Blood-Stained Glass Windows
why they're fighting here
of all places.
Staging an awesome fight scene, be it a shootout or a Sword Fight
, a duel or a Mêlée à Trois
, in a (usually Catholic
) cathedral, chapel, or church apparently has something thrilling for the directors, as does any forbidden fruit. And a shot of Jesus looking mournfully from the cross
upon the bloodshed below certainly adds Faux Symbolism
Commonly seen in Heroic Bloodshed
movies and Anime
, causing much Values Dissonance
among the Westerners. May involve a Church Militant
or two but it's not mandatory. Bonus points if Ominous Latin Chanting
with religious lyrics are added. Double bonus points if there are doves
flying around during the mayhem. Scenery Porn
may be a factor when the building is particularly ornate or the stained glass itself is given particular attention.
Also known as the Church Shootout, if it only involves gunfire and no katanas
. Compare Wedding Smashers
and Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In Attack on Titan, a minor but still bloody (and almost humorous) example. Right before a showdown between the female titan and titan Eren, it cuts to a scene of some loony priest of the wall preaching that faith is all that they need to be safe. Cue the female titan being knocked right through the church and squishing several people flat.
- The famous first clash between Spike and Vicious in episode 5 of Cowboy Bebop, "Ballad of Fallen Angels," is likely a Shout-Out to both The Killer and The Crow. Or so The Other Wiki says.
- The final shootout in Madlax takes place in a chapel.
- Of course, this happens more than once in Noir, starting with normal churches in the beginning to the big weird Soldats Cathedral Mansion complete with Nuns with Guns in the end.
- Fate/stay night has a brief Sword Fight in the basement of Kotomine's cathedral near the end, immediately following The Reveal.
- Unlimited Blade Works stages a few confrontations there; at least two of them display the stained glass prominently.
- The sixth Kara no Kyoukai movie features a battle inside the church at Azaka's boarding school. Bonus points for both combatants dressed like nuns.
- The opening of Blade of the Immortal has a gun-and-sword fight with a fake priest in a confessional.
- Happens in the first episode of Hellsing, complete with tons of Faux Symbolism. It was not present in the original manga, but only in the syndicated anime; whether this change was for the better is arguable.
- In Black Butler there is not only a battle in a church but the victim is an angel. Later we find out that s/he isn't actually dead yet, though.
- Trinity Blood likes doing this.
- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children had an awesome fight sequence inside Aerith's church, twice.
- Black Lagoon features an intense shootout at the entrance of the Church Of Violence during the Greenback Jane arc when the arc's title character seeks the aforementioned church as sanctuary. The show blatantly parodies the entire trope; it's an 'intense shootout' as in 'the church had an M-60 and weren't afraid to shoot it at everyone else involved'. Oh, and a pair of supremely pissed off Sociopathic Heroes and a lead nun with a Golden Desert Eagle.
- Ghost in the Shell: An episode in the second season features a climactic shootout between a terrorist and Section 09 in a Berlin cathedral. The terrorist, using a pepperpot firearm built into his knuckles, fires at Batou, misses, and blows out an entire stained-glass window.
- In the anime version of Tokyo Mew Mew, before Zakuro joins the team, she is targeted by Kisshu while she's praying at church, and promptly kicks his butt before the rest of the titular Magical Girls even do anything. (In the manga, the battle took place at the audition.)
- Appleseed Ex Machina opens with an awesome Church Shootout. What's up with John Woo and churches?
- The final showdown between Juubei and Toshiki in the Get Backers' anime. The manga starts them out in a church, but Toshiki decides midway through that the alley where they first met would be more appropriate. You can do that with Divine Design.
- The first Akuma we see in D.Gray-Man was made from a priest and his fiancee. It does all of its killing inside an abandoned church, and it's destroyed there.
- One of the first scenes in the anime of Black Cat.
- Unsurprisingly this happens quite often in the various incarnations of Go Nagai's Devilman.
- Happens near the beginning of Claymore, with a demon hiding within a church.
- Ever since Lyrical Nanoha introduced the Belkan Saint Church, this was pretty much inevitable. One such battle appeared in the fourth chapter of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force between Tohma and Veyron.
