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[[caption-width-right:350:[[Film/{{Gladiator}} Are you not entertained?!]]]]

->''"You honor the arena with your combat. May your swords and shield preserve the peace."''
-->-- '''Raanu''', ''Toys/{{Bionicle}}''

Because nothing says [[DeadlyDecadentCourt decadent]] and evil like death and carnage as a spectator sport.

People -- [[CondemnedContestant criminals]] or [[MadeASlave slaves]] -- are forced to fight each other or savage monsters. SwordAndSorcery (especially SwordAndSandal) and LostWorld stories are particularly fond of the monsters; a good way to show them off. As a BloodSport, this may last for a time, with many bouts, allowing the gladiators time to train; either the character can always win, or they do not always insist on death at defeat. [[InvoluntaryBattleToTheDeath The first is more common]]; the crowds will insist FinishHim. Conversely, it may be a way of combining [[CondemnedContestant executions]] with [[EvilHasABadSenseOfHumor amusement]] -- a DeathTrap that gets watched -- which generally involves animals, as they don't want to deal with the winner.

Monsters used in an arena will [[AttackAttackAttack fight long after]] a RealLife animal would retreat. Generally as a result of being starved a bit leading up to the match, as was the practice in the RealLife games.

Sometimes, after a particularly grand victory, [[WinYourFreedom the gladiator is freed]], but generally ends with either GladiatorRevolt, or gladiators loosing the monsters they fight on the crowd, to great consternation. This trope is distinguished from other forms of recreational combat -- such as TheTourney -- by one or both sides having no choice but to fight.
%% edited from: by the spectators never getting their own hands dirty.

On the other hand, this situation was involved in the {{Trope Namer|s}} for AndroclesLion.

Frequently features in the nastier sort of BreadAndCircuses, but it may just be an upperclass entertainment because AristocratsAreEvil. Contrast TheTourney, which doesn't carry this stigma because the nobles risk themselves rather than compel others to do so.

Very popular in AncientRome settings, oddly enough, and in SwordAndSandal settings based on it. HollywoodHistory comes into play for some of the elements. In RealLife, only around a tenth of fights between professional gladiators actually resulted in death, as gladiators were expensive to train and difficult to replace. Hollywood gladiators almost always fight to the death. In RealLife, most gladiators who got killed in the end of the fight were either DirtyCoward types, or [[MercyKill so badly wounded they were not expected to survive]]. Criminals condemned to die by the sword were not considered gladiators, and for them death was predetermined.

The thumbs-up and [[FinishHim thumbs-down]] signals, indicating that less fortunate contestants should be spared or [[FinishHim killed]] are common in fiction, actually [[NewerThanTheyThink can be traced back no further than the 19th century]], where Jean-Léon Gérôme's 1872 painting "Pollice Verso" popularized their anachronistic use in ancient settings.

When gladiatorial combat appears in a modern setting, it is often a DeadlyGame or a BloodSport. Will often take place in a [[TheThunderdome ThunderDome]] of some sort.

When good guys are forced to participate in death matches, they typically refuse to kill their opponent, finding a way to get out of it.



* There was [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jkygJ_QNo this epic Pepsi commercial]] from 2010 starring Music/{{Pink}}, Music/BritneySpears, Music/{{Beyonce}}, and Music/EnriqueIglesias. (Notable in that the brief story is a {{Deconstruction}} where the three gladiators refuse to fight and unite against the cruel emperor.)

[[folder:Anime and Manga ]]
* ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'': The Dark Tournament is a martial arts tournament organized by the trillionaires and masters of shady companies dedicated to accumulating wealth through the dark arts. The fights don't necessary have to end in death (although it is highly encouraged), participants can win with a 10 second knockout or ringout.
* ''Manga/MobileSuitCrossboneGundam'': Tobia Arronax. Spoilered due to [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome extreme awesome]] [[spoiler: Tobia gets captured and is forced to fight in a gladiator ring. He's on foot armed with a machinegun. His opponent is armed with a ''mobile suit''. And '''he wins'''. '''''By hijacking the mobile suit''''', ''which he then uses to escape his captors''.]]
* ''Anime/MobileFighterGGundam'': Let's get this started! Fight all set! Ready, GO!
* In ''Manga/KenganAshura'' there are Kengan Matches, events in which Businessmen decide to settle their differences and market share not through court but through appointing fighters to win it all, these fights are very brutal and can end up with one fighter dead or seriously crippled, there is a referee present but his presence is just for show, if a fighter can be smart enough to cheat in a way that the referee and the audience can’t blatantly notice it then all is fair, the referee and the audience are very good at pretending to not see anything wrong to preserve the continuation of the Kengan Association.
* ''LightNovel/KinosJourney'': Kino has to participate in a gladiator-esque tournament (held for the benefit of an insane emperor). She manages to win without killing any of her opponents.
* ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'': One of these exists in the [[MagicalLand Magic World]], which is used for a small TournamentArc. There's been hints that it used to be much more violent than in the current story (including slavery and fights to the death).
** It's been revealed that the reason that Jack Rakan is so unbelievably strong is because he spent years [[CharlesAtlasSuperpower fighting in the arena]] [[spoiler: so that he could earn his way out of gladitorial slavery]], before moving on to fighting in wars.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'':
** [[LadyLand Amazon Lily Island]] has a gladiator arena that they use to execute criminals (men) or just throw a few more or less friendly fights to see who's the strongest (along with heavy betting).
** A much larger-scale version with participants from the whole world later appears in Dressrosa's Corrida Colosseum. Unlike Amazon Lily, participating is entirely optional, and the participants usually fight it out over some glorious prize, the most recent one being [[spoiler: Ace's Devil Fruit, the Mera Mera no Mi]]. Also unlike Amazon Lily, the competitors are actually referred to as "gladiators". Though the Colosseum has its dark secrets: not all gladiators are there by choice, and a good number of them are "criminals" (read, people who stood up against [[spoiler:the Donquixote Pirates]]) forced to fight under threat of execution, not unlike Roman ''ludi'' and ''munera''. Also, any loser who doesn't die is [[spoiler:sent down a trash chute to be transformed into a toy, to uphold Doflamingo's masquerade]].
* ''Manga/SaintSeiya'':
** Seiya earned his Cloth through this.
** The first six episodes actually pay homage to this with all the matches being played out in a replica of the Coliseum.
* ''Franchise/{{Zoids}}'': The third and fourth animes are primarily set at a time where the most popular sport is organized combat between the title HumongousMecha.
* ''Manga/{{Gunnm}}'' has gladiatorial combat between giant cyborgs as one of the major entertainments in the Scrapyard.
* The titular ''Manga/DeadmanWonderland'' and their horribly violent Carnival Corpse games. Those that lose get one of their organs removed. While they are awake.
* Double Subverted (in a sense) during the "Legendary Heroes" arc of the original ''Anime/YuGiOh''. Jonouchi had to take part in the Duel Monsters equivalent of a gladiator game to win a card the entourage needed in the virtual reality world they were in, which they were just starting to figure out [[MostDangerousVideoGame could be truly lethal]] due to the Big 5's tampering. Fortunately for him, [[spoiler:his opponent turned out to be Mai, who had been hired by the Big 5 as a beta tester.]]
* ''Manga/Golgo13''. Two millionaires who've made a hobby of this decide to pay an assassin called Spartacus to kill Golgo 13 in the ruins of the Colosseum, while secretly watching their duel on hidden cameras. Suffice to say this makes them TooDumbToLive.
* ''Manga/{{Dokuro}}'' has the Rumble Fish, in the sanatorium.
* In ''LightNovel/RakuinNoMonshou'' gladiator games are extremely popular in Mephius. Most gladiators are sword-slaves and are often former criminals, such as the main character Orba. Matches are almost always to the death and the managers aren't above gimmicks such as having a chained woman in danger of being devoured by a dragon.

