Claire from Alexia's tentacle before dying.
    • Resident Evil 4 has the chainsaw-wielding Instakill Mook Dr. Salvador, whom Leon encounters multiple times over the course of the game. Like Mr. X and Nemesis, he can be temporarily incapacitated, but the player is never able to kill him for real(unlike normal Granados, his body never dissolves after he is KO'ed).
    • Resident Evil 6 has the Ustanak, the C-Virus analogue to Mr. X and Nemesis, who relentlessly hunts Jake and Sherry throughout their campaign, and nearly all obstacles they throw in its way, such as a giant mining drill, an electrical pylon, and a smelting pool, are at best brief hindrances to its pursuit. It is finally Killed Off for Real when the duo shoot its exposed heart with an Elephant Killer magnum. A second nigh-invulnerable stalker occurs in the form of the Ubistvo, which survives impalement, two electrocutions, a sniper rifle shot to the head, and crushing by girders, only eventually being defeated via Helicopter Blender.
    • Resident Evil 7 has Jack Baker, as the first version of this character in the franchise who is sympathetic, but no less dangerous. He actually can be fought several times throughout the game, but due to his Healing Factor, he never stays down and keeps coming back over and over. And then he comes back as Swamp Man, an even more Nigh-Invulnerable Implacable Man.
    • Resident Evil Village has two examples of this.
      • The main one would be Lady Dimitrescu, the "Tall Vampire Lady", who will endlessly pursue Ethan after he kills her three daughters. Although in a subversion, unlike her predecessors she is fought and killed very early in the game to make way for the other bosses. She is also unique in that she cannot be incapacitated at all when stalking and shrugs off any attacks until her scripted boss fight.
      • The "Doll house" level gives us possibly the most frightening version of this trope in the franchise; the Baby Monster who only manifests once the lights have been turned off. It cannot be fought under any circumstance and once it catches you, you get eaten alive. The only way to stop its advance is to enter an elevator and reach the next part of the level.
  • The arcade version of Rygar has an invincible wraith-like Flying Face appropriately named Death that pursues Rygar after the timer expires, progressively increasing in speed.
  • The Secret World:
    • Sachiko. The ghost of a girl who didn't survive the Fear Nothing Foundation's mind control experiments, she's currently haunting the Third Floor of the now-deserted FNF headquarters in search of anyone she can take out her frustrations on — leaving you squarely in her crosshairs when you're sent in to investigate. As her stats make clear, she cannot be beaten, forcing you to hide the moment you hear her approaching, then either run for your life while her back's turned or wait until she loses interest and leaves.
    • The Bogeyman of The Park spinoff. The only real monster of the game, there's no way of resisting the Mind Rape he inflicts, no way of fighting him, and no indication that Lorraine could ever succeed in even vaguely harming him even if she could touch him. As it becomes apparent, The Park is actually a story of what happens when uninitiated Muggles blunder into The Secret World: they get screwed.
  • The Silent Hill series, like Resident Evil before it, has a tradition of invincible stalkers starting with the second game:
    • Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2 can be slowed down your attacks, but not killed. The first encounter simply ends after a fixed amount of time, after which he walks away (and will kill you if you follow after). This is played with in the penultimate boss fight, where the two Pyramid Heads have hit points you deplete like a conventional enemies, but while depleting them ends the fight, it doesn't kill them. Instead it triggers a cutscene where James realizes they are manifestations of his own guilt, after which they both kill themselves.
    • Silent Hill 4 has the Victims, who phase through walls while pursuing Henry, and get back up within a second or two of being knocked down. The only way to keep one down indefinitely is with Swords of Obedience, which are extremely limited in supply. The game's second act has each area haunted by its own "Super" Victim, which are much more relentless than the normal Victims. The Big Bad, Walter Sullivan, also chases Henry and Eileen throughout the second act, and can't be fought until the finale.
    • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories has the Raw Shocks, the game's only proper enemy type which appears in the franchise's characteristic Otherworld, who can't be fought, turning every Otherworld sequence into a hectic chase with the monsters. This was presumably done in direct response to the criticisms of the combat-heavy Silent Hill: Homecoming.
