Cower Power

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Dr. Smith, as usual, cowers while Will Robinson takes care of business.

It's only natural to cower in the face of danger.[1] As such, many a classic Damsel in Distress and fearful child will cower behind the nearest Love Interest, parent, or Big Damn Heroes when presented with peril. Of course, most conscientious heroes and even Innocent Bystanders will naturally interpose themselves anyway to protect other innocents (and perhaps pointlessly, but they do get props for chivalry). This kind of cowering stems from the classic pose of hero and heroine facing a monster on Film Posters for Touch of the Monster: the hero has a gun in his right hand pointed at the beast, his left hand holding the Love Interest back (what, he can't be left-handed?), while she clutches his shoulder with one hand and covers her mouth from shock with the other.

There's another kind of character who cowers this way too, the Dirty Coward. He'll grab a nearby Innocent Bystander and use him as a Human Shield, hide behind the Littlest Cancer Patient when the Serial Killer with a soft spot for kids shows up, and might even shove his Love Interest towards the Martian Woman Stealer. Villains also tend to do this when faced with an implacable hero, inverting the cower by using the Love Interest to hide from him!

Sometimes this is used for comedic effect, with a hero who is Afraid of Needles reacting with complete terror to mundane things, sometimes even jumping into his Sidekick's arms or ducking behind his Love Interest like a Damsel in Distress. The Fish Out of Water might hide from otherwise harmless things too (and notice who/what they're hiding behind looks far more threatening).

Examples of Cower Power include:

Comic Books

Fan Fiction

  • Kyon: Big Damn Hero: After Haruhi's reaction to Tsuruya's report on what she and Kyon did to disband a illegal photographic ring (which included sleeping with him and bathing together -- It Makes Sense in Context), Mikuru automatically hides behind Tsuruya. Kanae, noting that hiding behind Tsuruya isn't the best idea in this circumstances, decided not to follow this trope and only hide behind the table.
  • At one point in I Am What I Am, well before she takes her level in badass, Cordelia hides behind Jonathon when the Scoobies are faced with an enemy.


  • Crane does this in Sleepy Hollow when he approaches a particularly creepy hovel, using Young Masbeth as a shield and aiming his pistol over the boy's shoulder.


  • The book and movie of The Dead Zone use this to let the world know its villain is a bad man. Or at least this is what ruins him. We, the readers/audience, know from early on that the bad guy is really bad. But this is what destroys his image to the [in-story] public. I mean, NO ONE would vote for someone for president of the USA who used a baby to shield himself from an assassin.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Pool of the Black One" Sancha grovels after being thrown to the ground.
  • In the second book of the Gone (novel) series, Hunter cowers behind Astrid, who is protecting him from Zil's lynch mob.

Live Action TV

  • As seen above, Doctor Smith from Lost in Space would cower behind Will Robinson at least once an episode. Sometimes the Robot, for variety.
    • Which makes him look more creepy than cowardly. Who looked at it and did not think "child molester", honestly?
  • Firefly's River Tam does this occasionally, because the mental trauma she suffered, her uncontrolled Psychic Powers, and her inability to control her own emotions render her unable to handle the terror she feels when threatened.
    • Don't forget the surgery that hacked out part of her brain.
  • Stargate Atlantis has a hilarious moment in the fourth season where Sheppard and McKay are rewarded with a portrait that features them and a young princess who they'd just saved from the Genii and her treacherous older sister. Sheppard, who the princess grew to dislike, is depicted cowering fearfully behind the little girl, while Rodney stands out front firing his gun and (presumably) letting out a war cry. Very amusing.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, of course, has a gender inversion from the movie poster description above.

Xander: Where'd you get that accent, Sesame Street? 1, 2, 3 victims, nyahaha!
Buffy: Xander, I'm pretty sure that's Dracula.
Xander (jumping behind Buffy): Hey, sorry, man.

  • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger: When the crew is confronted by a monster, Doc will almost always hide behind Luka, who will in turn elbow him in the gut for his cowardice.

Professional Wrestling

  • A favorite tactic of the heels, who are not above grabbing a female at ringside (either the face's girlfriend or their own) to stop from getting attacked, and then shoving said female into the opponent! Edge used to do this all the time. Eddie Guerrero made it particularly reprehensible when he grabbed Rey Mysterio's young son Dominick; this made Mysterio very angry.

Video Games

  • Final Fantasy IV has Edward who has an ability that lets him do this. He also does it when he's low on Hit Points.
  • Mother 3: When traveling with Salsa, Fassad will occasionally do this in battle, despite the fact that (as an NPC) monsters don't target him anyway, and he's easily several times stronger than Salsa.
  • Amnesia the Dark Descent has this trope as the player's only means of defense. You are given no weapons of any kind and any time you're attacked, the only thing you can do is run and hide in the dark, usually behind crates, until the monster gets bored and leaves.
  • From one standpoint, any Stealth-based game or game with a Stealth-Based Mission could be seen as utilizing this. You need to hide from enemies, often by crouching in dark corners, because you can't take them on. Certain Horror-genre games will have the character give indications that they're afraid, like Amnesia listed above, or Call Of Cthulu Dark Corners Of The Earth.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Played for Laughs and played straight in Teen Titans; both examples feature teams of males hiding behind their female leader. In the humorous version, The Titans East hides behind Bumblebee when Control Freak drops in unexpectedly; the serious one features the H.I.V.E. five hiding behind Jinx in nervous anticipation for Madam Rouge's verbal abuse.

Stand Up Comedy

  • Rich Hall's Otis Lee Crenshaw character has a song called "Do Anything You Want To The Girl (Just Don't Hurt Me)".
  1. this is actually a survival mechanism, which works for small animals because many of the larger animals that eat them can see motion really well, but have trouble spotting stationary things. Some animals, like humans and eagles, have good enough eyesight that they may be able to spot the "frozen" animal anyway, though it's still easier to spot something that's moving. Others don't even rely on eyesight, utilizing other senses such as smell or heat-sensing instead. Still, you'd be surprised how well this trick can work... for smaller animals, anyways. For larger creatures like humans, it's mostly an evolutionary holdover, though it might still work on occasion