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Villain: Exit, Stage Left

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"We could stop 'em, but I'm sure today's events put a complete end to his megalomaniac tendencies forever."

Once their plot is foiled the villain (less often, a hero) will always get away in the most undignified and cowardly fashion imaginable. If they didn't, who would the hero fight next episode? This is probably why the heroes either don't even bother chasing them, or else send Red Shirts after them with predictable results, or even help them get away. Other times, they're just being sporting.

No blockades, no manhunts, not even pursued by a bear. After all, it's at the end of the episode.

Regardless of the means, the escaped Smug Snake will gloat about how it "all went according to plan", maybe set off the Self-Destruct Mechanism in the Collapsing Lair, and return "triumphantly" next episode. Less often, you'll see them lick their figurative and literal wounds at having not only been beat but forced to show the better part of valour and try to come up with a new Plot Of The Week that will work, throwing in a "Next Time, Tropeworthy!" for good measure.

Most villains who exit stage left also favor the Friend-or-Idol Decision and Sadistic Choice as backups, setting off small bombs or traps on loved ones to force the hero to choose between their capture or their friends' lives. This also frequently happens with Genre Blind villains who leave the hero in an easily defeated Death Trap room rather than stay and make sure the job gets done correctly, i.e. Just Shoot Him.

May be accompanied by a Hiss Before Fleeing, an Angry Fist-Shake or shouting "We Will Meet Again". See also Screw This, I'm Outta Here for a villain flees out of cowardice rather then to prepare a new plot. Compare So Long, Suckers!, Karma Houdini and Know When to Fold 'Em. Contrast with Last Villain Stand where the villain decides to stick around and fight to the end.

There may be unmarked spoilers ahead!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • Gin walks away from his fight with Hitsugaya after Rangiku persuades him to stand down. Hitsugaya initially wants to continue, but Gin tells him he should tend to the unconscious Momo first.
    • When Ichigo gets his powers back and Ginjo realizes Ichigo is vastly more powerful than him, he panics and tries to escape, but Ichigo easily catches up to him and throws him down.
  • Inuyasha:
    • Naraku had an irritating habit of doing this. Every episode Naraku was directly involved in ended with him either running away after getting his ass handed to him or him doing something that made it impossible for him to be directly attacked. And every single incarnation he created would inevitably run like hell when things got sticky. Honestly, how many times can the Big Bad get savaged and still claim to be all powerful?
    • Thankfully inverted with the Band of Seven. Except for maybe once or twice, they all fight to the death. Inuyasha even tells the leader that he can leave, but he refuses because he wants to avenge his friends. Is it any wonder why a group of specters who got curb-stomped in only a handful of battles are seen as more badass than the Big Bad of the entire story?
  • In the My-HiME manga, Nao leaves her fight with Mai and Yuuichi after Yuuichi knocks Nao's Key away, preventing her from using her Child. Mai and Yuuichi demand an apology for remarks Nao made about the other.
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch: Every time the heroines perform their song, which ends with a "Love Shower Pitch!" (and followed with "How about an encore?"), the villains (most of them) they just beat always teleport away afterwards.
  • Naruto:
    • Itachi Uchiha is a master of the Art of Run. Most likely explained by the revelation that he was a double agent who wanted to limit any damage done to the good guys.
    • Kabuto and Orochimaru seem to be impossibly good at escaping when at a disadvantage, especially when compared to the majority of other villains. A fair amount of the time, their opponents are also badly injured or out of chakra, though.
  • A rare villain-villain example: In One Piece at the end of the Marineford arc, Gecko Moria was supposed to be killed as his performance simply wasn't impressive enough. However, Doflamingo reports that he used his abilities in a way he hadn't been seen to before in order to escape.
    • During the raid in Onigashima, after surviving the beheading from Kaido, Orochi plans to burn and blow up the island, and is waiting for Fukurokuju to help him escape. However, Fukurokuju never arrives, and Orochi gets pinned by rubble from the castle, rendered powerless by a Seastone needle by Hiyori, set in fire by the one fire spirit he used to set fire to Onigashima, and finally losing his last head at the hands of Denjiro.
  • No one in Pokémon: The Series ever bother to chase Team Rocket after they "blast off again". This was addressed in one episode, an Officer Jenny blasted them off, disappointed that they got away but remarking that there were more powerful members of Team Rocket around that the police force should occupy their time with catching. On the other hand, they usually don't let them escape conventionally. If Team Rocket attempt to run and surrender in a transitional sense of the trope, the heroes will often decide they're not finished and continue attacking until it triggers their usual "blast off". In this sense, Team Rocket also escape, but never avoid a comeuppance. As of Black & White, instead of "blasting off", they simply escape, usually by jetpack or Bewear, when they lose.
  • Pixy Misa in the Pretty Sammy series always leaves just before her Monster of the Week gets vaporized. One particularly weird exit was when she left on a huge cruise ship that randomly appeared in Pretty Space.
  • In Sailor Moon, after the Monster of the Week is deployed, the member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad who did it virtually always teleports, drives or runs away while the main characters are distracted by the monster. In some cases, they actually watch the battle without participating and then escape after the monster is defeated. Of course, nobody bothers to stop or chase them; except once when the Outers try attacking Kaolinite. She summons up incredible power to beat them all...and then runs away anyways.
    • Averted in episode 3. After the monster is defeated, Jedite takes on Sailor Moon in combat and almost defeats her before Tuxedo Mask shows up.
  • Justified in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, in Season 2. Many of the Innovade Mobile Suits have escape pods that the pilot can eject, should their Mobile Suits be about to explode. They use this strategy to survive losing several mecha, until the finale, where Celestial Being are tired of the Innovade constantly escaping, and decide to make ejection impossible (Lockon does this by holding on to the escape pod while firing a machine gun at point-blank range aimed at the pilot, and Hallelujah does it by using the Gundam Aries's Waverider-mode and its giant claw to hold the enemy in place while slowly crushing the cockpit).
  • In Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, this trope is subverted in "Get Berg Katze" where the episode begins where the stories typically end, with the destruction of the Galactor mecha of the week and Katze escaping in his personal craft. Afterward, Professor Nambu orders the team to actually pursue Katze for once, and the villain is shocked (Shocked!) to see the team do so. But he must have thought about it at some point since he escaped his escape craft via smaller escape craft. Then things got really weird thanks to the exploding bananas. Katse used to be the king of this trope, what with the mooks blocking the heroes, the innocents needing to be rescued, the sliding doors, and the bombs. Small personal and medium bombs, as well as the blow-up-the-base variety.
  • Quartz Christie runs away at the end of the Bodacious Space Pirates series after the Grand Cross was curbstomped due to mostly her overconfidence. To make matters worse, she promised Kato Marika that she would not "run and hide" but a minute later heads to her escape craft and activates the self-destruct mechanism. She is later shown in her escape craft, pleased to save the battle strategy data that may have led to her easily being defeated, and that she destroyed the last Grand Cross ship to eliminate any evidence of her humiliation... but points out what a humiliating defeat it still was, though she still hopes to face Marika once again.
  • The members of the Quirky Mini Boss Squads from Fresh Pretty Cure! and Suite Pretty Cure ♪ have to left the battlefields without Villain Teleportation because they cannot teleport like all other villains. And they can't fly by their own either.
    • Tropewise, this usually does happen whenever the Cures defeat the episode's Monster of the Week- the villain just teleports away from the area before the Cures can catch them. It’s only averted when a villain is being defeated for good.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball Z: Double subverted at the end of the Saiyan Saga when its main villain Vegeta tries to leave Earth in his spacepod after the proud warrior has been defeated and humiliated by Goku and his allies, and lost his tail in the process. Just as he's about to get away, Krillin tries to off him with Yajirobe's sword, but then Goku telepathically talks Krillin out of it and Vegeta goes on his way to recover for the next arc.
    • Dragon Ball GT: Subverted when Baby is defeated. He runs to a spaceship and flies away. Everybody asks Goku why he just stood there and let him escape, then he explains he just wanted Baby in the perfect position. Goku then fires a massive Kamehameha that catches the spaceship, sending Baby straight into the sun, where he's completely incinerated.
  • High School Dx D usually averts this as the villains are usually dealt with by the end of the volume. Only the major arc villains have so far played this straight, but not always cleanly:
    • The Hero Faction escapes in Volume 9 after Issei gets a power-up and the original Sun Wukong shows up. However, Issei still takes one of Cao Cao's eyes with a parting shot.
    • The remnants of the Hero Faction escape again after their defeat in Volume 12, but their boss still banishes them to the Underworld and confiscates their Sacred Gears for their failure.
    • The members of the Qlippoth Faction tend to play this straight. By Volume 19, the heroes have learned to expect this and set up countermeasures in advance to stop them from doing this.
  • Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin: Mugen runs away when his fighters are defeated. He is never seen nor heard from again.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Subverted. Azad tries to teleport away once it becomes clear that his plans have gone south, but Tohru made it impossible for him to do so by saturating the surrounding area with her mana. The only reason he managed to get away on foot afterwards is that Tohru willingly let him go (after draining all of his magic power).
  • Tales of Wedding Rings: The fortune-teller, the antagonist of the Land of Water arc, beats a hasty retreat after Saphir transforms into a dragon and devours her trump card—a kraken—in a single bite.
  • Transformers Zone: Unexpectedly averted in the OVA. In the past animated series, the Autobots usually let the Decepticons retreat alive so as to set up a grand finale in the series' last few episodes. In this OVA which was supposed to be the very first episode of the new series, Dai Atlas and Sonic Bomber killed an attacking Devastator, Trypticon, and King Poseidon. The sole survivor Predaking tried to retreat but was intercepted and ended up getting bisected by Dai Atlas.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: When the forces of Tempest are counterattacking the invading army, Geld II and Hakurou are forced to let Razen escape with Taguchi, mostly due to the Dead Man's Switch Razen has set up to set off a Fantastic Nuke.

