"Candle-light, privacy, music! Can't think of a better place for hand-to-hand combat!"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 to it. 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.
— Phoebus, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
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: Stand Alone Complex: 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 Gotham City Cathedral, identified as Saint Michael's, is a recurring set piece in Angel of the Bat, foreshadowed throughout to be the place Angel (Cassandra Cain) and original Big Bad The Seraphim will have their final battle. There have also been a few brawls in the chapel of The Church of the Voice of God.
Films — Animated
- 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).
- Phoebus and Esmeralda engage in a duel inside the titular cathedral in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in which Phoebus provides the page quote. At the end of the movie as well, Frollo and Quasimodo fight on the parapets of the cathedral.
Films — Live-Action
- 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.
- Woo knows exactly how utterly cool this is when done well. In Face/Off he had the Big Bad march onto the scene with arms outstretched and his head bowed providing a bit of Ominous Latin Chanting.
- 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.
- 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 Kid Heroes 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.
- A brief fight between several Sangs and Lee Christmas takes place in a church in The Expendables 2. It even has Christmas dress up as a priest.
- The final showdown in Hitman takes place at a church.
- Terminator: 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.
- Happens occasionally in Dungeons & Dragons, although usually the "Church" in question is either openly or secretly dedicated to someone like Bane, Vecna or Erythnul.
- No matter which character you play, the penultimate fight in SoulCalibur II's Arcade Mode is in a cathedral.
- The church level in Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven was among the most intense ones to complete.
- Resistance: Fall of Man offended the Church of England by using Manchester Cathedral as scenery (there is a lot of gun crime in the area, so it's a sensitive issue).
- Uncharted: Drake's Fortune has a church-gunfight level.
- The final stage of Hitman: Blood Money, "Requiem", which has 47 killing everyone at his own funeral. Also, Silent Assassin's final battle and overall last stage were in a church, as 47 attempted to save the priest who had helped him.
- In Fahrenheit, when Lucas visits Markus' church he has to fight off the angel statues out to get him. Although it is revealed to have been All Just a Dream, if he loses, the game is over.
- First Encounter Assault Recon's first expansion, Extraction Point, features a church in the first level. In it, a cutscene shows Fettel didn't quite die for real, and the previously dormant Replica soldiers re-activate, leading to the game's first major shootout.
- The Opera mod for Half-Life was all about recreating Heroic Bloodshed films in video game form. One level was a church as a shout out to The Killer.
- Half-Life 2: Lost Coast. The bonus level that got released after HL2 had you destroying a headcrab launcher in a church.
- TimeSplitters 2 has a level set in Notre Dame cathedral, complete with zombie priests.
- Call of Duty 2 features a church in one level, but it's just one of several buildings you have to clear.
- Call of Duty 4 also has several Russian Orthodox churches scattered throughout SAS campaign, such as the one near Prypiat during the mission "All Ghillied Up". Also, in the mission "Death from Above" you are explicitly forbidden to demolish the church; doing so would violate Section IV, Article 27 of the Hague Conventions.
- Similarly, World in Conflict has a level where a bonus objective is to make sure that the church at the top of a hill survives the mission.
- Several stages in the survival horror game Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem take place in Oublie Cathedral, a No Communities Were Harmed version of the Cathedral of Notre Dame d'Amiens that serves as a front for the Eldritch Abomination.
- The final battle of Summoner takes place in the immense central chamber of the now abandoned Temple of Urath against your Enemy Without (you AND him are actually both facets of the same shattered god, Urath, of course). For added symbolism, he turns into an angel, a simulcrum of you, and a devil as the fight goes on.
- After the battle, you have the option to descend to the secret basement of the temple and sacrifice yourself and the eight other aspects of Urath in the forge he used for the creation of humanity order in to bring him back to life, which doesn't look familiar at all.
- The opening fight scene in Devil May Cry 4 has Nero fight Dante in a church, right after Dante puts a bullet in Sanctus's head. It's a Crystal Dragon Jesus kind of church though, but come on, what do you mean, it's not awesome?
- One of the boss fights in MediEvil has Sir Daniel fighting a monster made out of stained glass.
- Although the battle doesn't take place in a church, Sora and Roxas fight upon the Stage of Awakening, which is a platform decorated like stained glass.
- Towards the end of System Shock 2, the player passes through the bloodstained and bullet-damaged chapel onboard the Rickenbacker, and it is probably where Polito committed suicide. And it's all upside down, because the gravity generator has been reversed.
- The seemingly last area of Syphon Filter involves Gabe descending from the top of an absolutely massive church to the ground floor, killing all the way. When he encounters a large glass window, he jumps through it and resumes killing.