- The final episodes of Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom are centered on one of those.
- In Soul Eater Crona and Maka's first meeting and battle is inside an Italian church, resulting in Soul getting his huge chest scar which infects him with the black blood. Much later in the manga Maka finds Crona inside that same church.
- In Samurai Champloo the church in episodes 25-26 doesn't have any glass windows, and the one in episode 19 has none at all, but they are churches, and people are fighting in them, so...
- Ditto for Mai-Hime, when in episode 25 Natsuki and Shizuru have a fight, they end up in one of these, even tough it's in ruins.
- In Saiyuki, the final battle against Kami-Sama plays with this: the villain lives in a temple with huge Western-style stained-glass windows, in front of which the final battle occurs. They shatter beautifully after his defeat, as the temple falls to pieces around him and his mentor.
- Volume 2 of Dance in the Vampire Bund has a vicious vampire invasion on students hold up within, Mina's near-singlehanded rescue of same, and a brutal fight between Akira and Mina in rapid succession within a Catholic school's chapel.
- There was such a fight in the first modern Human Target story where Christopher Chance impersonates a priest and gets into a gun fight with his principal's would be murderers.
- In Kevin Smith's run on Daredevil (the "Guardian Devil" arc), a major fight between Daredevil and Bullseye takes place in a Catholic church. (See also the note on Daredevil in the film section below.)
- "God only knows", a volume of the European comic book SODA, focuses almost entirely on a gun fight in a church. Which the main character takes part in while suffering from Easy Amnesia and believing he's a priest.
- The final shootout in John Woo's The Killer, with the title character and his Cowboy Cop ally holding off a virtual army of assassins, is probably the quintessential example.
- Happens in The Last Tycoon, also starring Chow Yun Fat.
- The Four Musketeers did it fifteen years earlier, with D'Artagnan dueling (and killing) Rochefort inside a church.
- Equilibrium subverts it by having only one shot fired inside a church, but seeing how there were only two extremely badass guys involved, a Single-Stroke Battle wasn't much surprise, which might make this a straight use instead. Furthermore, keep in mind that the character in question was shot by his best friend, through a book of poetry, raising the symbolism to nigh-unbearable levels. And don't forget that both are formally known as Clerics.
- The first major shootout in the present day from Once upon a Time in Mexico, which has Mariachi blasting up Marquez's men at a church, which starts with the bad guys ventilating the confessional he was in.
- Averted in Highlander, as Immortals are forbidden to fight on holy ground.
- Jackie Chan's Shanghai Noon has guns and swords in a church. And Owen Wilson dressed up as a monk...
- In Daredevil, Daredevil and Bullseye's last fight is in a cathedral. Bullseye even uses shards of stained glass as impromptu shuriken.
- In X2: X-Men United, Storm and Jean have a brief fight with Nightcrawler in a cathedral.
- Kill Bill had this, too, in the chapel where the Bride was supposed to be married.
- After a shootout inside, the final fight in The Crow took place on the roof of a neo-Gothic church, in a rainy night, overlooking the graveyard.
- Somewhat avoided in 28 Days Later- Though Jim first encounters infected in a church, large crosses are prominent and the first Infected he meets is actually a priest fully dressed for services, the closest thing to a fight scene that takes place there is Jim running away while infected chase after him. Waste of a good scene, I'd say, but the actual fight afterward involves flaming zombies so I'll shut up.
- In all versions of Prince Caspian, Aslan's How is a sacred underground site built over the Stone Table (on which Aslan was killed). In all versions, it's the battle headquarters for the good guys. In the most recent film version, the battle plan for the battle after Peter's duel involves destroying Aslan's How! (It really, um, unlevels the battlefield when that happens...
- Er, The structure over the table, and the table itself are pretty much untouched. Only the handy battlefield outside is undermined.
- James Bond: The final confrontation in For Your Eyes Only takes place in a mountaintop church. Bonus points for having literally bloodstained glass windows. Also the post-final final confrontation in Skyfall.
- Happened in Resident Evil: Apocalypse when Alice fights a licker.
- Batman's final confrontation with the Joker in Tim Burton's 1989 Batman takes place on top of Gotham Cathedral.