    Asian Animation 
  • In the Noonbory and the Super 7 episode "Wangury Wants to Fly", the villains exit the episode like this; Mungury and Taegury run away screaming while an enraged Wangury chases them.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Mighty Little Defenders: In episode 11, Worley is in the middle of fighting the goats when he suddenly becomes very hungry and weak. He runs away with the other wolves.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix: At the end of "Asterix and the Magic Carpet", the last readers see of Hoodunnit and Owzat is the both of them flying away on Owzat's carpet.
  • Subverted in Cable & Deadpool #49, after Deadpool and Ka-Zar thwart one of Brainchild's latest plans to take over the Savage Land he and his minions try to escape on pterodactyls. Ka-Zar laments that Brainchild has escaped even though he's really not that far away and he could go after him on foot as it's hard to lose a flying lizard with people on it. Deadpool, Genre Savvy as he is, simply shoots the pterodactyl Brainchild is riding sending it tumbling down into the waiting jaws of some very hungry T-rexes. Deadpool then tells Ka-Zar that he should really try using guns.
  • Batman:
  • Benoit Brisefer: Demonia and her goons get away from police at the end of the story.
  • Black Moon Chronicles: Subverted in The Opal Throne. The Ophidian snake-emperor retreats after witnessing his army being destroyed, with the captions noting that he will bide his time, slowly rebuild his forces, and be back for another round. Immediately afterwards, Wismerhill in his giant form pursues and catches the Emperor, levels his palace, and forces him to submit by threatening to kill his Empress.
  • In Daredevil #17, the Masked Marauder slips away from view long enough to beat up a security guard and steal his uniform, escaping capture to menace New York another day.
  • Judge Dredd: At the end of "Necropolis", most of the Dark Judges are recaptured by Justice department and placed in high-security containment. Judge Death escapes by jumping off a city block and disappearing in city bottom. It's later revealed that he hid himself among the buried corpses for several months to rest and plan for his next assault on the Mega City.
  • The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars: Tokuga flees into the spirit world when he plans to gas the area around the portal falls through.
  • MonsterVerse: In Godzilla Aftershock, the MUTO Prime retreats at the end of two of its battles against Godzilla when the latter gains the upper hand, fleeing whilst Godzilla gives chase after it around the world. It's revealed that the MUTO Prime is deliberately wearing Godzilla down in the long run with its repeated fight-and-flights so it can eventually lure him into a fight that he cannot win.
  • At the climax of Red Menace, Krueger gets word that the Eagle is on his way to compromise the mission, he orders his men the Mountain and the Mole to take care of him. Mountain and Mole think the action's gotten a little too hot and they're being asked too much, so they steal Krueger's car and get the hell away instead. However, at the very end, the last two pages, The Eagle hunts them down and kills them before they even made it from LA to Las Vegas.
  • Red Skull prepares his escape routes with care with obstacles that justifiably discourage the heroes from pursuing him.
    • For instance, his first Silver Age appearance has him escaping through a hidden wall panel door. Bucky is all for smashing through it to begin the chase, but Captain America realizes that panel is a disguised steel door and by the time they get it open to the escape tunnel, the Skull would be long gone. As Cap says in the story "Whoever this Red Skull is, he's no amateur!"
    • In a modern version, Cap pursues the Skull in one of his buildings and loses him just long enough to find a veritable maze of multiple possible escape routes the Skull prepared for this situation and decides trying to guess correctly which one he took would be unlikely and a waste of time to try.
    • Subverted at the climax of Captain America: Reborn. Here, the Red Skull's consciousness is forced back into his robot body after being forced out of Rogers' by Rogers himself. Unplugging himself, the Red Skull tries to make a break for it hoping the big fight around would cover his tracks. Sharon Carter stops that in a brilliantly counter-intuitive way by using Dr. Hank Pym's size-changing technology to make him a giant before he got away. Yes, that means that there now is a giant Red Skull trying to stomp the superheroes, but it also means that there is no way he can sneak away now and fighting with Colossus Climb tactics is old hat for Captain America and his friends, not to mention Sharon gets the Vision to access the Skull's ship's weapons systems to hit a now really big target.
    • Subverted in the case of the trope image. In context, the Red Skull was confronted by Magneto, a Holocaust survivor, and attempts to flee, snapping a Nazi salute as he does to piss Magneto off. However, the Skull is relying on a hidden train (on metal tracks) and army of robot guards (made of metal) to provide cover as he flees from the Master of Magnetism. Magneto easily smashes through the Skull's defenses and traps him.
  • Robin (1993):
    • Tapeworm escapes his first encounter with Robin despite being defeated by leaving behind a large portion of his tail. He then comes back with about thirty new allies to try and get back the friend he was with the first time around and when Rob and Shadowpact are rounding up the defeated villains Tapeworm has given them the slip again.
    • Dodge gets away from several encounters after he turns villain that he otherwise lost due to his ability to teleport.
  • The Simpsons: Parodied. Bart and Lisa have just survived a run-in with Sideshow Bob, Kang, and Kodos. Bob sees a helicopter with a rope-ladder hanging from it and assumes his henchmen have prepared his escape. He gives the standard "We shall meet again" speech and flees - only to realise something:
    Bob: [halfway up the ladder] Wait a minute! Good Lord, I don't have any henchmen!
    Wiggum: [inside the copter] Looks like our new "hands-off" approach to fighting crime is working.
  • Invoked in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) issue #8. After beating Robotnik's superhero-themed robots, Sonic is about to beat him up but slips on some motor oil. Robotnik then escapes riding Crabmeat, after which, Sonic pulls out the Comics Code handbook and comments that the villain always gets away in the end.
  • Superman:
    • It happens twice in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?. The Legion of Supervillains retreat to the 30th century when they realize that Superman is prepared to kill them for murdering Lana Lang. Later, when Superman aims the Phantom Zone projector at Mxyzptlk, the fifth dimensional being attempts to escape by saying his name backwards, only to be torn in two from being sent to the Phantom Zone and the fifth dimension at the same time.
    • At the end of "This Is Not My Life", Professor Ivo tries to escape through the sewer system when his latest scheme goes up in smoke, but since he is being chased by Supergirl he doesn't go far.
    • In Superman: Lois and Clark, Hyathis leaves in issue #8 when it turns out Supes is too much for her to handle.
    • In Crucible, Korstus tries to flee after his scheme to raise an army of Superboy clones get exposed and busted, but he gets tackled by Lys Amata.
      Lys Amata: "Where do you think you're going, Korstus? We have much to discuss."
    • At the end of The Great Darkness Saga, Darkseid teleports himself away after acknowledging his defeat when his army of brainwashed Daxamites gets turned against him.
    • The Killers of Krypton: When his clone army has been defeated by Supergirl and the Omega Men, Harry Hokum orders his men to take him out of there. However, Supergirl storms into his flagship before they can take off. Then Hokum tries to crawl away, but Supergirl grabs him, asking if he is "going somewhere".
    • In Starfire's Revenge, the titular villain and her top minion decide to beat a hasty retreat while Supergirl is busy trashing her goons.
      Starfire: And speaking of go— Let's! Come on, Professor!
      Dr. Kangle: Right, Starfire— Supergirl is too much for us right now! It's better to run and fight another day!
    • In Superman vs. Shazam!: In the beginning, a super-villain tries to fly away as Superman is busy tearing his mecha apart. He believes he has gotten away until he notices someone is tugging at his jetpack.
    • In The Strange Revenge of Lena Luthor, the scientist who designed a death trap maze for Supergirl flees as soon as he notices Kara has figured a way out. Also, the fake nurse who was gaslighting Supergirl's friend Lena bolts towards the door when Kara flies into the room to capture her.
    • In Way of the World, alien overlord Dolok uses a time-travelling device to try to escape from Supergirl and a Green Lantern.
    • In Escape from the Phantom Zone, villain Magog slips into a dimensional portal when his attempt to kill Supergirl fails and he is surrounded by troops of the Department of Extra-Normal Operations.
    • In Death & the Family, Silver Banshee has no reason to stay around and fight Supergirl after getting her clan's heirlooms, so she flees before Kara can stop her.
    • The Super-Revenge of Lex Luthor: When their last resort fails, Luthor and Brainiac opt for flying into space to flee from Superman.
    • The Death of Luthor: When Supergirl interferes with his gang's bank heist, Luthor tries to keep her distracted with a false emergency as they try to get away.
    • In The Condemned Legionnaires: When Supergirl and Satan Girl first square off, the latter attacks the former with murderous intent. Nonetheless, Satan Girl cannot overpower her due to their powers are evenly matched. When Kara tries to melt her mask as grappling with her to find out her true identity, Satan Girl decides to cut her losses and beat a strategic retreat.
    • Brainiac's Blitz: When Brainiac's ship's cameras spot Superman approaching Earth, Brainiac decides to blast Supergirl into oblivion and then retreat back to his asteroid base. When his attempt fails and Supergirl is about to capture him, he uses a time machine to escape into the timestream.
    • "Superman And Spider Man": When Parasite destroys Doctor Doom's nuclear weapon's control planet, Doom tries to flee towards a rocket to escape from Earth, but he discovers Spider-Man has disabled the controls. Seconds later, when he realizes the heroes have prevented the world's destruction, he rushes towards the nearest Latverian embassy before he believes his sovereign status will protect him.
  • Super Mario Adventures: Bowser attempts to escape in the Clown Car, but Mario snags the propeller blades with the rope, causing it to crash into the cake.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: In "The Return From the Dead" Dr. Psycho flees when Di lassos the War-Prevento Machine, being gone in the seconds it takes her and Steve to confirm it really is the machine.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): The Many make a strategic withdrawal at the end of their first clash with Monster X, Rodan and Godzilla.
  • A Shadow of the Titans: Jinx says something similar when she grabs Jade after the mess with Mumbo and leaves.
  • The Stronger Evil: In Chapter 13, Drago and the Ice Crew quickly flee from Section 13 after Tarakudo is defeated, thus ending their Enemy Mine situation with the heroes.
  • The Legend of Spyro: A New Dawn: This trope is frequently subverted. Commander Hades attempts this after his defeat, only to be cut off by Drake, who effortlessly curbstomps him. Empress Tyrania's The Dragon attempts this after the curse keeping the slaves from hurting him is broken and all his guards are demolished. Sparx slams his exit door in his face.
  • The Legend of Spyro: New Frontier: Used successfully by Gaul, assisted with a Sadistic Choice.
  • Shinji And Warhammer 40 K: Kaworu flees three times, each time soundly thrashed despite the horrific casualties of the heroes and each time completely unwilling to accept that he was defeated. That he got into the habit of this might be the reason the author decided to have Gendo demonstrate that he was Eviler than Thou.
  • Inner Demons: When Scootaloo's forces are defeated by the protagonists in Ponyville, she runs off and escapes, swearing revenge.
  • Jewel of Darkness: When Midnight is defeated in her lair by the Titans at the end of the Jump City arc, Slade rescues her and then triggers the lair's self-destruct to cover their escape.
    • Unlike canon, Mad Mod escapes his first confrontation with the Titans scot-free, leaving only a mocking message behind.
  • Subverted in Queen of All Oni. Lung flees from his fortress when Left and Right attack it to save Jade. However, just before he can get on his escape boat, Right cuts him off (literally) and then kills him. Usually played straight by Jade and her minions, however.
  • The Immortal Game:
    • When Esteem realizes that Twilight is too powerful for him to defeat, he flees. Twilight intercepts and kills him.
    • Discord sticks around just long enough to temporarily reduce Titan's power — giving the heroes a chance to prepare for the Final Battle — and then flees. Luna implies that he left the planet altogether.
  • In the Dark World arc of the Pony POV Series, Rancor ultimately walks away from the fight with the Elements of Harmony and returns to the Draconequi dimension after succeeding in stealing Destruction's power from Discord.
  • In the Death Note Crack Fic The Game Dark Alli Gator, Light makes his escape after Near made everyone lose the Game and they forget about him for a moment while they're bickering about it.
  • A Future of Friendship, A History of Hate:
    • Even though Ruinate is defeated at the end of Episode 2, his heralds manage to rescue him from being resealed, and they escape.
    • The heralds always manage to escape after their episodic plots are defeated.
  • Justice League of Equestria: After Rainbow Dash/Supermare destroys his enchanted-to-cut-through-anything sword, Deathstroke hides from view with a smoke bomb and flees. He comments that he's already been paid, so there's really no reason for him to have still been there, anyway.
  • Justified in The Night Unfurls. A couple of villains are able to teleport away when things go south for them, right before the heroes can land the killing blow. They include Vault (during his fight with Kyril in Chapter 11, original version) and Shamuhaza (after Sanakan has him in her sights in Chapter 16, original version).
  • Played for laughs in Tealove's Steamy Adventure. When the evil cultist's minions are defeated, she flees the scene. On a Segway. She could have gotten away faster by running. Nevertheless, the heroes just remark that they probably haven't seen the last of her, without even trying to pursue her.
  • Webwork:
    • Jade does this repeatedly in her confrontations with her former family and friends.
    • Daolon Wong escapes after losing his duel with Uncle, due to a fight with Jade providing a distraction.
    • After Chang completes his transformation into a full Oni, he overpowers Jade and Jackie and flees.
  • In Young Justice: Darkness Falls, The Penguin runs away once the more powerful superheroes start showing up.
  • In the sequel Young Justice Titans, Silver Banshee makes her escape the first time she is fought.
  • Subverted in The Vampire of Steel. Vladislav decides to hightail it out when his scheme is ruined by the heroes, but he gets killed by his own henchman while making his escape.
  • In The Warcrafter, the Simurgh is reduced to throwing herself back into space through a hastily-assembled Tinker portal, sans a few limbs, after her assault on Canberra does not go her way at all.
  • The Equestrian Wind Mage: After the rest of Majora's forces attacking Hyrule Castle are destroyed, Gomess flees.
  • Eggman is skilled at pulling these off in Fate Genesis. One actually saves his life against Archer.
  • In Kara of Rokyn, villain Blackflame tries to make her escape when her scheme to manipulate Kara's rival wrestler into killing her during a match fails, but she gets caught and thrown in the Phantom Zone.
  • A Prize for Three Empires: When a joint force of heroes storms a K Ree hideout, determined to retrieve Carol Danvers, the Kree Supreme Intelligence is given two options: surrender... or else. It opts for teleporting away.
    "A joint task force of Imperial Guardsmen, Avengers, X-Men, and Starjammers is present," announced Gladiator. "But that is hardly all. A war armada of the Shi’ar is in place around this planet. The weaponry of any one ship is accurate enough to target every Kree in this hall, and leave our people unharmed. Your choice. Surrender, or death."
    Almost all the eyes of the Legion turned to the Supremor. Except those of Ronan the Accuser, which were focused on Warbird with undisguised malice.
    The manifestation of the Supreme Intelligence paused only a moment before saying, "There will be other battles."
    Then he faded from sight.
  • Here There Be Monsters: When his master plan is blown to smithereens, Shazam!'s nemesis Doctor Sivana hastily boards his rocket and takes off from Venus before the heroes can apprehend him.
  • Boldores and Boomsticks:
    • After noticing Ruby's Silver Eyes, Grendel immediately disengages from Team RWBY and flies away on a giant Nevermore.
    • With the newly evolved Nebby tearing through Grimm as fast as they can come through an Ultra Wormhole, Watts and Faba flee through said Wormhole. Grendel joins them after being forced to make a Life-or-Limb Decision.
  • A Thing of Vikings: Adalwin/Alvin pulled an escape after realising that not only was his true identity revealed, but his forces were overwhelmed by the Hooligans.