- The Chantry in Kirkwall serves as the scene of a couple of fights near the end of chapter 2 of Dragon Age II, as well as a fight in the "Tranquility" quest in chapter 1. Turned Up to Eleven in chapter 3, when the Chantry is blown to smithereens by a Magitek bomb, with Scenery Gorn aplenty.
- In Demon's Souls, the first Boss Fight in the Queen's Tower is in a church in the Prison of Hope.
- The battle against the Elemental Demigod Ifrit in Vagrant Story takes place in the Cathedral's chapel, with the Rood of St. Iocus looking on from the altar.
- During the game's prologue, Ashley meets, confronts, and tries to arrest Sydney at the chapel in Duke Bardorba's manor. Then Sydney summons his wyvern, D'Tok, who crashes through the ornate stained glass ceiling to battle Ashley, while Sydney himself leaps out the stained glass window at the far end of the chapel. Neither is injured (although, arguably, D'Tok wouldn't have noticed, what with the spears and lances already stuck in his body.)
- Mortal Kombat 3 features a background known as the Kombat Temple (also known as the Church), which returned for its updates, Mortal Kombat Gold, and Mortal Kombat 9.
- Tekken 5 has a cathedral stage, which is where most characters fight Devil Jin in the second-to-last battle in their story modes.
- Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection has a "remixed" stage design for all the 5 stages; the cathedral one is in a much brighter setting, but with snow pouring in through a hole in the ceiling.
- In Assassin's Creed II you perform your final mission by leaping from the rafters of the Sistine Chapel to assassinate Pope Alexander VI during High Mass, before having a sword duel and a fistfight. A fistfight with the Pope!
- The Godfather. An important plot twist ends with you and an AI controlled character blasting through the basement of a church.
- In Red Faction II, one of the later chapters takes place in and around a church of sorts. The boss fight for the chapter is against Quill, whom, appropriately enough, fires at you from a balcony in front of the stained glass window. The fight ends with you shooting them through said window.
- In Medal of Honor: Underground, during one mission you fight in the Monastery at Monte Cassino to rescue captured Allied Soldiers.
- Allied Assault has this twice. In The Nebelwerfer Hunt there's a church with several machine gun nests in the windows you have to clear out, and Rendezvous with the Resistance has a church at the end with a secret passage to La Résistance's hideout.
- Marathon 2: Durandal's Pfhor temple in Ex Cathedra.
Durandal: This area is used by the Pfhor as a temple in their pathetically boring religion. Maybe they think that sanctity will protect it.
- The Game Mod Tempus Irae, a third-party total conversion of Marathon Infinity, uses this a lot in Renaissance-era cathedrals (time travel is involved). The scenery was, for the time the mod was released, state-of-the-art.
- In the Knights of the Nine expansion to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, two cathedrals to the Nine Divines come under attack by the forces of Umaril the Unfeathered. All the inhabitants of the Anvil chapel are slaughtered, but the Player Character interrupts the second attack.
- Early on in Diablo II, you have to battle demons in the Rogues' Monastery Cathedral, which Andariel has turned into an outpost of Hell.
- The first half of the first game revolves around working your way down through a cathedral's basements and catacombs.
- The final boss battle of Double Dragon II: The Revenge for the NES and PC Engine.
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein has a firefight with Helga von Bulow's Elite Guards in a church during the second mission.
- In Batman: Arkham Origins, one optional battle with the real Black Mask takes place in a church. And the final battle with the Joker in a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown takes place in a prison chapel near the execution chamber in Blackgate Prison. Though neither place is stained with blood, there is, however, the fact that the Joker brandishes a literal Gun in the Chapel and may not hesitate to bring in a Pretty Little Headshot to kill Batman if he doesn't counter (especially in I Am the Night Mode). Joker will also try and slash at Batman with pieces of stained glass when knocked against a window.
- In one of the later levels Ministry of Smiths in The Matrix: Path of Neo Smith has Exactly What It Says on the Tin taken over a church and Neo has to defeat the church full of Smiths to save Morpheus.
- Rescuing Rena in Star Ocean: The Second Story involves going into an abandonned chruch.
- Undertale: The boss fight with Sans.
- 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!
- The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem is under a complex joint-jurisdiction scheme by six different denominations of Christianity and the rules state that any movement of the furniture requires agreement by all six of the churches—and so a lot of disagreements would end up being resolved by fisticuffs. In 2002, A Coptic monk moved his chair to be closer to the shade, an act which angered the Ethiopian Monks. The resultant fistfight sent 11 people to the hospital.
- The Charleston church shooting in North Carolina, in which nine people were killed in a prayer meeting before the suspect Dylann Storm Roof was arrested.