- The climax of The Eagle Has Landed is a fierce gun battle between German paratroopers and US infantry in a pretty little English country church. During the battle, one of the paratroopers actually begins playing the film's theme music on the organ. And moments before the battle starts the priest (who had been held hostage by the Germans) is dragged kicking and screaming from the place. You know, just to remind the audience that this is a church, in case the spire, altar, pews and stained glass windows weren't enough of a clue to begin with.
- Korean-made anime-style film Sky Blue has just such a scene, complete with stained-glass Jesus fitting right into the composition of the scene (see image at top).
- The "final" battle between Freddy Krueger and the main protagonist of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master ends with a battle in a Catholic church.
- The climactic fight at the end of Lady Hawke.
- An attempt to invoke this trope is Subverted in The Monster Squad. The KidHeroes are Genre Savvy enough to try and stage the final showdown with the monsters inside the church as "monsters hate religious stuff." Unfortunately, the door's locked, so they have to do their fighting in the street outside.
- The Tollywood action movie Athadu, being pretty much a love letter to Hong Kong Blood Opera, has its final shootout in one of these, where Pandhu, played by Mahesh Babu, faces down his former partner and fellow assassin Malli, who betrayed and tried to kill him on orders from the Big Bad.
- The fight in the church in Kingsman: The Secret Service.
- The climax of the Book of the Short Sun occurs during the protagonist's son's wedding at the local manteion when inhumani attack and the local regime is overthrown.
- The Sarah Connor Chronicles has a couple of second-season episodes featuring fight scenes in a church.
- The first one isn't much of a fight, but it does involve a booby-trapped baptismal font that electrocutes a Terminator.
- The second one is an ambush of another Terminator with a crossfire (pun intended) in front of the altar, complete with Crucified Villain Shot.
- Alias has at least one hand-to-hand fight in a church.
- Mr. Eko in LOST has a background of killing several thugs in a church when he takes on the role of priest.
- General Hospital's Jason Morgan, Sonny Corinthos and Reese Marshall get into a big one of these against Faith Rosco and her men here. Jason even goes Guns Akimbo at one point during the shootout.
- Episode two of Kamen Rider Kuuga has Kuuga's true power awakening as he fights a Grongi in a church. Bonus points because the church is BURNING.
- Highlander averts this. As mentioned in Film above, the only real rule the immortals follow is not fighting on holy ground.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a latter-season episode involving a group of vampires getting over their fear of churches.
- This visual image is a huge part of the aesthetic of Warhammer 40,000. Indeed, it is almost impossible to find a piece of 40k artwork that doesn't have the ruins of gigantic, forbidding gothic architecture as the backround to a ferocious gun battle. Several sets of model scenery are available to reproduce this look on a tabletop battlefield, including the Shrine of the Aquila, Chapel of Vengeance and Honoured Imperium set. Find an Imperial chapel in the 40k galaxy, wait there a few minutes, and you can pretty much guarantee that the fanatical Space Marines will be along to shoot each other to bits in it before you've finished counting the stained-glass windows.
- In Rose Guns Days, the final confrontation between Rose (with Leo) and Richard (with Cyrus) takes place in a church, where the latter was hiding. They try to talk at first, but it inevitably ends up in a gunfight where Rose kills Cyrus, although Richard manages to escape.
- Although not strictly speaking a church, Gavin, Tariq and Terrence's raid on the Hymn of One Headquarters in the KateModern episode "Resolution" is a semi example.
- An actual, albeit animated, church fight scene occurs in the later episode "The Wedding Video".
- In each version of Survival of the Fittest, there is always a church of some kind on the island. They seem to be among the most popular areas for the handlers of the board, as many people commonly request for a "church fight out" to happen.
- It happened surprisingly often in European history. The most notorious is probably the murder of Thomas Becket that inspired Elliot's Murder in the Cathedral (and, indirectly, The Canterbury Tales.) Other prominent incidents were Robert The Bruce's murder of his rival John Comyn in a church, and the attempted assassination of Lorenzo de Medici during Mass - the latter being particularly shocking because the conspirators arguably included the Pope!