Created By: Shnakepup on August 19, 2011 Last Edited By: Dalillama on February 7, 2014
Troped

Chance Meeting Between Antagonists

When characters at odds with each other happen to cross paths by sheer coincidence

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Trope
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.

Examples:

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.

Film
  • 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.

Literature
  • 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.

Live-Action Television
  • 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.

Tabletop Games
  • 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.

Videogames
Community Feedback Replies: 52
  • August 19, 2011
    Smo
    This could indeed be tropeable. I can't think of other examples, but I like the concept.
  • August 19, 2011
    Generality
    • 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.
  • August 22, 2011
    randomsurfer
  • August 29, 2011
    Merlo
    To elaborate on the Pulp Fiction example, Butch's encounter with Marsellus fits better. Butch and Vincent meeting is not by sheer chance, whereas Butch and Marsellus meeting is.

    This is where most of the humor is derived from in A Woman A Gun And A Noodle Shop (or A Simple Noodle Story). The characters end up accidentally interfering and messing up each others' schemes.
  • October 7, 2011
    KingZeal
    • In Kick-Ass, the Big Bad is furious that Kick-Ass seems to be the one disrupting his underworld business and puts a hit out on him. 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 inspires the real Kick-Ass to retire in fear of his safety.
  • October 12, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    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 scenarion 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.
  • October 12, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    Does A Song Of Ice And Fire count? An accident of two characters travelling in opposite directions about their own business Cathlin Stark and Tyrion recognising each other in an inn causes the intrigues of other characters to spiral out of control into an all-out civil war.
  • October 12, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    Also, whoever corrected my contribution, overdid it. The tropes I used to describe the two units apply to the units themselvs but not to the whole of their respective corporations.
  • October 12, 2011
    Shnakepup
    Sorry, I assumed. I'll change it back to how you had it in the comment.

    I'll add the othe example, too, as it sounds like it fits.
  • November 19, 2011
    kenshinta
    What if they were both trying to steal something? In Jackie Chan Adventures, Jackie and Viper break into the museum to steal the snake talisman and the Pink Puma Diamond, respectively. Granted, she does a Heel Face Turn, but at that moment she was living a life of crime.
  • January 4, 2012
    Shnakepup
    bump
  • January 4, 2012
    Mozgwsloiku
    Narrowly averted in The Last Crusade, when Indiana Jones runs into Adolf Hitler.
  • January 4, 2012
    KTera
    ^In the adventure game adaptation, if you run into Hitler you have the option of punching him in the face. It's an instadeath, but even the game over screen admits it was Worth It.
  • January 25, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Bump
  • January 26, 2012
    GuyIncog
    • Pulp Fiction also has 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. [spoiler: The officer chooses to pretend he didn't see them.]

    Possibly Needs A Better Description. From the laconic, it seems like a fight (or at least a foiled plan) must result to be a straight example of this trope, but it's less clear from the description. Would an aversion be that the hero and villain missed seeing each other by seconds, while a subversion would be they see each other, but nothing happens?
  • January 27, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Okay, I reworded the laconic a tad. Yeah, a fight isn't required or anything, this is more about the randomness of the encounter itself, and how neither character is prepared or on-guard for it.

    You're correct about the aversion/subversions as well, so if you have examples of those feel free to list those. I guess to expand a bit: a aversion of this trope wouldn't necessarily be the hero and the villain completely missing each other by seconds, but literally being in the same place, at the same time, where they probably should notice each other...but then don't. The subversion would be, like you said, for them to see each other without anything happening; another possibility is for them to see each other, and it seems like it's totally random and unexpected, but then it actually turns out to have been orchestrated (by one of them or possibly by a third party).
  • February 8, 2012
    nachosanchez
    The 4400 episode "No Exit" features a shared dream where Tom Baldwin and Jordan Collier run into each other, both assuming the other is responsible for their situation.
  • July 13, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Bump...
  • September 19, 2012
    saintdane05
    There is a very famous scene in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, where Link and Gannon meet in Hyrule field. I'm not sure if that is an example, though.
  • September 19, 2012
    abk0100
    read up on Example Indentation, Shnakepup. The pulp fiction example should be like

    • Pulp Fiction
      • the scene with vince and vega...
      • the scene with bruce butch and marcellus wallace...

    I kind of disagree with your aversion/subversion description. An aversion would be any work where this doesn't happen, it doesn't matter how close it came to happening.
  • September 19, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    • 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.
  • September 19, 2012
    Shnakepup
    @santdane05 - Can you elaborate on it? I can't remember that particular scene, so I can't decide if it fits or not.