    Films — Animation 
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks, the Dazzlings have their gems shattered at the Battle of the Bands, removing their Mind-Control Music and revealing their real singing voices to be utterly awful. They promptly get pelted with food and garbage by the students of Canterlot High, run offstage, and are not seen again for the rest of the movie.
  • The Incredibles:
    • Syndrome attempts a variation of this at the end. It doesn't work, mostly because the hero isn't in the mood to just let him get away.
    • Bomb Voyage does manage this, though. In the confusion that erupts when Incredi-Boy interferes with Mr. Incredible's business and ultimately causes him to derail a monorail train — not to mention Mr. Incredible's wedding, which is due to happen later that night — the mad-bomber villain manages to slip away and... well, apparently disappears off the face of the Earth, because we don't see or hear from him again at any time afterward. The police set up a (futile) dragnet, but Mr. Incredible figures he'll just chase down Bomb Voyage some other night. But that night never comes, because the very next day he has a major lawsuit brought against him for the train wreck, and a chain of events is set in motion that forces all superheroes in America to unmask and assume civilian identities.
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker:
    • When the Joker first confronts the elderly Bruce Wayne; when he leaves, he sets off explosives to put the civilians in danger, in order to stop Terry from pursuing him in his getaway hovercraft, knowing that Batman would have to save the civilians.
    • At the end The Joker is apparently so used to this trope through the years tangling with Batman that when Terry destroys his Kill Sat control and sends the ensuing Death from Above heading right towards the Joker's hideout, his only response is:
      Joker: Oh, good, the beam's headed here. Now I'll have to start all over again. Thanks for wrecking everything, kid. See you around...
    • Terry tries to stop Joker, so Joker verbally - then violently - reminds Terry that Joker has the combined knowledge of the Dynamic Duo at their peak. Terry only wins by fighting dirty, and mocking Joker.
  • In Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, a shrunken Professor Poopypants managed to escape by riding on a bee. Captain Underpants was unable to stop him from doing so because he was afraid the bee would sting him.
  • G.I. Joe: The Movie: When Falcon shuts down the B.E.T., Golobulus escapes after telling G.I. Joe that they have lost.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Austin Powers does this a couple of times, with Dr. Evil flying off into space.
  • In Captain Marvel (2019), Ronan sees Carol destroy all of his missiles, the fighters deployed to kill her, and one of the big ships. Then as she's prepared to attack Ronan's ship too, he orders a retreat but hopes to come back for her someday.
  • In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Jade Fox is almost killed by Li Mu Bai, but escapes the legendary warrior - who is capable of Roofhopping to the point of flight - by jumping over a wall. And he just lets her get away.
  • In The Crow, just as Eric Draven is closing in on Skank (one of the four thugs who raped and murdered his girlfriend after knocking him out a window), he finds himself in a conference room where gangster Top Dollar and what appears to be about two dozen of his fellow criminals are holding a meeting. Top Dollar taunts Eric and then orders the whole crew to open fire on him - which, of course, touches off a frighteningly violent from-beyond-the-grave vigilante massacre that persuades Top Dollar, his half-sister, and his bodyguard to flee the scene long before Eric has slaughtered the last baddie. The thing is, Top Dollar never even had to flee in the first place: Skank was there too, and Top Dollar could have just saved his own life and that of almost everyone else in the room if he'd simply let Eric take Skank. Even then, Top Dollar would probably have lived if only he hadn't kidnapped the street kid who was Eric's best friend - not to mention that he outright admits that he was the one ultimately responsible for the girlfriend's murder once he (supposedly) has Eric beaten.
  • In The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, Cagliostro escapes the castle by simply slipping out while Seward and Tanner are chasing the monster and Vera.
  • In The Fate of the Furious, after Dom and his team ruin Cipher's plans by destroying her submarine and the Shaw brothers kill all her men and hijack her plane, Cipher escapes by parachute and remains at large.
  • Happened often in the superhero Film Serials, which leads to hilarious results if you're binge-watching them in the present day instead of once a week at the theatre. For instance in the 1943 serial Secret Service in Darkest Africa, Once an Episode The Dragon jumps on his horse and flees, so instead of the villain escaping to strike again another day, he comes across as a habitual Dirty Coward!
  • G.I. Joe:
    • Subverted in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. At first it looks like Destro and Cobra Commander are going to do this, but Duke refuses to let them escape and catches them.
    • Played straight in G.I. Joe: Retaliation: Cobra Commander escapes on a helicopter near the end of the movie.
  • Godzilla:
    • Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster: After getting beaten up by Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra, King Ghidorah flies away into space.
    • Invasion of Astro-Monster: After King Ghidorah, Godzilla, and Rodan all topple off a cliff and into the sea, Ghidorah has enough and flies out of the water and into space.
    • Godzilla vs. Gigan: After being bested by Godzilla and Anguirus, and fed up when King Ghidorah blasts him for bumping into him, Gigan flies away into space. King Ghidorah then gets beaten up by Godzilla and Anguirus and escapes into space as well.
    • Godzilla vs. Megalon: After being bested by Godzilla and Jet Jaguar, Gigan flies away into space, while Megalon burrows back to his subterranean kingdom.
    • Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah: In their first fight, King Ghidorah eventually attempts to escape, but Godzilla shreds his wings with his Atomic Breath, causing him to plummet into the ocean.
    • Godzilla vs. Destoroyah: When the battle starts to go against him, Destoroyah attempts to escape, but the JSDF soldiers shoot him down with several Freeze Rays.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): After getting ambushed by the military and seeing Godzilla recover on his flank, Ghidorah decides to book it by flying out of the Antarctic scenery, much to Godzilla's agitation.
      • See the Comic Books folder for another MonsterVerse example.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: In the film adaptation of Deathly Hallows Part II at least (in the books they simply awkwardly sit around in the Great Hall post-battle); the Malfoys decide to cut their losses and simply get the hell out of dodge during the Final Battle rather than stick around and deal with the aftermath.
  • The James Bond villain (and Archenemy) Ernst Stavro Blofeld escapes from his exploding Volcano Lair in You Only Live Twice.
    • He escapes again in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, although not without injuring his neck, and he still manages to get some revenge on Bond by killing his newlywed wife.
  • Kaamelott: Premier Volet: The Usurper Lancelot is defeated at the end, but Arthur Pendragon lets him flee.
  • Killer Tomatoes Eat France, the fourth and final film of the Killer Tomatoes series, ends with Professor Gangreen escaping justice by fleeing in a hot air balloon alongside his tomato minions Zoltan, Ketchuck, and Viper.
  • The rewritten version of Gandalf vs. Witch-King in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King has major shades of this. In The Movie, the Witch-King actually has Gandalf at his mercy, then quickly exits when The Cavalry arrives.
  • Subverted in Smokin' Aces. The last living member of the redneck neo-Nazi assassins is accosted by the last living member of a group of bounty hunters that had run afoul of them earlier. At first, the Nazi walks away... and then the audience hears, "Fuck this" and the Nazi is brought down by repeated shots in the back.
  • Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball: Subverted once again. Right when it looks like Weed/Leuco is about to make a standard, clean getaway at the end of the movie, Baker comes from nowhere and shoots him through the windshield.
  • Star Wars:
    • Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones does this after the clone army attacks, fleeing to his personal spacecraft, and though Anakin and Obi-Wan (and then Yoda) pursue him they aren't that effective, leaving him alive for the next film.
    • A New Hope: Darth Vader does the same after the Death Star is destroyed. (Not that he had much choice, since his TIE Advanced was damaged and he had to land on a nearby planet for repairs.)
  • In Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, after a temporarily powered-up Optimus curb-stomps Megatron and kills the Fallen, Starscream suggests the Decepticons beat a hasty retreat.
    Starscream: Not to call you a coward, master, but — sometimes... cowards DO survive.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse:
    • As Wolverine is let loose on the Alkali Lake facility, Stryker is shown to already be on his way out by helicopter.
    • After Apocalypse is defeated, Psylocke is seen scowling at the X-Men from a distance before walking away.

