Combat Pragmatist / Fan Fiction

  • Not Quite As Planned: In a World... where fighting with swords is the norm, Ichigo tends to use his feet, elbows and knees in fights. He even uses a Cero pointblank in a blade lock. Due to this he ends up with a defeated captain count of 6.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • The epic-length Buffy fanfic Return To Normal/Beyond Normal, Buffy comes to the realization that Jack O' Neil is this. He might lose in 'fair' matches and tournaments, but in a real fight he'll START at kick to the groin and then he'll get nasty. Buffy puts this to use while fighting Kennedy during the final battle, where she bites off her nose before literally ripping her throat out.
  • In Spy Game Xander fights this way and encourages others to. After he questions Kennedy's teaching she decides to have him fight a Slayer in an effort to humiliate him. Before Kennedy shouts begin, Xander whips out a collapsible baton and hits the Slayer on the head, followed by a kick to the knee, a powerful blow to the head knocking her to floor, and ending it with a kick to the stomach.
    Xander: Done yet?
    Kennedy: (stunned) You. You cheated.
    Xander: You think this a game? Treat this like a game and you'll get your ass beat. Just like she did. You want to win? You want to survive? Then you hit 'em hard. But, smart. In the right place. Right time. You box the ears. You spit in their eyes. You kick 'em in the balls. You don't let up. Ever. And when you think they're done, you fucking cut their heads off. Just to be sure. Power will only get you so far." You go in with that as your only weapon, and you'll just get everyone killed. You. Your sisters. Skill beats strength. Every time.
  • In Better Living Through Chemistry, Buffy offers to let Xander patrol with her if he can knock her out, even offering him the first punch. Xander sprays formaldehyde in her eyes then punches her with brass knuckles on. Buffy later insists he "cheated"