    @abk0100 - Sorry, I wasn't aware. I'll fix it.

    With the aversion thing: reading the page on Averted Trope, it appears you're correct. I guess I mixed it up with Subverted Trope. My bad.
  • September 19, 2012
    saintdane05
    @Shnakepup: It was the first meeting between the two. Gannon was on his horse, I believe.

    This scene: http://tiny.cc/hokzkw

    (Put in as a link at the request of Khantalas)
  • September 19, 2012
    Khantalas
    "Hero and Villain" might be too clunky, especially considering it is not even necessarily about the hero and the villain. Maybe replace it with "Rivals" or "Antagonists"?
  • September 19, 2012
    Shnakepup
    @saintdane05 - I'll have to watch that later (at work currently, it's blocked) but thanks.

    @Khantalas - Good idea. I think that's what I was thinking of I just couldn't think of the terms :P
  • September 19, 2012
    Khantalas
    Also saintdane05, could you kindly remove that image? Putting images in YKTT Ws horribly breaks the formatting.
  • September 20, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In Batman Returns Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are both at the same party, and they realize that the other is their antagonist (Catwoman/Batman) while they dance together. They're not sure if they should start fighting now or what.
  • September 20, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Okey-doke, I'm up to five hats. I'll give this another few days or so to see if I can get anymore examples and then I'll launch unless anyone has any objections.
  • September 20, 2012
    axordil
    Just so you know, I'm looking forward to linking to this from my current YKTTW, Talk First Shoot Later. The Batman Returns example in particular fits both, though obviously a lot (maybe most) chance meetings go straight to fighting.
  • September 25, 2012
    Tallens
    • 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.
  • September 25, 2012
    TompaDompa
  • September 25, 2012
    WolfgangAmadeusPenis
    @Tompa Dompa - That works really nicely.
  • September 26, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Eh, I personally don't like it.

    I was going to launch this, but if there's disagreement over the name I can wait. What's wrong with "Chance Meeting Between Antagonists"? Sure, it's a little plain jane, but it's clear. Coincidental Encounter Of The Hostile Kind will probably make people think of aliens.

    But that's just me. If more people like that name then I'll launch it under that.
  • October 7, 2012
    Khantalas
    I like the name myself, but it might make people unfamiliar with the word "antagonize" think this is what happens when the antagonists of a protagonist meet each other, rather than two people who antagonize each other.
  • October 7, 2012
    phoenixy
    In Buffy, Willow takes Andrew captive when they co-incidentally meet at the butcher shop, where both are buying blood--in Willow's case, to feed a vegetarian vampire, and in Andrew's case, to perform an evil ritual.

    (Does that count? I'm not really sure if this is a "chance" meeting, though--while they aren't expecting to see each other, it's also not a random co-incidence, as blood is a common spell material in the Buffyverse and both of them are there because they need the blood for acts related to their alignment.)
  • October 31, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Any last examples or objections before I launch?
  • October 31, 2012
    TompaDompa
    The only point of debate was the name, and we could easily just make the other one a redirect.

    So no, I guess.
  • November 13, 2012
    KingZeal
  • November 13, 2012
    tustin2121
  • November 13, 2012
    GratefulEd
    Bob's secret liar?
  • January 11, 2013
    axordil
    I thought this got launched! I have a red link waiting to turn blue now... :)
  • January 11, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Question: Does this trope have to be about characters knowing they're enemies? I can think of a few examples but the characters don't recognize each other as enemies, as they don't realize they're on opposite sides yet.
  • August 23, 2013
    KingZeal
    Launching this today if no one has any objections.

    It's well past the Up For Grabs statute of limitations.
  • August 23, 2013
    Tallens
    Just do a run through for anything that got missed, first.
  • August 23, 2013
    henke37
    • Nanoha: The hospital meeting.
  • August 23, 2013
    KingZeal
    More context, please.
  • August 24, 2013
    Koveras
    • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As, 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.
  • August 24, 2013
    Astaroth
  • August 25, 2013
    DAN004
    Launch plz.
  • February 7, 2014
    Dalillama
    Added another example, will launch shortly if there's no further comments.
  • February 7, 2014
    Tallens
    I added an example from Firelfy ages ago.
  • February 7, 2014
    Dalillama
    ^ I missed that one earlier, all the others from the comments had already been added.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=pa7rnpcyaczgg7j3v8j407ra&trope=ChanceMeetingBetweenAntagonists