Sometimes our heroes are faced with a foe they simply cannot withstand. Not only is it a fight they cannot win, it's a fight they have no hope of even surviving. There isn't even a way to win by dying. They have two options: run away, or be butchered.
This enemy is usually rare and always notorious. Its very presence may inspire panic. Perhaps they're The Dreaded, or even the Hero Killer. Perhaps it's not an individual, but The Swarm or The Corruption. In any case, anyone who fights it is screwed, and anyone who could possibly end up fighting it knows it.
The key to this trope is that the threat is very powerful, but also impossible to predict. After all, if you can see it coming and avoid it, then it's not very scary, is it? But when it could show up almost anywhere, virtually without warning, and there's nothing you can do but hope to escape, then that's terrifying.
Of course, none of this will keep our heroes from fighting it sooner or later. If encountered early in the story, it may require a Heroic Sacrifice from one character to allow the rest to escape. If the sacrificial character is wounded, he may insist that I Will Only Slow You Down; either way, expect him to tell the enemy that You Shall Not Pass! before making his Last Stand. If no sacrificial characters are available, then someone may show up unexpectedly and tell the heroes to Come with Me If You Want to Live. If the foe isn't fought until later in the story, it will probably be after the heroes have discovered its Achilles' Heel, or somehow dramatically increased their Power Levels (through a Super Mode, Dangerous Forbidden Technique, or whatever), and it will still be a difficult fight. If it's fought both early and late, then the latter fight will be a Heroic Rematch.
In Video Games, may be a Hopeless Boss Fight where dying doesn't result in the plot continuing. If the only option you ever have is running, then it's probably an Endless Running Game. Compare Don't Ask, Just Run.
- While Ash and co. are seasoned Trainers and well capable of defending themselves against wild Pokemon, there are two Pokemon that, when faced with, they'll run their asses off away from: Ursaring and Beedrill. It's notable that other, often stronger Trainers usually share this philosophy as well. The one time Ash tried to fight back against a wild Ursaring, Pikachu landed one solid hit and the bear went ballistic. At that point, the heroes booked it out of there.
- They also have this reaction in an early episode when they come up against a Gyarados. To make things worse, it just evolved from a Magikarp that James had angrily kicked, and it is pissed.
- During the Soul Society arc, Yoruichi advises Ichigo and friends to run if they meet up with a Soul Society captain. Chad ignores the advice and ends up getting captured. Uryu uses a Dangerous Forbidden Technique to beat one, then loses immediately afterwards, in front of a second. Yoruichi, being a former captain, should have realized it'd be impossible for them to run from any captain that actually cared to follow. Indeed, when fighting Kenpachi Zaraki, Ichigo noted that running away is pointless because anybody strong enough to beat him is also going to be fast enough to chase him down.
- During the Fake Karakura Town Arc, Gin Ichimaru informs Ichigo (who's been in a quite a bit of a slump up to that point) that he's in one of these situations.
- This is the Karakura crew's entire strategy when Aizen busts into the real Karakura Town. With no spiritual powers whatsoever, Tatsuki, Keigo and others have no option but to run as Aizen slowly chases them down. Worst part? The only reason they survived was because Aizen was toying with them. If he had decided to kill them instantly, they would be dead.
- One Piece had one of these come out of virtually nowhere during the Saboady Archipelago arc. It was probably the biggest Plot Twist ever seen since the manga started back in The '90s.
- Done even more significantly in the following arc, Impel Down. Luffy and the prisoners he's broken out are making their escape. Hot on their tails is the prison warden, Magellan. Normally taking on one guy wouldn't be a problem for Luffy and his allies, except Magellan's power is generating poison, and he's one of the most powerful characters seen at that point in the series, on his own domain, which he would protect at all costs.
- Done to a less extent with Smoker. Before the timeskip his intangibility made him invulnerable to the Straw Hats and a very dangerous threat to them, so much that they just ran whenever they encountered him.
- Basically, Authority Equals Asskicking is usually in effect among both pirates and the Marines. Pre-Time Skip, any rank below Captain was little more than a Mook, while a Captain would be a tough one-on-one fight for most of the Straw Hats. A Vice-Admiral could beat an individual crew member, but could be taken down by most or all of the crew working together. A full Admiral? Run. Just run.
- High-ranking demons in Slayers. Short of employing a Dangerous Forbidden Technique, they're Physical Gods that can shrug off any attack and kill you with a snap of a finger.
- Serena Rinnen from Tower of God gives Phonsekal Laure this gem:
- ''Because I am not great or powerful like you, I spent 80% of my life just running away. Hundreds, no, thousands of times I have run, and because I have, I can be even more sure: Now is the time to run!"
- In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Kenichi's masters are furious when Kenichi tries to take on a Master-Class sword-fighter by himself, claiming that the only acceptable course of action in that situation would have been to run for his life. Seeing as how even the most worthless Master-Class fighter could easily kill Kenichi in one hit and that he survived that fight mostly through sheer luck, this is an understandable reaction on their part. Though in his absence they praise him for being able to survive that and for having the guts to try that.
- In Naruto, during the Third Ninja War there was a "Flee on sight" order on the Fourth Hokage to-be, with this heavily implied.
- Invoked in Sekirei. When the Black Sekirei, Karasuba, decides to fight the weaker duo of Mitsuha and Akitsu, the latter tells the former to run or she'll die. Mitsuha ignores the warning and is quickly killed while Akitsu ran away and lived.
- Tokyo Ghoul has two legendary figures that bring this trope into play.
- The One-Eyed Owl, a legendary Ghoul that rarely leaves survivors when fought. The mother of Akira Mado and the father of Kuki Urie each died performing a Heroic Sacrifice to allow their respective squads to escape the Owl, as simply running isn't possible. Without someone to stay behind and fight, there would be no way to outrun the Owl's Super Speed and Flechette Storm.