  • In the earlier books in A Series of Unfortunate Events, Count Olaf would always get away, while Mr. Poe comically and ineffectively attempted to get the police to chase him. In the first book, he literally walks off a stage after another villain turns off the lights for his escape.
  • Used in Shadow of the Giant to create a moral dilemma: in order to save a hostage, Bean promises the villain he'll let him escape and then has to decide whether to keep that promise, knowing that doing so will probably result in many deaths.
  • In President's Vampire the good guys literally hold Konrad by the collar and are ready to kill him when he points out that the President's in danger and invokes Cade's blood oath, meaning he abandons him instantly and rushes off to the rescue, letting Konrad escape practically scot-free.
  • Parodied in Discworld novel The Last Hero. Cohen's band of heroes would always let Dark Lord Harry Dread escape, and he would always hire stupid minions and make easily-escaped dungeons. They all refer to it as The Code; either you live by the code, or you don't. If you're a villain this means being a Card-Carrying Villain, and if you're a hero you benefit from Plot Armour. If you don't live by The Code, then that means that those ineffectual villains can stop playing around, or that the heroes don't have to let the villain escape. It's not just tradition, it's a way of life. Which means either you live by the code or, you know. Not. Harry's the last of the Dark Lords because modern non-code heroes find and seal the escape routes before attacking.
    • The Old Count from Carpe Jugulum benefits from a variant of this: he always makes sure that his castle is full of easily-improvised anti-vampire weapons, and the villagers who defeat him never actually scatter the ashes so he'll stay dead-dead.
  • In the second half of The Saga of Darren Shan, Darren and two other vampires are tasked with chasing down the leader of the enemy clan of vampires. The Either/Or Prophecy says that they will encounter him four times, and if they don't kill him in those encounters, their clan will fall. In three of those encounters, of course, he escapes, setting up for the final showdown.
    • The first is more of a Screw This, I'm Outta Here after Darren and his friends spring a surprise attack and kill all their friends without even getting their names (and these are supposed to be the heroes...)
    • In the second, they're on the Lord's territory and he's just killed one of the Hunters, though they think they've killed the real Lord. He springs a horrible secret onto them before leaving, adding to their torment. His exit is justified by the fact that they'd agreed to single combat, and said that both sides will let all others go unharmed.
    • In the third case, though, Steve has Darren at his mercy, bleeding on a city street, and decides to let him go just so that he can torture him further. This violates the prophecy and dooms his side, but he doesn't care.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Justified, as the Warrior Code makes it so that the winning cats have to let the defeated cats escape, to prevent unnecessary bloodshed.
    • Also played straight at the end of A Dangerous Path, where Tigerstar just runs away without putting up a fight.
  • In Star Trek: The Battle of Betazed, the Vorta overseer Luaran beams out in a climatic scene using a Dominion long-range transporter. She leaves her Cardassian colleagues behind to be captured, though.
  • At the end of the third Spaceforce book, the Big Bad Minty Mazata attacks Jay with her vampire fangs and escapes the planet in her ship before the alarm is raised.
  • Malevil forces this trope to zig-zag a bit when Malevil comes under siege. With Vilmain dead, his subordinate, Jean Feyrac, leads their men in an orderly retreat back to La Roque, Malevil's defenders watch them depart from the castle ramparts. Subverted when they mount their horses and ride along a hidden trail to cut off the survivors and set up an ambush. Double subverted when it's realized that Feyrac is alone, riding on a bicycle ahead of the soldiers, and Emmanuel must risk letting the leader go to avoid alerting the bulk of the army to the trap. Finally subverted again they remember Colin's bow allows for a silent kill and their enemies walk blindly into the ambush a few minutes later.
  • At the end of Curse of the Wolfgirl Big Bad Distikka manages to vanish unseen during the confrontation between our heroes and her Dragon.
  • In Moon Over Soho the "Faceless One" decides that having a chimney stack thrown at him is more than enough, and takes advantage of the distraction afforded by a crashing helicopter to disappear in the confusion. He'll probably be back.
  • Septimus Heap: When Alther exposed DomDaniel as a necromancer and took the Amulet of Akhu in the Backstory DomDaniel jumped from the top of the Wizard Tower and escaped into the Abyss.
  • Happens at the end of Sukhinov's Emerald City series in a most egregious way. After the Big Bad loses his army, he starts fighting the good guy's champion, then in the middle of a fight says "Oh, I don't think I can kill you!", and flies off into space The End!
  • In the Rainbow Magic series, Jack Frost escapes this way in Joy's book, leaving behind a taunting message for the heroes to find.
  • In the Venus Prime series, Big Bad Nemo pulls this twice - first after his cover as Editions is exposed by Blake (he escapes because Blake gets injected with a drug that causes him to rant uncontrollably, meaning that even if he'd gone to the police, nobody would have believed him), and later after Sparta slaughters most of the prophetae of the Free Spirit. He nearly escapes a third time in the last book, but instead gets erased from existence.
  • At the end of Island in the Sea of Time, Walker manages to escape from Alston's forces, albeit seriously injured.
  • The Vitalizer in "Clockpunk and the Vitalizer" is allowed by the heroes to leave at the end of the story, if only to spare Clockpunk the risk of greater injury. The reason he came is gone (never minding the fact that he's injured), so he accepts.
  • In The Traitor Son Cycle, after his forces are all but destroyed, the Big Bad leaves the field completely unopposed - mostly because the good guy's only flier has been taken down and the Big Bad has wings.
  • Edgedancer (a novella of The Stormlight Archive): Nale leaves the story by flying away into the storm, with no commeuppance for his actions save for his own guilt.
  • Pythe is almost certain that Mandragora survives the explosion at the end of the Copper-Colored Cupids short story The Resurrection of the Wellsians, though he cannot be sure. And, of course, the Wellsians themselves (or, at least, the five surviving ones) run away in their stolen Fog Ship, which was their plan all along.
  • In the backstory of Shadow of the Conqueror, Dayless the Conqueror slipped out of his capital through the sewers after being overthrown by The Alliance at the last battle, faking his death and going to live as a Retired Monster for the next twenty years.
  • In The Faerie Queene, Archimago teleports right out of his chains immediately after the Redcrosse Knight leaves him alone. By immediately, we mean it is the first thing that happens in the book, just after he got caught in the ending of the last one.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Eagleclaw in The Aquabats! Super Show! tries to fly off after the Dude wrecks his guitar, but ends up landing not far from where he took off, still in the camera's sight. He awkwardly runs off as the Aquabats regroup.
  • Quite often, the characters in The A-Team are content at shooting at their enemies' feet until they run away, only forcing the surrender of the main boss. The opposite is also noted with the army.
  • Subverted by most of the supervillains on the Batman (1966) TV show, who would either join their Mooks in the brawl or just stand there and hope for the best, often clutching their molls in front of them for protection.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Quite a few episodes feature the heroes standing around and letting Spike get away. This didn't seem so bad after his Badass Decay but back when he was a legitimate threat, it could really get on your nerves. Perhaps the most egregious is in "Halloween", where Buffy is standing right next to him as he starts to run away in defeat and clearly could have easily killed him.
    • "Crush" is possibly the most egregious; Drusilla returns to Sunnydale and Spike attempts to stake her to prove his love for Buffy. Buffy is disgusted, Spike gets distracted by Harmony, and Drusilla tries to kill Buffy. She fails, naturally, with Spike even helping Buffy out. Drusilla then mourns the fact that Spike is lost to the evil side, and... wanders offscreen while both Spike and Buffy just stand there. Sure, Spike might not have wanted to kill his ex-girlfriend now that he had nothing to gain from it, but Buffy sure as hell had reason to kill Drusilla — especially since Drusilla had recently murdered several people in an incident known to the Scoobies! Instead, Drusilla just leaves so she can be on Angel again.
    • The instances of Harmony getting away are rather irrational, considering that they always beat her so easily. She does still drink people's blood!
    • Also done humorously with the vampire Lyle Gorch in "Bad Eggs", who keeps saying "This ain't over!"... until he sees Buffy hack a giant underground tentacle-monster to death with a pickaxe.
      Lyle Gorch: Alright, it's over. [flees]
    • Buffy takes a beating from Warren until she manages to destroy the artifacts giving him super strength. Now that he has no chance to win, he whips out a previously unseen jetpack and flies away. Too tired to follow him, Buffy groans, "You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!" Spoofed when Warren's partner Andrew also attempts to escape in a jetpack but hits his head on a ceiling and knocks himself unconscious.
    • The trio make an embarrassing escape in "Gone". Willow foils their invisibility spell at the arcade, after which they use a smoke bomb as cover for their escape and almost don't get away because they have trouble opening the door.
    • In the Musical Episode, the villain pulls this off with grace and style. By the end, the Scoobies are united against him, and a threat from Willow seems to give him a moment of Sensing You Are Outmatched. But more importantly, his only goal in coming to Sunnydale was to sow chaos For the Evulz. By the time the heroes are ready to face him, he has done everything he wanted and had fun doing it. After a smug reprise of his Villain Song the show's over, so (like the performer he is) he decides to bow out. He applauds them for "winning" this Pyrrhic Victory and they do not face him again.
      Demon: Congratulations! [sarcastically] You beat the bad guy!
  • In Community after Mr. Rad accidentally confesses onstage to killing the previous glee club he gets away by shouting "Look! Kings of Leon!" and running off...stage left. No one tries to chase him.
    • Defied in "G.I. Jeff." Wingman shoots down Destro's parachute as he is ejecting from his downed aircraft, leading him to fall to his death. He is court marshaled for this, as doing so in a Thou Shalt Not Kill-based cartoon—let alone in real life—is a war crime.
  • Parodied in Danger 5 Once an Episode with Hitler escaping from Danger 5's A-Team Firing via a Super Window Jump through the same window every time. Our heroes then all look exasperated and never bother to chase him.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Terror of the Autons": At the end, UNIT does chase after the Master, but give up when they find his abandoned vehicle. The Doctor is completely unconcerned about the likelihood of the villain returning. "As a matter of fact, Jo, I'm rather looking forward to it." The Master would then perform this trope in almost every one of his appearances (except for those in which he "dies").
    • Likewise Davros, who almost literally performs this trope by sliding backwards out of frame at the moment of his catastrophic defeat in "Remembrance of the Daleks"; the tiny dot of an escape pod can subsequently be seen fleeing the Imperial Dalek mothership just before it explodes. Implied in "Resurrection of the Daleks", where he coyly tests the access to his secret escape pod for the camera before the climax.
    • It is actually quite rare for non-Master Who villains to escape; one exception is Count Grendel in "The Androids of Tara". After the Doctor and his allies storm Grendel's castle, the Count shouts "next time, I shall not be so lenient!" before jumping off a parapet into his moat and swimming away.
    • "The End of the World": Lady Cassandra O'Brien attempts to exit in a leftward direction via teleportation, only for the Doctor to teleport her back moments later — while she's bragging to her henchmen.
    • "Boom Town": Similarly subverted when Margaret Blaine repeatedly runs away from the Doctor, only to be forcibly teleported back by her own device.
    • "Doomsday":
      • The Cyber-Leader tries to do this, but is stopped by a Cyberconverted Yvonne Hartman performing a You Shall Not Pass!
      • As far as the Daleks of the Cult of Skaro go: "EMERGENCY TEMPORAL SHIFT!"
    • "Evolution of the Daleks": Dalek Caan, the last surviving member of the Cult of Skaro, pulls another "EMERGENCY TEMPORAL SHIFT!" when confronted by the Doctor at the end.
    • "Spyfall":
      • During part 1's cliffhanger, the Master teleports away after he thinks the Doctor has been killed by one of his sort-of-minions, leaving the companions plummeting to their doom on a cockpit-less, out-of-control plane.
      • In part 2, Daniel Barton is last seen fleeing his press conference and calling for an extraction team after the Doctor foils the Evil Plan.
    • "Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror": After being blasted with lightning from Wardenclyffe tower, unnoticed by the heroes, the Skithra ship is seen fleeing into the sky.
  • Firefly:
    • Subverted in "The Train Job" when a one-shot villain mistakenly thinks he's going to get this treatment. Instead, he gets to know one of Serenity's engines in a very personal and intimate manner.
    • Niska pulls one of these at the end of "War Stories", slipping past an enraged Mal and the remainder of Serenity's crew while his henchmen are busy dying.
    • YoSaffBridge tries to pull this twice, only for her to be swiftly found by Serenity's crew - twice - who let her go unharmed - twice.
  • Kamen Rider has most villains able to teleport, but exclusively for the purpose of making an escape after having been defeated. If the villain can transform like the heroes can, teleporting to escape is often the only power they have that doesn't require being in their superpowered alter-ego.
    • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid subverts the usual infallibility of this exit method when the title character has his final showdown with his Enemy Without. After suffering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, Parado attempts to teleport away and declare that he'll get Ex-Aid next time. Instead Ex-Aid grabs Parado by the neck to yank him out of his teleport animation, drags him to the ground, and tells him that there's not going to be a next time.
    • Kamen Rider Build provides a rare inversion: when Gentoku switches sides, he keeps the piece of equipment that he used to make his retreats as a villain, and uses it the same way when the heroes need to exit stage right.
  • Every episode of LazyTown. They don't even put Robbie Rotten in a Cardboard Prison. Or even have any police force (no wonder they need a superhero!) Granted, in a town with four adults and five kids as the total population, it doesn't seem like they could spare the manpower to guard him...
  • NTSF:SD:SUV::: Invoked by Trent when a minor villainous female spy tries to run away and he keeps insisting that "there's no time" and "we'll never find her anyway" in spite of her standing at the other end of the hall waiting for an elevator and his colleague having a clear line of sight to shoot her.
  • Supernatural:
    • "Monster Movie": Spoofed with Dracula putting away on a moped, including honking the horn.
    • "Caged Heat": Meg finally does this after a subversion, when she sees Crowley seemingly die; escaping before Dean could kill her with their Enemy Mine concluded. Dean admits that it was smart on her part.
    • Invoked in the season 6 finale when Crowley is Out-Gambitted and teleports away:
      Crowley: Exit Stage Crowley. [vanishes]
    • Then subverted in the season 7 opening. The other bad guy who outsmarted him knew all along where Crowley went, the only reason he allowed him to leave in one piece at all is that he still has use for him.
    • "Devil May Care": As soon as Abaddon realizes there is an angel present, she flees.
    • "War of the Worlds": Once the Winchesters get confirmation of Ketch's identity, he uses a smoke bomb to cover his escape and then flees.
  • Subverted in the V (1983) regular TV series, which begins right at the moment V: The Final Battle ended where Diana made her escape. Donovan immediately realizes that she's getting away, chases her, and catches her right away.
  • Wonder Woman uses this trope on occasion — which is pretty odd for a series with no recurring villains. And in one episode the villain actually discusses how he pulled this trope during their previous encounter (which was entirely off-screen).