[[folder:Comic Books ]]
* ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'':
** Gladiatorial combat is a recurring element in the backstory of ''[[ComicBook/TheTransformers Transformers Generation 1]]'' comics; specifically, Megatron is generally a former gladiator (well, a miner who became a gladiator) who rebelled.
** In IDW's ''ComicBook/TheTransformersLastStandOfTheWreckers'', the Decepticon [[PersonOfMassDestruction Mech of Mass Destruction]] [[FauxAffablyEvil Overlord]] takes over [[TheAlcatraz Garrus-9]] and essentially turns it into an arena of this sort just for the hell of it. Overlord had a cameo appearance in "[[StartOfDarkness Megatron Origin]]" as a member of Megatron's gladiator group. Seems he wasn't in it to fight corruption with superior firepower like Megatron's original mission statement said - he was just in it for the fun.
* ''ComicBook/PlanetHulk''. And a bit in ''ComicBook/WorldWarHulk'' too.
* Mongul's War World in ''ComicBook/{{Superman}}''.
* In ''ComicBook/TheWarlord'', Travis Morgan captured and made into a gladiatorial slave. He eventually led a GladiatorRevolt that gained him the title of Warlord.
* ''ComicBook/{{Asterix}} the Gladiator''
* The [[ComicBook/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtlesMirage Ninja Turtles]] had to fight in the Triceraton version of this in the original Mirage comics. The story is adapted and expanded upon in the [[WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2003 second cartoon]]. They don't lose.
* ''Comicbook/{{Exiles}}'' featured an alternate Earth where the entire superhuman population were slaves fighting in Gladiator Games for the entertainment of their Skrull conquerors. Unlike many examples of this trope, most of the fights were nonlethal; each superhuman was a unique entertainer, too valuable to lose.
* A central point of the series ''ComicBook/{{Murena}}'', not suprisingly since the action unfolds in AncientRome.
* In ''ComicBook/{{Cavewoman}}: Oasis'', Meriem is kidnapped and forced to participate in gladiatorial combat in an arena called the 'Bowl of Bones'.
* In the comic book ''Grimjack'', the title character spent his childhood fighting in the Arena. He wasn't released until early adulthood. His friend Blackjac and his enemy The Dancer were both gladiators.
* Sonja is sentenced to the arena by a KangarooCourt in the ''ComicBook/RedSonja: Berserker'' one-shot.
* ''ComicStrip/{{Nero}}'': Nero, Petoetje, Petatje and Madam Pheip are thrown to the lions and bears in the Colosseum on orders of Emperor UsefulNotes/{{Nero}} in the album ''De Rode Keizer'' ("The Red Emperor")
* ''ComicBook/SuskeEnWiske'': Lambik fights as a gladiator in the album ''Het Geheim van de Gladiatoren'' (''The Secret Of The Gladiators''), again on orders of Emperor UsefulNotes/{{Nero}}.
* In ''[[ComicBook/JonahHex Hex]]'', gladiator-style pit fights are a popular entertainment in the post-apocalyptic future. In one story arc, Hex's girlfriend Stiletta is kidnapped [[BrainwashedAndCrazy brainwashed into becoming an arena fighter]] caled the Blonde Spitfire.
* In ''Adventure Comics'' issue #412, ComicBook/{{Supergirl}} gets forced to take part in the gladiator games of an alien world to ensure that a tyrant don't become the planet's ruler.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* The ''FanFic/BasaltCityChronicles'' subverts this: The Empire of Smilodons has a reputation of allowing fights to the death for sport. Holding fights to the death for sport is actually VERY illegal, and is one of the very few capital crimes in the Empire. Not that their legitimate tournaments aren't brutal...
* ''FanFic/ABriefHistoryOfEquestria'' reveals that the Pre-Hearthswamring Pegasi reveled in gladiatorial games.
* The Demon Empire of ''FanFic/SonicXDarkChaos'', essentially the Roman Empire in space, uses these as part of it BreadAndCircuses policies. In a similar vein to the Romans, they use recaptured slaves and criminals as fighters. However, [[ShownTheirWork lethal games are quite rare]].
* The ''Franchise/StarWars'' fic ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11040419/1/Gladiatorial-Jedi Gladiatorial Jedi]]'' has Luke Skywalker forced into one his ex, Callista, is running. She has Mara and Ben captured with him, and employs a ForcedToWatch, torturing Mara and saying it'll go on until she dies if Luke doesn't submit to being taken and forced to fight.
* ''Fanfic/LovedAndLost'': After [[TheUsurper Prince Jewelius]] seizes the throne of Equestria, he makes a treaty with dragons that includes forcing Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy to fight as gladiators in the dragons' new colosseum. The crowd is eager to see the two pegasi going down, but they are able to hold their own in the matches until they're rescued by the other discredited heroes a week later.