- Special Class Kishou Arima, a legendary Investigator known as the "Undefeated Investigator". He is the one person even the Owl cannot defeat, causing it to flee rather than continue fighting. His other alias, "CCG's Reaper", explains perfectly how feared he is among the Ghoul population. Even protagonist Kaneki cannot accomplish more than scratching his cheek, and is left on the verge of death after encountering him.
- An early Silver Age Captain America story has Rick Jones seeing Cap is in trouble and a Mook tries to silence him. Rick manages to take him down and a mate with a club as well, but as others are approaching, Rick remembers Cap's lesson that only a fool fights impossible odds. So, Rick decides he must make a break for it to get help and manages to escape. Just as the goons decide that they can subdue Captain America and get away before The Cavalry can arrive, Cap appears and takes them on considering for a One-Man Army like himself, two dozen to one is hardly impossible odds to him.
- This is pretty much the only option that most people have when Lady Shiva is after them. Even then, running isn't always enough, and one just has to hope against hope that she decides to spare them for her own inexplicable reasons.
- In Red Robin Tam Fox notes that these are her only options when the Council of Spiders shows up and starts brutally murdering the League of Assassins ninjas she's being held by. Luckily for her Tim figures out he needs to get back to her location and he manages to bring the cave down on the attacker's heads.
- In Bird, the mysterious masked man forces Taylor and Mimi to run and hide the first time they encounter him. The man is actually Hatchetface, possesses super strength, and his aura shuts down other parahuman powers. As Taylor and Mimi are both unarmed teenage girls, without powers they are completely helpless.
- Fall of Liberty: The undead hordes are so large that anyone who attempts to fight them head on is quickly overrun or infected themselves. The main reason Niko and the gang manage to survive is because, when they face the undead, they are prepared to run rather than fight and die pointlessly.
- Fate/Reach Out: Yomotsu-Ikusa and Yomotsu-Shikome merits this reaction from Izanagi. Makes sense given his myth. They were mythological demons sent by Izanami to chase after him once he abandoned her, and Fuyuki Park is basically an entrance to Yomi.
Izanagi: Run. For thine sake, RUN!
- Pokémon Reset Bloodlines: When Ash is captured by Hunter J, Misty tries to brave her fears against some Beedrill (she's still afraid of Bugs). She quickly dispatches a few of them, but when a swarm of hundreds shows up, she has no choice but to run away. Even though she berates herself for it, Ash's Pokédex points out that she wouldn't have been able to do anything if she got herself killed, and now she has a chance to find Ash safely.
- Waking Nightmares: When Medic and Engineer first face Nightmare Doctor, they turn and run.
- Traveler: If someone happens across a Legendary, the answer is almost always to simply run like hell. Even though most aren't actively malevolent, they're so ungodly powerful that fighting them simply isn't an option.
- During the Ice Time (a time when every water and ice type in the Seafoam Islands is empowered), Ash barely defeats a Dewgong only to come across four others with pups, marking them as mothers. Ash doesn't even try to fight and simply flees as fast as possible. He later passes on the same advice to Gary when the latter decides to train there.
- Becoming Lífþrasir: Having been completely caught off-guard by the Red Death, the Hooligans are forced to make a Tactical Withdrawal while Cattongue/Hiccup and his dragon riders fend it off.
- In Hercules, after the Hydra's head is cut off, three more grow in its place. Having had enough trouble while fighting the monster with one head, Hercules had no choice but to run away from three snapping heads.
- Phantoms from Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. They're limitless in number and their touch is instantly lethal (via pulling out your soul); any fight against them is necessarily a delaying action until you can retreat... or a Last Stand.
- In It (1990), when the Losers return to Derry as adults, Pennywise appears before each of them, warning them to get out while they can. IT explicitly states to Richie that he and the rest of the Losers are too old to stop IT now. Later, when they enter the sewers at the film's climax, IT warns them again to leave by threatening to drive them all insane.
- In the various Jurassic Park films, this is about the only thing the heroes can do against the most dangerous dinosaurs, particularly the Tyrannosaurus rex.
- In the original The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf simply says of the Balrog "The counter-spell was terrible. It almost broke me... swords are no use here!" and a little later "this foe is beyond any of you." In the film, after explaining to them what a Balrog is, he helpfully adds "...RUN!"
- The Agents from The Matrix, providing the page quote. The sequels downgrade most of them to Elite Mooks at best for Neo after he's become the One, though they still remain significant threats to humans other than him and Smith remains the most dangerous of them all. It's implied that no one ever managed to kill an Agent before the movie, but even if you do it's pointless because death is a No-Sell to them: even if a normal non-Neo rebel manages to kill an Agent (taking it by surprise with a contact-shot to the head, luring it in front of a subway train, unloading a helicopter-mounted minigun at it, etc.) all this does is kill the bluepill human body they were downloaded into at the time. The actual Agent program then simply body-hops into another nearby bluepill human within a minute or two.
- In Suffragette the police are this. Though the main cast don't want to use violence anyway, it is likely that they, being unarmed, wouldn't stand a chance against the police.
- In the original Terminator, though the sequels tend to focus more on the Terminators fighting each other.
- Utoya 22 Juli, a reenactment of the Breivik Massacre (which happened on the island Utøya on 22. July 2011) from the perspective of the victims. Said victims, being unarmed and mentally unprepared for a terrorist assault, can't do anything against the terrorist who can rapidly hit them at large distances (> 20 meters), and is protected by a helmet and a bulletproof vest, making stones useless. This is exacerbated by the fact that people attending the Utøya camp were mostly nonaggressive. They can only run.
- In Star Trek Into Darkness, this is the situation that Captain Kirk finds himself in when he faces off against the USS Vengeance, a Dreadnought-class warship commanded by Insane Admiral Marcus, and decides to book it into warp rather than face a Curb-Stomp Battle. Unfortunately for him and the Enterprise, the Vengeance quickly proves itself capable of catching up to other ships at warp, and the Enterprise soon gets the crap beaten out of her.