  • The final mode of Junk Yard, "Outer Space", always ends with Crazy Bob escaping once you're out of firecrackers to throw at him.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Almost literally at nCw Femme Fatales XII, where Portia Perez (who shot a pretaped promo explaining that she would not be present before attacking Pink Flash Kira from behind) was confronted by Courtney Rush when trying to run for the exit, only to slip out le Centre St-Barthélemy's opposite exit. Show XIII put her in a strap match with "lumber Jills" to ensure she wouldn't be able to escape Kira's vengeance and even that nearly failed.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • In the Prose Edda, after Utgard-Loki explains to Thor how he and his companions were bested by forces far more powerful than they appeared, he uses his magical powers once more to make himself and the halls of Utgard to disappear before Thor can Drop the Hammer to smash them.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mutants & Masterminds: This is an explicit game mechanic. Players are rewarded for the villain escaping by fiat with "hero points" that allow them to increase their chances of success in later encounters.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Ut's traditional for the Big Bad wizard to have at least one teleportation spell prepared for when he drops under a certain number of hit points or his plan is spoiled. In 3rd Edition, it's usually Dimension Door, but that only gives a head start of a few hundred feet to whatever serves as an escape pod. However, a magic item, the Corrupted Unicorn Horn, takes this a step further and returns the possessor to wherever the horn was obtained. Ever since this item was published, more and more villains have been getting away easier. Other core spells that provide similar functions include Plane Shift, Word of Recall, and, at really low levels, Invisibility (which even comes in potion form for non-spellcasting cowards).
  • Truth & Justice: Villains get a pool of Villain Points they can spend to do things like turn out to actually be a robot double, or have a secret exit immediately to hand that closes and locks itself behind them. Game Masters were in fact encouraged to do this to make a villain into a recurring character instead of a one-off thing, with several encounters and last-minute escapes culminating in the villain (finally out of Villain Points) getting captured and locked up. Only to spend the time in prison regenerating their Villain Points through devious scheming...
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • If a Necron army is reduced to 25%, they teleport away. (In a reference to one of their sources, this rule is called "We'll Be Back!") Problem with that in gameplay is it means the Necron player loses automatically even if they might be winning. As of 2011, this rule was removed entirely, although its appearances in stories and the background lore remain canon.
    • If Cypher is ever "killed", the Chaos gods just teleport him out of danger.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Baldur's Gate II: the first time you confront the Big Bad right at midgame, after you reduce his hitpoints to 1 he will simply teleport away, stating that he doesn't have to fight there when his plans can be laid anywhere, that you are dying anyway because of what he previously did to you, and that many others are going to die because of his plans. He also unleashes to you some assassins that he would have sacrificed regardless.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • A notable attempt at aversion is seen in Final Fantasy VI, where Sabin (and maybe Shadow) confront Kefka in the Imperial Base outside of Doma. Kefka repeatedly employs a Villain: Exit, Stage Left after being hit, but Sabin does try to chase him down. The only reason Kefka gets away is because of conveniently placed enemies.
      • Kefka employs this trope an awful lot in the early parts of the game, while he's still being portrayed as a minor comic-relief villain. Pretty much everything goes to hell when Kefka stops running.
      • A couple times he also jokes as he runs. They yell at him to wait and he responds "Wait he says. What do I look like, a waiter?"
    • In Final Fantasy VII, Rude's defeat animation consists of him looking at his watch and walking away, with the heroes making no effort to pursue. But then again, said animation is too badass to interrupt. The sole exception is Rocket Town where he falls to his knees instead and is shown KOed following the fight.
    • Seifer in Final Fantasy VIII does this every time you fight him. One gets the impression that Squall really just doesn't want to kill him.
      • However, unlike Reno, you do knock him out once.
    • Final Fantasy XIII: Dysley (aka Barthandalus) does this twice to the protagonists before they are finally able to put him out of his misery. Justified in that his entire plan hinges on the protagonists getting stronger and making it through everything else alive.
    • Caius Ballad in Final Fantasy XIII-2 walks away no less than six times! Every time he does, there's not much Serah and Noel can do about it because they have no idea what time period he'll pop up in next.
    • In Final Fantasy XV, after defeating Aranea, she simply gets up and comments that her shift is over - she won't fight the protagonists unless she's getting paid to do so - and then literally jumps out of there with a "'til next time".
  • The King of Fighters XI: Subverted. Magaki opens a portal to escape, the entire time talking about how The Battle Didn't Count. The player's characters, meanwhile, openly mock him for abandoning the fight. Just as Magaki is about to enter the portal, however, Shion, The Dragon whom was previously thrown into it, hurls a spear through Magaki's chest from inside the portal and kills him.
  • The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night: After being defeated in battle, the pirate Skabb and the parrot masterminds Scratch and Sniff flee by means of the latter two grabbing Skabb by the shoulders, breaking through a window, and flying away. Tracking them down to finish off the battle takes up the rest of the level.
  • Shadow Hearts: Covenant: Subverted. Near the end of the game's first half, Rasputin has shown his true colors and launched a full-scale attack on Petrograd. The party catches up to him on the roof of the Winter Palace, but he jumps off and begins to fly away on his giant evil blimp. At this point, however, Yuri remembers that he's an incredibly powerful shapeshifter, transforms into Amon, and beats down both Rasputin and the zeppelin itself with his bare hands.
  • In Return to Castle Wolfenstein and its sequel, Wolfenstein (2009), the Nazi Mad Scientist Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse always gets away. So far it's happened four times: first with a U-Boat from Kugelstadt, then with a rocketplane from occupied Norway, then from the top of his personal castle after a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere destroyed his extradimensional battery, and lastly from a parallel dimension, through an ancient portal that led to an exploding Zepellin. The producers don't seem to want to kill him off since, as far as Those Wacky Nazis go, he's actually a rather competent villain. He even gets promoted to General between the two games. However, in The New Order, this trope is averted and Deathshead is finally Killed Off for Real at the end of the game.
  • This happens several times in Odin Sphere. Most notably when Cornelius allows the obviously insane and world-destruction-seeking Big Bad King Valentine to stumble away after besting him, TWICE. Not only that, Belial manages to survive FOUR boss fights before finally being killed, and that was only because he asked to be killed. And if that weren't enough, four characters didn't the foresight to kill Leviathan before he grows to full power, though Gwendolyn has the defense of Oswald's safety being more important to her at the time. Remarkably this IS subverted at one point though when Oswald decides to kill Skuldi rather than let him live. A good thing too, because the latter was about to attack him again. This is also partially subverted at another point when Cornelius seems to really consider killing Ingway before the latter asks him if he could deal with the guilt of killing his lover's brother.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Falco lets Bowser get away after destroying his Dark Cannon.
  • Mega Man (Classic)'s Dr. Wily. His case is especially bad, considering one time he literally escaped through an ordinary Goddamned door.
    • In Mega Man 7, Mega Man was about to give Wily a face full of plasma until Bass rescued Wily.
    • Shadow Man in Rockman 4 Minus Infinity does this every time you beat him until Cossack Castle Stage 1.
      • He attempts it again in the final stage if you manage to encounter and defeat him as an Optional Boss. This time, though, his smoke bomb malfunctions and he explodes like any other Robot Master.
    • In Mega Man Powered Up, Dr. Wily escapes if you beat him on Easy. Beating the game on harder difficulties causes Wily to go to his usual routine of begging Mega Man to leave him alone, claiming to have learned his lesson.
    • Subverted in the comic during the first game adaption. It looks like Wily is about to get away, but Mega Man proves too quick.
    • Rockman CX has Ultraman (yes, really) use a One-Hit Kill attack if the player takes too long to defeat him. If it's dodged by use of the Floor item, he just walks away, forcing you to fall into the Bottomless Pit and try again.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Present in most titles, especially when Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik is the main (and only) boss. Every time you defeat him, he comes back again in a bigger and sometimes-more-dangerous mecha to menace Sonic again and again.
    • Also very fond of this are Captain Whisker and his crew, the robot pirates from Sonic Rush Adventure. Since the cutscenes are just character art and text on a background, there was no need to explain how this was possible, and so the phrase "he got away again!" and variants thereof get used many, many times. This is also repeatedly lampshaded:
      Sonic: Argh! He ran off again!
      Blaze: Those guys just will not sit still!
  • The Poacher from Jade Cocoon, whose only role in the story is to provide a mini-boss battle when it would be a good time for a mini-boss battle. Levant lets the guy run away each time he beats him and makes no attempt whatsoever to stop him. Admittedly, it leads to a damned hilarious line after defeating the poacher for the third time:
    Poacher (on the brink of tears): I can't believe I just lost to a little kid. I guess I'm over the hill. Maybe I should just retire... See ya around, kid.
