Image by Anton Otto Fischer
"I don't want to get in a bar fight. People are always gettin' in bar fights. It's such a damn cliché. You hear about it all the time and you see it in the motion pictures, people are gettin' hit in the head with beer bottles, and furniture, and—"
(breaks bottle over man's head)
A Bar Brawl is a fight scene where the emphasis is less on fighting skill and more on destruction of furniture
. Glass will be broken
, ordinary bottles turned into weapons
, teeth are flying
and very probably a chair as well
, most likely across somebody's back. Someone will probably swing from a chandelier
, even if there weren't any there to start with. At some point, the fighting will become widespread among the patrons who aren't involved in the instigating argument. A good clue this is about to happen is when The Piano Player
secures the piano and leaves (and a subversion is if he's the one starting the trouble
). Bonus points if someone gets thrown out the window
, or if the guy who starts the fight was actually there to try to PREVENT violence from occurring. In the most over-the-top settings, the brawl starts by a completely banal reason, often a random act of violence which swiftly spreads across the local
, and typically sees clients fighting between them after having been chatting friendly until that point. After all is said and done, the last man standing can possibly be witnessed Paying for the Action Scene
The nightclub variation ups the ante with bass thumping beats as neon technicolors overwhelms the senses as blood is spilt on the dance floor.
Bar Brawls are staples of The Western
, and not uncommon in The Need for Mead
This commonly overlaps with Escalating Brawl
. Sometimes it's capped with a Check Please
moment. Compare and contrast Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting
If this scene takes place in a diner, it's a Diner Brawl
, though the Diner Brawl can also be the Porting Disaster
of the Bar Brawl.
It happens in Real Life
and the destruction of furniture is Truth in Television
: when drunk, people are less likely to aim their blows or even stand properly
; additionally, the smarter fighters
(aka the ones not engaging in "drunk boxing") will almost always be grabbing chairs, bottles
, pool cues, and other nearby objects that just so happen to make for good improvised weapons.
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Anime & Manga
- One Piece
- A rival pirate crew attack Luffy and Zoro while they're in a bar in Mock Town; however, the other pirate crew was so pathetically weak Luffy and Zoro don't bother fighting back. They look pretty torn up in the end, but they're ultimately unhurt.
- In the fourth movie, Luffy, Zoro, and the bounty hunter Shuraiya get into a large fight with the crew of General Gasparde.
- No sooner did Negi of Mahou Sensei Negima! enter a lawless border town's bar at the start of the the Magical World Story Arc did he and Kotaro find themselves participating in a bar brawl with the rowdier patrons. Bar brawls happen pretty often in that bar, so the bartender told them not to worry about the damages since he'll get the guys they beat up to pay for it, though Negi and crew still stayed around to help repair the place.
- As soon as Lucy steps into the eponymous guild in Fairy Tail, a bar brawl breaks out. Apparently this happens all the time, particularly whenever the most boisterous of mages are in the guild at the same time.
- There is one in episode 17 of Sonic X, "The Aventures of Knuckles and Hawk", but it's very short because... well, Knuckles is the one fighting so the guys fighting him never stood a chance. This extremely short fight occurs when Knuckles starts looking for his human friend Hawk.
- In the Tales of Vesperia prequel movie, First Strike, Yuri and Flynn end up in a tavern full of Guild members boasting about how they took an old man's money and didn't finish their job. Needless to say, Yuri doesn't like that and soon the two of them lay the smackdown.
- In the Cowboy Bebop episode "Heavy Metal Queen," a fight got started when V. T. stepped in to defend a waitress who was being harassed by a group of thugs. Spike ignored the whole thing until someone bumped him and caused him to spill the egg yolk he needed for his Prairie Oyster, at which point he joined in and beat the crap out of them.
- Lucky Luke
- In the comic, most pianists and dancers can only play right with "atmosphere" — that is, massive fights during their performances.
- In one case, the people are at the bar following a funeral and a brawl breaks out for whatever reason. At the end, Luke raises his glass to the dead man, and two participants are seen limping away, commenting on how well that fight turned out, shame the dead guy couldn't have been in it.
- Averted at another time with a town composed exclusively of men, who no longer have the heart to start brawling anymore as there's no woman to fight over.