- In Robert E. Howard's Iron Shadows in the Moon and The Pool of the Black One, Conan the Barbarian faces this. But then, both times he was dealing with what were effectively Eldritch Abominations.
- The Labyrinth dragons in The Death Gate Cycle are so dangerous (Even by the standards of a Death World where the inhabitants face Everything Trying to Kill You — including the geography) that most people run for their lives if they even think that there's one in the area. If they do fight, it isn't to kill the dragon, it's to force the dragon to kill them quickly instead of slowly torturing them to death. The only Patryn in the history of the Labyrinth to fight a dragon and win is Xar.
- The Dresden Files: Shagnasty the Skinwalker swiftly becomes this in Turn Coat. Harry himself backed up by a trio of heavily armed vampires and an army of mooks with machine guns can't stop it. It takes Harry using Soulfire, on an island giving him a power boost, and backed up by a member of the White Council (the most powerful wizards in the business) to fight the thing to a draw, and even then it's still alive. One has been killed by a wizard... who kept running until he lured it into the blast zone of a nuclear bomb.
- The main characters in Eden Green are infected with an alien needle symbiote that renders them immortal. They decide to team up and use their new Healing Factor to fight the monsters invading their city. But more than one species, especially the nausea-inspiring Exes, cause them to turn tail and run screaming in the other direction.
- The Osthan of The First Dwarf King are Made of Indestructium Super Soldiers who inspire fear in their enemies. The heroes literally stand no chance against them in combat; it's made clear from the start that fighting them is suicidal. Their Establishing Character Moment shows them ruthlessly murder more than one hundred opponents without breaking a sweat — and there are only three of them!
- The tagline for the Goosebumps book "How to Kill a Monster" is "Step One: Run. Step Two: Run Faster."
- The climax of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has Harry forced to fight a Wizard Duel against the recently-resurrected Big Bad Voldemort, with a squad of Death Eaters watching. Although the unforeseen priori incantatem effect is able to hold Voldy off for a while, Harry's only chance for survival is to break off the engagement and use a nearby portkey to return to Hogwarts.
- All over the place in The Hunger Games. If you're a twelve year-old coming face to face with one of the careers, running is your only option. Heck, if you're Katniss coming face to face with the careers, running and hiding in a tree is your only option. The trope is almost flat-out mentioned when Haymitch warns his tributes from trying to snatch supplies at the cornucopia, telling them they won't survive the initial bloodbath (though Peeta actually does in the book - in the movie he runs).
- Steel Inquisitors from Mistborn. Nigh-invincible Blood Knights who are definitely fighting at a higher Super Weight than The Protagonist. There's a fight against one at the end of the first book, and they remain the single biggest threat for the rest of the trilogy. One of Kelsier's Establishing Character Moments comes when he riles one deliberately in order to draw its attention away from Vin, though even he escapes as quickly as possible after that.
- Starfire: The Bugs in David Weber and Steve White's In Death Ground. Given the colonies the military had to protect, running was the worst option.
- Tolkien's Legendarium:
- The Balrog from The Lord of the Rings is far beyond the power of the Fellowship to defeat, making running the only option. The only character who actually manages to kill it is Gandalf himself, but only because he is a Maia like the Balrog, and even then he dies too (he gets better).
- In some version of The Silmarillion, King Finwë was the only inhabitant of Fëanor's fortress of exile who did not run for it when a hostile Melkor approached to steal the Silmarils. He is slain for his trouble, and no surprise, since Melkor is the most powerful being ever created by God. Fighting him, for an Elf or a Man, is a losing proposition.
- This occurs when Ryoka tries to make her delivery to the High Passes in The Wandering Inn. She tries to fight off the goblins and Carn Wolves. But when carnivorous goats arrive and start to eat the wolves and then gargoyles arrive and start to eat the goats it becomes apparent that she is the very bottom of the food chain.
- The Wheel of Time:
- It introduces several enemies like this in the first book alone. People don't enter the abandoned city of Shadow's Waiting unless they're forced to, because the evil that killed it is still trapped there and looking for new victims. People don't enter the Ways unless they're desperate, because the magic that created them was corrupted, and now they're haunted by the Black Wind That Steals Souls. And people don't enter the Blight unless they're suicidal, because, well...
- Subverted gloriously in the fourth book. Nynaeve finds herself unexpectedly confronted with Moghedien, one of the Forsaken and someone Nynaeve has been raised to believe is a Nigh Invulnerable evil demigod. Moghedien seems to be toying with Nynaeve, who is determined to escape knowing that she'll die when the Forsaken gets serious and turns her full strength against her - and then Nynaeve realizes that Moghedien is using her full strength, she's not actually any stronger with the One Power than Nynaeve herself, and she's not toying, she's stalling. Cue beatdown that ends with Moghedien being the one to run with her tail between her legs.
- In The Zombie Knight, hearing that The Dragon of Abolish was coming caused a Vanguard general (herself no slouch) and her squad to instantly abandon the country they were defending, even though backup was less than a day away. They talk about him like a freaking natural disaster.
From all reports, progress was good. Jacksons men were estimated to arrive in less than ten hours. Salazars troops had not even seen any fighting yet.
Then a name reached them.
Gohvis. Bearing down on them from the north.
- Near the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5, the Scooby Gang decide this is all they can do against Glorificus.
- Earlier in "Becoming Part 1" vampires attack the gang in the library and Cordelia immediately runs away. When she returns in the next episode she jokes about how far away she got before realising nobody was actually chasing her. Buffy tells her running was the right thing to do anyway.
- Doctor Who:
- One of the Doctor's catchphrases is some variation on "When I say Run, run.... RUN!".