  • In Ace Combat: The Equestrian War, Gilda uses Medley as a living shield to defend herself against Rainbow Dash's attempts to fight her. She breaks Medley's wings anyway. Earlier, she calls four other griffins to immobilize Dash and subjects her to a brutal No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
    • Chapter 17 has Night Raven, who calls Axe to grab Fluttershy's wings so he can beat her up.
    • This applies somewhat to the heroes as well. Punches and kicks are often aimed at a foe's neck or head, and it's not uncommon for them to finish off Mooks who are already falling from the sky or retreating.
  • Battle Fantasia Project gives us the next examples:
    • Akiko Yamaguchi, aka Magical Girl Star Reverie, whose Mentor Mascot was killed in the line of fire before she could receive one of several power-ups needed to fight her latest batch of villains. By the time the next batch of villains has come around, Akiko is skipping her Finishing Move and using gasoline drums and Car Fu alongside numerous other tricks instead of more traditional magical girl tactics.
    • In the Italian remake, Sailor Venus is an advocate of this philosophy. Some of her best hits, dating back to the time of the anime, are rushing Galaxia while she was distracted to try and pour scalding hot acid in her lungs (Galaxia was distracted because Sailor Moon had just purified her, but Venus hadn't noticed it yet) and fill the van of Eudial's car with a lot of gelignite to detonate when she returned at the base (that's why Eudial's car exploded: as soon as it touched the water Venus set off the bomb). She later taught the same philosophy to the rest of the group and gave Naru the Fire Buster II (captured to Eudial).
    • In the same side story detailing the above we have Soun Tendo being hired to teach self-defence to Naru and Umino and announcing he'd teach them the use of such things as sticks, knives, forks, pepper spray, pencils and guns (for hunting and sportive purposes, of course. If someone attacks them while they're going hunting or clay shooting and gets shot, then it's self defence), the latter justified with guns being superior to most martial artists at all ranges but close range. He knows what he's talking about, given the ease with which he annihilated an horde of low-level youmas (even if we only see finishing the last one).
    • Again in the Italian remake, the side story "Mami l'Invincibile" ("Mami the Invincible") shows that Mami Tomoe is another, with stunts ranging from shooting a rival Puella Magi with a Tiro Finale during a speech to ribbons that are either explosive or made of tear gas and attacking Walpurgisnacht with a magical nuke. A number of magical girls (including Kyoko) live in the fear of giving her a reason to come after them.
    • Enhance knows the other Dead Apostle Ancestors he's hunting are way stronger than he is, so he balances it with such things as Holy Weapons provided by the Church, a demonic sword he stole from his first kill, the fact they're Squishy Wizards and he's former military, and other tricks to come close and personal. The first battle he had on screen involved him finding out of the Broken Masquerade before most other Dead Apostles and thus using the newfound ability to interact with magicals of other kind to put together an artificial Walpurgisnacht and sicking it on his target, both to deplete his forces and get him tired and to sneak upon him and drink his blood and his powers with it.
  • Ryuugi's The Games We Play has Jaune, who Had To Be Sharp seeing as he's so often pitted against far stronger foes who would destroy him utterly if he tried to fight fair. He goes for weak points, turns out the lights while using equipment that lets him see in the dark, uses his foe's fear against them, uses the Hunters' refusal to fire upon a city to his advantage, fires into the Grimm to use them as distractions, abuses Dust crystals to keep himself healed and lets his elementals distract his foes. Even as he comes into power, not only does he not get complacent, but his increased options only enable him to cheat ever more vigorously. For example, after deliberately using a showy Awesome, but Impractical move to invoke The Worf Effect on a professor, he notes in his internal monologue that if they had been really fighting for real, he would instead have used Delusory to hide himself from his foe, then overwhelmed the foe with invisible psychokinetic strikes from all directions; after all, ranged combat ultimately boils down to hitting the foe and not letting him hit back.
  • In Thousand Shinji:
    • Shinji never fights fair. If he has an advantage, he'll use it. Backstabbing, hidden weapons... are only some of his tools.
    • Subverted with Asuka. She is the "honorable warrior" type... but if her enemy cheats, she cheats.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Supergirl crossover The Vampire of Steel the titular heroines work together to fight a Kryptonian vampire. Supergirl is willing to break her "Do not killing rule" and use hidden weapons or transdimensional-banishing devices to deal with him.
  • In God Slaying Blade Works, Odysseus knows if he faces Shirou Emiya in open combat, he'll lose. Instead, without even announcing his presence, he fires arrows at him from afar, making sure to stay out of sight. While Shirou is skilled enough to dodge or deflect the arrows, they explode and release poisonous dust into the air. And when Shirou collapses from the poison, Odysseus still stays out of sight and then starts draining his life force. It was a wise move because Shirou gets a Heroic Second Wind and manages to neutralize the poison.
  • Xander defeats Guy Gardner in Lacking an Anchor by throwing a billiard ball at his head (specifically the five ball, which is yellow).
  • In The Man with No Name, Mal is quick to try just shooting the villain once things go to hell. It doesn't work, but hey, he tried.
  • In The Open Door, NewChaos know full well they don't have the numbers and industrial-logistical machine to match foes in a fair fight, so they do their best to avoid any universes that can pose a threat in the first place. They use their superior personnel and technology aggressively, reconnoitre in force, and deliberately downplay their abilities to lure enemies into overconfidence.
  • Violet becomes this in the later episodes of Rise of the Galeforces. Then again, anyone who sics three baby T. rexes on the Big Bad in retaliation for shooting them (with extremely gory results mind you) can't exactly be considered honorable... right?
  • In Warmistress of Equestria (sequel to The God Empress of Ponykind), Sleight-Hoof hits Luna in the face with a bag of sand during a sparring match, in an attempt to blind and disorient her. It fails because Inertia Is a Cruel Mistress, but Luna agrees that it would be a valid tactic in combat... just not sparring.
  • In Six Paths of Rebellion the Black Knights take this attitude even further than canon. Besides canon tactics like causing a landslide at Narita, Lelouch shoulder-checks Cornelia's Gloucester before she can even get it started up, Naruto twice defeats someone by pulling their Knightmare underground, and C.C. once escapes the Royal Guard by tunneling underground while Lelouch detonates explosives scattered throughout the area.
  • Like canon, Ranma Saotome frequently employs unusual tactics in A Horse for the Force. Notably, people who've fought/sparred against him pick up his way of thinking. After a few spars with Ranma, Shaak Ti wins a spar against a fellow Jedi by punching him then hitting his wrist to steal his lightsaber.
  • Harry Potter's approach to combat in The Denarian Renegade is summed up nicely when Voldemort asks if he knows how to duel.
    Harry: First one to die, loses.
  • Humanity in Mythos Effect. If there's something the Aeon War taught them, is that nothing is overkill.