* ''Franchise/StarWars'':
** Jabba the Hutt's technique for dealing with intruders.
** Same for the Geonosians in '' Attack of the Clones''. These guys apparently liked their fights a bit more one sided than they already are, given that they chained their victims up. Which ironically saved them all.
%%* ''Film/{{Flash Gordon|1980}}''.
* Any film set in AncientRome.
** Such as the [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin aptly named]] ''Film/DemetriusAndTheGladiators''.
** The premise of ''Film/{{Gladiator}}''. In reference to the above mention of fighting animals, a rhino fight was planned. It was shelved due to both the cost, and for its implausibility. You'd have to piss off a rhino to an insane degree if you want a real fight out of it.
** ''Film/{{Centurion}}'': The protagonist's father was a gladiator. This is in no way relevant to the story, but if you've made a film about ancient Romans without mentioning gladiators at all, you've just wasted everyone's time.
** ''Film/TheEagle'', based on ''Literature/TheEagleOfTheNinth'', has TheLancer try to commit suicide by gladiator because he refuses to fight for Romans' amusement. He's deeply annoyed to be rescued by the Roman hero.
* Played for laughs (naturally) in ''Film/MontyPythonsLifeOfBrian'': first by showing the bloody aftermath of the "Children's Matinee," then in the next round, the stronger prisoner chases the weaker one around the arena, until the former collapses from a heart attack.
%%* ''Film/MadMaxBeyondThunderdome''.
%%* ''Film/{{Tron}}''. The Games.
* In ''Film/ConanTheBarbarian1982'', Conan had this as part of his backstory until he escaped.
* The Dutch film ''Temmink: The Ultimate Fight'' features gladiator style fights which almost always end in death in a modern setting. The participants are convicted criminals who chose this alternative over jail time, and have to keep participating in these fights until they die.
* ''Film/{{Airplane}}'' doesn't actually show any arena combat, but it lampshades the {{fanservice}} aspects of the trope (buff loincloth-wearing men getting sweaty) with the famous line: "Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?"
* ''Film/ValhallaRising'' begins with One-Eye being forced to fight other slaves to the death while his captors bet on the outcome.
* ''Film/MadMaxBeyondThunderdome''. Although played straight as a spectator sport in an AfterTheEnd society, it also serves a dual purpose -- two men who have a dispute fight to the death inside TheThunderdome, ensuring their quarrel doesn't go any further.
-->'''Dr. Dealgood:''' Listen all! This is the truth of it. Fighting leads to killing, and killing gets to warring. [[WorldWarThree And that was damn near the death of us all]]. Look at us now! Busted up, and everyone talking about hard rain! But we've learned, by the dust of them all... Bartertown's learned. Now, when men get to fighting, it happens here! And it finishes here! Two men enter; one man leaves. ''(crowd chants "Two men enter, one man leaves" until Dealgood motions for silence)'' Right now, I've got two men, two men with a gut full of fear. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls... dyin' time's here.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheMansionsOfTheGods'': Treated as modern ProWrestling, complete with complicated named moves that require both participants to work and figurines.
* ''Film/{{Rollerball}}''. The brutal titular game, a combination of martial arts, roller derby, motorcycle racing, and that's just for starters -- is explicitly designed to distract the attention of an oppressed future proletariat.