- "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead": This is all you can do against the Vashta Nerada. Seriously, the characters are never once able to take offensive action against them. The Doctor only gets them to back off by threatening to do something unpleasant based on his reputation, with no evidence in sight of how he would actually make good on it.
- Your odds against the Weeping Angels from "Blink" and "The Time of Angels"/"Flesh and Stone", also Steven Moffat episodes, are only slightly better. By being very lucky, our heroes trick them into being stuck in the former and being destroyed in the latter.
- "Resolution": Soldiers confront an "unknown drone" detected flying through restricted airspace. After the "drone", a Dalek recon scout in Improvised Armour, No-Sells all of the soldiers' small-arms fire and reveals it has rockets, the soldier in charge orders his troops to run for it.
- This is a universal reaction from any character in Firefly when Reavers are encountered. Given what they do to those whose ships they take, it is very, very justified.
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation, this initially looks like the only possible chance the Enterprise crew has to survive their first encounter with the Borg. It is subverted when the Borg are shown to be capable of running just a little faster and slowing the Enterprise down.
- In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, at the start of the second season, Cameron takes damage to her processor and reverts to her default orders to kill John Connor. Through the entire episode, the only thing the Connors can really do is run the hell away from her as she doggedly pursues them. The only thing that stops her is pinning her between two tractor trailers and cutting her central processor out of her head.
- From "Sonic Attack" by Hawkwind:
In the case of sonic attack, survival must mean every man for himself. Statistically, more people survive if they think only of themselves. Do not stop to rescue friends, relatives or loved ones, or you will inevitably die.
- From "Run (I Am a Natural Disaster)" by Gnarls Barkley
Either run right now or you best get ready to dieYou better move!I said move!Run away! Run away!Run children! Run for your life!Run away! Run away!Run children! Oh!Here it comes, said run!
- Cyrano de Bergerac: At act I, Actor Montfleury, who has dared defy Cyrano's prohibition to act, makes his choice after Cadet Cyrano claps a third time: He runs for his life. Later, The Bore also makes his choice, when after bothering Cyrano too much, he literally kicks his ass. It was the correct choice for both of them.
- Bendy and the Ink Machine: You had better run away from "Bendy." In Chapter 1, you're safe because he's behind something that is boarded up (though considering his strength and his teleportation abilities, it's unclear why he doesn't chase you). You still have to run away because the entire studio is being flooded, which is possibly Bendy's doing anyway. In Chapter 2, Sammy Lawrence summons him. As you're trying to escape, he shows up in a jump scare by using a pool of ink to teleport directly in front of you. In Chapter 3, he will teleport around the levels you're doing "Alice's" errands on and you need to hide. Even if you manage to unlock the tommy gun, there's no damage it can deal him. In Chapter 4, he doesn't come after you, but a fight between him and the Projectionist shows what happens to strong characters who don't run or hide from "Bendy."
- Final Fantasy:
- Bahamut from Final Fantasy III. You encounter him very early in the game, and if you don't run then he'll kill you on turn one.
- The "Guardian" mecha in Final Fantasy VI is used as Border Patrol. You can finally fight and defeat it in the endgame.
- The spider robot during the Dollet mission in Final Fantasy VIII, which appears unexpectedly and chases the party all the way back to the evacuation point. It doesn't have a particularly powerful offense, but it's impossible to kill (except at one point) and it appears during a Timed Mission so you can't waste too much time fighting it.
- Fire Emblem:
- In Thracia 776, as soon as Galzus steps out of the castle in chapter 6, it's time to haul ass in the other direction. Your units at this point have no business even starting to fight a swordfighter with Astra, Luna, and the three most relevant combat stats maxed out. (Besides, killing him with precipitous RNG abuse now prevents you from recruiting him at the end of the game.) The trick is in finding time to visit the houses in town for loot, and not letting your party get log-jammed too much trying to escape, before Galzus starts hunting you down.
- Similar to Galzus, Vaida in Blazing Blade first appears as a ridiculously overpowered enemy thanks to her Spear being enchanted with Nergal's magic. It's highly recommended that you stay out of her attack range and focus on defense, since the mission only requires you to survive for 12 turns rather than defeat every enemy. And also like Galzus, while she is killable if you're clever and/or over-levelled enough, doing so prevents you from recruiting her later on.
- Path of Radiance: Stepping past a certain threshold in chapter 11 prompts the Black Knight to mosey onto the field. Due to his stats and literal Plot Armor making him an walking wall of death, it'd be best to run to the escape point. Subverted the next time he pops up in chapter 24, where he will stand at the start of the map and just observe so long as no one goes into his range. Can possibly be played straight again when the time comes for Ike to duel with him - if his stats are simply not good enough to survive 5 turns with the Knight, you have the option of just booking it.
- Shadow Dragon: Once you reach the prison in Prologue 4, the Sable Knights arrive. They're all Level 11 knights, when you'll be lucky to have a Level 6 character. In-universe, Malledus suggests leaving a decoy to draw them off (and you have to in order to open the door to the end of the map). They can be kept from arriving at all by killing Gordin instead of recruiting him, which given his miserable growths isn't a loss, but otherwise, run.
- Team Fortress 2:
- On a typical match, if you see a Pyro taunting with the phlogistinator, in the middle of battle, and the weapon is glowing, run away. The Pyro is literally invincible until the taunt is finished, and when it's finished the Pyro will unleash crits. Which means if you're dumb enough to stay right next to him, you die. Pretty much instantly. Your body will become ashes.
- You are doing good on the game and you turn around a corner and see... An ubercharged Heavy. What makes this worse is the visual effect that it gives to both the Medic and his partner, which is their entire body with it's team color with a very, very terrifying eye and expression.