- Charles Xavier would occasionally Flash Back to his past friendship with Magneto, before the two became bitter enemies. One of the most memorable of these involved the two starting a Bar Brawl with a bunch of drunken sailors because Charles didn't like seeing them pick on a cripple for "being different" — and winning without using their mutant powers. Well, mostly without their powers...
- Another X-Men comic has a bar brawl between the Juggernaut and Colossus. Surprisingly, there was no property damage.
- Wolverine gets into these all the time.
- Even if Winnowill's diversion in ElfQuest may not qualify as a bar brawl, it lookslike one.
- Sin City: Marv likes to get into these as well.
- At one point in Preacher, Jesse, sensing that Cassidy is in a bad mood (his girlfriend had just died of an overdose), deliberately picks a fight in a bar to burn off the bad vibes. (He still had limits, however, and stopped Cassidy from eating his opponents.)
- The Savage Dragon
- During the "Gang War" arc, we get to see a Bad-Guy Bar filled with supervillains. The storyline revolves around a power vaccum in the supervillain underworld so a brawl was bound to happen... twice. Both times were pretty violent.
- The eponymous hero also got involved in one in the first issue of the ongoing series (the character first appeared in a miniseries) while drowning his sorrows.
- One happened in the last issue of the '90s Street Fighter Comic.
- Le Scorpion: Armando starts one between the warrior monks and the Swiss Guard in In the Name of the Father so he and his allies can slip out of the bar without being seen by the monks.
- Early on in the Firefly/Doctor Who fanfic The Man With No Name, the Doctor wears his usual attire (a brown coat) into an Alliance-friendly bar. Much to his confusion, he is quickly punched out a window.
- In the Fallout 3 fan fiction Trouble, Butch gets into huge fights every night with the two former slavers and the ex-raider living in Rivet City, along with off duty guards. Though for the most part they all admit they have fun beating the crap out of each other.
- Nobody Dies has Gendo starting one of these in an UN-sponsored dinner with the presidents of almost every nation on Earth. The reason? France's representative dared to say that Yui's legs got her a job at NERV. Ends in an epic Cross Counter with the president of the U.S. and an explanation to Yui. And it works.
- With Strings Attached
- At the beginning of the Second Movement, having just arrived in the Baravadan city of Ta'akan, the four unknowingly wander into a skahs pub, where they have barroom brawls roughly once a night. It's just about all the skahs have to do these days. Afterward, the employees sell healing potions to the crowd, and all the broken stuff magically disappears.
- Months later, when the four leave Ta'akan for good, they have dinner at the pub and watch the nightly brawl as a form of closure.
- In the Ghostbusters fan film Return of the Ghostbusters, Neil and Pavel get into one of these. The call they make to Ed later asking him to post bail implies that this wasn't the first time.
- The beginning of the Door Stopper sized Firefly fic Forward starts with Mal and Jayne getting into a bar brawl, with Simon and Kaylee providing commentary. Apparently, it started because of Jayne's Nice Hat.
- Earth and Sky: One breaks out in chapter 31 in the Appleloosa saloon when Applejack — confronting Baron Redtail over his challenging Soarin' to a duel — kicks the Baron's Battle Butler into the crowd of Pegalathon racers harassing the Flim-Flam brothers over their cheating. One thing leads to another, and an all out fight breaks out among everyone in the bar. Highlights include Soarin' finally fighting his rival Shootin' Star (and kicking his flank), and Applejack and Soarin' agreeing to get married in the middle of all this.
- Friendship is Magic: The Adventures of Spike: In the Sneak A Peek preview chapter, an adult Spike gets into one with some Diamond Dogs in a tavern.
- The Powers Of Harmony: Blair and Ras (actually Libra and Aquarius, but same thing) met when they got involved in one of these and ended up fighting together.
- In TSA The Amazing Spider Man Chapter 75 is titled Two Vigilantes Walk into a Bar….and Start a BAR FIGHT!
- Hefty, Tuffy, and Duncan McSmurf get into one with the Wartmongers in the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Empath The Wartmonger".
Films — Animation
- Disney's The Great Mouse Detective has a surprisingly violent one.
- The Sponge Bob Square Pants Movie has one of these... and it all started with a key, a malfunctioning liquid soap box, and the Goofy Goober theme song.
- In Tangled, one of these nearly breaks out when the thugs at the Snuggly Duckling try to collect the bounty on Flynn Rider's head. But after a stern talking-to from Rapunzel, it somehow turns into a Crowd Song.