%%* These appear very prominently in Ben Kane's ''Literature/TheForgottenLegion''.
%%* In Chris Roberson's ''Literature/ImperialFists'' novel ''Sons of Dorn'', Rhomec's BackStory.
%%* In Simon Spurrier's Literature/NightLords novel ''Lord of Night'', the BackStory of GentleGiant Cog.
%%* In ''[[Literature/ShadowsOfTheApt Salute the Dark]]'', Tisamon's fate.
* In the ''Literature/{{Confessions}}'', contemporary Rome's gladiator tournaments were portrayed as evil and incompatible with the Christianity of Augustine and his friends. Alypius had to be violently dragged by his friends to a game and even then he covered his eyes for the whole time. Unfortunately, he couldn't also cover his ears or his curiosity, so an especially raucous roar from the audience convinced him to look as one gladiator killed another, inciting enough bloodlust in the future Catholic bishop to get him addicted to the blood sport.
* In Creator/DianaWynneJones's ''Literature/DarkLordOfDerkholm'', Kit and Blade are captured and made to fight in a tournament to entertain the off-world tourists.
* In ''Literature/DoraWilkSeries'', a bunch of werewolves run an underground fight club where werewolves fight each other, and when audience wants a fight to death, they use their captured kin.
* Caramon was forced to become a gladiator in the ''Literature/{{Dragonlance}}'' book ''Test of the Twins''. Not easy for the fat drunken slob he'd become. Caramon's always-win status comes about because he can't [[ItMakesSenseInContext 'die' convincingly]], so the trainer/manager decided to advertise "he always wins, come see if someone can beat him!"
* Conn Iggulden's ''Literature/{{Emperor}}'' novels, being set during the last decades of the Roman Republic, have quite a few of these. A notable one occurs in the third book, lasting for several chapters which is held by Julius Caesar to garner popular support in his campaign for consul. This also provides CharacterDevelopment for Brutus, Domitius, and Servilia, brings Cabera to a turning point, and gives some insight into the ways Crassus and Pompey do business.
* In Creator/JamesSwallow's ''Faith & Fire'', the reenactments of Saint Celestine's life are quite literal, and since she fought the foes of the Emperor -- well, this trope doubles up with HumanSacrifice. (The rich can bribe their way out, if chosen.)
* The ''Literature/GentlemanBastard'' sequence features the infamous blood sports of the city of Camorr. Most of them involve condemned criminals battling professional gladiators or various types of monster, but the favourites are the female gladiators who stand on platforms in the water to [[RuleOfCool battle the famous jumping wolf sharks]].
* In Creator/BenCounter's ''Literature/GreyKnights'' novel ''Hammer of Daemons'', the novel revolves about the Gladiator Games that the captured Alaric is forced to fight in.
* The entire plot of ''Literature/TheHungerGames'' trilogy revolves around a scenario where tributes from each District have to fight to the death in a massive arena. Suzanne Collins [[http://www.slj.com/2008/09/authors-illustrators/a-killer-story-an-interview-with-suzanne-collins-author-of-the-hunger-games/ called it]] "basically an updated version of the Roman gladiator games."
* Creator/BrianAldiss's short story "In The Arena". Human captives of the redul are forced to fight alien monsters in an arena. The male protagonist is paired with a female fighter in a "double double": the two of them against a pair of deadly yillibeeth, with each pair being chained together.
* Creator/EdgarRiceBurroughs's ''Literature/JohnCarterOfMars'':
** "A Princess of Mars", the prospect of Dejah Thoris's being thrown to the wild dogs in the arena prompts John Carter to secure their escape. She does escape, but he is recaptured and forced to fight beasts in the arena.
** In ''Chessman Of Mars'', the hero infiltrates the game of the title, where the pieces are living swordsmen, and fights; he wins and leads a revolt.
* Douglas Hill's ''Literature/LastLegionary'' has the titular [[LastOfHisKind Keill Randor]] participating in a gladiatorial tournament. Despite him being the only one not using weapons, the rest don't stand a chance.
* A frequent setting for scenes in Francine Rivers’ ''Literature/TheMarkOfTheLion''; one of the main characters is an [[MadeASlave enslaved]] gladiator himself.
* In Creator/JohnCWright's ''[[Literature/MothAndCobweb Green Knight's Squire]]'', in the backstory, discussions of staging these were derailed by Ygrainne's suggestion that the elf knights should fight in [[TheTourney tourneys]] instead. She pointed out that merely human knights did, and they should be able to.
* Literature/ModestyBlaise is forced to do this in ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Man%27s_Handle Dead Man's Handle]]''. Actually, she's kind of forced to do something like this in ''all'' the books, frequently stripped for action, but ''Dead Man's Handle'' is the closest to Roman-style gladiation. More examples include:
** ''Sabre-Tooth'': Fights the Twins in a proper arena.
** ''I, Lucifer'': Forced to duel with Willie, pistol against throwing knife.
** ''A Taste for Death'': Fights an epee duel with Wenczel, stripped to the waist. The Fanservice is lampshaded as an attempt to distract one of the villains.
** ''The Impossible Virgin'': Forced to fight a gorilla.
** ''The Silver Mistress'': Not quite this trope--she fights Mr. Sexton with an audience of one. Worth mentioning for sheer Fanservice--her edge in the fight to the death against a larger, stronger, and dangerously skillful opponent is that ''she's completely naked and covered in grease''.
** ''Dragon's Claw'': Forced to fight a quickdraw duel with the Reverend Uriah.
** ''The Xanadu Talisman'': Fights El Mico in an arena in the Atlas Mountains.
** ''The Night of Morningstar'': Fights the Earl in.
* In the ''Literature/ParadoxTrilogy'', gladiator games between contestants in PoweredArmor are popular entertainment on Paradox. There are apparently two leagues; one which features legitimately dangerous contests of skill, and one which has scripted matches intended to show off the armor's abilities. Devi was offered the opportunity to be a gladiator, but declined because female gladiators are expected to wear ChainmailBikini style "armor" rather than the real powered armor Devi loves using.
* Jonathan ends up in the arena in ''Literature/TheRomanMysteries'' novel ''The Gladiators from Capua'', and its television adaptation.
* In ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' Danaerys has the fighting pits of Mereen closed, and is constantly being asked to reopen them. [[spoiler: In ''A Dance with Dragons'' she agrees, but the blood and noise serves to attract [[OurDragonsAreDifferent Drogon]], who's a bit more formidable than any of the animals they anticipated fighting.]]
* By Creator/RosemarySutcliff:
** ''Literature/TheEagleOfTheNinth'''s Esca is rescued from the arena and becomes TheLancer to his new master.
** ''Literature/TheMarkOfTheHorseLord'''s hero is an ex-gladiator who masquerades as a tribal king. He wins his freedom in the opening scene by killing his best friend.
* ''Literature/TimeScout'': AncientRome is a tourist destination. Tourists go and watch sometimes. Scouts and guides and tourists sometimes get unlucky and end up playing along.
* Literature/TortallUniverse: The ''Literature/TheNumairChronicles'' reveal violent entertainment is very popular in Carthak. Slaves and captives from military conflicts are forced to fight for their lives for the enjoyment of the crowds. Arram despises them for their wanton violence.
* In the ''Literature/TowersTrilogy'', Edren has gladiatorial arena where people fight with swords and spells for the entertainment of the public.
* This is the setting for Creator/TimMarquitz's ''Literature/WarGod'' novel, which is a DeconstructiveParody of this genre. The antiheroes intend to rig a tournament about this by upping the violence and murder to make their FakeUltimateHero look good so they can clean up when he crashes and burns.
* Very popular in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' novels:
** In Creator/DanAbnett's ''Xenos'', after a Chaos cult [[ColdBloodedTorture tortures]] Literature/{{Eisenhorn}}, they throw him and his party to monsters. Their counterattack does considerable damage to the cult -- and fortunately, a naval attack secures their escape.
** In Creator/DanAbnett's ''Literature/{{Ravenor}}'', the Carnivora Circus, particularly when they dispose of intruders.
** C. S. Goto's ''Literature/BloodRavens'' novel ''Dawn of War: Ascension'' features their ushering the aspirants into an arena and telling them they can't leave. Fighting breaks out shortly, and the Blood Ravens watch with care. Gabriel Angelos remembers his own selection: he drew his sword and killed several people on arrival, before anyone else realized they should fight.
** In Creator/JamesSwallow's Literature/BloodAngels novel ''Deus Encarmine'', Rafen reflects back on his own induction and the games there.
** Same with the Black Templars in the comic ''ComicBook/DamnationCrusade'', interseting the main character gets notic for refusing to kill a friend and getting everyone to stop fighting
** In Creator/BenCounter's "Hell Break", the dark eldar start by throwing Commissar von Klas into the arena -- as the monster -- to fight the wych. When he wins, they are seriously displeased and send him to [[ColdBloodedTorture torture]].
* Queen Scarlet from ''Literature/WingsOfFire'' forces her war prisoners to fight as gladiators in her arena, and quite enjoys watching the fights. They technically are supposed to be free after winning a few battles, but the last battle is always with her champion who is [[NighInvulnerability essentially undefeatable]].
* In ''Literature/TheWitchlands'', the Pirate Republic of Saldonica has a giant arena where enslaved witches fight for the entertainment of the public and as part of the city-state's religious celebrations.