    Levant: *shrugs*
  • Giacomo, the one-man Quirky Miniboss Squad from Baten Kaitos Origins fights you three times, and twice he flees. The third time Sagi leaves his unconscious body where it fell, admitting that he envies him for his determination. Naturally, this becomes a serious case of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero when you consider what he became in the sequel.
  • Archer vs. Caster in Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works.
  • Pokémon villains, upon defeat, will always get away from the hero, who at the end of the game might even have a fire-breathing dragon. We don't know how they do it, because the game conveniently turns the lights out.
  • Lord Yuna of Breath of Fire IV constantly does this. Whenever someone confronts him over his monstrous deeds, he quickly teleports away like a coward. Unfortunately, it seemed to work quite well for him.
  • Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter in Dawn of War does this in both Dark Crusade and Soulstorm, and implied to have done this after Winter Assault (given he managed to escape Lorn V). Both Tau commanders also do this after their Ethereal is killed.
  • Lampshaded in Sands of Destruction. Immediately after killing someone, members of the World Salvation Front catch your party. Agan exclaims "Exit, Stage Left!" and your party proceeds to run off through the same door your opponents have just used to enter while they watch you leave.
  • The Ghouls in Fallout Tactics will sometimes say "Exit, stage left" when fleeing from a battle.
  • Tales of Symphonia makes an art of this. You fight several antagonists several times, but they always get away. Sometimes as easily as just getting up and walking away, and none of the heroes feel like chasing after them. That is, until the end when they all either die or join you.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's has the Big Bad Alduin do this before you can actually kill him if you defeat him on the Throat of the World. He then spends the rest of the game in Sovngarde feasting on souls to make himself strong again. However, this also causes a lot of his fellow dragons to desert him, including his then second-in-command, Odahviing (after you defeat him) who then turns around and helps the player reach the portal to Sovngarde ensuring Aludin's defeat! The reason for the switch in sides? No true dragon flees from a fight.
  • In Alpha Protocol, Conrad Marburg attempts this at the end of the Rome mission and Sergei Surkov attempts this at the end of Moscow. Depending on your choices and how you've interacted with them up to that point, they may or may not get away. Marburg, if he escapes, can later be convinced to say Screw This, I'm Outta Here and wash his hands off the whole affair.
  • Bowser Jr. at the end of every world in New Super Mario Bros. Wii will jump onto the airship as Mario runs up to him, stays a good four or five feet away, and just stands there watching as he flies off with the princess.
    • Except for two worlds, where the airship actually left without him. This results in him running after it and Mario finally chasing him to it. An airship level ensues. You fight him at the end, although he just jettisons you each time you beat him. Stupid Kamek.
      • In the final world (save the secret one) there isn't any chase scene, you just run up to the airship, infiltrate it, and engage him in his really final boss fight. I mean it this time.
    • Also used repeatedly in the Paper Mario series; at one point, to escape, minor baddie Mimi simply floats up and apparently passes through a wall, perhaps by flipping to 3-D.
  • In BioShock 2, It is revealed that the Big Sister was planned to be this. Just being one Big Sister that would always flee after being defeated. However the creators believed that most players would get annoyed at the idea of the Big Sister always fleeing, so they made multiple Big Sisters.
  • In inFAMOUS 2, Bertrand does this after the first time you defeat him as The Behemoth.
  • Happens with Sekto in Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, who swims off in the now-un-dammed river. It's somewhat justified, however, as 1). Stranger wasn't aware of Sekto's "true form", and 2). he and the Grubbs were generally rather distracted by The Reveal of Sekto's abandoned host body: the previous guardian Steef.
  • In the original RosenkreuzStilette, at the end of both story modes, Iris Zeppelin escapes by blowing up the palace that serves as The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. In the sequel, she does not get away this time, either being frozen or blowing up.
  • Giygas in EarthBound Beginnings, after your party sings the eight melodies to him. Pokey in EarthBound (1994) does this twice, once after you confront Mr. Monotoli and again after you vanquish Giygas outright. The latter is what ultimately leads him to the time in which Mother 3 takes place.
  • The enemy commander in Nintendo Wars do this after every battle, even if you win by capturing their HQ or (In the case of Days of Ruin) destroy the unit that the commander himself is traveling with. It's at least parodied with Lash, who even leaves a dummy of herself behind to distract Sami and Nell while she flees.
    • It's usually justified, since the commanders communicate by radio and can simply evacuate well before they're in any real danger, and they'll invariably get caught when they run out of territories to flee to. It is, however, played straight with Jugger, Koal, and Kindle, who realize they're beat and set off in a tank to start anew elsewhere, and Vlad does this in Battalion Wars (though in the sequel, the protagonists simply shoot down his escape transport when he attempts this).
  • During the second-to-last scenario of the Earth Route in Shin Super Robot Wars, The Daikyuu Maryuu team beats up Lu Cain and the Demon Death squadron to the point where Lu Cain and the Demon Death squadron are forced to retreat to the mothership. To find out what happened to those guys, You have to play through the Space Route and fight them in the last scenario in that Route.
  • By the time the final stage of RefleX rolls around, with all but one of the Raiwat's ZODIAC units destroyed, the Raiwat army is retreating, leaving ZODIAC Libra, ZODIAC Ophiuchus, and a pair of KAMUI units to duel amongst themselves.
  • Contra: Bahamut does this in one of the endings of Contra: Hard Corps. Lance Bean does this in Shattered Soldier and Master Contra does this in Neo. Leviathan does this in Hard Corps: Uprising.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky: Subverted. After his One-Winged Angel form is defeated, Weissmann tries to run away from the heroes, and is seemingly successful at first, until Kevin catches up to him, reveals his true identity as a Church Militant, and shoots him with a Salt Bolt, slowly and painfully turning him into salt.
  • In Time Crisis, should you take too long to defeat Kantaris in the Special Mode, she will do this. However, she also does this in the spinoff Project Titan after you rescue the VSSE agent Abacus.
    • In the fifth game, once Robert is exposed as the traitor and Big Bad by Keith, Robert uses a flashbang and escapes from the protagonists. Later subverted as the heroes eventually catch up to him and take him down.
  • After the failure of his plan in Something Else, The Evil Guy says that he's going home and frees the Village Elder.
  • Can potentially take place in Fire Emblem: Awakening, if the characters can't catch up with the boss in Cynthia's Paralogue.
  • Upon defeating the Scyther in Metal Slug 5, the boss doesn't die, rather, it flies away in the background.
  • Happens sometimes in Kingdom Hearts To be fair, the villains can teleport while Sora can not (or he has more immediate concerns). Also played with at one point when Xigbar introduces himself in the Land of Dragons summons heartless, disappears... and when the camera turns around to show Sora being battle ready, we can see Xigbar running away behind Sora in a goofy manner.
    • In Kingdom Hearts III: When Xigbar is defeated by Sora and Riku, he teleports to the top of the wall and jumps off. Seemingly a case of Better to Die than Be Killed. However, the game's epilogue reveals that was a fake-out and he really escaped to enact his true plan as Luxu.
  • The Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast, and PC versions of Donald Duck: Goin' Qu@ckers have Merlock escape by vanishing in a puff of smoke after the final boss fight.
  • Death in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin has no real interest in fighting Jonathan and Charlotte, and even points out that since Dracula is nowhere to be found he couldn't care less what they're doing and that they have no quarrel. He only fights because he thinks they're not a threat and Jonathan challenges him regardless. After they whittle him down a bit he acknowledges them as a threat and leaves, since there's no benefit in risking himself against them.
  • The plot of Heroes of Might and Magic 3 expansion The Shadow of Death revolves around the quest of four heroes to defeat the Big Bad necromancer Sandro, with occasional flips to his perspective to shake things up. When the heroes finally prevail, there's an epilogue campaign in which Sandro is once again playable, except he's been reduced to level one and has lost the Amplifier Artifacts that made his prior reign of terror possible. We never find out how he escaped or why the heroes didn't just kill him.
  • In World of Warcraft Sylvanas loses her temper in a duel and reveals she has no respect for any of her followers. Realizing she has lost their support and her original plans are ruined, Sylvanas chooses to flee by turning into a shadow that flies away.
  • Metal Face of Xenoblade Chronicles 1, despite being a Giant Mecha immune to almost any form of damage, still runs away any time things don't go his way. Justified in that Mumkhar is established as a Dirty Coward from the game's very first sequence.
  • One Piece: Pirate Warriors:
    • In the third game's alternate storyline, Doflamingo is defeated with a group effort (the Straw Hats appear to take care of his string clones, Kuzan blocks him with ice, and Luffy and Sabo knock him out with a combined attack) but he gets up, admits his defeat, and just flies away.
    • It happens again in the fourth game's alternate storyline. Kaido is defeated by the Straw Hats and their various allies, only for him to get up and say he's leaving Wano to prepare for the war he wants.
  • Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin: Once Loboto's moral compass is restored and he has his Heel–Face Turn, he activates the Self-Destruct Mechanism in his base. He's at least nice enough about it to gather the Psychonauts near their jet and tell them to flee, though. In fact, Psychonauts 2 reveals that he stowed away on their jet.

