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Run or Die

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"Stercus, stercus, stercus moriturus sum!"note 

"A little piece of advice. You see an Agent, you do what we do. You run. You run your ass off."
Cypher, The Matrix

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, it 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 and Indy Escape.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • 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.
      "You. Run."
  • Very common in Dragon Ball Z, especially when one or more of the weaker, human Z-senshi come up against a powerful enemy. The Taiyo-ken/Solar Flare technique, originally developed to stun and disorient an opponent in preparation for an attack, later became the go-to method for escaping when one was hopelessly outmatched. Some examples of this trope include:
    • The first half of the Namek Saga consisted mostly of Krillin and Gohan evading and hiding from Freeza and his lieutenants, as they only really stood any kind of chance when Vegeta or Goku were helping.
    • Trunks and Gohan vs. the androids, and later Goku Black in the future timeline.
    • Everyone other than Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, and fused characters like Gotenks and Vegito when faced with Majin Buu.
  • 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 Minato Namikaze, Fourth Hokage to-be, with this heavily implied. One foolish enemy soldier realizes he is scouting Minato and his squad, tries to run and doesn't get very far as Minato notices him and dispatches him.
  • One Piece:
    • During the Saboady Archipelago arc, the Straw Hats are forced to do this when they find themselves underpowered to deal with the Marine Science Captain, Sentoemaru, and a fresh Pacifista after just barely destroying one that had came after them. It only got worse when a Marine Admiral, Kizaru, showed up as well.
    • 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, Rank Scales with 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.
    • The climax of the Whole Cake Island arc has the focused Straw Hats (Luffy, Nami, Chopper Sanji and Brook along with allies Carrot and Jimbei) doing this when Big Mom goes into one of her hunger-induced rampages after the wedding cake she was looking forward to for Sanji and Pudding's wedding ends up destroyed. One of her children claim Luffy has a spare to keep her from destroying her kingdom, prompting her to chase them non-stop. Even using her powers to go after them in the ocean, along with her family/crew following right behind her.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • 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. Beedrill, on the other hand, attack in swarms. Unless you have a pokemon that can attack in a wide range, or even so, you're better off avoiding them.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Serena Linnen from Tower of God gives Phonsekal Lauroe 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!"

    Comic Books 
  • Clone Wars Adventures: When Anakin Skywalker is summoned to a space station in "The Brink," he finds the corpses of a fellow Jedi and several clones. The Sole Survivor who summoned him (another Jedi) says that the only rational strategy is leave immediately and blow up the station behind them. Anakin is unwilling to consider this strategy until his first run-in with the Blob Monster that killed everyone.
    Anakin: Do these things have any weaknesses?
  • 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 the Warrior Cats graphic novel Winds of Change, Mudclaw's attempted coup fails after ThunderClan brings two patrols to help Onewhisker, and he knows that he and his supporters are badly outnumbered. He knows that their only option now is to flee and hope to survive.
  • During the Worldbreaker Hulk storyline for The Incredible Hulk, the Hulk encounters Darwin, a mutant superhero with the power to instantly manifest whatever superpower will let him survive a given conflict. Key distinction there being survive, not win. Faced with a vengeful Hulk, Darwin's X-Gene promptly kicks to life and teleports him one-way to the next state over.