[[folder:Live Action TV ]]
%%* ''Series/{{Flash Gordon|2007}}''.
* ''Series/{{Star Trek|The Original Series}}''
** The episode [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_and_Circuses_(Star_Trek) "Bread And Circuses"]], the crew discover a planet identical to Earth except that that it's ruled by UsefulNotes/TheRomanEmpire with TV cameras.
** The episode "Arena" is so named because of this trope. Very powerful aliens trap Kirk and a Gorn alien on a planet together so they can go at it to the death. No Romans, no literal arena, but the concept is identical. Kirk [[spoiler: gets the upper hand, and refuses to dispatch the defenseless Gorn.]]
** In "The Gamesters of Triskelion" Kirk and co. are captured by the titular [[BrainInAJar disembodied intellects]] and forced to battle for their gambling enjoyment. Three hundred quatloos on the human!
* Titus Pullo's averted execution from ''Series/{{Rome}}'' took this form. Also a CrowningMomentOfAwesome ('''THIRTEEN!''')
* An episode of ''Series/{{Angel}}'' featured a demon arena where all the captured demons had bets taken on them. Angel is captured as well, and spends the episode trying to free them... and then realizes that he's unleashed a whole gang of demons on Los Angeles.
** One of the novels had Buffy and Angel being forced to fight each other like this for a while.
* Sylvester Stallone appeared as gladiator fighting a lion in a sketch on ''Series/TheMuppetShow''. As it happens, the lion doesn't want to fight and the two decide to sing and dance "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" instead.
* An episode of ''Series/HerculesTheLegendaryJourneys'' called, well, "Gladiator" featured the heroes trying to free a gladiator and being forced to take part in the games as well.
* ''Series/SpartacusBloodAndSand'': For reasons that should be obvious.
* Gladiators appear in multiple ''Series/HorribleHistories'' sketches such as [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfSTZUEH95Q when they run out of animals]].
* ''Series/TheSaint'' episode "The Man Who Liked Lions" has Simon Templar running afoul of a thuggish Roman revivalist.
* ''Series/TheOuterLimits1963'' episode "[[Recap/TheOuterLimits1963S1E27FunAndGames Fun and Games]]" featured an alien race that regularly abducts beings from other planets and forces them to fight to the death for their amusement. For incentive, anyone who loses or refuses to fight gets their home planet destroyed. The evil aliens also like to make the fights one-sided. For example, when a man and woman from Earth are abducted, they are pitted against a male and female pair of savage aliens with incredible strength. The aliens are provided with food and AbsurdlySharpBlade boomerangs, while the humans are only provided with food and the bullets in the man's gun are confiscated. [[spoiler: The humans win anyway.]]
* ''Series/BloodTies'' episode "Necrodrome" featured a necromancer using rites based on Egyptian mythology to re-animate dead athletes to perform in bouts.
* ''Series/BeingHumanUK'' episodes "Lia" and "The Pack" have cage matches with captured werewolves, run by vampires.
** A popular variation is to pit a werewolf against a human armed only with a knife. After all, what fun is it without giving him a sporting chance?
* The ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' episode "Dominion" had Clark Kent and Oliver Queen sent to the PhantomZone, where they find that General Zod has taken over and organizes these. Naturally, Clark and Oliver were forced to participate.
* In the ''Series/{{Max Headroom}}'' episode "Rakers" Edison Carter investigates the rise of the violent sport of raking, which involves skateboard riders with weapons fighting each other.
* In ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' episode "Tsunkatse" Seven of Nine is forces to battle an alien played by The Rock, and loses only because she hesitates. The crowd loves seeing a Borg drone being beat, and she is then put into a death match.

* From Literature/AesopsFables, "Androcles and the Lion". After he took a thorn from the paw of a lion, Androcles was thrown into the games. Fortunately, the lion to which he was thrown was the same lion, and [[AndroclesLion remembered]].

* "In The Colosseum" from ''Music/BoneMachine'', by Music/TomWaits.
* "We Who are About to Die" by Music/{{Evile}}.
* "[[Music/FoodForTheGods Guardian of the Realm]]" by Music/{{Fireaxe}}.
--> ''Two Kings. Two rivals. Fighting for supremacy.''
--> ''Each sends into the arena their finest champion.''
--> ''Their champion strides towards me, a grizzled veteran, winner of a hundred duels and I only one.''
--> ''“Hey kid let’s stop this madness. Are we just high priced slaves?''
--> ''Both kings are tyrants. They should fight in our place.”''
--> ''“Only your king is a tyrant.”, I answer filled with pride.''
--> ''“That is why he will lose. That is why you shall die.”''
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqYsRuyeCng "Sanguine Pluit In Arena"]] by Ade.
* Music/CatStevens ''O Caritas'' is partially in Latin and sets the gladiator oath to music:
--> ''nos perituri mortem salutamus...''

[[folder:Newspaper Comics ]]
* In the ''ComicStrip/ModestyBlaise'' arc "Those About To Die", Modesty, Willie and a group of elite athletes are captured by a mad millionaire and forced to participate in a DeadlyGame recreation of the Roman games.
* In ''ComicStrip/FlashGordon'', Flash is forced into such combats repeatedly.

* The "Gladiators" table of ''VideoGame/LastGladiators'' is centered on this theme.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', the primarch Angron's BackStory (leading to a GladiatorRevolt).
** Dark Eldar Wyches live and breathe Gladiator games. The main reason they go along on raids is to acquire captives to use as opponents/victims.
* The ''Star Wars'' role-playing game kept the tradition seen with Jabba in ''Return of the Jedi'', mostly in published scenarios: From West End Games's ''TabletopGame/StarWarsD6'' (happens in ''Secrets of the Sisar Run'') to Creator/WizardsOfTheCoast's ''TabletopGame/StarWarsD20'' alternative (''Reckonings'') to Wizards's Saga Edition (''Dawn of Defiance''). It's easy to use this trope in a role-playing game scenario, satisfying the players' need for AttackAttackAttack!
* ''TabletopGame/YuGiOh'' has the Gladiator Beasts, a set of monsters that are ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin, and has the gimmick of "tagging out" with each other after a battle. Bonus points for Konami [[ShownTheirWork showing their work]] by using the real gladiator types and weapons/battle tactics for most of the cards, as well as real-life Roman figures for the namesakes of the most powerful Beasts.
* In D&D's ''TabletopGame/DarkSun'', gladiatorial combat is popular in every city-state, and Gladiator is even a CharacterClass.
* In ''TabletopGame/RocketAge'' many Martian principalities have arenas where prisoners fight each other and great beasts for the entertainment of the crowd. Some rulers have even imported [[TyrannosaurusRex Thunder Lizards]] from Venus. One such arena in the state of Ustanik even features in the Trail of the Scorpion campaign.

