You have a character, he may be The Hero
, he may be the mentor, he may be a random recurring side character, but he is nonetheless The Ace
at what he does. Then suddenly a new player enters the field, who is also The Ace
at what he does, and it just so happens that he does is exactly the same thing as what the first character does, and may possibly be better. Instantly this new character becomes The Rival
, he may be just another guy, he may be the enemy, but regardless of how he is introduced, what he does, or what circumstances transpire, the audience knows what must follow, and what must follow is this trope.
Yes, these two characters must
do battle, one-on-one.
There can sometimes be multiple duels between the same two aces and they are often always proper duels, even if they both have allies around (unless someone gets the upper hand, then someone might come in like Big Damn Heroes
). Expect the designated hero of this duo to be defeated handily in their first encounter, but for the villain to suddenly away before he can finish off our hero, usually due to being low on fuel or, if he has a wingman
, his wingman saves his tail. Sometimes the hero's skills develop over time, eventually leading to the hero finally winning as he surpasses his rival.
If involving The Hero
, sometimes The Hero
will not actually be an ace the first time he encounters The Rival
, but when they meet again he will be a worthy equal.
Bonus points if the final duel between these two is also the Final Battle
This happens most often in vehicular combat, particularly combat between Aces who happen to also be Ace Pilots
, where they may be piloting the absolute best their side has to offer
for even more bonus points. Expect a battle of this grade to involve Old-School Dogfighting
, More Dakka
, Beam Spam
, High-Speed Missile Dodge
, and Macross Missile Massacre
, depending on the available technology to the setting. This battle can, however, occur in any field. If one is The Ace
at cooking, and a rival is introduced, expect them to prove who the better chef is with a cook off.
See also The Ace
, Ace Pilot
, Duel Boss
, Sniper Duel
(which can often entail this trope), Duel to the Death
(how it ends sometimes), and In the End, You Are on Your Own
(what often transpires when the ace battle is also the Final Battle
). Also Combat by Champion
, which is often where an entire conflict hinges on the outcome of this trope.
[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
- Macross does this at least once a series.
- Gundam also likes it.
- The moment the German ace known only as "Pretty Boy" turned up in Red Tails you knew this was going to happen, given George Lucas's love for Old School Dogfights. It ends up happening twice between him and Lightning. The first time, Lightning, flying a P-40, damages Pretty Boy's Me-109, follows him back to base, and he and Ray Gun have a merry time shooting the bejeezus out of it. The second time is at the film's climax with Pretty Boy in an Me-262; it ends in a Mutual Kill after he and Lightning go head-to-head.
- Surprisingly averted in Top Gun unless you count the training flights, of which the best contender is the inconclusive one between Viper and Maverick (Mav stayed on Viper's tail right up to the part where Viper's wingman Jester snuck up behind him). The mystery country flying the MiG-28s is never stated and their pilots receive no characterization whatsoever.
- Fire Birds, which is Top Gun WITH ARMY HELICOPTERS! does this with helicopters instead of planes. The climactic duel is between Preston, flying the AH-64 Apache he spent most of the film training in, and mercenary Eric Stoller flying a Scorpion attack helicopter (which doesn't exist, by the way; they used a dressed-up Hughes H-6 derivative). Preston wins.
- Flyboys: At the climax Blaine fights the Black Falcon, a No Celebrities Were Harmed of Red Baron Manfred von Richtofen whom they had faced several times and had him kill one of the squadron each time. Blaine ends up maneuvering alongside and shooting him to death with a pistol.
- The X-Wing Series does this less often than you'd think since while the Imperial leadership is always well-characterized the mooks usually aren't. Nevertheless:
- The Bacta War: Corran Horn versus Erisi Dlarit, Ysanne Isard's former mole in Rogue Squadron, at the Battle of Thyferra. Corran launches torpedoes at her, she evades them with a dive towards the surface of Thyferra's moon, Corran gets around her and ambushes her with lasers.
- Starfighters of Adumar: Two duels between Red Flight led by Wedge Antilles, and their Imperial counterparts led by Turr Phennir. At the battle over Cartann City, Red Flight kills all three of Phennir's fellows but he retreats to his orbiting mothership and escapes. In the subsequent Imperial/Republic battle, Phennir and Wedge end up one-on-one with the former in a TIE Defender; this one ends with both of them too damaged to fight but still alive.
- Space: Above and Beyond: T.C. McQueen versus Chiggy von Richtofen, a walking Shout-Out to Manfred von Richtofen whom they once sent fifteen fighter squadrons after and only had one come back. After spending the episode training himself to be able to fly without a working inner ear (his had been injured in the pilot), T.C. was able to bring him down.
- Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined): Starbuck VS Scar, an ace Cylon Raider that had been attacking the fleet's Asteroid Miners and pilot trainees. This one gets subverted: Starbuck initially engages Scar one-on-one, then lures it into the sights of her wingmate Kat, who makes the kill.
- BattleTech does this frequently. The Clans live this trope, as does Solaris VII.