    Web Animation 
  • In one of the six endings (the canon one) of the hundredth episode of Red vs. Blue, Red Team lets Blue Team go without trying to kill them because they've had enough for one day.
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, Karamazov is surrounded and Kitten is about to have him blown to smithereens when the Emperor orders Captain-General to let him go, for as-of-yet-unknown reasons and the Inquisitor leaves for his Supervillain Lair.
  • Minilife TV: In "The X-Team Attacks", Commander X flies away using his rocket boots once his plans to stop the 28th Legondo World Martial Arts Tournament are foiled.

  • In Girl Genius, Tarvek beats the crap out of Zola and is about to kill her, when Gil suddenly stops him, allowing her to fly away. It matters little that she was unconscious by that time, and the reason she could escape is that her flying coat was already activated, and it was Tarvek's weight that was pulling her down.
  • In Webcomic Minions At Work, the villain not only did this, leaving his Mooks to face the enemy, the severance check bounces.
  • The Order of the Stick plays this straight, subverts, and lampshades it on several occasions.
    • Lampshaded and subverted in this earlier comic. A minor villain attempts to exit stage left, only to be ganked by the resident Heroic Comedic Sociopath, who is then chided by his Genre Savvy teammates for killing off a recurring villain.
    • Played straight here, at the end of the Dungeon of Dorukan arc. The heroes, after defeating Xykon thanks to a Deus ex Machina, completely ignore his henchman, Redcloak, allowing the latter to escape with the lich's Soul Jar.
    • Lampshaded again in this strip, when Nale uses a conveniently timed distraction to make an exit, only to return moments later with the evil cavalry.
    • Nale does it again in Bleedingham, although Malack does at least point out that it's only a short-range teleportation spell and instructs the City Guards to search for him.
    • Played tragically straight here, where Miko's ill-timed intervention allows the nearly defeated villains to make a last-second escape.
    • The Order Invokes this by ganging up on one villain in a pitched fight, which prematurely triggers the Contingency spell that teleports him away from serious harm. The villain's allies are left behind.
  • In Bob and George, Megaman lets Dr. Wily ready his escape before the fight.
    • At the end of the Fifth Megaman Game storyline, they finally do manage to capture Dr. Wily, but then, er... distractions happen. Well, he had to get away somehow.
  • Averted in El Goonish Shive with Damien as he self-destructs. However, according to the "PB Special Features" strips, in the first versions of the script of the ''Painted Black" arc, Damien would always get away, go into hiding and later return to cause more trouble.
  • Huckleberry: When Mechaworm's first fight against Huck is interrupted by the more powerful Morning Star, he immediately calls it quits.
    Mechaworm: I'll be back with a better scheme, and Morning Star will fall! Until then... bye!

    Web Original 
  • At the end of IGSRJ's review of Batman for the NES, the Riddler flees after IGSRJ and Batman solves his riddle. He did not expect IGSRJ to grab a real pistol and shoot him in the back. Understandably, Batman was not happy.
    Batman: You stupid motherfucker! Don't you ever watch my show? You're supposed to capture the villain so he can escape from prison in a future episode.
  • Creepypastas often have this happen. For example, Jeff the Killer, after his attempt to murder a young boy in the beginning of his first story goes sour, smashes a window, jumps out of it, and escapes into the night. The cops who were called on him don't bother going after him.

