Created By: axordil on September 18, 2012 Last Edited By: axordil on January 11, 2013
Troped

Nonviolent Initial Confrontation

Hero and antagonist first meet in public setting with no possibility of violence. Conflict is limited to insults and veiled threats.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Former Working Titles: We'll Settle This Later; Wrong Time and Place; Talk First, Shoot Later

Mostly an espionage trope, but may crop up in crime fiction and other thrillers. The hero and an antagonist meet in public--a society function, a casino, a coffee shop or some other venue with lots of witnesses, (or other limitations, if that might not be enough--see the Highlander example below). Other times even a few witnesses of the wrong type will prevent combat from breaking out. The hero may know who the bad guy is, and the bad guy may know what the hero is doing, but under the circumstances just shooting each other is out of the question. Instead they duel verbally, with an implied--or even explicitly stated--"the next time we meet things will be different" vibe.

The function of the scene is to build tension by establishing personal conflict between the two, not just mission-based conflict. In-story, the purpose of the scene is usually information gathering, and feeling out weaknesses of the opponent.

Related to Overt Rendezvous. Subverted by Conspicuously Public Assassination. If a subordinate antagonist is involved and genders align properly, can mutate into Duel of Seduction. A Chance Meeting Between Antagonists might turn into this, but more usually at least one of those involved is seeking the other.

A subtrope of Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene. Can easily set up We Meet Again. Not related to We Come in Peace Shoot to Kill.

A commonplace in James Bond films (and novels--Umberto Eco calls this the "First Check" scene in Ian Fleming's stories).

Examples: James Bond films
  • Goldfinger: the golf match between James Bond and Auric Goldfinger.
  • Thunderball: the gambling scene between Bond and Emilio Largo.
    • Never Say Never Again has a not surprising variation (as it used the same basic plot) with Bond and its version of Largo.
  • You Only Live Twice: the "business meeting" at Osato's chemical company.
  • Played with in For Your Eyes Only, where we don't realize it's happening, because we don't know the bad guy (Kristatos) is the bad guy yet.
  • Octopussy: auction scene involving an backgammon game between Bond and Khan.
  • A View to a Kill: the horse sale at Zorin's estate.
  • The fencing match (where the sparring is more literal) in Die Another Day.

Film
  • In Batman Returns Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are dancing at a public event when each figures out who the other is.
  • Heat: the cop (Al Pacino) and the thief (Robert De Niro) meet at a coffee shop for a private conversation.
  • Highlander: due to the rules about not fighting on sacred ground, the Highlander and the Kurgan have one of these in a NYC church.
  • Subverted in Kill Bill (part 1), The Bride and Vernita Green (Copperhead) initially agree not to fight in front of Green's daughter. That doesn't last.
  • In The Punisher (the Thomas Jane one) the Punisher is visited by an assassin while drinking coffee in a small diner. The assassin opens the large guitar case he brought with him, but it actually contains a normal guitar rather than a weapon. He sings a song with lyrics that just barely veil why he has come here. Afterwards, the assassin and Frank Castle talk, and both go their ways (until a later scene, when they actually fight to the death).
  • Subverted in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: Irene Adler arranges a meeting with Professor Moriarty in a crowded restaurant, implicitly so that they can have a civilized conversation without anybody trying to kill anybody. At the end of the conversation, Moriarty casually reveals that everybody else in the restaurant is in his pocket, and there's nothing to stop him killing her if he wants to.
  • A version shows up in The Shadow when Shiwan Khan breaks into the Shadow's hideout to ask him to join him in his plans of domination. Not public, but nonviolent.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Grimm episode "Cat and Mouse", characters Detective Burkhardt (the hero) and Edgar Waltz (henchman to the Nebulous Evil Organization, the Verrat) agree to meet in a public place. Unbeknownst to Burkhardt, he's already met Waltz when Waltz was pretending to be a witness to a nasty murder he in fact committed. See Burkhardt figure that out is part of the reason that Waltz wants to meet him in person instead of just issuing his demands over the phone.
  • Used in Burn Notice when Michael meets Victor for the first time in a chess park. The two trade veiled threats as a way of getting the measure of each other.

Literature
  • In Jingo, the generals of the armies of Ankh-Morpork and Klatch meet for breakfast, snide remarks, and final demands on the battlefield with the intent of engaging in battle afterwards (though in that regard, things don't quite go according to plan).

Video Games
  • Shining Force has the hero encounter Elliot, an enemy general, in one of the towns. Elliot acknowledges that you are enemies, and says that your next meeting will be on the battlefield.
  • In Bionic Commando, you meet up with General Killt in one of the neutral zones. Since nobody is allowed to attack in a neutral zone, he just bad-mouths you.

Manga
  • In Toriko, the unexpected encounter between Toriko, Komatsu and Starjun at Bar Meria. At this point Starjun could probably have stomped them with ease, but states that he's just there looking for an ingredient, not a fight, and leaves peacefully.
  • In a chapter of Mahou Sensei Negima!, Negi and Fate agree to meet in a public coffee shop to attempt a diplomatic solution. This ends up failing, however, when they begin arguing over whether tea or coffee are better and the proper way to make tea and almost come to blows because of it.
Community Feedback Replies: 47
  • September 18, 2012
    Quatic
    In Batman Returns, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are dancing at some public event, when each figures out that the other is Batman and Catwoman, respectively.
  • September 18, 2012
    DRCEQ
    As a stock phrase in and of itself, I can see this being applied to just when someone is doing or talking about doing something completely inappropriate for the current situation.
  • September 18, 2012
    FrainBreeze
    Not sure if it 100% fits, but I'll toss it out here: Shining Force has the hero encounter Elliot, an enemy general, in one of the towns. Elliot acknowledges that you are enemies, and says that your next meeting will be on the battlefield.
  • September 18, 2012
    Jordacar
    In the Highlander series, the immortals have a rule about not fighting on sacred ground, such as churches, cemeteries, etc. A great place for exchanging threats without violence.
  • September 18, 2012
    TBTabby
    In Bionic Commando, you meet up with General Killt in one of the neutral zones. Since nobody is allowed to attack in a neutral zone, he just bad-mouths you.
  • September 18, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In Heat the cop (Al Pacino) and the theif (Robert De Niro) meet at a coffe shop for a private conversation. Indeed, it's the page image for the film.
  • September 19, 2012
    axordil
    Great examples, people! I'll add them in today! And yeah, it would have made a decent stock phrase...
  • September 19, 2012
    Khantalas
    Might need a better title, as the laconic description and the title invoke different ideas. Maybe Pre Violence Antagonism?
  • September 19, 2012
    TheHandle
    ^I disagree. The only objectionable thing about the title is that it sounds a bit like a line of dialogue.
  • September 19, 2012
    Khantalas
    A line of dialogue that is not exclusive to the kind of scene described. In fact, my first thought when reading the proposed title was one of the messages you get in Point and Click Adventure Games when the item you are trying to use is not appropriate for the situation. A clearer title that is more specific to this kind of situation would be preferable.
  • September 19, 2012
    wotnoplot
    The trope name does make it sound the hero and antihero are meeting at a wedding or some such. ("Did you have the cake, Lord Vader?")
  • September 19, 2012
    Damr1990
    the tittle made me think it was something similar to No Time To Explain
  • September 19, 2012
    axordil
    I agree the title, while appropriate to the situation, is also appropriate to a lot of other situations. Precision would be a good thing.
  • September 19, 2012
    axordil
    How about "We'll Settle This Later." I know it also sounds like dialogue...but my favorite Trope Titles lean that way. :)
  • September 19, 2012
    Omeganian
    I believe there was such a scene in Blade, when Frost and Blade meet in public. It may not fit exactly, since Frost also takes a hostage just in case.
  • September 19, 2012
    axordil
    Trying to decide if that disqualifies or is merely a variation.
  • September 19, 2012
    Euan2000
    Try removing the we from the title and it'll sound ok
  • September 19, 2012
    elwoz
    Screw the no-dialogue rule. It is doing far more harm than good.

    Film
    • In Kill Bill (part 1), The Bride and Vernita Green (Copperhead) initially agree not to fight in front of Green's daughter.
  • September 19, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    Maybe something like Truce To Trade Threats or Talk First, Shoot Later

    • In the Grimm episode "Cat and Mouse", characters Detective Burkhardt (the hero) and Edgar Waltz (henchman to the Nebulous Evil Organization, the Verrat) agree to meet in a public place. Unbeknownst to Burkhardt, he's already met Waltz when Waltz was pretending to be a witness to a nasty murder he in fact committed. Seeing Burkhardt figure that out is part of the reason that Waltz wants to meet him in person instead of just issuing his demands over the phone.

    • In Jingo, the generals of the armies of Ankh-Morpork and Klatch meet for breakfast, snide remarks, and final demands on the battlefield with the intent of engaging in battle afterwards (though in that regard, things don't quite go according to plan).
  • September 19, 2012
    axordil
    Talk First, Shoot Later is pretty good. Let's try it for a while.
  • September 20, 2012
    axordil
    Almost removed but keeping the Batman Returns example, as it fits well with the ready-to-launch Chance Meeting Between Antagonists trope as well--but while these meetings are usually planned on at least one side, a chance meeting can turn into this...or can go south fast.
  • September 22, 2012
    axordil
    Is this one close? More examples are always nice but these are spread across media nicely.
  • September 22, 2012
    axordil
    Re--The Blade example, I think the hostage disqualifies it, as would the meeting being a trap, or some other angle that shifts the meeting from verbally focused to action (or latent action) focused. Does that make sense?
  • September 23, 2012
    TBeholder
    Guess That Trope material?
  • September 23, 2012
    axordil
    Earlier I would have said yes, but TF,SL has been growing on me.
  • September 29, 2012
    axordil
    Any more examples? What does it still need?
  • October 17, 2012
    axordil
    Sixteen examples, a decent title, an assortment of links--if I don't hear otherwise in a week I think I'm going to launch.
  • October 17, 2012
    Bisected8
    I like Talk First Shoot Later as a title.
  • October 17, 2012
    TBeholder
    Hmm... it needs a title that got anything to do with the trope. Still.
  • October 17, 2012
    DracMonster
    Circumstance Enforced Peaceful Conversation might be a little clearer (but unwieldy,) the current one sounds like an inverse shoot first ask questions later.
  • October 18, 2012
    Chernoskill
    In The Punisher (the Thomas Jane one) the Punisher is visited by an assassin while drinking coffee in a small diner. The assassin opens the large guitar case he brought with him, but it doesn't contain a weapon, but rather a normal guitar. He sings a song with lyrics that just barely veil why he has come here. Afterwards, The assassin and Frank Castle talk, and both go their ways (until a later scene, when the actually fight to the death).
  • October 21, 2012
    axordil
    Drac Monster--I think it does invert that expectation. That's kind of why I like it. But if people still don't think it's representative of the trope's meaning (as T Beholder notes) we still have naming work. There has to be a functional median somewhere between purely descriptive (but unwieldy) titles and catchy (but unclear) ones.

    Structurally this is the "Meet the Monster" moment in an "Overcoming the Monster" plot, of which Bond is invariably an example.

    I'll add that one in, Chernoskill. Thanks.
  • October 24, 2012
    JonnyB
  • October 24, 2012
    JonnyB
    In the 18th and 19th centuries, most military commanders would know each other and would sometimes genially meet each other before a battle.
  • October 24, 2012
    Chernoskill
    "Most" military commanders might be a stretch, though.
  • October 24, 2012
    TheMutant
    In Toriko, the unexpected encounter between Toriko, Komatsu and Starjun at Bar Meria. At this point Starjun could probably have stomped them with ease, but states that he's just there looking for an ingredient, not a fight, and leaves peacefully.
  • November 2, 2012
    axordil
    Added the Toriko example, the not related note for We Come In Peace Shoot To Kill, and replace the Punisher example,which I evidently deleted for reasons that escape me. :P

  • November 2, 2012
    axordil
    Oh right, because it's a movie. Did one of you move it? Thanks!
  • November 2, 2012
    axordil
    For a title: how about something with "Crossing Wits?" "Crossing Wits before Crossing Swords?"
  • November 2, 2012
    TBeholder
    so, basically, "X and Y are enemies, but don't lunge at each other's throat at sight like rabid hippos"?
  • November 2, 2012
    axordil
    Well, yes. Circumstance may make it undesirable, or they may simply not want to act in a hasty fashion, or they may have ulterior motives--but their first meeting is nonviolent (or at least starts that way).
  • November 18, 2012
    axordil
    Giving up on clever name and going with something functional. Still open to suggestions.
  • November 18, 2012
    ClockStopping
    • In a chapter of Mahou Sensei Negima, Negi and Fate agree to meet in a public coffee shop to attempt a diplomatic solution. This ends up failing, however, when they begin arguing over whether tea or coffee are better and the proper way to make tea and almost come to blows because of it.
  • November 18, 2012
    PaulA
    • Subverted in Sherlock Holmes A Game Of Shadows: Irene Adler arranges a meeting with Professor Moriarty in a crowded restaurant, implicitly so that they can have a civilized conversation without anybody trying to kill anybody. At the end of the conversation, Moriarty casually reveals that everybody else in the restaurant is in his pocket, and there's nothing to stop him killing her if he wants to.
  • December 2, 2012
    axordil
    Added the last two examples. Launching later this week as soon as I make a list of indices.
  • December 2, 2012
    StarSword
    Film:
    • Variation: In The Shadow, Shiwan Khan breaks into the Shadow's hideout to talk to him and ask him to join his plot to nuke New York. Not public, but nonviolent.

    Live Action TV:
    • Used in Burn Notice when Michael meets Victor for the first time in a chess park. The two trade veiled threats as a way of getting the measure of each other.
  • January 11, 2013
    axordil
    Sorry for the delay all, launching today with the added examples. Thanks for all the input.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=1hadhm5bsr2xgikxvpe53iy5&trope=NonviolentInitialConfrontation