- Invoked in Halo: Combat Evolved when you first encounter the Flood. After the cutscene introducing them, the game changes your mission objectives to, quite simply, "Escape!". You can try to kill every Flood you see, but the cost in health and ammo will be high; you're better off running from most of them and fighting only when you can't avoid it.
- Anyone who's played the Etrian Odyssey games long enough to encounter a FOE (which isn't very long) will tell you that unless you're massively overleveled for the floor you're on, you run the hell away from them. One particular case in Heroes of Lagaard is Salamox, who's nest you need to steal a MacGuffin from for a mission early on in the game. The chancellor, as well as the game itself, warn you that if you try to fight past it, you will die. They aren't kidding.
- Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (which is a spiritual crossover between Etrian Odyssey and Persona) has your advisors freak out the first time they spot an FOE and beg you to run if you get caught. They aren't being overly cautious - you need to be at levels appropriate for midway through the next labyrinth before an FOE becomes less of a struggle.
- Persona Q has a special story example in the Old Doll, a special FOE which appears in the Evil Spirit Club. There are a few enemies which chase the party, but only the Old Doll will do it across multiple rooms. And it's faster than you. Faced with it chasing them, the party have no choice but to run like hell and try to find a way to trap it. You actually have to get into a fight with it in order to trap it, as in order to lure it into the trap you have to let it get close enough that it will catch up. Unless you're on a New Game+, you can't kill it - you have to escape from the battle and keep running.
- Silent Hill:
- The series' infamous Pyramid Head is an example in all of his incarnations. He's completely invincible to any form of attack the characters have access to. Even when he is finally "defeated", it's less because anyone harmed him and more because his purpose was complete, so he committed suicide.
- Silent Hill: Shattered Memories has no combat at all. You are told early on that running away from the enemy monsters is your only means of escaping the Otherworld. You also have the ability to hide, but it's pretty darn useless.
"You have to run, Daddy. You can't fight them. Run!"
- Silent Hill: Downpour channels the Otherworld Chases of Shattered Memories with the Void chases; when it appears you pull a 180 and run, throwing anything you can in its path to slow it down.
- Sonic Adventure has "ZERO", a robot that pursues Amy Rose and her avian companion "Birdie" throughout her stages. With the exception of their final encounter as a boss, "ZERO" cannot be defeated: hitting it with Amy's hammer will knock it over, but it will eventually get back up; and it will keep getting up more quickly the more it is hit until it becomes impervious to Amy's hammer strikes. The only way to survive an encounter with "ZERO" is to high-tail it to the end of the stage.
- Spider-Man features Monster Ock as the game's final "boss", which is used very loosely, because to beat him, there's only thing you can do, run and webswing out as fast as you can before the base completely blows up, or you die.
- Guild Wars:
- In Prophecies, the last part of the "Great Northern Wall" mission has the character running away from a large group of Charr.
- Later, one mission has you running from an army of Mursaat. If you attempt to fight, the party will die in seconds, due to the Mursaats' ridiculously powerful Spectral Agony attack. It is only after you have your armor "Infused" with spells to neutralize that attack that you can fight them on equal terms.
- In Eye of the North, the quests in Kamadan, Kaineng, and Lion's Arch that take the character to the Eye of the North areas end with the player running away from destroyer groups.
- Prince of Persia: Warrior Within has your encounters with the Dahaka except in the true ending, by which point you'll have a weapon that can kill it. All you can do is run away and try to find somewhere where it can't get to you.
- In Metroid Fusion, the SA-X is ridiculously overpowered compared to Samus, being comparable to your power level at the end of Super Metroid and Samus being gimped by her new weakness to cold and a suit that doesn't protect her much. Your friendly AI commander actually gives you this instruction in as many words. As you progress through the game, you go from hiding, to running from, to preventing from following, and finally fighting at the very end of the game.
- True to the film series, the video game adaptation of Terminator Salvation treats the T-600 series like this, especially the first few times you run into them. They're insanely durable, have mini-guns as their default weapons, and just keep coming. If you try and stay and fight the first time just one shows up, it will kill you. Later battles are only possible to win because you have lots of cover, explosives, and gun emplacements of your own.
- Every enemy in Amnesia: The Dark Descent. You have no means of self-defense, so if you encounter a monster, your only hope is to run as fast as you can and hide until the monster stops chasing you.
- The "Tycoon Wil" scenario in Saga Frontier 2 - it's a Hopeless Boss Fight in which all you can do is defend until the "Run" option comes up enough times for the ending cutscene to trigger.
- The Hunter in Dead Space. You can attack it if you want, but it won't have any effect beyond briefly slowing him down. In order to escape, you have to lead it to the appropriate place to turn it into a Mutant Alien Zombie Popsicle; later on you have to do the whole thing again, but this time you get to Kill It with Fire.
- Even before that, in both games, you're attacked by a swarm of Necromorphs without any weapons, stasis, or kinesis. Your only hope is to flee.
- After the planetary shield drops in F.A.K.K.2, tough new enemies appear and Julie straight up declares that fighting them with her current weapons is futile. They technically can be killed, but it requires the better part of your current arsenal's ammo cap to down even one, so it's pretty awesome when your shiny new toys later in the game can grind them to hamburger.
- In one of the third round of missions in Jedi Academy, a mutated rancor appears and you have to run away from it through the entire level (while fighting dozens of dark Jedi) until you can achieve an environmental kill. In an earlier level, you have to help prisoners escape from a rancor pit, usually by leading the rancor away from their group while they Run Or Die.
- The first two Paper Mario games have Clefts. If examined, you'll be warned that sometimes there's no shame in running, as they have so much defense that you can potentially find yourself incapable of harming them at all without the right items or moves ready. The truest example of this would be the "Invincible" Tubba Blubba from the first game, as if you battle him prior to finding out his weakness, you'll be completely incapable of harming him, thus making escape your only option.
- There's one fight in the second game you can't win, though losing that one instead of running away doesn't result in Game Over anyway.