    Fan Works 
  • 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.
  • Cheating Death: Those That Lived: Dollar has this reaction to seeing Claudia inject herself with the G Virus in the zombie arena. She does face the mutation that used to be Claudia later on, but only after getting a really powerful weapon.
    Dollar: She just injected herself with the G Virus! Attacking is futile right now, run for your life!
  • 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 Lífţrasir: 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.
  • Megami no Hanabira: The girls' first encounter with an Archangel goes disastrously for them: the only reason they weren't killed before they could even draw their phones is that they were fortunate enough to be up against an absolute Sadist who preferred to toy with them rather than simply killing them outright. Even then, once they actually manage to land a solid enough hit to do any damage, it simply inspires a devastating Megidolaon attack that they have no choice but to run from. From that point forward until they get Fiends, the girls resolve to stay as far away from the Archangels as they possibly can.
  • The Odds Were Never In My Favour: The presence of extra-powerful dark wizards like Gellert Grindelwald and the average Exchequer knight send the average Hogwarts student running in terror, and even the Light Champions (or Alexandra, the second most powerful Dark champion) tend to try and stay away from Lyudmila Romanov when they have a chance.
    Neville: You are going to fight that?
    Henri: No, we are going to try surviving that.
  • The Weaver Option: After Lelith reveals her actual power in Commorragh and her true history is revealed, Lelith's "Wanted!" Poster is revised. Where before it recommended only engaging her with the backup of a Primarch and their entire Legion, it now simply states "Flee on Sight".
  • In Avatar of Victory, the being known as the Meretsegger is the most powerful death spirit on Tuchanka, the Krogan Death World homeworld - death makes it stronger, and if you try to kill it, it just comes back annoyed that you tried. The response of Shepard, the Avatar, to seeing it is to run away screaming. It killed a Reaper in Book 3. Even the krogan don't bother to try fighting it or judging the people who run from it as cowards - as they see it, you're either dumb/suicidal enough to stay and fight (and, implicitly, die), or smart enough to run.

    Films — Animation 
  • 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.
  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse: Well, not die, since they're all still heroic individuals, but the climax sees Miles being pursued by the entire Spider Society, a small army of Spider-men each of whom is on his own level of fighting experience or better. Miles is so hilariously outnumbered and outgunned that his only option is to try and keep ahead of everybody whilst trying to figure out a way back to his home universe. Ultimately, Miles is only able to evade the chase by luring everybody onto a train heading to Nueva York's space elevator and leaping off it once it's high enough, putting enough distance between his pursuers and himself to buy enough time to use the Send Back machine at their headquarters to jump back to his dimension.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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, running is about the only thing the heroes can do against the most dangerous dinosaurs, particularly the Tyrannosaurus rex. Ian Malcolm sums it up best:
    "Must go faster."
  • 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 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 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.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: Loki realizes this after Hela breaks Mjölnir with one hand and summons two swords closing up on him and Thor, and tells Volstagg to open the Bifrost to bring the two back to Asgard. Unfortunately, this is also what enables Hela to enter Asgard where she grows stronger every day.
  • Utřya: July 22, 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.

  • Cobalt Blue: Cassie recalls that the last time she saw Blaine, he analyzed how much more high-powered the Fury is than any of the Cobalt half-siblings and told her that the best advice she'd ever get was to "leave before he arrives."
  • As seen above, this is Rincewind's first response to any of the dangers he encounters in the Discworld series. At the end of Sourcery, he ends up trapped in the Dungeon Dimension, and spends the entire time until he reappears in Eric fleeing from the creatures.
  • 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.
  • Mother of Learning has Quatach-Ichl, a lich over a thousand years old — and just becoming a lich in the first place requires a powerful and skilled soul mage. Not only can he cast high-level magic of all kinds (including slowing time) with a mere gesture, not only does he have ridiculous large mana reserves thanks to the crown he wears, and not only does he like to teleport around the battlefield in the blink of an eye, but if you did somehow manage to kill his body, he would simply snap back to his Soul Jar on another continent, possess a new body, and be back within a day, this time angry. Generally, if he shows up, Zorian doesn't survive long enough to even try to run, and just sees a flash of red light before waking at the start of the month. In later resets, when attempting to assault the mostly abandoned Ibasan base and pass through their dimensional gate, Zorian's plans revolve around striking a careful balance between "strong enough to succeed" and "unimpressive enough that the defenders don't panic and summon Quatach-Ichl to help them".
  • 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. Jackson’s men were estimated to arrive in less than ten hours. Salazar’s troops had not even seen any fighting yet.
    Then a name reached them.
    Gohvis. Bearing down on them from the north.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "Spiral", 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 Armor, 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.
  • Leverage: Redemption: In the second episode, after the crew tricks Maxwell into setting off a bomb that destroys half of the valuables that Corbett has taken responsibility for, Corbett tells Maxwell that staying in Panama will be fatal for them.
    Corbett: Everything belonging to my clients in that vault is destroyed. My clients are the most powerful psychopaths on the planet. Three of them have actual armies. One of them has nukes, and you blew up their safety net!
    Maxwell: What do we do?
    Corbett: We run. For the rest of our lives.
    There's a brief Beat and then they sprint out of the room.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Q Who", 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 die
    You 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.

