"Now, now, perfectly symmetrical violence never solved anything."
Two identical-appearing combatants attacking in perfect synchronization with identical attacks which will often cancel each other out if the two combatants are fighting each other. A favorite of the Asteroids Monster
, expect plenty of Beam-O-War
if ki-attacks are in fashion, and Spot the Imposter
if one of the two is an Evil Twin
This trope runs on the idea that since the combatants know everything the other knows they must know what they would do in this situation, up to and including facing a copy of themselves. Thus, they match up.
Compare Juxtaposed Halves Shot
(where half of two characters' sides/faces are juxtaposed to or beside each other), Mirrored Confrontation Shot
(a similar but conflict-exclusive trope), Bash Brothers
, and Mirror Match
. May result in a Double Knockout
or Mutual Disadvantage
. See Ditto Fighter
for the fighting game equivalent. Not to be confused with The X-Files
and Justice League Unlimited
episodes of the same name. The Trope Namer
, William Blake's poem "The Tyger", doesn't have anything to do with the trope.
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- In the miniseries Infinite Crisis, both Superman and Lex Luthor face off against alternate versions of themselves, and the two Supermen (Supermans?) later take on a third version of themselves.
- Countdown: Arena is four issues of this trope, as Monarch forces different versions of heroes to fight each other.
- However, it's not very faithful- while the Wonder Women may be hard to tell apart, the Supermen's powers are very different (one is an "evolved" Kryptonian who can grab the other two's heat vision beams and throw them around by them, while the other is the super-patriotic Superman from All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder and the third is Red Son Superman, raised communist) and the others all offer some degree of variation- for example, the Ray fights a Nazi Ray and Apollo, one of the Batmen is a vampire (from Batman: Red Rain) and another is a Green Lantern (from Batman: Darkest Knight), one of the Starmen is a monkey and one is a chick, and... well, the list goes on.
- In issue #24 of Archie Sonic, everybody ends up in a fight with their evil twin, but nobody's making headway because they can predict each other's moves. The good guys end up winning easily when the good Sally hits upon the idea of everybody changing partners (which, apparently, the evil Sally doesn't expect). It's not explained why, exactly, the good guys suddenly end up being the better fighters... surely this could have caused them to lose as easily as it could have caused them to win?
- Subverted in the Archie Comics Sonic/Megaman crossover. As per the games, Mega Man fights a duplicate of himself, who claims that the fight is this. Mega Man quickly proves him wrong by using a recently acquired weapon, something Copy Bot couldn't possibly have gotten.
- The lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin at the climax of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith has a few moments where the student's and master's moves match each other perfectly, including an instance of them cancelling out each other's Force Push. Interestingly, this has some basis in the Expanded Universe: Form V of lightsaber combat (Anakin's style) is based on the same principles as Form III (Obi-Wan's), only tailored to be more aggressive. And Obi-Wan mixes some Form V into his fighting style anyway.
- In the film version of Ryu Ga Gotoku (Yakuza as it's known in the west) has this in fights between Kazuma and Majima. Epitomized in their duel with shotguns.
- Having been trained by the same tulku and possessing the same powers, The Shadow and Shiwan Khan manage to do this with bullets. But only once, because they're both a little freaked out by it.
- The fight between Wesley and Cross in Wanted has shades of this, such as when they continuously deflect each other's bullets with their shots.
- In Replicant, Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a serial killer and his clone grown by the government to catch him. In the climactic fight, both Garrotte and the Replicant try to hit each other but end up punching each other's fists and kicking each other's legs. The weird thing is, they actually mirror each other's moves literally (i.e. one punches with his right, while the other with his left).
- Played for Laughs in Spy Kids 2. Gregerio's and Donogan's blows are so symmetrical that the fight ends up looking lame and painful, such as when they both try to suplex each other.
- In Kick-Ass, the protagonist and his enemy wind up knocking each other out at the same time using identical weapons.
- "Insanity Prerequisite" in the Whateley Universe: protagonist Carmilla fights demon The Kellith. Since they're just two different aspects of the same person/thing, it gets complicated.
- In the novel, The Third Twin - the narrator notes that a brawl between the identical twins could go on for some time as they are almost perfectly matched. Ultimately subverted because it turns out they're not twins, they're clones... and there's more than one.