- Mother 3. The Chimera Factory. The Ultimate Chimera. If it touches you or any member of your party, that's it. No Hopeless Boss Fight, just a cutscene where the Chimera chomps down and the screen quickly turns red before you get to the Game Over screen. It shows up again on the bathroom floor of the Empire Porky Building, just to give you a Jump Scare.
- Live A Live. The Behemoth, present in Cube's chapter, acts like the above trope: facing it doesn't even prompts you a Hopeless Boss Fight, just a grim Game Over screen. Granted, this chapter is emulating a survival horror setting, and your Playable Character, being a maintenance robot, is very ill-equipped for dealing with any kind of threats. To the point that the Behemoth can be defeated eventually, but by an NPC, not you. Said NPC being an armed soldier tasked with this creature's escort, so it's justified plenty.
- Fatal Frame final boss ghosts are like this whenever you encounter them prior to the end of the game. All of the games have a sequence where the main character must just run the hell away from the invincible ghost, lest she catch you and end your game instantly (interestingly, with the exception of the Kusabi, all of these ghosts are female). The third game has the Final Boss as a random encounter throughout (hint:RUN!), and also reintroduces the Kusabi from II in the Minakami Village areas. Though you can fight him off once or twice, it's really a better idea to just flee. He's freaking tough.
- In the PS2 remake of Tales of Destiny, if you run around in one place with all your party members set to Auto for grinding purposes, bonus boss and Tales Of Destiny 2 antagonist Barbatos Goetia will eventually show up and exclaim that he's giving you the choice to run away or die. He's not kidding, since even if you do somehow manage to get his HP to zero, he'll just keep on fighting.
- Tales of Phantasia has a Hell Lord monster infesting one area of the Slyph Mountain. If encountered, it will casts a powerful summon spell to kill off an entire party in one blow, forcing you to keep retreating until you solve a dungeon puzzle to get rid of it. Fortunately, running away from it is pretty easy to do.
- World of Warcraft: In the dungeon Halls of Reflection, after beating a couple preliminary bosses the final "boss" consists of running from the Lich King until help arrives.
- Pikmin 2 features the Water Wraith in one dungeon, which cannot be killed except with a Pikmin variety that cannot be brought in and can only be created at the last floor. Once it drops down, you haul ass to the exit.
- Before you even begin playing the actual game, you get a bit of expository text at the beginning of Outlast telling you, amongst other things, that Miles cannot physically fight back against anyone and that running and hiding are your only methods of survival.
"You are not a fighter; to navigate the horrors of Mount Massive and expose the truth, your only choices are to run, hide, or die."
- In the Mega Man Battle Network series, randomly encountering a stronger version of a boss you've defeated in the past when you're not prepared for it is quite likely to become a case of this, as they tend to be much tougher then the previous version.
- In a rather sadistic design choice, the option to flee was removed in the fourth game, making it entirely possible to suddenly end up stuck in a battle with something that can kill you in one or two hits on top of potentially having more HP then the final boss. They weren't nice enough to make you not get a game over for losing, either.
- In Mass Effect 3, the Reapers, at least in the Galaxy Map. As you explore the Galaxy looking for Plot Coupons and War Assets, you run a risk of attracting the Reapers' attention every time you use your ship's sensors (without the sensors, you can't find anything). When the Reapers finally notice you, the Reaper Horn blares, and it's time to run. Getting caught by one of the Reapers is an automatic Non-Standard Game Over, no matter how good of an Ace Pilot Joker is. There are only three missions in the game where you can directly engage the Reapers, and it's always with some kind of outside help from allied forces.
- In a secret mission in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, you awaken a Protoss/Zerg hybrid just after setting the base's generators to overload. You don't have the firepower to take it down (and even if you did, it's invincible), so you're forced to run from it as you try to make your escape from the secret base. For the most part, it's an Advancing Boss of Doom, and it's possible to slow it down using an alien-tech "Chrono Rift Device", and other delaying actions are also possible. At one point, however, the invincible foe disappears from sensors, which is actually worse than knowing where it is; when it inevitably reappears, it does so very close to you.
- In Persona 3, as you explore Tartarus, if you linger too long on any given floor, The Grim Reaper will show up. He can be fought, but it's a very, very bad idea. One of Elizabeth's last Requests is to kill him; it's doable by that point, but unless you know how to cheat the system, you're still likely to die a few (dozen) times. The same thing happens in Persona 5; if you dick around too long on one floor and you start hearing chains, it's time to haul ass in the other direction. (Unless he's sick with the flu, in which case 72,050 free experience for you!)
- At the end of the prologue in Baldur's Gate, the beginning-level Player Character and their mid-level mentor Gorion are ambushed by the Big Bad Sarevok and some minions. Gorion stays to fight while telling the Player Character to flee, which they do. He kills or disables the others and holds off Sarevok for a while, but hasn't really got a chance. When you actually fight Sarevok at the end of the game, at least he's got only about two to two and a half times your levels...
- At a couple points in Condemned 2: Bloodshot, the interface itself says "RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!", most memorably when you first encounter the rabid grizzly bear.
- In The Lord of the Rings Online, there's the Session Play Instance "The Fall Of Moria". You play as a dwarf alongside Durin and break down a cave wall to find Mithril. Only to end up trapped, facing the Balrog. Yes, the same one that Gandalf fights in the future, mentioned above under Film. Your quest objective? Survive then, Escape.
- Nemesis and Tyrant T-101 come close to this in Resident Evil, but you actually can fight them. The Ustanak in the sixth installment plays this very straight in his first appearance: When he shows up, you run your ass off.
