Created By: CBTurtle on October 11, 2011 Last Edited By: CBTurtle on October 12, 2011

Serenity Gambit

Get between two groups that want you dead. Duck.

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image would probably be serenity in between Alliance and Reavers, from Serenity.

""Vessel in range. Lock on.
*smirk*Bastard's not even changing course."
[Reaver Armada emerges from cloud behind Serenity]
" the Reavers. Target the Reavers! Target EVERYONE! SOMEBODY FIRE!"
-- The Operative, Serenity

Problem: You're trapped between two forces, both of which are far too powerful for you to take on. Solution: Get in between them, then duck. Or Problem: You're a very valuble person wanted by multiple factions, and have just been captured. Solution: Manipulate your captors into a meet with another group that wants you, then sneak away during the ensuing fight.

Generally more of an {Indy Ploy opprotunistic improvization] than a [Xanatos Gambit long-term plot]. This trope is not in effect if the targeted character/group [Enemy Mine temporarily teams up with one faction to destroy another].

Can result in Evil Versus Evil, but not always. Can [Invoked Trope invoke] Jurisdiction Friction.

Note: The Chessmaster manipulating their enemies into fighting and preferably killing each other from afar is NOT this trope. That would be a type of Xanatos Gambit.

Compare Lets Youand Him Fight, Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work.


  • Trope Namer Serenity: The Crew of the Serenity need to get to Mr. Universe's broadcasting equipment, and have the Reavers and the Alliance between them. They provoke the Reaves, lead them to the Alliances armada, then attempt to make their way through the ensuing chaos and crossfire down to Mr. Universe's planetoid.
  • In Freddy vs. Jason, the kids attempt to get Freddy and Jason on the same plane of reality, hoping they'll fight to a standstill or that Jason will win and stay at Crystal Lake. At one point, a character literally stands in between the two, goading one on. She's then immediately killed by the one behind her, Jason.
  • Midnight Run has a couple variations: Jack Walsh and Jonathan Mardukas sneaking away during a shootout between mob hitmen and the FBI, and Mardukas attempts at getting away whenever Walsh and rival Bounty Hunter Marvin Dorfler fight over him.
  • YMMV: In The Matrix Reloaded, Morpheus and Trinity bring their fight with the Merovingian's ghost twin minions to the freeway, to get the attention of the Agents.

Possible other examples: Film- I'm pretty sure many Japanese monster movies involve a form of this (compare Freddy vs. Jason entry), Beverly Hills Cop TV- Adventuresof Brisco County Jr, Burn Notice, White Collar
Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • October 11, 2011
  • October 12, 2011
    First of all, it's not a gambit. Gambit is when you sacrifice something in order to gain advantage. Secondly, what does it have to do with serenity?
  • October 12, 2011
    I'm following an established naming convention. What exactly is sacrificed in a Batman Gambit or a Xanatos Gambit? According to, a gambit is "any maneuver by which one seeks to gain an advantage." It only involves a sacrifice when specifically referring to sacrificing a pawn for an advantageous position early on, in chess. Even if it didn't, a person making this play would be sacrificing immediate safety for a chance at escaping from two threats at once. As for what it has to do with Serenity, it is a key plot point and can be visibly communicated by a memorable shot from the movie.

  • October 12, 2011
    A couple of the examples don't fit the trope.

    In Serenity Mal didn't have to fight the Reavers. He deliberately provoked them into following him to Mr. Universe's planet to use them as a weapon against the Alliance ships he knew would be there. That makes it Summon Bigger Fish.

    In The Matrix Reloaded, Morpheus didn't deliberately go onto the freeway to get the agents involved. He did so because it was the quickest way to escape.
    Link: The only exit I got near you is the Winslow overpass.
    Morpheus: Off the freeway. [snip] Fine, we'll make it.
  • October 12, 2011
    @CBTurtle: First of all, it's not a convention, it's a snowclone. Secondly, are you assuming everyone here has watched Serenity?
  • October 12, 2011
    Plus Firefly and Serenity had more gambits than that one, so the name even fails for those in the know.
  • October 12, 2011
    Pretty much covered already by Deadly Dodging
  • October 12, 2011
    Pretty sure this is just Lets You And Him Fight.
  • October 12, 2011
    ^ What he said.
  • October 12, 2011
    LYAHF is when two heroes fight, with or without the machinations of a villain.