- Happens during the climax of Cars 2 when Grem and Acer chase Mater, Lightning McQueen, Finn McMissile, and Holly Shiftwell through the streets of London and into a pub called "Ye Left Turn Inn". Apparantly, if you look very closely, you can actually see automobile versions of Queen Elinor, Princess Merida, King Fergus, and the Royal Triplets from the upcoming film Brave on a tapestry on the wall.
Films — Live-Action
- Subverted in The Rats, the Bats and the Ugly by Eric Flint and Dave Freer. The brawl doesn't take place in a bar but in a three-star restaurant, and it's started by the proprietor.
- In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, most of the scenes in The Mended Drum ("the most reputable disreputable tavern" in Ankh-Morpork) involve a huge fight breaking out. By the time of the Going Postal, it's become something similar to a professional sport, complete with a standardized points system. Postal even features a scene with some bar brawlers discussing strategy. Such a history in fact, that its first appearance — named as the Broken Drum — has a bar fight started over a chest full of gold coins, shortly before it is burnt to the ground and most of the city with it.
- Twice in X-Wing: Iron Fist. Both times, they are set up beforehand — in the first, the Wraiths are being set up to be carted off by fake cops, in the second, they are setting up to kidnap Imperial pilots. The fact that they consider "We start a Bar Brawl" to be a reasonable step in a covert operation tells you almost everything you need to know about the Wraiths.
- In Richard K. Morgan's book Black Man (a.k.a. Thirteen), the protagonist starts a few lethal barfights with lowlifes in order to satisfy his genetically mandated bloodlust.
- In Dark of the Moon, the second book of P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath series, a particularly vicious bar brawl takes place at a tavern in Peshtar, a bandit-ridden mountain town.
- In The Solitary Cyclist, Sherlock Holmes gets in a bar brawl. He comes out with a bruise. His opponent had to be carried in a cart.
- In the Forgotten Realms novel Passage to Dawn, one bar that Drizzt and Cattie-Brie frequented had brawls so frequently that people kept time by them (a man mentioned he'd arrived at the bar during "the fight before last").
- In Robert E. Howard's "The Tower of the Elephant", Conan the Barbarian starts one in the opening scene.
- In one story from the Starfleet Corps of Engineers series, Mor glasch Tev (the Tellarite second officer) accidentally starts a bar brawl on Rhaax, due to mistaking hostility for Tellarite-esque argumentative politeness. Under his people's Blue and Orange Morality, insults and blustering argument are a form of polite discourse. He misjudged in this case, though.
- Not Played for Laughs at all in the Northland Series: Drunken Vikings (or Scotsmen, or Russians, or Finns, or Siberians) are dangerous and the only actual on-screen barfight kills at least one man.
- In Myth-Inc in Action, Chumley goes to wait outside while his sister Tananda takes on an entire bar, amusing himself by cataloguing the various damage she was causing by sound alone.
- In Mass Effect: Retribution, it's made clear that the xenophobic Cerberus assassin, Kai Leng, is a huge badass when we learn why he was kicked out of the Alliance marines in the first place. He had a Bar Brawl with a KROGAN and killed it with nothing more than a knife. Keep in mind that krogan have redundant vital organs, meaning that you essentially have to kill them twice, and are strong enough to break a human's neck by simply backhanding them.
- One of the men on trial with Fisk in the Knight and Rogue Series was arrested for getting into a bar brawl, though it's implied that he and the man he was fighting do so frequently enough that people only care anymore if they happen to destroy furniture.
- Also happens, of all places, in a BIONICLE book, Raid on Vulcanus. After the first attempt at the titular raid has been thwarted, Jerk Ass Strakk starts a fight with the chef at Vulcanus' inn, prompting the temperamental Kiina to step in between. Strakk then gets into a full-blown brawl with her, wrecking the place.
- In The Drawing of the Dark (a work whose title refers to dark beer), Duffy is hired as a bouncer at the Zimmermann Inn, in 16th century Vienna. Despite the fact that he's supposed to prevent brawls, he ends up, after a few weeks, taking bets on them instead.
- In the early Honor Harrington novels, Horace Harkness had a long-standing practice of starting these whenever he was in a bar that contained Manticoran Marines (The Marines actually considered this a compliment, as it meant that he thought they were worthy opponents). It stopped after he married one.