- In Terry Brooks' Elfstones of Shannara, the Witch Sisters Morag and Mallenroh, last of their coven, are identical twins—and as such absolutely immune to each others' powers. This would seem to be a perfect excuse for the two to duke it out relatively harmlessly (which they are only too prone to do, since each blames the other for the death of the man they both loved and whom Wisp claims was literally ripped apart). Except for the fact that when their powers combine, the effects become terribly real. Both only get one shocked moment of realization to wail their agony and hatred of each other before the fire consumed them in their somewhat tragic, Karmic Death.
- Drizzt Do'Urden vs. Artemis Entreri. From the very beginning, it's clear that while they are not physically identical, when one fights the other it feels as if he is fighting a mirror image of himself.
- Tahiri's internal conflict with her implanted Riina personality ends up like this once it comes to blows (in Reunion) - the two forms are literally identical, except for their handedness. Given the particular rules of this fight, it'd be equal even if one of them somehow outfought the other, as Riina demonstrates by charring herself with her lightsaber, inflicting an identical wound on Tahiri. The two personalities end up merging.
Live Action TV
- Charmed features a fight like this in the Mirror Universe, between the good and evil version of Phoebe and Paige. The two Paiges keep at this for some time, their specific magic causing explosions that threaten everyone around.
- Arrested Development parodies this between the twins George and Oscar Bluth. each man tries the exact same sequence of movements, just to be blocked in the same way everytime.
- Happens in Farscape when Crichton is duplicated. Each one is insistent that he is the real one and the other is fake, and in order to prove it he furiously plays rock-paper-scissors against himself, seemingly for hours at a time, and it's always a tie. Some viewers have pointed out that Crichton's pulse pistol is lying on a table between the two, leading to speculation as to what the stakes may have been. Later, even when Crichton plays against a recording of his other self, it's still a tie.
- In a Sindbad series, the heroes once fight some masked opponents which mirror all their moves - and as turns out, look like them. this is a scam by an evil wizard
- In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Adversary", Odo and another shape-shifter fight. At one point they are fighting with exactly the same moves.
- In Kamen Rider Decade, the flashback to the Rider War ends with Kuuga Ultimate Form and Decade throwing identical punches at each other, creating a Sphere of Destruction. The image was iconic enough that the Climax Heroes series of video games uses it as the animation when one character attempts to counter another's Finishing Move.
- This occurs in the pre-battle and post-battle cutscenes with the Climax Boss of Tales of Xillia 2. It's somewhat justified by the boss being Victor, who is main character Ludger from another dimension, and both of them use the same weapons and fighting style. A bit more occurs after the fight's over before Ludger runs Victor through, killing him.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the battle between you and Dark Link starts out this way, and remains this way as long as you use Z-Targeting. Unless you perform a stab at him. If you do that, instead of simply stabbing back, he'll balance on your sword and smack you in the face.
- Or instead of dropping Z-Targeting, you could use the Megaton Hammer, which is a lot more satisfying. Making Link face the camera, then attacking with a Giant's Knife or Biggoron's Sword when he pops up behind Link and simply casting Din's Fire are also very effective.
- Zelda II The Adventure Of Link also has its Dark Link pull off the same moves as you do. It's not pretty. You can cheat and head to the corner and down stab.
- An unusual sort of symmetry, though not from clones, occurs in Guilty Gear XX. Before a story-related fight, Ky Kiske and Sol Badguy both perform a massive set of attacks, with each one being the move that serves about the same purpose with each character, starting with projectiles, going next to aerial attacks, then a chain combo attack, then finally, they both throw super attacks. Everything neutralizes the other attack, and they just end up about ten feet further away from each other for it.
- IIRC, there's another version of this, possibly in GGX2#R only, where Sol and Ky clash stand slashes, chain into their "dragon punch" moves and then only Sol does his jumping EX Tyrant rave, which takes off about 25% of Ky's health before the fight even begins.
- Although they don't look alike, part of the final battle between Solid Snake and Liquid Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 4 goes like this.
- One moment stands out in particular. After spending several minutes beating each other to a pulp, Snake and his "brother", Liquid Ocelot, each find themselves facing each other and holding a syringe full of fast-healing nanotech. Instead of jumping back to inject themselves or trying to knock away the other's syringe, they inject each other, knowing that the the other will do the exact same thing. Fearful symmetry, indeed...
- That was a homage to the fight scene in The Twin Snakes between Liquid and Snake, who were twins... snakes.
- Something similar can happen in Street Fighter Alpha 3. Adon (trained under Sagat) has a special intro with Sagat, where they both do identical kicks that end up parrying each other.
