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File:Deadly-lunge 3665.jpg

One free hug!

Imagine being in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse. You rush to some safe place, but the way is blocked by a few aimlessly shambling zombies. Well, no big problem -- zombies are slow, aren't they?

Well, it seems that getting close to a zombie triggers some reflex in the remains of its brain, resulting in a really fast lunge which, apparently, you weren't prepared for. Too bad for you.

Frequently featured offscreen: in every zombie film some character is due to be ambushed by a zombie, which then suddenly lunges into our field of view.

The trope isn't limited to just zombies, see below. The lunge may be replaced by a jump or a sprint, the essence being the same: drastic increase of speed triggered by prey proximity.

Note that the trope does not apply to the enemies which just have a surprisingly long attack range (e.g. stretching hands) or which are always fast (e.g. 28 Days Later).

This is a favored tactic of the Personal Space Invader. Not to be confused with a Deadly Lunch, which may be thrust unexpectedly at one by a Lethal Chef.

Examples of Deadly Lunge include:


  • Combine zombies in Half-Life 2 (Zombine) sprint up when they get sufficiently close to you.
    • Fast Zombies occasionally leap at Gordon if he's too far away to slash. They can also do it vertically to catch the player off-guard if they're on a higher platform.
    • Regular Headcrabs in all of the Half-Life games are slow, but can jump on a victim across considerable distance. The same applies to the Poison Headcrabs.
  • Demon Kids and Simians in Silent Hill lunge and jump, respectively.
  • Golems in Hexen 2 do this.
  • Many enemies in House of the Dead do this, even those that move pretty fast to begin with.
  • The Fiends from Quake love to leap across distances to get at you, and can One-Hit Kill you with this attack.
  • ReDeads, at least in Super Smash Bros Melee.
  • The Resident Evil series sometimes includes zombies that unexpectedly lunge at the player, particularly in Code Veronica. It gets even more terrifying in the remake of the original game, where the zombies that are killed reanimate into really fast zombies, complete with claws and wild sprinting.
    • Resident Evil 3 had what the knife-run guide refers to as "ninja zombies", regular zombies who run crazy fast at you once they spot you. Instead of being a special enemy, this "ninja" status is assigned at random to any of the game's zombies, so any zombie can be a ninja zombie.
      • A few of these "ninja zombies" were also randomly added to the Director's Cut of the original RE, the upside being that your new, random-head-blowing-off pistol would usually take them out before they could grab you.
    • And in the stretching arms department, we have the Regenerators and Iron Maidens from RE 4. They'll pull you in and start gnawing. (or impaling)
    • Hunters for every game up to Resident Evil 4. Regardless of your armor (if that's equippable), health, or whatever; you are dead if they take a forward leaping slash at you. In earlier games, they would decapitate the player, and the uncut PC version of the original shows them still holding the player's head.
    • Lickers in Resident Evil 5. If they decide to leap at you and hold you on the ground, you'd better have your partner VERY close to help you. On the other hand, if you can hit them while they leap, you can slam them on the ground and impale them for an instant kill. This is an achievement, too. In Resident Evil 2 they had a similar attack, and while it wasn't always lethal, it was much harder to dodge given the clunky control system.
    • In the sprinting department, the games have Tyrants. Sure, they start out with an Ominous Walk, but that only lasts so long. Just when you get comfortable, they cover the distance between them and you in the blink of an eye and are right there.
  • Almost all enemies in Boktai, but mainly the Boks (zombies) and the mummies.
  • The majority of enemies in Doom 3 have a lunge attack.
  • Kleer Skeletons in the Serious Sam series are known for it.
  • Zombie Dawn zombies lunge when they get close to a person.
  • The Stinger and its variants from Devil May Cry are examples courtesy of the protagonist, though some enemies also have this sort of move.
    • Shadows, with the lunging spike and the lunging bite they do when they are low on life.
  • Captain Cross from Prototype breaks this out with his electric baton if you try to make Alex pick up a gun and Just Shoot Him.
    • In Protoype 2, James Heller can pounce on enemies with his Claw power active.
  • In Dead Rising, the zombies speed up significantly once they get close. They are noticeably more aggressive at night time and in dark areas, as well.
  • Pretty much every zombie in Left 4 Dead is a disheveled muddy-colored marathon runner, but the Hunters (as seen in pic) are particularly bad about this. He's also the only one that can actually jump on you. There's also the Charger; clumsy most of the time, but can charge at remarkable speed.
  • Commando (Pro) perk from Modern Warfare 2 allows you to cover some distance when knifing.
    • Unless they use a shotgun.
  • Painkiller has a zombie enemy which normally crawls aimlessly on elbows and knees - until it rears up and flings itself at you across surprising distances. One of your first encounters with them is in an unlit asylum.
  • Diablo 2 has some skeletons walking around slooowly with very long swords, and suddenly slashing at you. And they rise again after being defeated.
  • Many of Fallout 3's non-human opponents have access to these, from the lowliest of radroaches to the mightiest of deathclaws. Most of the ones that don't (like radscorpions or centaurs) typically don't serve as any real threat to an experienced player, as their movement patterns are predictable and attacks easily avoided.
  • Demonic monsters referred to as "Howlers" pose the primary threat, at least early on, in Clive Barker's Undying. Roughly humanoid with canine features and some ape-like elements thrown in, howlers gallop towards the player until they get close enough to pounce. In this case "close enough" is about twenty meters or so. They always land ready to strike with their razor-sharp claws.
  • The Alien in most Alienversus Predator games can do this. It is not slow on foot to begin with, and some variants can pounce over the map if needed.
  • There are various such moves in Ninja Gaiden.
  • World of Warcraft features this as a move for both the player and enemies. Warriors, for example, have four variants of this for different situations.
    • It also has an inversion, the Death Knight's Death Grip. It instantly drags the target to the caster's location.
  • Many enemies in Dark Souls have moves that let them close distance very quickly, though some of them are nice enough to telegraph their moves giving you time to get out of the way. Others, like Ornstein the Dragonslayer, aren't that obliging.