- Subverted in Cross And Poppy by GMW Wemyss, with a brawl in a Michelin-starred restaurant in which three League One footballers unwisely take on, among others, a Retired Badass duke (who's dining with the Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner) and the local rector who had been a schools boxing champion.
- Truth in Television for hard rock and heavy metal bands in the 1980s, in what sadly seems like a (somewhat) more "innocent" foreshadowing of the violence that would haunt the rap scene. More than one bar or hotel would find itself the worse from one of these events. In America, Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, and Motorhead were among the worst for this (though pretty much any Hair Metal band could play Follow the Leader), whereas in Japan pretty much any Visual Kei band seemed to be in a Follow the Leader contest for brawling with X Japan and Rosenfeld, among others.
- Yoshiki Hayashi of X Japan was a subversion of this, being that he was, as well as the drummer, The Piano Player... and often, if it wasn't hide or Taiji from his band starting shit, it was him. There's no word if he usually secured his piano first...
- The Dropkick Murphys song "Barroom Hero" is about a man who has a chronic habit of getting into bar brawls, with dangerous consequences.
- Mercedes Lackey's "Keep The Peace" is about how Kero stops/prevents bar brawls.
- Linkin Park's video for "Bleed It Out" is a Performance Video with a massive barroom brawl carrying on around them... in reverse.
- P!nk's music video for "Trouble" has P!nk as a Lad-ette who starts one of these.
- The plot notes for The True Story of the Bridgewater Astral League have one of these breaking out during "Tarot Americaine", while Jack and his friends are getting drunk at the Sweetwater Tavern after his sister's funeral.
- The music video for "We Are Young" by fun. is nothing but an intentionally started one of these that's filmed almost entirely in slow-motion.
- The video for Aerosmith's "What It Takes" features the band taking a break from a concert to perform at a bar which gradually erupts into an all-out full-scale bar brawl.
- Boxing champion Hidekazu Akai is known for getting drunk and brawling with Keiji Muto and Nobuhiko Takada.
- Ron Simmons and Bradshaw would challenge other members of Smackdown's roster to them.
- Happened in the finals of ChickFight VIII after Wesna threw MsChif into a bar.
- The Orpheum has an open bar, which means Florida Underground Wrestling, EVOLVE, Full Impact Pro and SHINE are prone to these breaking out if a wrestlers get too far away from the ring.
- In The Muppet Movie's El Sleezo Cafe, Kermit and Fozzie become the victims of one after their dance routine fails to pacify the unruly customers. While Kermit gets flung at the ceiling fan (and subsequently into the piano), Fozzie is tossed into the bartender- and manages to end the brawl by declaring "Drinks on the house!" The mob beats feet to the roof for the free drinks.
- These are pretty standard for the setting in Shadowrun. A stock joke has the difference between high-class bars and low-class bars being whether the bouncer takes away your guns or hands out loaners.
- The Wizards of the Coast card game, Inn Fighting, is based entirely around this trope.
- Classic Traveller
- Introductory Adventure (a.k.a. Adventure 0) "The Imperial Fringe". The adventure is started off by a brawl in a tavern, after which the PCs meet their patron, Administrator Galadden.
- "The Traveller Adventure". While in a bar on the planet Zila, the PCs are mixed up in a fight between crews from Oberlinded and Akerut ships. This leads to a meeting with Marc hault-Oberlindes, owner of Oberlindes Lines.
- The Deep 7 game Arrowflight has a pub known as the "Drink and Fight", where patrons are expected to have a drink and then have a good fight. The current champion is the tavern's owner, an ex-mercenary.
- In Guys and Dolls, Sky and Sarah help start a fight in a dive in Havana but get out of there just as it is turning into a real brawl.
- Upcoming MMORPG Age of Conan will feature bar brawls as PVP combat.
- In Dragon Quest VIII, fourth party member Angelo is introduced with a bar brawl caused by his cheating at cards.
- One of the levels in The Warriors has your gang fighting The Hurricanes inside a bar, where you can beat the crap out of them with chairs, bottles, cue sticks, or even the billiard balls themselves! One of the flashback levels also has a brawl in a bar.
- A few battles in Final Fantasy Tactics A2 take place inside pubs.