Death Note


Dragon Ball

  • Ulyssian's preparations for his duel with Jael in The Odyssey included, but weren't limited to: poisoning him with contact poison via his armor, breaking into his apartment to steal his money, then placing it in a trash chute to separate him from his twin (neutralizing his Gemini bloodline), and hiring a sorcerer to summon demons to ambush him.

  • Forward also plays with this, including replicating the legendary Raiders of the Lost Ark scene with River casually shooting an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy who tries to fight her with a bo staff. At one point in the most recent story arc, Mal points out that he considers any fight where he's forced to fight fair as inherently unfair.

Gene Catlow
  • The Basalt City Chronicles has Tors Beers (who hates fighting) taught to end fights as quickly as possible—biting, clawing, breaking bones, and outright killing are all acceptable means to win (though it's best to avoid the last).

  • In Finishing the Fight, the Master Chief and company emphasize this is the way to fight. They then show nightmarish videos of the war with the Covenant and Flood to emphasize why they think this way.
    • In a ShoutOut to the Indiana Jones scene, During the retaking of Mithril Hall, Johnson and Drizzt encounter a Drow who spins her scimitars around in a fancy display. Drizzt is about to go fight her, but then Johnson just shoots her.

Harry Potter
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Professor Quirrell explains this in the very first class of "Battle Magic", formerly known as "Defense Against the Dark Arts", that the methods that their textbooks show are useless in a real situation.
    Quirrell: Your useless excuse for a third-year defense textbook will suggest to you that you expose the mountain troll to sunlight, which will freeze it in place. This, my young apprentices, is the sort of useless knowledge that you will never find on one of my exams. You do not encounter mountain trolls in open daylight! The idea that you should use sunlight to stop them is the result of foolish textbook authors trying to show off their mastery of minutia at the expense of practicality.
    • He later states that one should use only one of two things, if you can: either the Killing Curse or teleport away. Bear in mind that telling a bunch of kids to use Avada Kedabra (that even if a very practical offensive spell because it's a near-constant One-Hit Kill, it's an "Unforgivable" (that is "instant ticket to Azkaban" levels of illegal) spell) as their "hammer" brings an awful lot of Foreshadowing to the front in retrospective.
  • In Bungle In the Jungle: A Harry Potter Adventure, Harry goes to Collins and Qwan with the expectation they'll teach him how to duel. They laugh and say neither of them knows anything about dueling beyond it being two idiots standing in place and trading spells. They're going to teach him how to fight. Their instructions later show through when Harry, Qwan, and Bill fight a demon by first siccing a horde of inferi on it.
  • Dumbledore lectures Harry in What Was Your Plan for going to a duelist to learn how to fight, noting that dueling is useful only for dueling where there's rules on what you can or cannot do, likening it to a glorified play. He even notes that Harry's mistake was to draw a wand on him, believing him to be an enemy, and not immediately casting as many borderline illegal spells as he could thing of. If Harry had gone to someone like Snape or Moody, they would have drilled such an "unforgivably stupid action" out of him.

Jackie Chan Adventures
  • In Queen of All Oni, one of Jade's Co-Dragons, Left, comes off as this. While he — like his "brother", Right — usually fights with his swords, he'll resort to quicker methods if necessary. For example, during the assault on Lung's fortress, he breaks out a chainsaw to get by a Hybrid Monster, and when confronted with a gateway that's impervious to magical attack, he simply blows it open with dynamite.
    • Captain Black's Number Two, Agent Wisker, also qualifies. When Jade infiltrates Section 13 to try and steal the masks in the Vault, he stands in the way. She attacks him with magic, and he retaliates by shooting her — intentionally non-lethal shots, and it doesn't even work, but it's still the thought that counts.
      • He also tries to (lethally) shoot Hak Foo in a later fight. Hak dodges and breaks his gun arm, but hey, he tried.
    • Jade's foreman Blankman — we finally get to see him in combat when he fights Drago, and while he primarily fights with savate (a French martial art), he does enhance it with magic. And when even that isn't enough to win, he resorts to whipping out a mystically-enhanced shotgun.