* ''Toys/{{Bionicle}}'''s 2009 line picks up on the world of Bara Magna, where gladiator games are used to settle tribal disputes. Though the games are regulated enough that it doesn't fall under BloodSport.
* ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'' commonly has gladiatorial combat as part of pre-{{civil war}} [[{{Space Romans}} Cybertronian society]]. Megatron is usually a former gladiator, and sometimes Shockwave and Grimlock are as well.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls''
** The very first game in the series, ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsArena Arena]]'', is named as such because it was originally intended to be a game about teams of gladiators battling it out. This would be dropped during development in favor of adapting Tamriel, the developers' home-brew ''[[Franchise/DungeonsAndDragons D&D]]'' setting, into a video game. As promotional material had already been created, ''Arena'' stuck as the title.
** In ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind Morrowind]]'', you'll need to fight a number of battles in the Vivec Arena in order to advance through several factions. In particular, you'll need to do this to achieve guild leader status in the Imperial Legion, House Redoran, and the Mages' Guild.[[note]]There is a peaceful way to become head of the Mages Guild, but it leaves you co-head with an idiot. It also prevents you from killing said idiot to loot his powerful and useful amulet.[[/note]] You'll need to battle Dram Bero's champion in order to gain his support in House Hlaalu as well.
** ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]]'':
*** The Arena in is also an optional version. Your armor is limited to the one provided. You can however use your choice of helmet, shield and weapons. The Arena was founded by the legendary Redguard hero Gaiden Shinji, who also served as its first Blademaster (which [[MasterSwordsman wasn't just a cosmetic title for him]]).
*** Inverted in the ''Shivering Isles'' expansion. Some [[http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Shivering:Scented_Parchment notes]] [[http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Shivering:Scroll_%28Cann%29 found]] in a ruined Arena show that slaves were abducted to engage in sex for the spectators. The captives instead assumed they were being prepared to fight to the death, and instead murdered each other on the arena floor, to the disappointment of their captors.
* One of the many, many sadistic uses for caged enemies in ''VideoGame/DwarfFortress''. Cage traps are useful because they're a guaranteed elimination, except that you have to find a use for them. One of these is providing much-needed XP for your military by letting your troops grind them into powder in an arena. (Another use is forcing them to run a horrifically sadistic deathcourse...VideogameCrueltyPotential rocks).
* Early in ''VideoGame/BaldursGateII'' the party can find an underground gladiator ring hidden in the back of the [[BadGuyBar Copper Coronet]], with the option of starting a quick GladiatorRevolt for some good karma. A few acts later, stumbling into the wrong part of the Underdark results in the whole party being captured by Mindflayers and sent to fight monsters in their arena.
* Happens to the player and their squad in ''VideoGame/CliveBarkersJericho''. The Jericho team, travelling through the Roman time-slice in the Pyxis, are lured into a trap by the BigBad of the period, Cassus Vicus, a ridiculously fat Roman governor who was said to be so utterly depraved that he was banished from Italy by ''Caligula''. The team find themselves in a huge arena where they must fight off a few waves of monsters while being watched by Cassus and thousands of spectators. Once this is over, you go on to fight Cassus himself.
* There's an important sub-plot involving traditional gladiatorial games in ''VideoGame/SuikodenV''. They're more humane than most of the examples on this list, thanks to some new laws introduced by the RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething in the backstory, and by the end of the game they've been abolished entirely.
* In most ''VideoGame/MightAndMagic'' games, there's an Arena you can go to where you can fight to the death against groups of monsters to win gold (and in some cases, experience). The rules vary depending on which game, and the monsters are chosen at random, although you can usually pick the level of difficulty. (Although the difficulty levels often get more difficult overall as your own experience levels get higher.) Unlike most examples of this Trope, it's entirely voluntary; sometimes you even have to pay a fee to enter, and at times you can only go on certain days. In at least one game, a promotion quest depends on going there.
* ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' has several arenas like this, although participation is voluntary. (Most of the time; some storylines have villains that leave the player little choice.) Most questlines involving them consist of the player fighting [[BossBonanza one boss after another]], and it's one of the few places you can engage in PVP combat against a member of your own faction.
* In ''VideoGame/DungeonKeeper 2'' the combat pit is used to train fighters past level 4.
* At one point in ''VideoGame/OverlordII'' you are captured and sentenced to die in the Arena where you are pitted against laughably weak prisoners, not so laughably weak unicorns, a Gargantuan, and [[spoiler: the Yeti]]. Fortunately there are plenty of captive minions in barrels to be found, and you can turn the tables on the audience by making them part of the show.
* ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' features a PlayerVersusPlayer Arena system, allowing players to form teams of two to five characters and fight against other teams for rewards, including ranking, titles, and the best [=PvP=] gear in the game.
** It also features a dungeon and raid that pit the players against [=NPCs=] representing the opposing faction, champions of the [[ChurchMilitant Argent Crusade]], and gigantic monsters captured for the sole purpose of unleashing them in the arena. Rather than just being entertainment, it's part of a tournament to find the greatest heroes in the world to take on the BigBad, but that doesn't stop the crowd from cheering when you trample someone under your horse.
* The trailer for ''VideoGame/TheForceUnleashed 2'' shows Galen Marek entering an arena and taking on some type of titanic beast that just ''picked up a rancor with one hand and threw it'' to the cheers of a bloodthirsty crowd.
* The Creator/LucasArts TurnBasedStrategy game ''VideoGame/{{Gladius}}'' is based around building a team for a gladiator circuit, though you wind up SavingTheWorld instead of becoming grand champion. Stupid SealedEvilInACan...
* ''VideoGame/RomeTotalWar'' allows you to put on (very abstracted) gladiatorial games in order to keep a city's population happy.
* In ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'', a very prestigious sport for the dwarves of Orzammar. Combat in the Provings is not to the death, however, except in extremely rare cases. Oghren apparently accidentally killed a noble who challenged him in a battle to first blood, due to being [[TheBerserker a berserker]], and thus was banned from bearing arms and armor in the city.
* The ''VideoGame/MechWarrior 4'' Mercenaries expansion allows you to participate in arena matches where everyone is piloting a HumongousMecha ranging from 30 tons (for the lightest weight classes) all the way up to 100 tons, in a free-for-all of 8 (or more) competitors. None of the games are to the death, although competitors must bring their own personal mechs to the match, and are not reimbursed for losing their mech in the fight, leading to the upper weight classes being fought out completely by professional gladiators (with some lip service paid to corporate sponsorship).
* The premise of ''VideoGame/MadWorld'' is a spectator sport called Deathwatch, complete with the hilarity caused by [[LargeHamAnnouncer having announcers.]]
* ''VideoGame/SaintsRowTheThird'' features Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax, which hilariously mixes this with the vibe of a Japanese game show.
* This is the fundamental premise of the ''VideoGame/UnrealTournament'' franchise: the NEG and Liandri Corporation run the Tournament as a way of keeping the masses in order. Contestants include convicted criminals, mercenaries trying to win fame and fortune, and aliens and robots trying to prove their dominance over humanity. The original title included at least one economist, with the character bio saying, "people will pay good money to see economists, lawyers and other scum fight in the arena". Not to mention that the big champions like Xan Kriegor and Malcolm have become genuine celebrities for their Tournament exploits.
* ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'''s The Pitt has the Hole, an irradiated Thunderdome-style arena in which the player must fight several slave opponents to regain his/her freedom and equipment.
** ''VideoGame/{{Fallout New Vegas}}'' plays this trope straight by having an actual Roman style fighting arena situated in Caesar's Legion's main camp where male characters can fight for glory and Legion fame. Female characters, however, cannot participate under normal circumstances.
** ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 4}}'''s Wasteland Workshop DLC allows the player to build their own arenas and pit their settlers and companions against animals, mutants, imprisoned Raiders, or even other settlers.
* ''VideoGame/PerfectDarkZero'' has VR deathmatch apparatuses, and you must fight Mai Hem in one that is rigged so that the player who dies in the game [[YourMindMakesItReal dies for real]].
* Aksys Games's ''Gladiator Begins'' rather obviously features such fights. You're actually a slave fighting to earn your freedom, and when you do eventually earn enough money to do so, you can leave it all behind for an ending. But over the course of the game, you also can get involved in, and resolve, three separate storylines that bring you to the attention of someone influential if you decide to stay in the arena.
* ''VideoGame/LightningReturnsFinalFantasyXIII'' has The Slaughterhouse, where you can fight strong monsters for recovery items early in the evening, and weaker monsters or hostile people for lesser rewards as the night wears on. Some quests also require you to take part in matches.
* ''VideoGame/{{Gladiatrix}}'' has a female gladiator as the PlayerCharacter. Also, her fights to the death are with non-human opponents.
* One particular Last-Team-Standing map in ''VideoGame/PiratesVikingsAndKnights'' takes place in a Roman colosseum, although there are no spectators. (Might have something to do with the soon-to-erupt volcano)
* Most games in the ''VideoGame/RatchetAndClank'' franchise feature an arena level. Interestingly, as the games [[LighterAndSofter have progressed]], the tournaments have gone from being [[BloodSport entertainment]] hosted by the local MegaCorp to solely the purview of backwater criminals or ProudWarriorRace species.
* The ''VideoGame/FireEmblem'' series often features Arenas on certain maps, where characters can fight for extra gold and experience. However, FinalDeath is still in effect here, so there's a lot of risk involved. In the ''Akaneia'' games, Ogma's backstory involves being a former gladiator ([[HarmfulToMinors from a very young age, it's implied]]), and some of his conversations in ''VideoGame/FireEmblemMysteryOfTheEmblem'' imply it was so horrific he still suffers from some form of PTSD over it.
* ''VideoGame/ForHonor'' has added elements of this over the course of the second and third seasons with two new Knight faction heroes, the Centurion, and well, the Gladiator. The Centurion is a Hybrid ostensibly based on Roman soldiers and uses a gladius as his weapon, but also incorporates a lot of punches and kicks in his repertoire; two of his purchaseable executions are also ''very'' gladiator-themed (including the thumbs up/down and playing to an imaginary crowd of spectators). The Gladiator is an Assassin character who appears to be a combination of the ''retiarius'' and ''hoplomachus'' types of gladiator (''retiarius''-like armour and a trident, but with a small shield in place of the net) and has yet to be released at the time of this entry, but will presumably carry on the theme started by the Centurion.
* ''VideoGame/FarCry4'' features the Shanath Arena, a gladiator tournament hosted by Noore Najjar (one of [[EvilOverlord King Pagan Min]]'s military governors). Here, men (including both slaves and volunteers) must fight against other warriors and dangerous animals in gruesome battles to the death. [[PlayerCharacter Ajay Ghale]] is briefly kidnapped and forced to fight there to earn his life and freedom back, though afterwards he may return to continue killing people and beasts with his own free will.
* Data East's ''Hippodrome'' is a gladiatorial game where your barbarian must do battle against creatures such as giants, medusa and lizard men. This would be followed by ''Mutant Fighter'' (Deathbrade in Japan), where monsters and brave warriors are wrestling inside a colosseum. ''Mutant Fighter'' may be most memorable for having your fighter wrestle the Hydra (which gives you its equivalent of "draw and quarter" as a special move).
* Coinciding with the success of ''Film/{{Gladiator}}'', the [=PS2=] had a trend of making gladiator-style games of varying realism including ''VideoGame/{{Gladius}}'', ''Colosseum - Road to Freedom'', ''Gladiator - Sword of Vengeance'' and ''Circus Maximus''

