While a foe is Monologuing
, they'll be circling the hero like a wolf circles a lamb, hoping to ensnare the hero with their arguments and offers like a python hugs its victims. Spiraling ever inwards as their Creepy Monotone
reaches deeper and deeper to the core of the hero's motivation. The hero will usually have the facial expression of a deer in the headlights of an eighteen wheeler, or seem deeply conflicted, confused, or about to have a nervous breakdown.
This is made all the creepier when the hero is bound and can't turn to face the villain, as they go behind the hero, monologuing the hero's flaws
and how easily they could backstab them, or will
if it's a Just Between You and Me
It's rare, but sometimes the hero will do this. In this case, the hero usually isn't the ideological predator
, but a flexible thinker, offering a Last-Second Chance
while the villain remains dead set in their ways, immovable and proud before their impending fall
. Some examples are both of these at once, where the hero and villain circle each other
while trying to convert each other.
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Anime & Manga
- In the very first episode of the animated adaption of Fate/Zero, both Tohsaka Tokiomi and Kotomine Risei circle Kirei while they explain their plan to him in an effort to convince him to join them. See here for an example.
- In the Death Note anime Light Yagami does this with Misa and Rem when convincing Rem that for Misa to be happy L has to die.
Films — Animation
- In The Princess and the Frog, Dr. Facilier does this to Tiana near the end, when he offers to make her dreams come true in exchange for his talisman. He shows her illusions of her restaurant while circling her and making his offer.
- The Prince of Egypt has this where Rameses' two priests circle Moses during their Villain Song.
- The Lion King:
- Scar does this to Simba as he confronts him for being responsible for Mufasa's death.
- Earlier, the hyenas briefly surround Simba, Nala, and Zazu.
- Also done in The Lion King II, in an odd example, Zira is talking to Simba, but circling Kovu.
- Jim does the heroic version in Treasure Planet, but it's mainly to tell Silver that he won't be fooled a second time, condemning him for what Jim thought was a Bastardly Speech, and letting him know that he won't let Silver ever get ahold of the treasure which serves as both characters' motivation.
- Frollo in the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame offers Esmeralda a way out when she's about to be burned at the stake. He tells her, 'I can save you from the flames of this world and the next. Choose me, or the fire,' and Esmeralda promtly spits in his face before giving him an epic Kubrick Stare.
- Gothel's favorite choreography in Tangled. She circles Rapunzel semi-affectionately at the start of her Villain Song, "Mother Knows Best." However, in the reprise of this song, she takes it Up to Eleven, not only circling Rapunzel affectionately, but with mockery, derision, and she even does a semi-circle that has a seductive twist. Just watch for yourself.
- Rock-A-Doodle has the scene where the evil owl and his henchowls are shown threatening the farm animals as the barn starts to fill up with water by singing "No Batteries!" (which for some reason contained the lyrics "Twiddly-dee, twiddly-dee") while marching around them in a circle.
- The Singing Cat Gang actually do this to Tom and Jerry during the Big Lipped Alligator Moment from Tom and Jerry: The Movie.
- Parodied in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: The mayor is trying to convince Flint to make more food fall from the sky, and uses Offscreen Teleportation to great and hilarious effect. First he whispers in one ear, then the other, then somehow from above. While driving a Rascal scooter.
- The Incredibles: Syndrome starts this when confronting Mr. Incredible after the Time Skip, but is interrupted by a thrown tree trunk to the face.
- Grendel's mother in the 2007 movie of Beowulf does this to the eponymous hero. She promises the trifecta of Sex, Money, and Power, strumming every chord of this flawed hero's heart and pride as she circled him.
- In My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks, Adagio Dazzle and Aria Blaze do this to Sunset Shimmer while telling her they've learned of her reputation and putting her friendship with the Rainbooms to doubt. Note that there is obviously little space between Sunset and the wall corner, yet they still walk around her for the sake of the trope. Sonata Dusk joins in too, although she doesn't exactly master the concept of "circling".
Films — Live-Action
- Star Wars:
- In Revenge of the Sith there's an example of a heroic, well, Anti-heroic circle. Anakin rounds Palpatine as the latter calmly and matter-of-factly lays out his motivations and plans, doing his best to convince Anakin that it's best for Padme.
- The same happens between Anakin and Obi-Wan before their fight on Mustafar.
- And in Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku was circling and tempting a captive Obi-Wan.
- Wormtongue does this to …owyn in The Two Towers, during his "Who knows what you've spoken to the darkness..." speech.
- Smaug does this to Bilbo in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, regarding how Thorin views him. Given Smaug is the size of a fortress, this is impressive.