Kill la Kill

The Land Before Time

Lyrical Nanoha
  • Pretty much everyone to some extent in Game Theory (Fan Fic), but special mention goes to Fate, during the TSAB assault on the Garden of Time. She uses ambushes, Anti-Magic Fields to weaken them and scramble their sensors, shuts off the lights to blind them, Mecha-Mooks to even the numbers, and seals the doors and rearranges the corridors to isolate small groups of enemies and prevent them from reaching their objectives.

Marvel Cinematic Universe
  • In I'm still alive this is the only reason Jen survives after thrust into a kill-or-be-killed world.

Miraculous Ladybug
  • In Volpina, the Accidental Matchmaker this is how the two fights with Volpina (after the one in canon) can be described:
    • In chapter one, Volpina has put dozens of illusions in the dead-end corridor she knew her opponents would come from. But as she has unknowingly put them in the room behind her, they just jumped her from behind and destroyed the Akumatized object.
    • In chapter two Volpina steals a car, even if Roof Hopping to her goal would be faster, because she plans to use it as a weapon, and when Ladybug and Chat Noir catch up with her she throws the chaffeur at Chat Noir and hits Ladybug with the engine block. She gets dirtier from that, and gives them a desperate run for their money.

Mega Man

Mobile Suit Gundam
  • As befits a full-scale war, A Feddie Story has pretty much nobody fight fair. Both sides are quick to employ ambushes and exploit it when they have a local superiority. Earth Federation tank crews tend to go several steps beyond Zeon mobile suit pilots, though, because they know they're at a disadvantage to start with.
    • The Earth Federation Air Force is more than willing to exploit the fact that they're trained to fly in all kinds of weather and Zeon's pilots (trained in climate-controlled space colonies) aren't. They also sometimes stage week-long round-the-clock bombing campaigns against Zeon ground units, not because of the casualties inflicted but because they are trying to break them psychologically: they know it makes the Zeon troops feel that they are defenseless and it denies them much chance to sleep or eat as long as the campaign goes on.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
  • In Diaries of a Madman, Navarone doesn't just show this, but actively shows his contempt for fighting honourably on multiple occasions. Given that doing so would almost certainly have gotten him killed, he does have a point.
  • In The Life and Times of a Winning Pony, Cloud Kicker notes that both Blossomforth and Fluttershy are fighting their hardest just to win one little catfight. She does note that they probably didn't learn any formal training, so fighting dirty was pretty much the only thing to do.
  • In The Rise of Darth Vulcan, the titular character will take any advantage he can in a fight, be it diversions, his immunity to his own fire attacks, a Breaking Lecture, or anything else that might help him win. When Tirek tries to drain his magic, Vulcan shoots him dead with a shotgun.
  • Bad Future Crusaders has both Apple Bloom and Scootaloo. The former calmly remarks she fights to win after being chastised for pulling a gun on an unarmed opponent, and the latter actually calls out Lightning Dust for comparing her to Rainbow Dash who didn't fight dirty.
  • Pony POV Series:
    • In the Dark World timeline, once Fluttercruel gains Reality Warper powers, she instantly makes the air around the heroes turn to stone, commenting that unlike Discord, she's not going to screw around. The only reason why it failed to take them out was because Pinkie Pie's Toon Physics powered Offscreen Teleportation allowed her to escape. In the ensuing fight, almost everything she tries is a killing blow.
    • Prime Fluttercruel is also this trope: she's very willing to fight dirty when she actually fights. As several Changelings found out during the Wedding Arc.
    • Back when Chrysalis was named Kifuko, she was once forced into a gladiator match with a hulking Changeling named Wolf Spider. The night before the fight, she tricked him into eating food laced with black mamba venom. The next morning, he keeled over and died just as the match began.
  • In The Witch of the Everfree, Nightmare Moon is impressed with Sunset's willingness to blow up Ponyville's town hall for the sake of stopping her.
  • Tydal in The God Squad does this for FUN. He can wipe pretty much anyone off the face of the earth with a wink but prefers to fight cheap and dirty to keep from getting bored. This is a capricorn that once defeated several criminals by weaponizing PINKIE PIE.