Tabletop Role-Playing Games

  • This is a power zombies can have in All Flesh Must Be Eaten.
  • The same is true for zombies in the New World of Darkness book Antagonists.
  • In Exalted one of the Exalt types, the Abyssals, have abilities that mimic the powers of the undead. Their signature martial arts style, Hungry Ghost Style, includes a move called Unnatural Shambling Deftness which is described as specifically imitating a zombie's ability to switch suddenly from immobility to a startling burst of speed. In game terms, though, it's just a regular extra action Charm. But the Style also includes such gems of fear as Leaping Horror Approach and Lunging Phantom Method.


  • Zombies in Blassreiter, known as demoniacs, can leap up to 30 feet in the air.
  • The mannequin soldiers in Fullmetal Alchemist seem to have two speeds: Slow shamble and sprinting into a leap. They change between them suddenly and randomly.

Real Life

  • Many cold-blooded animals do this, saving up energy in lieu of using it up by stalking prey; even reptiles as big as crocodiles pull off some impressive stunts. That their anatomy makes it harder to breathe while running doesn't let them keep it up for too long.
  • Active swimming predators, such as tuna or several sharks, move at a consistent speed, but when needed, will do a sudden and extremelly fast sprint. This can be seen in their meat: The muscles used to constant speed are small and dark, implying low power but high endurance, while the ones used for sprinting are clear and fill the whole of the section of the fish in several areas. Crocodiles pull something akin to this as well; most of their body is filled with white muscle.
  • Most grappling martial arts, such as Sambo, Judo, and Wrestling, have techniques that basically consist of shooting in and taking you down. A common misconception (possibly due to the prevalence of "big giant wrestlers" in video games) is that "shoots" are like slow football tackles that are easy to counter by, say, sidestepping or throwing up a knee. Those who subscribe to this belief usually find themselves taken down and ground-pounded.
  • Fencing: Even a beginner with only basic footwork under his belt can attack from about six feet away in a half second. A good fencer who's practiced their lunge a lot can hit from 9 to 12 feet away in the same time. Straight, thin, light thrusting swords became the premier civilian weapon partly because of the speed of lunging attacks. We shouldn't forget fleche attacks either, which can really freak out an unsuspecting opponent.


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