- Alpha 3 also has Fearful Symmetry intros for Evil Ryu versus Akuma (both trigger the Raging Demon special move, and the screen whites out as they exchange blows before being forced apart) and Akuma versus Gen (Akuma triggers the Raging Demon, Gen blocks each hit, Gen rushes past and triggers his own multi-hit move, Akuma blocks each hit).
- Street Fighter III has this for Makoto and Ibuki's intros.
- The cutscene fights between Luke and Asch in Tales of the Abyss; note that they were both trained in swordfighting by the same person. Helped by the fact that Luke is left handed where Asch favors his right.
- The player can actually invoke this and score a bonus scene during the first Duel Boss encounter between them, provided Luke and Asch use Rending Thrust at the same time.
- The battles between Dante and his older twin brother Vergil in Devil May Cry 3; both utilize their agility, stamina, big-ass swords, and Devil Trigger abilities.
- From the same game, Dante's doppleganger battle is a more straight-on example.
- In the original, this is played even straighter with Dante and Nelo Angelo (who is Vergil, albeit Brainwashed and Crazy). Nelo Angelo plays the role of Mirror Boss, using the exact same sword swings and martial arts combinations as Dante (except for the fact that he has a much longer reach). In fact, part of the key to defeating Nelo is parrying his attacks with precise swings from your blade and then countering while he's caught off-guard and trying to ready another go.
- In 4, the battles against Dante himself involve Nero having to fire at him (the boss deflecting your bullets with his own shots) while approaching and then quickly attacking while he's open (preferably via Devil Bringer). This even causes a shift to a quick time event where the two square off with their swords before Nero tries to overpower his foe.
- Jaster Rogue's darker doppleganger in Rogue Galaxy.
- A variant occurs at the end of Terra's story in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. After Master Xehanort possesses Terra, and the Lingering Sentiment forms, the two fight. Terranort has the same appearance as Terra ( golden eyes, darker skin, and white hair notwithstanding), but most of Terranort's moves are ones Terra can acquire.
- Death Gate has one of these as a puzzle. You face a mirror image of yourself, and since he copies everything you do, you can't move forward since the double is in the way. You get rid of him by casting a suicide spell backwards, which does nothing to you, but the re-reversed spell cast by the double kills him.
- In Mega Man 1, the title character has to fight a robot clone of himself. While his movement is his own, the robot will fire a shot every time Mega Man does.
- In Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2, Elpeo Puru and Puru II's story modes, being already intertwined, culminate in a cutscene wherein the two battle in their identical Quebeley Mobile suits, each mirroring the other's moves perfectly. They comment on how good and natural it feels.
- Thomas and Mr. X trade blows this way in Natraps X.
- Happens in competitive card games like Magic: The Gathering and Versus a lot, especially at the start of sanctioned tournaments where many players may be using identical decks that did well in previous tournaments due to the existence of websites dedicated to the best builds. Many tournament players have several silver bullets against their own deck in their optional side-deck to use in mirror matches.
- There are also a few pairs of cards that seem perfectly matched to one another - for instance, Time Spiral reprinted the 13/13 Krosan Cloudscraper, and the next set (Planar Chaos) has Shivan Meteor, which deals exactly 13 damage.
- Also appears in the art of several cards, usually ones that represent shapeshifters. Morphling, Clone, Vesuvan Doppelganger, Spitting Image, and the like.
- Mirrored Pairs are a set of cards that are of opposing colors and usually do opposing things. Sometimes, this runs in such a way that both cards cancel each other out, like Red Elemental Blast and Blue Elemental Blast (both counter or destroy a card of an opposing color, and since red and blue are opposing colors, they can very well cancel each other out when used).
- When playing black in a game of chess, one possibility is to simply mirror white's moves. This is sometimes called a Russian game.
- However, this is extremely easy for white to foil, as all that needs to be done is give a queen or rook a clear path to the opponent's side of the board. If black mirrors, all white has to do is kill the other queen/rook; that piece then can't mirror it, since it's no longer on the board.
- The Russian Game (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6) is both an example and a subversion. Black mirrors when you wouldn't expect him to (2... Nc6 is usual) but he gets into trouble if he continues mirroring (3. Nxe5 Nxe4?) There are, however, other openings where mirroring can continue for the first ten moves or beyond.
- This won't work in Go. Sure you can try mirroring your opponent. But it never works in a center game where it is always the first person that plays that ends up winning because they can complete their circuit before you complete yours.
- There's a (possibly apocryphal) story about a twin pair, one left-handed and one right-handed, who got into a Gentlemens Duel. They took the required 10 paces, turned, fired... and their bullets met and melded at the halfway point.