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(pursuing the heroes down a corridor)

Stormtrooper: Close the blast doors! Close the blast doors!

(heroes escape as the blast doors slowly clamp shut)

Stormtrooper: Open the blast doors! Open the blast doors!

Someone shouts an order or entreaty, but is suddenly forced to change their stance and start chanting the opposite. A Comedy Trope.

The standard formula goes like this: repetition of a word or phrase -- alarming change in circumstance -- repetition of an inversion of the first. Or a straight reiteration of the first statement, given a humorous context by the new circumstances.

For example: "Chaaaaaaarge!" (giant rolling boulder appears) "Retreeeeaaaat!"

The change of circumstance often prompts an Oh Crap expression. See also Verbal Backspace, On Second Thought. Be Careful What You Wish For often involves this, though more long term. Compare Punch-Punch-Punch Uh-Oh. Contrast Attack! Attack! Attack!

Examples of Attack! Attack! Retreat! Retreat! include:


  • A common construct: a fantasy creature, such as a dragon, grabs someone and takes them into the sky. In midflight: "Let go of me!" (looks down) "Please don't let go!"

Card Games

 We outnumber them! Charge! Charge! Hey, where'd you guys go? Retreat! Retreat!

 Take the bridge, men! Victory! Victory is ou-- Retreat! RETREAT!


 Napoleon had been steaming in there 100 years before: "I'm going to kill them, I'm going to kill them, going to -- Oh, it's a bit cold, it's a bit cold. Right! OK, OK, bad idea." And then Hitler, "I've got a better idea, got a better idea -- Oh, it's the same idea! It's the same idea, it's the same idea..."

Comic Books

  • The usual outcome in Asterix, once given added funniness by the narrative.

 In attack, the Romans employ the formidable military manoeuvre known as "The Tortoise".

(short fight scene)

In retreat, the Romans employ the useful military manoeuvre known as "The Hare".

Comic Strips

Films -- Animated

  • Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. On hearing that their vegetables will be used as bait to attract the Were-Rabbit, Mrs. Mulch flees with her giant pumpkin, whilst the townsfolk yell at her "Come back! Come back!". The Were-Rabbit then approaches, prompting her to about turn. The villagers then realize what is happening and start yelling "Go away! Go away!"
  • Aladdin:
    • The title character has this to say: "Abu! This Is No Time to Panic!... Start panicking!"
    • In the sequel Return of Jafar:

 Iago: (in a birdcage) Open the cage! Open it! Open it! Open it!

(Abu opens the cage, the tiger approaches menacingly)

Iago: Close the cage! Close it! Close it! Close it!

  • An American Tail: "Welease the Secwet Weapon!" "Stop the Weapon!" "Release the Weapon!" "Make up your mind!" "Release the blasted weapon!"
  • Robin Hood (Disney), when Robin is chained up and about to be executed:

 Prince John: (throwing a tantrum) Off with his head!

(Little Jon secretly threatens him from behind with a dagger) Let him go, for heaven's sake! Let him go!

(the Sheriff distracts Little Jon, who releases Prince John) Kill him! Don't stand there, Kill him!

 Zazu: (in a cage) Let me out, let me out!

Timon: (being chased) Let me in, let me in!

 Jane: Put me down, put me down!

(a million maddened monkeys appear)

Jane: Pick me up, pick me up!

  • Mulan: During the fight against the Huns, Mulan runs out by herself armed with a cannon and a totally crazy idea. Her three friends in the army follow after her to help. Then they see the avalanche Mulan caused with the cannon, and immediately run as fast as they can in the opposite direction.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2: When the Furious Five attempt to bring down Shen's cannon factory.

 Monkey: [dropping a dozen barrels of explosives inside] Here's your New Year's gift!

Mantis: Hope you like it, 'cuz you can't return it!

Tigress: Po?! What's he doing here?

Monkey: [as he frantically tries to snuff out the burning barrels] Return it! Return it!

 Duke: Stop that coach! Close those gates!

(Cinderella's coach slips through before the gates close)

Duke: Follow that coach! Open those gates!

  • in Treasure Planet during the supernova, Captain Amelia orders: "Secure all sails!" And then when Dr. Doppler points out that he can predict the next magilla wave coming out of the black hole, and she decides they can ride that out of there, she turns to the crew, who have just finished tying down the sails, and we have this exchange:

 Mr Arrow: All sails secured, Captain!

Captain Amelia: Good man! Now release them immediately!

Pirates: But we just finished tying them down! Make up your bloomin' minds!