  • The First Try Series has Naruto outright admit himself as one. As a Trap Master it's to be expected.
    Naruto: "In the fights we've had that were pure taijutsu, who won?"
    Sasuke: "Me."
    Naruto: "In fights where ninjutsu is allowed who wins?"
    Sasuke: "You... because you cheat."
    Naruto: "Since you've gotten your Sharingan, has that changed?"
    Sasuke: "No."
  • Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox: Just about every fight shown has the combatants as this, in accordance with the story's direction toward realism. The best example is Shino, who gets Kiba to surrender their qualifier match in Sasuke's tournament by grabbing him in a submission hold and then threatening to break his arm if Kiba doesn't yield.
  • In Vapors the original character Aiko Uzumaki is one. She knocks out Zabuza because he can't believe that she'd use a lightning jutsu that would also hit Kakashi, she purposefully takes a hit to invoke Naruto's Roaring Rampage of Revenge on Gaara, and she uses shock and ambush tactics to humiliate a strike team of 8 jonin that include a Kage's bodyguard and a jinchuriki.
  • In A Teacher's Glory, Anko makes it very clear to her students that if they get into a fair fight, they've already failed.
  • In Sugar Plums the main character Ume does not usually win her fights by fighting fair, she isn't afraid to hit delicate areas, hit people mid monologue, and coats her weapons with poison. She has some hang ups with killing people but as time goes on she gets more comfortable with ending someone because it would be easier then dealing with the fallout of them living.
  • In Dreaming of Sunshine, Shikako prefers to ambush her opponents or take them out with traps whenever possible, and would even resort to murder if she thinks it's the safest and most efficient way to achieve her goals.

Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • Doing It Right This Time: In chapter 2, Misato pits Shinji and Asuka against each other in unarmed combat training, culminating in Asuka dropping Shinji with a Groin Attack. When he cries foul, Misato reminds Shinji that the Angels don't play by tournament rules and she expects her pilots to fight dirty.
  • Higher Learning: Invoked and reinforced in chapter forty-eight's prologue: "Bring a bat to a fist fight. Bring a knife to a bat fight. Bring a gun to a knife fight. Run the hell away from a gun fight."
  • Once More with Feeling: When Shinji and Asuka sortie to fight Israfel, Asuka complains "two against one is not a fair fight". Right away Misato tells her the last thing she wants to give the Angels is a fair fight.

One Piece
  • In This Bites!, Blueno tries to avoid entering his dimension to fight Sanji by throwing a couple grenades in via a hand sized door.

  • Team Rocket in Common Sense will do everything from attacking a trainer directly to fighting Pokemon themselves in order to win. One of their earliest victories consisted of using Koffing's smoke to take out an entire hive of Beedrill at once.
  • Any trainer worth their salt in Challenger utilizes unusual tactics and Combinations Attacks. Besides ganging up on wild Pokemon, flying types will often be instructed to attack from the air to prevent retaliation. Though no one takes it as far as Team Rocket who will not only use hideously overpowered Pokemon, but will try to kill enemy trainers from the start.
  • Red in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines believes that there's nothing wrong with using his bloodliner abilities to give himself an edge in Pokémon battles since there's no written rule forbidding them. This puts him at odds with Ash, who refuses to use his own in competitive battling because he considers it cheating.
    • His philosophy does get a bit deconstructed in a later sidestory: after losing to Ultima while on Two Island, he's upset that the old woman's Dragonite defeated his Charizard without using its full strength. Ultima however points out that she was only gauging Charizard's power, and she held back to avoid injuring him more than necessary, poiting out that, barring a life-or-death situation, holding back isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Power Girl
  • In A Force of Four, Power Girl has to fight three Kryptonians used to gang up on their enemy and fight coordinately. Fighting "fairly" doesn't even cross her mind. Heat beams to the groin followed with an uppercut are perfectly good tactics.


Rurouni Kenshin
  • Kaoru from the AU fanfic Frozen Moonlight is quite willing to let her opponents think she's helpless while hiding the knife taped to her wrist or to try bashing their skulls in during their monologues. Notably, her father specifically taught her to think like this and to use other people's perceptions of her being vulnerable to her advantage.

