Flirting Under Fire
"I was thinking that if you're still alive when I get back from work tonight... maybe we could go out to dinner or something?"Most stories build up the romance between love interests in between the bits of action, when the characters in question can set their troubles aside long enough to focus on one another. Some stories, however, either don't care enough to separate the romance from the action, or simply don't want to. Typically played for comedic effect, though occasionally done in a dramatic manner, this is when the lovebirds in question will continue to flirt and romance one another even while the bullets whiz past them. More specifically, this trope is characterized by both the presence of a danger to the protagonists/love interests, and the protagonists' ambivalence to the danger's presence while focusing on their romantic relationship. Depending on the circumstance, this can be used to serve a variety of purposes. Quite frequently, this can be employed to show, in a dramatic fashion, how much the characters care for one another by declaring their love or by sharing a Big Damn Kiss during the height of a climactic battle. Equally as common, Flirting Under Fire is used for comedic effect by having the characters flirt and be cute with one another during a tense moment of action. The comedic application of this trope can also be used between two villainous lovers, often to illustrate their evilness by taking pleasure in death and destruction. This serves as a case of Truth in Television, since the adrenaline rush brought on by imminent danger could enhance romantic desire, and although it strains credulity to see two characters lock in a kiss during a firefight, it can happen. Compare Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex, as well as Coitus Uninterruptus, where the lovers aren't aware of a disturbance until they've already begun romancing one another. Sister Trope to Casual Danger Dialog, where characters crack jokes and one-liners under similar circumstances.
— Lindsey, Lucky Number Slevin
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Ranma ˝: People accuse Ranma and Akane of doing this. Usually, they're just bickering with an extra large dose of Belligerent Sexual Tension. The comments keep coming, however.
Ryoga: How dare he flirt in the middle of a fight!
- Towards the end of Getter Robo Go, Gō and Kei engage in a bout of incredibly shameless flirting while Gō is disarming a bomb that could very realistically end their lives.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: This actually happens during Kamina and Yoko's first meeting. She comes down through the roof, firing at the enemy gunman, and he's instantly attracted to her. When he starts flirting, Yoko's baffled that he isn't running for his life instead.
Yoko: I only knocked it backwards. It could still get up and get us!Kamina: Hey, babe! Come here often?Yoko: What?
- In Gotlib's comics, action heroes do this all the time, passionately kissing the Bond Girl while shooting a bad guy (without looking) and delivering an Offhand Backhand to another.
- Robin (Tim Drake) and Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) from the Batman comics. In one issue, Stephanie kisses Tim and then pins him to the floor ("Isn't this romantic?" "...Not really"), while armed kidnappers stands outside the door, waiting to crash the door down.
- In one chapter of Glorious Shotgun Princess, a Dragon-Blood warrior pulled into the ME-Verse (courtesy of Autochthon, naturally) tries this with Shepard when a demon horde breaks into the Presidium. Made slightly disturbing in that the Dragon-Blood is from House Mnemon and, for some reason, Shepard looks just like Mnemon who is said Dragon-Blood's grandmother. (For those unfamiliar with Exalted; Dragon-Bloods can live for several centuries)
Films — Animation
Films — Live Action
- During the battle aboard the Flying Dutchman in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Elizabeth and Will ask Barbossa to marry them in the middle of all the fighting, and even share a kiss.
- Lucky Number Slevin. Slevin and Lindsey build up most of their romance in this manner. Despite the fact that Slevin is on the hit list of two warring gangs, he and Lindsey find time to flirt, go to dinner (where Slevin is able to shadow a man he has been told to kill), and spend a night together.
- Employed dramatically in Captain America: The First Avenger, where Steve and Peggy share a kiss in the hangar while trying to catch the Red Skull's plane, and again when they talk about going dancing while Cap attempts to safely crash-land the plane in the Atlantic.
- Especially painful because towards the end of that conversation, it's quickly becoming obvious that Cap's not coming back.
- In Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Austin and Felicity have a tender moment... while standing in a laughably pathetic Death Trap.
- In Goldmember, Austin's father flirts with Foxxy Cleopatra while tied to a slow-moving machine that threatens to melt off his genitals. But his nonchalance is probably due to the number of times he's gotten out of similar situations, easily.
- Serenity: As the Reavers are trying to kick in the door to where the crew is holed up, Simon gives a short If We Survive This speech, and finally propositions Kaylee. Naturally, Kaylee wants to be sure she understands Simon's polite circumlocutions.
Kaylee: [astonished] You mean to say...sex?
Simon: [deadpan] I mean to say.
Kaylee: To hell with this. [cocks gun] I'm gonna live!
