There’s a somewhat common trope, largely in movies, where the hero fights a horde of henchmen and defeats them all. All but a single weak one that is left shivering and eventually runs away (the hero allows). Typically done for comedy, though its comedic value can be disputed due to its overuse.

An example can be found in Kill Bill vol. 1 when The Bride defeats the Crazy 88’s, right before fighting Johnny Mo:

Is there a name for this trope?

  • 1
    Not a trope name, but these guys are often referred to as "stragglers" ("a person or animal that is last in a group to do something or the last to get to or leave a place"), most often used in the context of "picking off/taking out the stragglers" to prevent them from getting backup. If anything, I'd argue that running away when you don't stand a chance is common sense, and tropes tend to focus on things that are not inherently common sense (except e.g. from a narrative point of view).
    – Flater
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 12:32
  • 1
    @Flater Mostly agreed (also, thank you for the point on stragglers). However, this situation is used frequently by directors exclusively (mostly?) for comedic effect, as it’s unnecessary as a plot point. As such, I think it qualifies as a trope. The directors could just as well make the hero defeat all enemies, but they instead leave a single one that not only runs away, they are permitted by the hero to run away.
    – user137369
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 15:22

2 Answers 2


Could be Not Worth Killing

Killing someone is too petty for the would-be killer.

Also sometimes used by the Anti-Hero as an excuse for not wiping out the Mooks.

It lists Kill Bill as an example.

  • It even lists that specific scene. Thank you. Looks like we have an answer.
    – user137369
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 12:34

A quick search on TVTropes.org found this particular entry: Screw This Im Outta Here

Henchman Bob is beginning to have second thoughts about his career with the Evil Overlord. Maybe he's dissatisfied with the lack of advancement opportunities, what with the Big Bad's tendency to kill subordinates for no reason, "motivational" reasons, or personal utilitaristic reasons. Maybe he's smart enough to realize that the next visit from the good guys won't end well for Team Evil. Or maybe Bob's just sick and tired of kicking puppies for a living.

Whatever the reason, Henchman Bob's had it up to here with Team Evil, so he washes his hands of the conflict and walks away.

It doesn't line up 100%, but I think it's close.

  • 1
    It is close, but I still feel like the particular fight situation must have (or at least deserve!) it’s own trope.
    – user137369
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 19:16
  • 5
    But not its own apostrophe! Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 18:21
  • @Malvolio It’s different enough that in my question the hero allows for the enemy to escape. In this answer, the enemy is deciding to not engage. If the hero didn’t allow it, they’d have no choice. @Kruga found the trope.
    – user137369
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 12:49
  • @user137369 -- I was merely drawing your attention to the difference between "it's" and "its", as in "It's its own trope!" Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 13:06
  • 1
    This seems like Bob leaves before the next battle with the good guys, not at the end when Bob is the last minion standing. Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 14:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .