This trope is when the hero and the villain (or any two people at odds with each other) happen to cross paths, purely by coincidence. This might happen at some particularly dramatic moment, though this isn't always the case. Perhaps one of them made a mistake, or the other just got lucky, but in either case, the main point of this trope is that they are both surprised
by the encounter.
For example, let's say that Alice is infiltrating Bob's secret liar. She finagles her way past all the guards and security systems, finally making her way into Bob's inner chamber. As she's lockpicking Bob's safe, filled with all his secrets, she's just about to open it when...a toilet flushes and Bob, unaware that anything had been going on, walks out of an adjoining bathroom.
A subtrope of Contrived Coincidence
. Compare Villains Out Shopping
Anime & Manga
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Team Nanoha (the heroes) accidentally meets Team Wolkenritter (the heroic antagonists) in a hospital while visiting the Wolkenritter's master Hayate (who also happens to be a friend of Nanoha's friend Suzuka; they didn't know she was their enemies' master until then, however). This takes place just before the Final Battle, so it doesn't go well at all.
- This is a staple in the various Gundam series, with the heroes typically meeting their enemies by accident while out of their respective mechas and uniforms. For instance, in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Kira and Cagalli accidentally meet the enemy commander Andrew Waltfeld and his lover/partner while scouting an enemy town for supplies. That meeting ends rather amicably: even though Waltfeld immediately realizes he is dealing with enemy aces, he likes them well enough to let them go on that occasion.
- Pulp Fiction
- When Vincent Vega is caught unexpectedly by Butch. He was waiting in Butch's apartment to kill him, but has to use the bathroom. By chance, Butch shows up at that exact moment to find his gold watch. He decides to have a quick snack...and notices Vega's submachine gun lying on the counter. Cue toilet flush, Vega walking out, both men being startled...
- The scene where Butch is waiting at a stoplight. Who should cross the street at that exact moment but Marcellus Wallace, the man who put the hit out on him.
- In The Town, the Villain Protagonists have just pulled off a daring robbery and managed to escape pursuit... only to run smack into a police officer while they switch cars. The officer chooses to pretend he didn't see them.
- In Superman Returns, Lois sneaks onto Lex's yacht (not knowing it's his) and runs into the man himself, while he is brushing his teeth and utterly surprised to see her there.
- In Kick-Ass, after having his operations foiled, the Big Bad puts a hit out on the eponymous hero. Then, as he's casually driving down the street in his limo, who should walk past but Kick-Ass! Actually a subversion. It was really an unfortunate Kick-Ass imitator, whom the Big Bad shoots in the head and then inspires the real Kick-Ass to retire in fear of his safety.
- Captain America: The First Avenger: While searching for Bucky, Cap happens to spot Dr. Zola fleeing his lab, but abandons pursuing him in favor of finding Bucky. A few minutes later however, the two encounter Schimdt and Zola as they all head for the elevator, and Zola ends up cutting them off so that the heroes can't reach them.
- In Batman Returns Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are both at the same party when they both happen to realize that the other is their antagonist (i.e. Selina figures out Bruce is Batman, and vice-versa) while they dance together.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, two characters travelling in opposite directions, going on about their own business Cathlin Stark and Tyrion, recognise each other in an inn, causing the intrigues of other characters to spiral out of control into an all-out civil war.
- In Soon I Will Be Invincible Dr Impossible is having a cup of coffee and reading the paper when several members of the New Champions run across him and a battle ensues.
- In Burn Notice, Michael is infiltrating a bomb-maker's apartment. The bomb-maker had rigged a booby-trap to the door: a claymore, pointing at the door, tied to a rope. If the door opens, the rope slackens, which will set off the claymore. Michael, luckily, notices the trap and pulls on the rope to keep it taut. At that exact moment, though, the bomb-maker happens to walk in the back door. Though surprised, he quickly takes advantage of the situation, since Michael is standing directly in the path of the claymore and can't let go of the rope.
- Firefly: The episode "Trash" has Mal run into Saffron his ex-wife, who tried to get him and his crew killed on some backwater moon. As soon as they see each other they draw guns on each other.
- One War Zone battle scenario works like this, pitting two scout teams (the Bauhaus Amazon Brigade and Mishima Highly-Visible Ninja) against each other. The scenario starts with the sergeants of both sides already dead; both scout teams have been crawling through tall grass and somehow Failed a Spot Check until the leaders nearly bumped into each other.