    • Silent Hill: Downpour has a hammer-wielding Gasmask Longcoat stalker officially called the Bogeyman, who serves as Murphy Pendleton's personal tormentor in the same manner as Pyramid Head. During the final battle, Murphy himself takes the form of the Bogeyman, at least from deuteragonist Anne-Marie Cunningham's point of view.
  • Sir, You Are Being Hunted has The Landowner, the unkillable final boss of the game. Despite being as such, he is able to spawn incredibly early into a run and proceeds to roam the map indefinitely. Should he become aware of the player however, he gains permanent vision of him making hiding impossible and will never stop stalking them. The only way to lose him is to head to a different island.
  • SCP – Containment Breach has most of the hostile SCPs as this. The most prominent ones being:
    • SCP-173, which Can't Move While Being Watched. Your only defense is to keep looking at it, to run away, or to close doors to delay its advance.
    • SCP-096 who will kill you if you look at it. The only way to survive it is avoid eye contact with its face at all times. The second you look at it, you're dead.
    • SCP-106, an Eldritch Abomination with phasing powers who loves to hunt its prey for amusement. You must always avoid letting him see you, otherwise he'll pursue you until he catches you. Unlike the other two examples, he can be deterred and recaptured but it's very difficult to do so.
  • In Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer, going down the dark road near the end of the mobile home park level leads to an encounter with an invincible flying skeleton demon that will inevitably catch and kill you unless you exit the level ASAP.
  • Slender: The Slender Man pursues you for the entire game. You can't fight it, hinder it, or even look at it for much more than a glance (or else it'll kill/take you at an accelerated rate). Your one defense is to run from it while trying to preserve stamina, collecting the 8 pages scattered through the woods, with each page collected making it more aggressive. The kicker is, even when you win and complete the objective of the game, "Slendy" still catches you and apparently kills you, but in an updated version, the player character reappears at the time of day opposite when the game is played.
  • Slender: The Arrival: Aside from Slender Man, this game also adds "The Chaser", a proxy for Slender Man that is the main threat in Level 3. While lacking Slender Man's ability to teleport, the Chaser similarly can't be fought and only fled from, though unlike Slendy there is one defense against them which is focusing the flashlight on them which will cause them to temporarily halt their pursuit due to some discomfort from the light.
  • None of the WAU-infected monsters in Soma can be fought; getting too close causes Simon to black out, forcing you to run or hide. It turns out this is because Simon is an Artificial Zombie, and the monsters are giving off so much electromagnetism that his mechanical components break down in close proximity. As it turns out, most of them were too strong to be stopped by the PATHOS-II personnel, who were usually forced to flee when confronted by them — or risk being violently incorporated into the WAU's Lotus-Eater Machine.
  • In Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion, the hostile specimens cannot be fought and all you can do is continue running from them from room to room, until you eventually lose them. If they catch you, they will attack you and eventually kill you.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2 has Phanto, a Floating Mask that pursues you whenever you grab a key and never stops hunting you... while you're holding the key. Dropping it causes it to leave, but it returns once you pick it up. There's a glitch that allows you to kill it, but it's very difficult to pull off. It's outright impossible to kill in Super Mario Maker 2 and, since you cannot drop the keys you collect in this game (this includes the Cursed Key Phanto is watching over), you cannot drive it away temporarily either, so your only salvation is to open a locked door with it.
  • Gahan Wilson's The Ultimate Haunted House occasionally unleashes a monster on you, and unlike the other supernatural inhabitants of the House, they are automatically hostile towards you. As Gahan himself helpfully informs you, they cannot be placated, fought or defeated in any way. All you can do is leave the room as quickly as possible, or risk getting Cursed. For good measure, angering the House will result in monsters showing up more often.
    • Idols will actually turn a given enemy into one of these until they're destroyed, and they're often locked behind windows that don't drop until everything they aren't protecting is dead. Some of the game's hardest encounters are made so by an Idol turning a Degraded Boss or a Demonic Spider into one of these until everything else is dead.
    • In 0-S, Something Wicked is an invincible monster that chases you in a pitch-black maze. While shooting it with the revolver stops it temporarily, it respawns to another location to continue the chase until you beat the level.