Films -- Live-Action

  • Three Hundred: Those in back cried "Forward!", those in front cried "Back!" ... The guy in front screaming "Back!" gets brutally stabbed just after saying it.
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
    • The heroes are being pursued through the Death Star: "Close the blast doors! Close the blast doors!" (doors close immediately after the heroes dive through) "Open the blast doors! Open the blast doors!"
    • Earlier, Han, Luke and company turn a corner and run directly into about half a dozen stormtroopers. Han shoots one and the rest flee in a panic. Han chases them screaming only to find a huge contingent of stormtroopers around the corner. Oh Crap. Cue Han's headlong screaming retreat. One of the few things the Re Cut improved was replacing the handful of soldiers with an entire hangar full of them, making Han's reaction much more justified (and funnier). Nonetheless, the original cut is (arguably) just as funny, where the stormtroopers hit a dead end, and then turn around to chase Han. It's very obvious that they just did a check head count and went "Hey, wait a minute..."
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
    • Another all-screaming version with the title character chasing one of the bad guys armed with nothing but a sword... until the bad guys friends show up (similar to the above Star Wars example) causing a hasty retreat.
    • Also, later, Indy stops the runaway mine-cart by pressing his foot against the wheel, causing his to catch on fire. He hops around while Whillie tries to kick dirt at it, shouting, "Water, water! Water!" A few seconds later, the deluge unleashed by Mola Ram comes flooding through the entire tunnel, destroying everything in its path. "Water! Waaater!" While it's the same word, Indy is extremely panic-stricken and clearly doesn't want it anymore.
  • Harry Potter Part 2: In the Room of Requirement, Ron chases Goyle furiously after he tries to AK Hermione, only to run away screaming, "Goyle just set this bloody place on fire!"
    • In Part 1, Harry tests his newly aquired wand by attempting to make a flame in a jar grow using an engorgement charm. He has to use the Reduction charm almost instantly as the tiny flame in the jar turns into a montrous column of fire.
  • Monty Python and The Holy Grail
    • The hero's Battle Cry quickly breaks down into a rather disorderly call for retreat. The French counterattack by launching farm animals at the attackers.


(one livestock bombardment later)


 Will: What about Jack? I won't leave without him!

(sees Jack being chased by natives)

Will: Time to go.

    • Also, gloriously combined into one single concept in At World's End.

 Jack: I have only ever embraced that oldest and noblest of pirate traditions: We must fight... to run away!

  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The cavalry rides out through the city gates, followed by one lone foot soldier screaming "Charge!" -- cue the gates being closed -- "Let me in!"
  • Zombieland: "Don't swing! Don't swing!... Swing!"
  • In a rare scene from Labyrinth not featuring "The Area", when they are fighting their way through the Goblin City: "Chaaaaaaaaarge!... Ruuuuuuuuun!"
  • Ghostbusters. "Get her!!!"
  • The American Godzilla film. The Intrepid Reporter's cameraman, Victor "Animal" Palotti (Frank Hazaria), runs down a hallway and encounters several baby Zillas.

 Animal: This way! This way!

(baby Zilla roars; Animal returns)

Animal: Not this way! Back that way!

  • Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome: The set-piece of chasing an enemy until all his mates turn up seen in Indiana Jones was repeated in this film.
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights has the Sheriff of Rottingham telling his man to get Robin until Robin puts a sword to his throat and his orders become, "Wait, I've... changed my mind."
  • Evolution: An alien burrows into Harry Block's leg.

 Dr. Paulson: We might have to amputate.

Harry Block: Whoa, Doc! Don't take the leg! Ira, don't let them take my leg.

Ira Kane: Isn't there anything else you can do? He thinks he's an athlete.

Nurse Tate: Doctor, look!

Dr. Paulson: It's headed for his testicles.


 Izzy: (as Jonathan is hanging from a rope ladder) Pull him up! Pull him up!

Jonathan: Pull me up! Pull me up! (sees the giant diamond on top of the pyramid) Wait! Let me down! LET ME DOWN!

  • One scene in Hook has Captain Hook holding a pistol to his head:

 Capt. Hook: This is it. Don't try to stop me this time, Smee. Don't try to stop me this time, Smee. Don't you dare try to stop me this time, Smee, try to stop me. Smee, you'd better get up off your ass. Get over here, Smee!

  • I Come in Peace: From Larry, when he asks Jack to stop driving on the sidewalks as they're being chased by the bad alien:

 Larry: Get back on the street, get back on the street! (sees the alien) Stay on the sidewalk, stay on the sidewalk!


  • The Hobbit: The dwarves are taken from the goblins by giant eagles. "Let go of me!" (looks down) "Please don't let go!"
  • In the Left Behind book Glorious Appearing: The GC Unity Army is primed and ready to attack both Petra and Jerusalem. Then Jesus arrives. Cue Curb Stomp Battle.

Live-Action TV

  • In Blackadder's first series, when the castle is under attack:

 Edmund: Run for the hills! Run for the hills!

Baldrick: My lord, they're coming from the hills.

Edmund: Run away from the hills! Run away from the hills!

  • In The Nanny episode "The Playwright", Fran tries to talk a former classmate out of jumping off a building.

 Fran: (looking down) Oh my God, Jeffrey, look how high up we are! Oh, Jeffrey, I'm scared! Hold my hand! Hold my hand!

Jeffrey Needleman: I'm gonna jump...