- Clock Tower 2: When you hear this, you run for dear life until you find either a place to hide or a means to drive him away.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim opens with the player in Helgen as it's attacked by a dragon. There's no hope of fighting it, since being a condemned (possible) criminal, you have no weapons, magic, or armor, your hands are bound so you cannot use the weapons of those who die against the dragon, and it's invincible anyway. And if you stay in the open long enough, it'll kill everything else then notice and come after you. Said dragon turns out to be none other than Alduin, the Big Bad himself, and he had come to Helgen to kill you specifically.
- In OFF, a few turns into your first fight with Enoch, the Batter will warn you that he's too huge, and urge you to flee. When you do run, he begins chasing you down the hallway from his office, and the process is repeated if he catches you. Defeating him is technically possible, but he has 99999 HP (over eight times as much as Sugar) and higher Defense and Spirit than anything/anyone else in the game other than Hugo and the Ballmen, but Hugo doesn't attack you, and you don't fight the Ballmen as the Batter. You get no experience/credits/items for attempting to fight him, and the game continues as though you fled.
- F.3.A.R features the appropriately named multiplayer mode "Fucking Run", in which you must... well... run to escape a supernatural Wall of Death and reach safe zones. Fans and critics alike praised the mode for being downright intense.
- In Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion, your only real option when faced with one of the Specimens (other than the harmless Specimen 01) is to keep running until you lose it. You eventually get an axe, but it's effectiveness ranges from barely flinching a foe to stunning it for a room to mutating it into a stronger form.
- In Fallout 4, during an early mission for the Railroad, Deacon gives the player this advice regarding Coursers, elite model synths. Generation 1 and 2 synths are obviously-mechanical (though sleek, white, and rounded as opposed to the Retro Future look of other robots) and are deployed as Mecha-Mooks, while gen 3 models are indistinguishable from humans and used to gather intelligence in the wasteland. Coursers are gen 3s that are programmed purely for combat — basically making them an Expy for Terminators — and they are every free synth's worst nightmare, charged with hunting them down and taking them back to be "retained" by the Institute.
- Dynasty Warriors: If you see Lu Bu, run away. Players new to the series will doubtlessly be cut down as though they were a mook. He is the most powerful character in the series, and once he shows up, your only hope of survival is running away and completing the mission objective before he catches up.
- Dawn of War: Retribution: The second level of the campaign sics a Baneblade on your heroes before there's any chance to bring troops. It also handily serves to introduce the "Fall Back" mechanic (your units move a lot faster towards the closest rally point, but are uncontrollable), as well as the Cast from Money revival when one hero is inevitably killed. The Baneblade keeps pursuing you until the very end of the level, where you hack some heavy turrets to turn it into scrap.
- Warcraft III: In the second level of the Blood Elf campaign, you start with several barely-defended bases on the mainland that are immediately attacked by vastly more numerous and fully-upgraded undead forces.
- Empire Earth: One Greek campaign mission starts you on a small island. The island's resources are only there to get you a few boats so you can leave, as an unstoppable army makes landfall soon after.
- Averted in Golden Sun: The Lost Age with the Serpent bossfight. It can be fought as soon as you enter its lair, but it regenerates 200 HP per turn (there's only one other boss who regenerates that much, the horrifying Dullahan Bonus Boss). Going through the dungeon to shine light onto it weakens it until it eventually regenerates a much more reasonable 30 HP.
- The survivors can't do any damage to a killer in Dead by Daylight, at most stunning them with a barricade or flashlight. They also run slower than the killers, forcing them to rely on misdirection and quick wits to outsmart them.
- If at any point in Evolve you are the last hunter alive, this is a necessary gameplay mechanic. While certain hunters may be able to evade or slow the monster down for a while, the only real recourse it to survive long enough for the rest of your team to respawn.
- If you happen to come across Chester, a ventriloquist dummy dressed up in a business suit in Emily Wants To Play, the first thing you have to do is to run to the next room before he catches you.
- In Kirby: Planet Robobot, levels 1-1 and 6-8 both end with Kirby getting chased down by a mechanized Whispy Woods, and you have to flee to safety to the left. If you defy the trope to stand and fight, he's actually killable; he drops the first Gold Sticker in 1-1 and the final Code Cube in 6-8.
- Let It Die: If you stay on any floor too long, the Jackal Gang will arrive - each one is Level 200 and has a corresponding fully-upgraded set of gear to match. They become killable if you can get close enough to their level - until you reach floor 42 and they skyrocket to Level 300.
- The Borderlands 2 DLC Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage features a sidemission that partially subverts this. It requires you to allow a fiery badass skag to chase you in a rough circle across the map as exercise. You can kill it as easily as any other badass skag (which may not be that easy depending on the difficulty mode), but that will piss off Tina, its owner, and fail the mission, requiring you to start it over. The mission objectives for each waypoint humorously play this straight.
FOR THE LOVE OF TORGUE, RUN FASTER!!
- The Final Boss of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is Darth Vader himself. Since Vader is in his prime and the player character is an ex-Padawan that only recently regained access to his Force abilities, nothing the player does to Vader slows him down for more than a few seconds. He doesn't even have a health bar, as if to emphasize that fighting him is a death sentence. The only thing left to do is turn and run while Vader slowly follows after you, shredding the scenery and pathway ahead with but a thought.
- In the penultimate level of Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, your objective is to survive being chased by a werewolf. In this universe, werewolves are highly resistant to vampiric powers and they despise the species. Gameplay-wise, this means your powers and weapons are useless. Even worse, the werewolf ignores the console codes that make you invulnerable and invisible. Your only recourse is to run and try to survive the four minute coutndown. There is an alternative way to put the werewolf down, however.
- In RWBY, during the episode "Alone in the Woods", the team is forced to run when faced with the Apathy, a type of Grimm that drains the will to live from anyone in proximity. The team is normally able to take on towering monsters and hordes of Grimm, but the Apathy's collective numbers and their screams make it impossible for them to even lift their weapons.