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'': Xykon [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0541.html loves this]].
** So does [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0734.html the Empire of Blood]], after a KangarooCourt.
** [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0736.html A few strips later]], it goes on to discuss every single trope associated with Gladiator Games.
** Belkar dreams of watching people "fight to the death for his amusement". A few times, he thought he gained power over some group and immediately ordered them to do so (as soon as they provide him with some hookers). (Un)fortunately, he didn't actually have any power in any of those cases.
* ''Webcomic/{{Drowtales}}'' has [[http://www.drowtales.com/mainarchive.php?sid=4338 The Black Dragon]], which hosts these and also serves as a convenient dumping point for certain political prisoners who need to "disappear" and make most of their income off of breeding dragons for the ruling Vel'Sharen clan, using those fighters who lose too often as meat for the hatchlings.
* ''Webcomic/LastRes0rt'': It's a ''futuristic reality show for criminals'' [-WITH AN ARENA!-], f'God's sake. At least the monsters in this one are justified in their relentless assault by being robots.
* ''Webcomic/AlienDice'' has the titular game which is a mix of {{Mons}} fighting and Gladiator Game.
* ''Webcomic/TehGladiators'' is a [[ParodySatirePastiche pastiche]] of the Arena battles in WoW.
* The titular ''[[http://www.tnemrot.com/ Domain Tnemrot]]'' is a stadium that features these battles.
* The [[http://www.impurebloodwebcomic.com/Pages/Chapter001/ib001.html opening setting]] of ''Webcomic/ImpureBlood''
* In ''Webcomic/{{Endstone}}'', [[http://endstone.net/2009/06/25/issue-2-page-1/ advertisements for this are Kyri's first warning that things have changed]]
* ''Webcomic/{{Oglaf}}'' [[http://oglaf.com/sport/ parodies the Gladiator Games]]. (very NSFW)
* in ''Webcomic/KarateBears'' a guy Gladiates to save a [[http://www.karatebears.com/2012/03/good-fight.html lady]].