    Web Animation 
  • 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.

  • Goblins:
  • 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,
  • Girl Genius: The "Green Glowy Things" under Sturmhalten are venomous and far more intelligent and numerous than the party first realizes and they only survive the encounter by fleeing, though Dimo does loose an arm.
  • 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.
  • Debugging Destiny presents this as the only options when encountering Ignacia. Well, aside from succumbing to her Hypnotic Eyes, but that can be considered the die option.
  • In Rusty and Co., the meticulous planner Grinner Stankbreath constructs an elaborate scheme to capture the heroes Mimic, Rusty, Cube and Prestige Perkins, and kill any of their other associates who try to interfere. As preparation, he wrote up detailed files about each of the heroes and their associates in order to know exactly how to deal with them and how to counter their abilities, which he then disseminated amongst his hired minions. All he has to say about the Princess is that she is extremely dangerous and should not be engaged under any circumstances.
  • Trevor (2020): The medical team know that they have zero chance of killing Trevor and run like hell whenever they get the chance.

    Web Original 
  • The Backrooms has Level !: "Run For Your Life!" with a very small chance wanderers may warp here by simply warping to a different level. There are 100% reliable methods to reach this level which is good for getting this level out of the way as once cleared, the wander won't be sent here again. That being said, the level has you chased by a horde of monsters (entities) and you must start running for your life to reach the exit door at the end of the gauntlet.
  • Both sides in Dream's Minecraft Manhunt like to run away from situations they don't like.
    • Early on in the Minecraft Manhunt finale rematch, Dream gets a golden sword from a chest near a broken Nether Portal. The three hunters promptly run away from Dream.
    • Early in the Minecraft Manhunt grand finale, Dream is collecting wheat, when all of a sudden George and Sapnap are chasing after Dream with iron weapons and armor. He runs away as fast as possible while the hunters try to get him.
  • On the Dream SMP, when Schlatt exiles them from L'Manburg immediately after his inauguration, Tommy and Wilbur are suddenly faced with an armed crowd hellbent on killing them, while they're both unarmed and without gear. They immediately use their invisibility potions and bail through Tubbo's bunker. Unfortunately for Wilbur, he was shot in the back by Punz while making his escape, taking his second canon life out of three in the process.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
    Cassie: RUN!
    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 get out of Wallachia before he unleashes his wrath on the entire country in a year.
    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.
  • Final Space: In Season 3, Quinn frames giving up the fight against Invictus and the Titans in favor of running and staying alive for as long as possible this way after a series of harrowing defeats including the loss of the only being on their side who could physically take on Titans. Whether she's right about this or she's just giving up too early (which Ash calls her out on) is another matter, especially when considering that Quinn doesn't even contemplate containing the Titan-hatching alternate Earths using their alternate KVN nets with their alternate Kevin van Newton's' aids.
  • Primal (2019): The antagonist of the episode "Plague of Madness" is an Argentinosaurusnote  infected with a zombie-like plague that turns it crazed and hostile. It's so massive, fast, and vigorous that protagonists Spear and Fang, who can normally take on enemies several times their size, cannot do a thing to it and their only option is to run from it or sneak past it while it's dormant.
  • 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.


Video Example(s):


"That's Frank"

After enjoying a bit of "tractor tipping", Lightning and Mater end up having to run from Frank, a massive combine tractor that's a vehicle equivalent of a bull.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / ConstructionVehicleRampage

Media sources: