Locked Out Of The Fight


(permanent link) added: 2009-07-13 17:59:56 sponsor: Eclipt (last reply: 2009-07-24 16:36:34)

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Didn't find it through Lost and Found, so:

Sometimes, writers want their main character to be accompanied through the plot by some friends and allies, but also want their main character to fight a bad guy one-on-one, without being helped. This means that they must find some excuse for the allies to be removed from the fight. The allies may be able to see the fight, and may be able to shout encouragement, and may even be able to do small things that assist the protagonist, but they're unable to actually take part directly.

There are lots of methods for achieving this. A door which the main character walks through could suddenly slam shut and lock itself before the allies can follow. The roof can collapse, with the main character and the allies ending up on different sides of the rubble. The main character can nobly tell his allies to swing across a deep ravine first, only to have the rope break before the main character gets a turn. Everybody could be caught in an explosion, with only the main character and the villain remaining conscious. Or whatever - the point is that although the main character has friends, events have contrived to remove those friends from the fight.

Reasons for doing this vary. For one thing, it increases the sense of danger, especially if the method of incapacitating the allies leaves them in trouble if the protagonist loses. It also allows a protagonist to demonstrate toughness and skill more effectively than if it's a team effort - defeating the villain in a one-on-one fight is more impressive than defeating the villain in a six-on-one fight. And sometimes, it's just thematically or narratively appropriate that the protagonist defeats the villain alone.

Compare with This Is Something He's Got To Do Himself and Combat by Champion, where the hero fights alone but it's deliberate. Also compare with We Are Team Cannon Fodder and Only I Can Kill Him, where the allies can take part in the fight, but are just not able to actually achieve anything.

Examples:
  • In the final fight of Star Wars: Episode 1, Obi-Wan is cut off from the fight between Qui-Gon and Darth Maul by some ominously glowing force-fields, and as such, can't help.
  • [provided by ndmp45 when I asked about this at Lost and Found] From Kingdom Hearts 1: When Sora is rushing up the stairs to fight Riku/Ansem in Hollow Bastion, he passes the top of the stairs safely but Goofy (and shortly afterwards, Donald) are blocked out from the arena by an invisible wall. The same thing happens when he fights some of the end-game bosses. What the hell, this trope is used every time Sora fights alone in the series (also in KH2 in the cutscene against Roxas, the card fight against Luxord, the one-on-one match with Xehanort's Nobody, etc., etc.)
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