- Dragon Age: Origins
- A sizable number of these in Denerim, one in Lothering, and one outside of a bar at the Lake Calinhad. Hell, in these bar fights you actually get a Rogue class specialization and an NPC follower!
- In the second game, one of the 'follower base' locations (where your companions live when they're not in your party) is a bar called the Hanged Man. It isn't all that surprising, then, that you seem to get into fights there at least once a chapter. Isabela is introduced fighting against three guys (and apparently started one that wound up involving more than twenty people, an incident which landed her in jail for a fortnight), and your opponents can include drunken wretches, corrupt guardsmen, and irritable blood mages.
- In the third game, one of these can happen offscreen if the Inquisitor is human. If the player opts to publicly denounce some distant relatives who are trying to take advantage of his/her position, one cousin gets so incensed that he picks a fight with an Inquisition soldier in a tavern. This descended into a full brawl that ended when an angry cook took a rolling pin to the cousin's head.
- Guybrush starts one inadvertently, due to his poxed hand, in Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 1 by being let into Club 41. We don't see what happened, only hear the sounds, but they won't let him back afterwards, so it must have been messy. However, it is later played straight in Chapter 4, though the Bar Brawl is more of a Bar Swordfight.
- Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves features an instigation of one of these as a part of the plan.
- World of Warcraft
- A lot of world Player Versus Player ends up in an Inn. Inns usually are bars... when 4 Blood Elves walk into an Alliance Tavern where there's 3 Alliance Players and a Death Knoob... it's on.
- Starting a Bar Brawl is part of a quest line in the Blackrock Depths dungeon.
- The Cataclysm expansion of World of Warcraft features the Speedbarge Bar in Thousand Needles. Goblins and Gnomes in the same room, all just waiting to be set off by your character throwing an easily bought bottle... and it's actually a quest for you to do so. The quest givers even encourage doing it again.
- Kingdom of Loathing
- Barrney's Barr, essentially a continuous bar fight with occasional breaks for insult sports and karaoke.
- There's also the Typical Tavern, with "A Barroom Brawl" as one adventuring area.
- In the clan dungeon Hobopolis, you can start a fight in the hobo nightclub VGBND in order to clear out sleaze hobos faster.
- You can start one in Red Dead Redemption.
- Skyrim also lets you start bar fights, even allowing you to wager some gold on the result. Winning the fight raises the person's disposition toward you.
- Alternatively, you can also just walk in and FUS RO DAH!!! the entire room, and that starts a more traditional free for all.
- Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception opens with Nate and Sully starting a brawl in an old-fashioned English pub — specifically, they take on The Dragon and his thugs in the parlour, but it spills over into the rest of the pub and the English patrons are more than keen to give the troublemaking Yanks a good thumping. It's done to teach the player Uncharted 3's new hand-to-hand combat mechanic, and setting this tutorial in a pub gives the player an opportunity to hit bad guys in the head with bottles, pool cues and fridge doors.
- TRON 2.0, like the TRON: Legacy example above, has one of these. Jet goes to the Progress bar to help Ma3a assimilate some code that could protect her. And in the middle of the process, in barges Thorne and a horde of virus-inflected Z-Lots, forcing Jet into fighting them off long enough to protect Ma3a. Unfortunately, the code's horribly bugged, and the corrupted Ma3a forces Jet to run for his life with both Thorne and Ma3a on his tail.
- 47 can start one in Hitman: Absolution by cutting the power to the jukebox.
- The Final Boss of Anti Idle The Game, the Ascendant, is fought in Ye Olde Pub.
- One Dynamic Event in Guild Wars 2 has you trying to prevent one of these between several Charr of different legions. Picking the correct dialogue options with them causes them to back off, while the wrong ones force you to beat some sense into them.
- ''The Matrix: Path of Neo has a slightly fancy, martial arts (Neo) but also plain (Mooks) one in the first part of the Club Hel fight.
- During Segment 3 in Assassins Creed III, Haytham gets into a bar brawl with some Redcoats when they accost him.
- A staple of the sillier CAPOW threads is to start a bar brawl for no good reason at all, sometimes even Breaking the Fourth Wall to let the players join in on the fun with their characters.
- The second of Tiernan Douieb's Twitterbrawls was a bar brawl in the Victorian East End. Someone did indeed swing from the chandelier.
- In Pay Me, Bug!, the protagonists are attacked by a group of Cyborg slavers while in a bar.