    Western Animation 
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Dr. Doofenshmirtz gets away every time, though usually not unscathed.
  • Perhaps the most frequent use of this trope was in the cartoon segments of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!. After Bowser's latest plot is foiled, he would often have an exit (usually a "warp zone potion") that would allow him to duck out just before the heroes can fully defeat him. Except for one episode, this was done every time without fail.
  • Spoofed by The Simpsons episode about spinoffs, where Chief Wiggum and Principal Skinner fight criminals. Said criminal jumps into the water, and Skinner comments on how he's very slowly getting away (he's a Fat Bastard type who can barely swim), and they could probably catch him. Wiggum replies that he's certain they'll face him again, each and every week.
  • Every single time, Carmen Sandiego from Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? would take to the sky via jetpack. You'd think with the almost alien technology at Acme Crime Labs' disposal, they'd think up some countermeasures.
  • Super Friends does this ALL THE TIME. Just about every episode ends with the Legion of Doom defeated and with no way out, but the Super Friends pretty much let them get away. At one point, the Legion of Doom can only resort to TURNING INVISIBLE. And the Super Friends just. Stand. There. This would occasionally be subverted in later seasons, especially with one-shot villains.
    • In "Rub Three Times For Disaster", an Arabian Nights-themed villain gives the classic "he who fights and runs away" line while seated in his escape vehicle, only to be promptly lassoed by Wonder Woman and taken into custody.
    • In "The Case of the Dreadful Dolls", Dollmaker tries to escape in a jeep, only for Firestorm to zap the jeep and turn it into a Jack-in-the-Box with Dollmaker tied up inside.
    • In "Village of Lost Souls", Brainiac tries to escape in his spaceship, but Apache Chief turns giant and grabs it. Brainiac then tries to leave in an escape pod, but Apache Chief plucks it out of the air as well.
    • In "The Ghost Ship", Superman grabs Darkseid's ship to prevent it from leaving, but Darkseid hurls a necklace that contains a miniaturized population towards a sun. Superman is forced to let the ship go to save the necklace.
  • Dr. Drakken of Kim Possible often gets away at the end of the episode (in a hovercar or other escape vehicle he and Shego conveniently had waiting). Sometimes he does go to jail, but he never seems to stay there long. It was also subverted once when he tried to get away with a jetpack but forgot he was inside and collided into the ceiling.
    • Although at the beginning of the fourth season, while Kim would be fighting some other villain, an episode would sometimes end with Drakken, showing how he was coping in prison with his ridiculously annoying cellmate/Fan Boy Frugal Lucre. Further twisting the knife, at least twice someone broke out Shego, leaving Drakken behind to rot.
  • Skeletor in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) frequently teleports away to safety whenever his schemes fail, or sometimes onto a conveniently placed vehicle.
    • On rare occasions, he exits in grand fashion.
      • This scene isn't really an example because it's Skeletor's Good Mirror Twin created by a mirror that made opposite duplicates of whoever looked into them, getting back inside the Mirror that created him and destroying it to make sure it's not used again. It's still an awesome exit, though.
      • In a Geico commercial, Skeletor distracts He-Man, She-Ra, and Man-At-Arms with the product plug long enough to make a clean getaway.
  • Spoofed in the South Park episode, "Super Best Friends", where the villain escapes via a Cobra Commander-like escape pod. The heroes just stand around and curse watching him get away.
    • Scott Tenorman makes his escape through jet pack at the end of “201”. But this time, they didn’t even recognize him.
  • Done by Batman to the Legion of Doom at the end of Justice League Unlimited. For helping save the world from Darkseid's invasion, he gave them "A five-minute head start." As the last episode of the series, it was more than enough time.
  • Repeatedly (and suspiciously) used in the TV series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.
    • After defeating the doomsday device of the week, G.I. Joe will often round up lower echelon Cobra troopers to presumably face prison, but the upper echelon villains such as Cobra Commander, Destro, and Zartan will always escape. Sometimes, this is due to most of them being slippery masters of disguise, but on a couple of occasions, the Joes will literally watch them run or drive away, which is particularly odd when you consider that the Joes usually still have plenty of working vehicles at the end of a mission. Job security, maybe?
    • And it's not like Cobra Commander usually makes much attempt to conceal his intention to run away, what with his habit of loudly shouting "COOOOOOBRA! RETREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAT!" in full earshot of the Joes.
  • In the X-Men: The Animated Series episode "Phalanx Covenant", Mr. Sinister beats a hasty exit at the end of all the shenanigans. The worst part is he's less than a block away, and just running down an alleyway, and all is said is a nonchalant "Sinister's getting away!" He's right there. Catch him!
  • Inspector Gadget:
    • One of the most notable examples from Western Animation is Gadget's arch-nemesis Dr. Claw, who'd flee in his Flying Car of evil with his parting Catchphrase "I'll get you next time, Gadget... next time!" However, Dr. Claw never came face to face with Gadget in the original series, preferring to act as The Chessmaster behind the episode's plot.
    • In the second season, recurring MAD agents would appear for three episodes, escaping without being arrested in each episode. No one really seemed to care that the MAD agents were still loose and could strike again at any time. Penny in particular suffered character decay, as she didn't seem to be bothered in the slightest about the escape of agents who had been trying to kill her uncle, and who would return to do so again.
    • In the 2015 reboot series, Claw's nephew Talon has rocket boots that help him carry on this tradition.
  • Asajj Ventress and General Grievous in Star Wars: The Clone Wars are absolute masters of this, and never miss an opportunity to perform it. In the very first episode, when Yoda quite neatly disassembles all Ventress' attacks with his superior Force abilities, she resorts to causing an overhead mountain to explode, so while Yoda catches the boulders with his telekinesis she runs away faster than the Road Runner to a nearby escape pod.
    • A particularly bizarre case features in the debut of Hondo. After Anakin and Obi-Wan finally defeat him and have him at their mercy, Hondo expects to be placed under arrest and thrown in jail. Obi-Wan however, orders Hondo to be let go. He warns Hondo that Count Dooku, whom Hondo had also crossed, will be likely to be far less merciful, implying that Obi-Wan is counting on Dooku killing him...but Hondo shows up in future episodes unharmed, meaning such an event never occurred. So ultimately Hondo escaped and never faced punishment for his crimes because Obi-Wan...didn't feel like following proper protocol and bringing him in apparently...
  • Shredder did this every week on the '80s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. No matter where he happened to be at the time, as soon as his plan went sour a great big drill-car thing (referred to as a Transport Module) would burrow up from the ground, he'd hop in and head back underground to the Technodrome, and at no point did it occur to the turtles to simply go down the hole after him. Mind you, the holes did have a tendency to fill up with lava and cool into rock pretty quickly seeing as the Big Bad's HQ was at the center of the Earth. In fact, the turtles once attempted to pursue Shred-Head's escape through the driller in one episode... and were quickly rewarded by literally getting the Hot Foot within moments. In seasons where the Technodrome was in Dimension X, Shredder and company would escape via a portable dimensional portal instead.
    • Lampshaded in one episode where a guest character shouts "Shredder is getting away!" and Raphael wearily responds "Yeah, you get used to that."
    • Averted by Shredder in The 2K3 series, but played straight by Agent Bishop.
    • In the 2003 series, when minor villain Dr. Malignus's plans get foiled by Silver Sentry and Mikey, he manages to escape Silver Sentry, noting how he always has an escape plan. Subverted when he does get stopped by Mikey seconds later.
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Chase" had a three-way fight between Aang, Zuko, and Azula that was joined by the rest of the main cast, minus Mai and Ty Lee. Everyone corners Azula, until she shoots Iroh, the rest of them attack her, she causes an explosion, and presumably runs off somewhere. In the Who Would Want to Watch Us? episode, we have:
    Actress Azula: [pointing offscreen] What's that? I think it's your honor.
    Actor Zuko: Where?
    [everyone turns around; actress Azula opens a door and walks offstage]
    Actress Katara: She got away! But how??
  • Legend of Korra:
    • Though Amon, the villain from the first season eventually dies when his brother blows them both up, he initially escapes with little to no pursuit. No one knows about Amon's death, yet there is never any indication of an ongoing investigation into his disappearance. In fact, he is rarely mentioned after season one.
    • Defied by Asami, The Equalist Evil Genius Hiroshi fights her in a mech suit and ends up beaten and disarmed. After a few family arguments, Asami stays her hand he uses this distraction, to shoot up a grappling hook, making her dodge it and lose pace. After that he exits the suit and gets away... so she just shoots an electrified bolo at him and takes him down.
    • Played straight with Varrick in the finale of Book 2 when he and Zhu Li escape from prison during the Big Bad's attack on Republic City.
  • Strangely enough, it was the one-shot Birdman (1967) villains who escaped capture on a semi-regular basis, sometimes by endangering others, sometimes... just by leaving the scene really fast and letting Birdman hover there declaring to Avenger that they would meet again. In the end, only one escapee villain (Vulturo) was actually defeated and arrested in a second encounter. This made it all the more satisfying in "The Incredible Magnatroid" when Birdman decides there's enough time left in the episode to actually prevent Metallo from escaping in a helicopter with the following immortal line:
    Birdman: Look, Avenger! Our culprit's trying to escape! Well, he won't get far without propellers!
  • Happened often in Transformers: Beast Wars. In many given episodes, the Maximals would manage to often push the Predacon forces back, but would rarely follow through with a full-scale attack against them, often because they themselves had sustained heavy damage as well and as such would allow Megatron and his forces to flee back to their base. This is somewhat justified insofar that Maximals are supposed to be peaceful as a rule, and Optimus as a rule wants to protect his crew and return to Cybertron rather than engage in all-out warfare.
  • Henry Masterson and his Headmaster Unit in Transformers: Animated. His first appearance he manages to escape while the Autobots are busy trying to reset a solar fusion reactor. Second time is nearly subverted, but Porter C. Powell arrives on the scene at the last moment to play it straight. Finally subverted without interference when he's trying to brawl Optimus with Starscream's abandoned body.
  • Happens in every series in Transformers. Typically the reason for the Decepticons getting away in the old series was that they could fly and the Autobots couldn't, even though they could in the pilot episode. A spin on it was done in Transformers: Armada, where the Decepticons got away by teleporting; the episodes that revolved around getting a Minicon always had them teleporting away, regardless of whether they got it or not. This led some to some moments where they would leave even if they had the overall advantage. Although this wasn't the only Transformers series that did it, it did it the most frequently.
  • In an episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Villain of the Week The Junkman has been tied to a chair on his own ship. He tricks Jimmy into freeing him, then heads over to an escape pod, and escapes, while everyone just stands there.
  • In The Magician, while Ace Cooper would always be able to capture the minor, one-shot villains in each episode, the major baddies such as Black Jack, Sonny Boy, and Faceless would always escape. In Black Jack's case, it's not that he ran away but that his lawyer Clockwise would always be able to twist the facts around so Black Jack wouldn't be arrested.
  • Slade does this in the first season finale of Teen Titans (2003), after his mask gets knocked off and he's decided he's had enough. He does, however, trigger his lair's self-destruct so that the Titans won't be able to follow him. The season four finale has a variation, as Slade is actually not really a villain at that point and gets flung away by Trigon from the final battle, not to be seen again. Later on, though, Robin expresses his belief that Slade survived and returned to his villainous ways.
  • In one particular episode of Bravestarr, the hero literally threw the villain away. He threw him about a mile, into a swamp. What makes it particularly egregious was that this was an anvilicious episode about vigilantism. Right after throwing the villain away, Bravestar turns to the strawman vigilante (who has been hunting Villain all episode) and says something like "See, justice prevails!". The really, really sad part is the vigilante agrees and promises to mend his wicked ways.
  • An episode of Batman: The Animated Series that has Batgirl and Catwoman join forces to find who stole a cat-shaped artifact from a museum ends with Catwoman trying to swipe the item for herself, but then being persuaded by Batgirl to turn herself in. However, as the police cart her off, Catwoman somehow forces them out of the squad car and drives away herself. Robin tries to give chase, but Batgirl grabs him by the cape, reasoning that they'd encounter her again sometime.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Trixie, in both of her appearances, literally runs away behind a poorly executed smoke screen to make her escape. She face plants during her second escape, gets back up, and keeps running as if nothing happened. Worth a thousand words. Heck even her human counterpart pulled in this Rainbow Rocks after the Dazzlings were defeated.
    • The Flim Flam Brothers likewise did this in both their appearances. First time, when their apple cider turned out to be so undrinkable, the crowd turned on them and they fled despite winning their contest with the Apple clan. Second time, Applejack exposed their tonic was bunk, they quickly beat a hasty exit while Applejack is giving her Aesop before the ponies could take notice.
    • When Starlight Glimmer's plan in "The Cutie Map" is foiled and she realizes she can't defeat Twilight Sparkle in a fight, she creates an explosion as cover, then runs into a mountain cave system. The heroes decide not to follow her because those caves are like a maze, and only hope she learns her lesson.
    • In "To Where and Back Again", despite Chrysalis threatening destruction on Equestria and all the most powerful ponies and creatures in Equestria within sight of her, not a single one of them does anything to prevent her escape as she slowly flies away.
    • In "Once Upon a Zeppelin", the crowd gets angry when they find out Iron Will scammed Twilight Sparkle and her family. He escapes by jumping off the zeppelin with a parachute.
    • In "The Mean Six", the clones of the Mane Six that Chrysalis creates are destroyed by the Tree of Harmony when they try to take the elements, thus she vows revenge once again and flees without the Mane Six even knowing she was present.
  • Futurama: Almost literally in "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings". In the end, the Robot Devil throws a smoke bomb and vanishes (but not really: in the shot of the baffled audience we see the Robot Devil escaping in the background. On the stage right side.)
  • Samurai Jack: 90% of battles between Jack and Aku ended this way. Even lampshaded in a late episode:
    [Jack draws his sword and begins to rush toward Aku]
    Aku: Put that thing away, Samurai — we all know what's gonna happen. You'll swing your sword, I'll fly away, and probably say something like "I'll be back, Samurai!" And then I'll flutter off over the horizon, and we won't see each other for about a week. And then we'll do the same thing all over again.
  • The Spider-Man (1981) episode "When Magneto Speaks... People Listen" ended with Magneto getting away and Spider-Man being unable to go after him because he couldn't lift the door Magneto exited through.
  • Master Cyclonis in Storm Hawks is usually pretty good about this on the rare occasions she fights the team personally, with them being the ones usually running from her and only fleeing when she's already obtained what she wanted or when the odds are really stacked against her. Said departures are usually marked by teleportation along with copious amounts of Stuff Blowing Up to distract them. In the series finale, she flees through the portal to the Far Side of Atmos only after her best warrior dies and her Ominous Floating Castle starts collapsing around her along with her empire, with the Storm Hawks following after her in hot pursuit.
  • M.A.S.K.: After their plans are foiled by MASK, the criminal organization VENOM always manages to get away at the end of each episode. Usually, the episode tries to explain MASK not chasing them through some convoluted situation, such as Scott being in danger.
  • In the episode "Animorphosis" of Ben 10 (2016), after Vilgax's plan of creating an army using the Dnas of the Omnitrix is foiled by Ben and Animo working together, the alien overlord leaves by walking through a wall of flames. Ben and Animo does chase him… after a few seconds, since Ben was in awe of the cool exit Vilgax made.
  • In DC Super Hero Girls, the villains in Harley Quinn's gang will often escape in the end because otherwise their secret identities would be exposed.
  • Recurring Duckman villain King Chicken often got away in the end. "Joking the Chicken" even has him say "Exit, stage left" as he makes his escape.
  • Star Wars Rebels. Played for laughs in "Relics of the Old Republic". At the end of the AT-AT vs. AT-TE battle, a scowling Kallus escapes on a speeder bike with one of the AT-AT pilots clutching onto the side. The other pilot is left chasing after them, flapping his arms helplessly.
  • Very frequently done on Sonic Boom, usually after Five-Man Band Team Sonicnote  put Big Bad Dr. Eggman's evil plan for the day to a halt. He's reacted a variety of times to this happening, such as giving the classic We Will Meet Again speech to the heroes, or just calling it a day because he knows he'll no doubt be defeated again should another evil plan come to mind.

Alternative Title(s): Villain Exit Stage Right, Exit Villain Stage Left


Mola Ram's Escape

Mola Ram escapes through a trap door after Willie's sacrifice is thwarted.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

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Main / VillainExitStageLeft

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