- In the climax of Labyrinth, Jareth circles Sarah in this manner as he explains how, while he's capable of cruelty, he has been "generous" to her all along. Her response is the heroine's speech from the play that inspired her adventure in the first place, and a battle of wills ensues.
- In The Dark Knight at a party scene The Joker circles around Rachel and appears to sniff her while calling her "beautiful."
- The Matrix Reloaded plays with the trope as Agent Smith clones surround Neo, each one of them speaking a part of the monologue while the camera pans. It gives the impression he's circling, when they're mostly just standing still or walking towards Neo.
- Teatime does this to Susan in the movie version of Hogfather.
- At the start of Shoot 'em Up, Smith outshoots several gunmen trying to kill a pregnant woman. When his pistol runs out he grabs a Desert Eagle off the last man standing, demanding to know why they want to kill her. Instead of answering, the man tells a rude limerick instead while circling Smith. This lets the audience know he's the main antagonist.
- Harry and Voldemort's final battle in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows starts with them circling each other, debating who will triumph. Harry is level-headed, assured that he has the upper hand, while Voldemort is arrogant and dismissive, refusing to believe he can be beaten.
- In Who's Afraid of Beowulf? by Tom Holt, the last viking king, Hrolf Earthstar circles the evil Sorcerer King before battle, determined to break his attempt to rule the world. Unusually, the mighty but doomed villain accepts the Last-Second Chance given by the hero. After all, someone could have got killed.
- This happens at least twice in Madeleine L'Engle's books — A Wind in the Door and Many Waters, to be precise (although this is more of forcible-possession than monologuing, in both cases). In the latter, it's called the Circle Of Extinction, giving this trope its former name.
- A hero-to-villain example occurs in The Vor Game. Cavilo is in a suit of Powered Armor that's been depowered and acts as a Tailor-Made Prison, leaving only her head able to move. As Miles and Gregor pressure her for information, Miles repeatedly paces behind her because he can see it makes her nervous.
- Baron Ryoval also does this to Mark, it does not turn out well for the Baron.
- A variant appears in Roger Zelazny's Amber series. The villain is circling closer to the protagonist because he's got to be close enough for his ranged attack to work, but he's not absolutely certain what that range actually is. The antagonist's attack involves mind control and is invisible, so he's hoping the conversation will distract the protagonist as he keeps moving a bit closer and trying again.
- In Dallas, episode "The Family Ewing" (first of the "Dream Season"), Sue Ellen comes home the night Bobby Ewing, having been out all day with Dusty Farlow. Her chipper attitude was all J.R., who was openly (as much as a proud Texan man could) mourning the death of Bobby, could take. He circles her, berating her for not (never) being there, before driving her off.
- Doctor Who has had this, particularly with the Doctor and the Master.
- In "Survival", the part-cheetah Master stalks around the Doctor.
- The scene at the beginning of part two of "The End of Time" has even more stalking, but it's the Doctor doing the pleading.
- "Dalek" had something like this, but with the Doctor and a Dalek.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer has an example in the first episode of the seventh season when the First Evil delivers a Break Them by Talking to Spike while circling him... and while shifting forms between the Big Bad of each earlier season and, at the end, Buffy herself.
- A different use of circling than usual, but Dr Cox from Scrubs has a tendency to circle people during his rants. In one memorable scene, he and J.D. actually take turns on who's playing what role.
- In Babylon 5, in the climatic three-way showdown between Vorlons, Shadows and the Army of Light each one of the former two pick a general of the Army and try to reason him/her into following them. Shadows do this with Delenn by having impersonations of her friends and even of herself circle around her while setting forth the Shadows' doctrines. Meanwhile, the Vorlon representative manifests as a woman frozen inside a block of ice, and Sheridan circles her while she argues the Vorlon point of view.
- In a Season Three episode of Alias, McKenas Cole pulls this on Sark. However, Sark makes it a point to keep shifting so Cole's never given the opportunity to stab him in the back.
- Star Trek: Voyager
- In Pokťmon Live!, Ash and Giovanni circle each other as they sing/fight in "You Just Can't Win."
- Rocket Grunts also circle Ash and Giovanni as the latter gets the upper hand.
- Played with in Avatar: The Last Airbender, as Ozai circles Zuko while extolling his accomplishments in Ba Sing Se. Zuko still seems very nervous to be there, especially when he finds out that Azula gave him all the credit for Aang's supposed death.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the episode "Call of the Cutie", Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon circle around Apple Bloom and Twist while delivering a mocking monologue.
- The Teen Titans do this to Terra after she betrays them for the last time. Not to give her another chance, but to clarify that they won't be giving her any more chances.