  • In Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, you cannot kill the pseudo-yeti that you encounter in the Ice Level. The point of the level is to run away from him, while shooting with a small pistol with a Bottomless Magazine, until you deal him enough damage to activate a scripted sequence where he leaves, synonym of your victory. However, if you play with the "Choose your Weapon" bonus option, you can use the "innocent" one-shot Tranquilizer pistol, and it will work better than anything.
  • Throughout most of the Zork franchise, Grues are a very clear example of this: a breed of unseen monsters that dwell only in darkness, they will kill and eat anyone that isn't carrying a light with them. There's no way of fighting them, and the only way to avoid being eaten is to either leave as soon as possible or have a light of some kind ready. For added fun, they can be found absolutely anywhere of sufficient darkness: in Return to Zork, they can be found not only in dark forests and mine shafts, but in your hotel room.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-096, AKA The Shy Guy. It will kill anyone who looks at its face. However, it doesn't matter how you look at its face, be it in person, via a security camera, or even a photo. It will somehow sense anyone who has seen its face and will hunt them down no matter where they are with nothing able to deter it until it has accomplished its goal. It's also borderline Nigh-Invulnerable (its flesh can be damaged, but it'll simply regenerate over time, it doesn't seem to actually need any of its organs or blood to live, and its bones seem to be indestructible), with many attempts made to exterminate it that have ended in failure.
    • SCP-173 is a Living Statue that Can't Move While Being Watched. It is, in all respects, unkillable, and the only defense against it is to maintain eye contact with it at all times. In one story, 173 proves capable of reproducing, resulting in a disastrous breakout, massacre and a cataclysm that consumes all of North and South America. The Foundation is able to reduce their numbers via saturation nuclear bombing... and then a few more show up in Wales.
    • SCP-4666, AKA The Yule Man. It can't be stopped, it can't be fought, and to date, none of the Foundation's teams have succeeded in catching up with it yet; for good measure, the Yule Man prefers attacking isolated rural locations in the dead of night, meaning that there's nobody around to help you. If you're a member of the family targeted, the only thing you can do is run... and that's only worked once.
  • The Apathy from RWBY. While they are not particularly aggressive or physically threatening, they are perhaps one of the most terrifying types of Grimm seen in the franchise. These gaunt, slow-moving creatures as similar in behavior to a horde of zombies, and gather in large numbers wherever they establish themselves. Their namesake comes from their ability to generate a cloud of increasing apathy over an area, slowly draining victims' of their will until they simply lay down and die. Brunswick Farm became infested by a horde of the Apathy after an ill-advised attempt to use them to "take the edge off" the stressed settlers. Instead, the horde grew to massive size in the waterways beneath the settlement and the entire settlement eventually died in their sleep. Team RWBY eventually encounter the creatures after seeing numerous signs of their presence, and are nearly killed when their weapons prove ineffective. Even running proves futile, because the Horde's scream enhances their draining effect until even crawling away becomes too much work. The only method shown to work against the Apathy is the power of Ruby's Silver Eyes — this buys the group enough time to escape and burn the settlement down. The Apathy aren't slowed down by the flames, but at least the death trap of the settlement is destroyed.

    Web Videos 
  • The Slender Man Mythos features one of these as the main character: the eponymous monster is not only unkillable by known means, but his sheer power means that few of his victims ever get a chance to try attacking him. Most of the stories featuring him end with Slendy winning hands-down, and on the rare occasions in which he does have some kind of weakness, it can't actually do any real damage — it just dissuades him from pursuing his current target.

    Western Animation 
  • In Ben 10: Alien Force, the episode "Paradox" features a transdimensional Eldritch Abomination that causes Rapid Aging in everything it touches. Ben's Team are completely helpless in fighting it and can only run from it. Turns out the creature itself can't be defeated directly, not even by Professor Paradox, and the only means of stopping it is to prevent its existence to begin with.
  • Rick and Morty: Scary Terry is this, unsurprisingly given who he's based off. He pursues Rick and Morty across several dreams, even encouraging them to run, until eventually Morty suggests doing the opposite of what Terry suggests and instead hiding, finally getting Terry off their scent.

Alternative Title(s): Invincible Boogeyman