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Roleplay/TheGamersAlliance'', the heroes of the Grand Alliance have to fight in an underground arena against the monstrous [[KillerRabbit Plushie]][[FluffyTheTerrible bunny]] for the amusement of the [[LizardFolk Sirithai]] crowd.
* Briefly appears in ''Script/AHDotComTheSeries'' "The Ultimate Showdown", parodying ''Gladiator''.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/JanaOfTheJungle'' episode "Katuchi Danger", the Katuchi chief forced Jana and Montaro to fight a reptilian beast.
* Dr Zoidberg challenges Fry to "Claw-Plach" in the ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' episode "Why Must I Be a Crustacean In Love?".
* The ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' episode "War World" had {{Superman}} in such a fight.
* Parodied on ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' during an ImagineSpot where Peter claims to own gladiator mice.
-->"Yes! Die, die! I have everything and you have nothing!"
* In the first (Tartakovsky-produced) ''WeternAnimation/StarWarsCloneWars'' series, Count Dooku used such games to recruit anti-Jedi assassins. Asajj Ventress proved herself by killing all of the other candidates. In one fight.
* One of the ''WesternAnimation/RobotChicken Star Wars'' specials parodied the ''Attack of the Clones'' example with an in-universe ad, depicting it as [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwJdb59IuHU an event like a monster truck rally.]]
* The ''[[WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGalaxyRangers Galaxy Rangers]]'' episode "Shoot Out": [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen The Queen]] builds a stadium on the WretchedHive world of Tortuna, and inaugurates it with a gun-slinging tournament (yup, this is a SpaceWestern). This serves as BreadAndCircuses for her subjects, adds a few more poor bastards (the losing contestants) to her [[PoweredByAForsakenChild Psychocrypt]], and she baits the Rangers there with the promise of awarding Eliza's crystal to the winner. The last part turns out to be total BS.
* When ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' had Stan entering Website/{{Facebook}}, in a direct parody of ''Tron'', the game is... Yahtzee.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSmurfs'' episode "Gnoman Holiday", Brainy is forced to fight a muscular brute named Biggus in order to keep Smurfette from marrying Julius Geezer's son Nerdo during their time travels.
* ''WesternAnimation/GeneratorRex'': Van Kleiss is sold into the arena after being captured by the Romans in "A Brief History of Time".
* Gladiatorial death matches between enslaved robots are a feature of the RobotRepublic visited by the crew of the Valiant in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Dogstar}}''.
* Globnar from ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'' is Gladiator Games [[RecycledInSpace IN THE FUTURE!]]. The contestants battle against each other in a variety of challenges, the winner getting a single Time Wish (which allows them to wish for anything, paradox free) and decides the fate of the loser. Dipper and Mabel are challenged by Blendin Blandin, although after they win they ask for Blendin's old job restored and give the wish to Soos.
* On the ''WesternAnimation/WanderOverYonder'' episode "The Birthday Boy", Lord Hater gets a Doom Arena for his birthday, where he will watch Wander and Sylvia get slaughtered. Naturally, Wander manages to defeat everything that gets thrown at him thanks to ThePowerOfFriendship.
* Hard as it is to believe, they had this in ''WesternAnimation/ChallengeOfTheGobots'', and it was ''not'' the non-lethal kind. The "Old Gobotron" episode had combat done on flying platforms with long sticks, ''over a pit of lava'', the loser being the one who fell first. (One viewed match ends with ''both'' gladiators losing when both fall at once.) It gets better. Matt Hunter (the Guardians' human companion) was conscripted into one of the fights, and won the same way the regulars did; at the ''end'' of the episode, he ''challenges'' a villain to a match (said villain accepting with relish, saying this is the first time he's fought a human) and [[BeatThemAtTheirOwnGame he wins the same way again.]]
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheAngryBeavers'', Norbert and Dagget take a bus back in time and get kicked off at what they ''think'' is a hockey game, but turns out to be the Colosseum. They face off against an entire pride of lions, and they help a neurotic two-eyed cyclops gain confidence. The Roman Emperor thinks they're actual gladiators, instead of FishOutOfTemporalWater with dumb luck.
* ''WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack'' has ''twice'' been kidnapped and forced to participate in these kinds of events. As a MartialPacifist, he finds fighting for other people's entertainment to be disgusting.
** "Jack and the Smackback" is a straightforward example, in which Jack is enslaved and imprisoned in an arena known as the Dome of Doom, where he battles against a series of other warriors.
** "Chicken Jack" involves an animal-fighting variant. Not long after [[BalefulPolymorph being magically turned]] [[{{Animorphism}} into a chicken]], Jack is abducted and forced by his new "owner" to fight various monstrous creatures. But even as a small bird, [[KillerRabbit he's still just as deadly]].

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The Roman ''ludi'' (public games) and ''munera'' (privately offered games), of course. Originally stemming from funeral rites, the games later evolved into a [[BlueAndOrangeMorality peculiar]] combination of PublicExecution combined with BloodSport as most gladiators were either condemned criminals, war captives, insubordinate slaves sold to games by their masters or [[BlueAndOrangeMorality bankrupt freemen sold to games by their creditors]]. ''Ludi'' and ''munera'' were eventually prohibited 410 by Christian Emperor Honorius, and superceded by [[ChariotRace chariot racing]].
* Surprisingly, the games were more about blood and less about carnage than often thought. The diet of the gladiators consisted heavily of carbohydrates, such as wheat and barley, which caused, along the regular excercise, the gladiators a certain degree of [[StoutStrength obesity]]. The fat tissue acted as {{kevlard}}, both protecting the vital organs from slashes and also allowing spectacular degree of hemorrgahe without being lethal. The period authors claim the audience desired to see blood but not death. Combined with the {{acrofatic}} nature of the gladiator games, outright kills in combat were rare. Killing a surrendered opponent was usually averted, as the patron of the games was compelled to pay for the organizer for each gladiator killed. Most gladiators who were killed in the end were either DirtyCoward types or [[MercyKill wounded too badly to survive even the best treatment]].
* There were basically seven ways of ending up at the arena (for Latin ''harena'', sand):
** 1. Be a grumpy and disobedient slave (although hitting your master will end you up rather on cross rather than arena).
** 2. Be a member of a losing army in a war against Rome.
** 3. Be a [[MadeASlave muscular and fit civilian captive]] in such war.
** 4. Amass so much debt [[BankruptcyBarrel you cannot pay it]] and sell yourself as a slave to ''lanista'' in exchange of your debts.
** 5. Commit a manslaughter or murder or a silmilar crime and make an impression to the judge so you will get ''damnatio ad ludum'' instead of ''damnatio ad bestias'', ''damnatio ad gladium'' or a simple and ignomious [[OffWithHisHead beheading]].
** 6. Be the black sheep of your family and volunteer. It is a social (and probably also physical) suicide, but might pay really well.
** 7. Be a tomboyish woman who considers a short but glamorous life at arena is preferable to marriage and submission.
"MORITURI TE SALUTAMUS, We who are about to die salute you!"