- When facing down Mr. Fingers, an undead monstrosity from whom one touch will melt you to purple goo, there's really only one response. Ironically it does end up being fought... and goes down. At a tragic cost.
"I... told ya... I... do... the eating."
- Kore, a Cursed and insane paladin, is even scarier. No-one can take him in a fight. Fusing a rope with his throat isn't enough to kill him. It barely even slows him down. And since he suffers from Black and White Insanity, monsters and even non-monsters that end up in his path can expect to die if they don't get away. And if you die at his hands, you can expect a Fate Worse than Death since he uses Your Soul Is Mine.
- When facing down Mr. Fingers, an undead monstrosity from whom one touch will melt you to purple goo, there's really only one response. Ironically it does end up being fought... and goes down. At a tragic cost.
- Roza: "You can't beat this guy. Just run!"
- Double Subversion in Another Gaming Comic, during a Matrix-pastiche arc. The Agents are hyped up as unkillable, unstoppable monsters who, if you do somehow manage to kill them once, will just come back again. Since the heroes are highly talented power gamers, their first encounter with an Agent results in the agent getting one (high-damage) hit in and then getting vaporized. The heroes then proceed to run away very quickly before he respawns, explaining it to Nuclear Dan as they go.
Joe Chaos: He will win eventually, if only by attrition.
- In No Rest for the Wicked, Perrault's reaction to Red's appearing.
- The correct reaction to seeing a Dark Mage in The Noordegraaf Files. Granted, it's unlikely to truly help, but you have to take any advantage you can when dealing with them.
- Bob and George,
- In Visseria, when Jack faces an enraged version of the already monstrously-strong Alchione, who kills violent criminals even while lucid. His superior acrobatics don't help much when she simply tears through every obstacle.
- In Godslave, the first part of Edith's and Turner's fight is mostly Edith trying to get away from a man who packs a punch strong enough to kill an adult elephant.
- Happens on multiple occasions in Homestuck.
- Pre-scratch Human Session Jack Noir evokes this on the session as soon as the White Queen's ring grants him the powers of a First Guardian after Becquerel is prototyped. He becomes Bec Noir, a ruthless killing machine whose only soft spot is Jade Harley. After directly or indirectly killing the entire main human cast (they got better) along with multiple side characters (who did not) he then moved to the troll session. He destroyed every spare Aradiabot, killed all spare troll dreamselves, and blew up every planet in the session. From there, the trolls' only hope is to flee on the meteorite they were hiding in. The best future that could happen from opposing him is a possible last man standing victory for Vriska. From there, Bec Noir has his own Run or Die with the Prototyped Peregrine Mendicant, who he cannot bring himself to try to kill while she has no hesitation to do the same. For three years he chases the fleeing meteorite and runs away from the Peregrine Mendicant until they reached the Post-Scratch Human session.
- There is also Lord English, an indestructible, all-powerful time traveling demon with the power to kill ghosts. They can do little aside from run from him as he kills not only the Dreaming Dead but destroys the Dream Bubbles themselves, along with the horrorterrors that created them.
- The Blood Red King is one of two Omega Level Metahumans in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe. Being the Anthropomorphic Personification of Terror and Fear with New Powers as the Plot Demands, he's the one foe no one ever wants to engage in a standup fight. The only ones who have knew they were making a Heroic Sacrifice so other people could get away. The only hero who ever succeeded in actually beating him was Amnesty, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Kindness and Mercy. She is the setting's other Omega.
- Contessa, of Worm, is notable in that she operates extremely quietly, acting as a censor of information about Cauldron, up until the point when Cauldron is exposed to the superhero community, at which point she begins to eliminate leaks more openly, notably incapacitating Faultline's crew, an experienced mercenary team that has previously taken on Myrrdin and Chevalier, in less than twenty seconds. Protectorate policy on facing her is "Just run," and when Weaver ignores this directive, Contessa hands her a total defeat.
- Contessa herself sees the other side of this trope when faced with Mantellum.
- Kagerou Project:
- The song Headphone Actor is about a teenage girl finding out via the radio that the world is about to end, and a voice coming from her headphones - her own voice - tells her to do this. It's futile.
- Its sequel Yuukei Yesterday (and added context from the manga) reveal that the song is actually a metaphor for Takane Enomoto sprinting to her (apparently terminally ill) crush's bedside, because she fears it'll be too late. Either way, she ends up dying.
- The Creepypasta "Never Stop Running" is about a video game programmed so that if your character stops, for whatever reason, they are smashed to paste by an Advancing Wall of Doom. A similar one has this happen with a pack of wild dogs, and Every time the character dies, they become slower and slower, until they are immediately eaten when the game starts.
- In NES Godzilla Creepypasta, at the end of each of the game's worlds, instead of the military base present in the original game, there's what seems to be a red tribal mask. The level inside is just a burning background, with the word "RUN" at the top of the screen. And when the red monster who is bigger than freaking Godzilla appears, then you know why. As the game progresses, the chase has new elements, including an underwater level for Anguirus and a flying level for Mothra, but the Hellbeast changes forms as well.
- Marion and Cassie keep getting into these kind of situations in Bounty Hamster, often, although not always, a result of Marion's Berserk Button being pressed.
Marion: Run is good.
Cassie: I recommend it!
- Castlevania (2017): After Dracula finds out Lisa was arrested on trumped-up charges of witchcraft and executed, his last act of kindness is to tell her elderly neighbor, who came to pay her respects to Lisa's memory, to take her family and run before he unleashes his wrath.
Dracula: I do this last kindness in her name, she who loved you humans and cared for your ills. Take your family and leave Wallachia TONIGHT. Pack and go, and do not look back. For no more do I travel as a man.
- Star Wars Rebels: In "The Siege of Lothal", our heroes have their first run-in with Darth Vader. After throwing everything they have at him without slowing him down, they realize that their only chance to survive is to run like hell.