- Robin Hood (2010): Marion and Robin have their Big Damn Kiss in the water between the French warships as Marion bleeds from a wound and the fighting rages on around them.
- In the first Speed film, the protagonists Jack Traven and Annie Porter constantly flirt, with Annie often saying, "Relationships based on traumatic events always end up failing." At the end of the film, Jack repeats the line and Annie replies, "We'll have to base ours on sex, then." He obligingly responds, "Whatever you say, ma'am."
- This is how Ron and Hermione get together in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
- Katniss and Peeta forge their relationship during the actual Hunger Games themselves, actively encouraged by the Gamemakers.
- In the first Amelia Peabody novel, The Crocodile on the Sandbank, Emerson kisses Amelia right before the final battle, "even at the risk of surviving to face the consequences."
- In Vision of the Future Luke proposes to Mara before they know if they could actually escape or not after a life and death battle with nearly indestructible enemies. It is also notable it that it is the rare time in which she is completely honest as she is extremely sarcastic most of the time.
Luke: Mara... Will you Marry me?
Mara: You mean if we get out of here alive.
Luke: I mean regardless.Mara: Yes, I will.
- In Book 2 of The Memory Wars, Nathan and Elena do this while trying to figure out how to deal with their past-life feelings for each other.
Live Action Television
- In a late episode of Get Smart, Max and 99 are caught in death-trap with no apparent means of escape. Thinking they are about to die, Max realizes that he's in love with 99 and declares that if they could get out he'd marry her. She immediately thinks of a way to escape and they get married a few episodes later.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Day of the Moon", the Doctor and River trade flirtatious quips while Amy Pond is held prisoner feet away, and the Silence trying to manipulate the 69 Apollo moon shot. Amy ends up snapping them out of it with a barbed remark.
- Hell, this is the Doctor and River's relationship in a nutshell. They seem to enjoy the fighting/running for their lives as much as the flirting, and even the villain rolls her eyes at their antics.
- Chuck has this with Chuck and Sarah, to a lesser extent when their relationship is still just a cover and more frequently once they finally get together. Notably, Chuck and Sarah's first major quarrel as a couple is aired out while foiling a bank robbery, (actually part of a gambit by Alexei Volkoff to gain access to Chuck's father's files on him). Later, while performing a bank robbery as part of a mission, the two lightheartedly discuss their impending wedding plans, made even funnier with occasional asides to threaten the bank patrons and guards. Being Chuck, these moments are usually played both for laughs and seriously at the same time.
- Farscape frequently makes use of this trope with Crichton and Aeryn. Even before becoming a couple the two, particularly John, would make flirtatious comments during fights. Taken Up to Eleven in the Peacekeeper Wars, where not only are the two married by Stark during the apocalyptic Scarran attack on the planet they're defending, but Aeryn is in the process of giving birth.
- Duirng the second season finale of Nikita this happens with Alex and Sean. He even asks her out seconds before they go after Roan to stop him from blowing up Washington DC. After the fight she passes out before giving an answer.
- A one-sided example in 'Allo 'Allo!. Lieutenant Gruber turns to René just after the two of them escaped an attack by the Communist Resistance, and utters these words that are outwardly innocuous but dripping with subtext:
- Lt. Gruber: René, if it weren't for you, those Communist girls would have shot us out of hand. How can I ever express my gratitude?
- In Metal Gear Solid 4, Johnny admits his crush to Meryl while they're both in the middle of battle, and he even asks her to marry him. Meryl of course comments on his impeccable sense of timing and refuses...and then asks him to marry her instead. Then they share a good kissing in the middle of their assailants' line of fire.
- In the Mass Effect games, the climax of any romance Shepard has developed will occur on the ride towards the final battle, knowing full well that they're heading into the shit. This is taken Up to Eleven in Mass Effect 2 when Shepard and co. are knowingly warping towards a suicide mission.
Ashley: Maybe we can talk about this when we're not ON A GETH DREADNAUGHT!
- In the third game, a romanced Tali and Male Shepard end up flirting heavily throughout the mission aboard the Geth dreadnought, though they do at least keep this to moments where they are not actively being shot at. Eventually it culminates in Shepard and Tali alluding to finding somewhere "louder" for her to sleep when they get back to the Normandy. Depending on who the third squadmate with them, the reaction from Garrus is to snark that they should just Get a Room! already, while Ashley berates them for flirting in the middle of an enemy stronghold.
- Sakazaki Yuuya of Hatoful Boyfriend has such a strong ability to seem relaxed and friendly that as long as things aren't severely going to hell, he'll keep flirting with the threat or his companions. Said companions are less composed or used to danger and tend to be bewildered by his timing, like normal people.