Fran: Let go of my hand! Let go of my hand!

 Nolan: Zoey? She is dead to me!

Zoey: Hey Nolan.

Nolan: Zoey? You are alive to me!

  • In the Mudpit episode "Travelin' Band":

 Fitsy: I'm in.

G: Great! See you tomorrow.

Fitsy: I'm out.


  • Used as a pun in the André Manuel / Krang song "Ten Aarzel". The Dutch phrase "ten aanval!" means "attack! / charge!". The verb "aarzelen" means "to hesitate". Thus, the trope is evoked using clever wordplay.

Video Games

  • Jak II: Daxter inadvertently activates a handful of bombs, with Vin trying to keep him and Jak calm. Vin: "Don't move! (Beat) On second thought, move! Far away!"
  • In a slight variation, in Halo 3, Grunts will sometimes shout "Charge... backwards!"
  • In Halo Wars, the ally usually attacks with just one unit, and when greeted with one bullet, immediately runs in the opposite direction.
  • In the fifth installment of Dynasty Warriors, the barbarian king Meng Huo is repeatedly bested in battle by Zhuge Liang. One of his event quotes follows this trope.

 Meng Huo: No more retreating, I swear!

(Meng Huo and his Nanman army are soundly thrashed for the fourth or fifth time that stage)


  • Star Fox 64 had a boss which gave commands to a train throughout a level. For most of the level, you chase him down as he shouts "Step on the gas!" to his subordinates, but if you hit a series of 8 switches before a certain point in the track, you can change his route so that he crashes into a supply depot. Upon realizing what you've done, he shouts "No! Hit the Braaaakes!"
  • In Chains of Olympus:

 Soldier: (while trying to fight off a Cyclops with his fellow soldiers) Flank him! Flank him!

(Cyclops squashes one of the soldiers) Flee! Flee for your lives!

Web Animation

 Simmons: Any second now the Blues are going to come running over that hill, guns blazing, screaming CHAAAAARGE!

(cuts to the Blues)


Web Comics

  • In strip #181 of The Order of the Stick, the adventuring party is walking through a slightly damp corridor before stumbling upon an area of magical darkness. When Haley finally finds the edge of the darkness, she calls for her comrades to join her... before realizing she's nose-to-snout with a black dragon.

 Haley: Back into the darkness!

Roy: But you just said--


 Princess & Mimic: Cross the bridge!!!

Rusty: No cross!

Princess & Mimic: Cross the bridge!!!

Rusty: No cross!


Princess & Mimic: Don't cross the bridge! Don't cross the bridge!

 Dellyn: Get over there and kill anything that isn't human!

(two strips later)

Dellyn: Close the west gate! Close the west gate!

    • And to Kin shortly afterward:

 Kin: Don't throw the spear!

(following page)


 Red Mage: Use your weapons, they are designed to inflict damage!

(one panel later)

Red Mage: Our weapons are useless, reliance upon them is death!

Web Original

  AVGN: (while Jason has him cornered) Please don't kill me. (Jason holds up the Friday the 13th game) Kill me.

Western Animation

 Bugs Bunny: How's the water, Doc?

Yosemite Sam: Open that bridge, varmint! Open it, I say!

(drawbridge lands directly on top of Sam)

Yosemite Sam: (muffled under it) Close it! Close it! Close it up again!

    • Yosemite Sam again, chasing Bugs into a hole:

 Yosemite Sam: Chaaaaaaaarge!

(Sam charges into the hole, then discovers it's actually the inside of a cannon)

Yosemite Sam: Retreeeeeeat!

 Pedestrians: (running towards a squad car) Help, Police!

(Quackerjack's chattering teeth emerge, wearing patrol hats)

Pedestrians: (running in opposite direction) HELP! POLICE!!!!

 Boy: Charge!

(kids about to take severe beating from adults from their spanking machines)

Boy: Run away like little girls!

 Ernest: CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGE! (follows a whole bunch of teens into a coliseum door)


Ernest: RETREEEEEEEEEEEEEEAT! (all the teens are running back outside as Numbuh Four and his dad come out riding bullied adults)


  • The Simpsons: Groundkeeper Willie tries to save the wee turtles when the school catches fire.

 Willie: If I don't save the wee turtles, who will?!

(emerges covered in turtles)

Willie: Gaahh save me from the wee turtles! They were too fast!!

 Mikey: (caught by Raphael) I'm saved! I'm saved!

(Triceraton starts tearing apart the car)

Don: We're going down!

Mikey: We're doomed! We're doomed!

 Jimmy: We demand you lower the wall! (gets crushed under wall) Raise the wall!

Real Life

  • Many toy-sized dogs have the same territorial nature as their larger brethren, but are unable to gauge the relative size of another dog intruding on their territory until they get really close to it. This typically results in the smaller pooch running towards the bigger one while fiercely yapping, and then quickly running away while yelping pitifully after it realizes just how much larger the other dog actually is. And it's hilarious.
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