  • The Sanctuary Telepath: Janine very quickly abandoned her idealist views about her telepathic powers and generally uses them as she finds necessary. Yes, this includes reading her friends' minds too. Then again, when one goes up against an elemental from an other dimension radicalism becomes a requirement...

Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Beelzebub from Sonic X: Dark Chaos is one of these. Rather than using a gigantic continent-sized flagship like Astorath, he uses a small battleship armed with a cloaking device so he can surprise foes.
    • Astorath himself wields two Gatling miniguns, which create such a huge storm of projectiles that they pin down both Knuckles and Sonic. Then he moves in so he can crush them in melee, knowing Sonic and Knuckles are too agile for guns. In the same episode, Cream realizes that Astorath is basically invincible to regular weapons - so she fights dirty and throws her chao Cheese into his eyes to blind him.
    • Tsali uses his robotic abilities - super strength, super speed - and his Chaos powers - energy blasts and telekinesis - in lethal and unique combination, allowing him to fight Super Sonic one-on-one and win. And he nearly defeats both Super Sonic and Super Shadow again later on.
    • Sonya uses Demon-made plasma weapons against Shroud in order to burn them, as she knows they are highly resistant to ballistic projectiles. She also handily averts Katanas Are Just Better (and she even mocks the trope at one point despite it being linked to her Japanese ethnicity), only using her plasma katana as a backup for emergencies.
    • Tephiroth stabs Tsali in the back in Episode 72 rather than get into a long battle with him.
  • In Prison Island Break, since they're all convicts, most of the cast does this, even Sonic - but it's emphasised that the Knife Nut Shadow will always find a shiv even directly after a shakedown, and can make them out of anything. He constructs a shotgun out of his bed, and matches.

  • Hellsister Trilogy: As much as Satan Girl is concerned, biting ankles in order to hamstring your opponent or clawing their eyes out are perfectly acceptable combat techniques.
    Kara drew on her every erg of reserve power to keep fighting. But, increasingly, she found herself on the defensive. She fought to keep Satan Girl's fingers from her eyes, her jaws from her carotid artery, her knees from her crotch.

  • In Superman And Man, Lex Luthor doesn't know why his nemesis looks distracted all of sudden during their bout, but he most definitely doesn't mind.
    "It's not fair!" he snapped.
    "Of course it isn't," said Luthor, grabbing him by the hair and presenting his palm-blaster to send a Kryptonite blast into his face. "And that's the way I like it."
  • Superman of 2499: The Great Confrontation: Superman's nemesis Muto isn't interested in fighting Superman physically; he just wants him dead. So he comes up with scenarios such like keeping a whole city hostage and then demanding Superman essentially kills himself.

Urusei Yatsura
  • In Urusei Yatsura The Senior Year, during part 10, an OC gives this advice:
    "Now, here's something I once heard when it comes to a fight! You kick them in the balls, stab them in the back, poke their eyes out, and if they're still in the mood to fight..." she gives them a fanatic sneer, "...THEN, you fight dirty!"
    • And a few paragraphs later...
    Mie then transforms into a female General Patton. "Then go do it!" she points to the door with her riding crop. "Remember, you can't serve your country by dying for your country! You serve your country by making the other dumb bastard die for his country!"

  • Attelus Kaltos, the main character of Secret War. One of his first actions in the story is to kick an attacker in the shin... with a boot knife.
  • The All Guardsmen Party uses every dirty trick in the book and arms themselves with potentially-heretical xenotech and illegally-procured weapons - but if it keeps them alive, they'll use it.


World of Warcraft
  • Keleria in Children Of The Stars, messy kills when available, groin attacks, biting, she gets progressively worse the more she slips into that blood rage thing.

  • Quicken: Emma doesn't care for fighting fairly. She cares for surviving and knows that she’s completely outmatched against thugs and murderers, so she fights extremely dirty and never holds back. And since she has super-regeneration… she’s perfectly willing to bite her own tongue off and spit it out and on the eyes of an enemy.
    I knew what I had to do. She was making the same mistake the ABB thugs made in the alley. They treated me like another person when I had been fighting, as if I was concerned with protecting my body first and foremost, as if I wasn't willing to do anything it took to win. This wasn't some fucking prize fight. This was combat.

The Familiar of Zero