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Interesting Situation Duel
A man with a frying pan versus a horse with a shortsword. Perfectly normal.

"You should know that this is the strangest thing I've ever done!"
Flynn Rider, Tangled, describing the picture to the right

This is a fight that is made interesting by a special location and/or unusual circumstances. Both parties try to use these to their advantage and it looks cool too, so it's a visual and tactical plus for the Spectacle.

The opponent's unusual strengths, weaknesses, or abilities can also make a fight special. May involve Dangerous Terrain. May involve odd or Improvised Weapons on one or both sides.

Subtropes of the Interesting Situation Duel include:


Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • In Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto Akizuki and Kanna fight also by night, in a labyrinth of slightly translucent paper walls, that is illuminated by candelabras. Akizuki has a sword and Kanna has guns.
  • In Ranma 1/2, the Water Citadel is a hollowed-out mountain filled with high-pressure water, which bursts freely from strategically-placed traps such as logs, boulders, and so on. The primary antagonist of the arc, Pantyhose Taro uses Akane as bait to lure Ranma and the others to this mountain. Once there, not only do they have to battle their enemy, but also stay dry as much as possible—for Ranma's Jusenkyo-cursed team, a random splash would turn them into weaker, or helpless, forms, but it would turn Taro himself into a gigantic, massively powerful minotaur chimera.
    • Jusenkyo itself is an unusual battlefield. A "training ground" consisting of hundreds of deep springs, with long stalks of bamboo jutting out for martial artists to stand on... and one false move would send one plunging down into a haunted pond, cursed to become whatever creature first drowned there. Yet despite because of this, Ranma and Genma train here in a flashback.
  • The arenas for the ring battles in Katekyo Hitman Reborn! were set up special for the fight: slowly flooding for the rain battle, Hot lamps and cables for the sun battle, etc.
  • In the third Rebuild of Evangelion movie, Asuka gets to fight the remote-controlled EVA 09 on the outside of a flying spaceship in a vortex of floating pieces of rock (courtesy of Fourth Impact being in process), which involved lots of jumping from rock to rock and entering a freaky-looking Super Mode in mid-jump.
  • One Piece had a few both canon and filler. Enies Lobby arc had Luffy fighting Lucci as the whole island was getting bombed to kindom come. Thriller Bark's final battle was fought with a time limit of the sun about to come up and vaporize those who didn't have a shadow. (Long story). The 4th movie had Luffy fighting the antagonist on a sinking ship with a cyclone bearing down on them. And the 6th movie was all over this with all sorts of bizzare challenges for the Straw Hats.
  • Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z get special mentions for consistantly demolishing the arenas they fight in, whether it be an actual ring or an entire planet. Special mention goes to the fight between Goku and Tien in Dragonball where Tien destroys the ring and the match becomes a fight to see who can stay in the air longer without touching the ground, since falling outside of the ring is an instant loss.
  • The Castle of Cagliostro has the climactic fight in the clocktower. Hero and villain running around, on, and into gears. A sword versus a wrench.
  • Bleach has these quite frequently. A notable example is Ichigo's internal world, which is a skyscraper turned sideways. It's generally the location of his battles with his Enemy Within.
  • In the manga of Full Metal Panic!, at one point Sousuke is captured and forced to fight an enemy mook. The twist? Sosuke is using a basic infantry Arm Slave while his opponent is using a production version of Sousuke's Arbalest. Sousuke manages to win by collapsing a large temple on top of both of them, knowing that the stronger hydraulics on his AS would allow him to dig his way out of the rubble while the Arbalest remained trapped.
  • Serpico lures Guts into a few fights like this in the Berserk manga. First he chooses a cliff where neither can lose their balance without falling and Serpico having the sun in his back, second time he fights under a city in room full of stone-pillars. Both times Serpicos light and quick rapier is actually the favorable choice to Guts' slab of iron he calls a sword, but Guts being the badass he is kind of ignores the downside to his sword and just replaces his disadvantage with fiercer fighting and more strength.
  • Starting around the Hallelujah Land Arc in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, most of the fights have some gimmick or situation our heroes must contend with. From Fighting on bungie cords to brawling on giant robots on an ice rink, they get pretty crazy, but par the course for this show.

Comic Book
  • It might be more difficult to find a comic book battle that didn't invoke this trope.
  • Wallace in Sin City had an intense car chase/gun fight while on a Mushroom Samba. We saw things from his perspective, making it one of the strangest sequences in the series.
  • Howard the Duck subverted this when he is confronted by a costumed villain who wants to fight Howard on a tightrope over a waterfall. For his part, Howard simply refuses to cooperate and the villain's resulting tantrum causes him to fall.

Film
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • The mill fight from the first film, and perhaps the fight in the grotto at the end, with the tactical use of mortality and immortality.
    • The sequel has a fight on top of a waterwheel that takes this to absurd levels.
    • The third film has a battle between two ships during a storm, on a friggin' huge whirlpool! With the crew of both ships dueling on each ship at the same time. With a sword fight taking place on top of one of the cross beams of one of the ships. And the Captain of one ship performing a wedding while swordfighting.
    • In the fourth, Jack fights Angelica, who's dressed up exactly like him in a tavern's storage-room full of barrels, rafters, and trapdoors. Later, he fights several Spanish soldiers in a palm tree grove at night, when he's armed with a coconut on the end of a rope. And wins!
  • For that matter, if you're watching an old school Swashbuckling Pirate movie you can virtually guarantee that at some point the hero will end up fencing his opponent back and forth along the yardarm or down the bowsprit.
  • The final duel in Star Wars Revenge of the Sith between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker Darth Vader ranges from a factory to a module that collapses from lava. And on moving hover pads floating just over the lava. And next to the lava. The planet they are on, Mustafar, is ''full'' of the stuff. To say nothing about the (lack of) intense heat. But hey, they're Jedi.
    • Said duel is probably a Call Forward to the lightsaber duel in The Empire Strikes Back in Cloud City. Notably, both of them have scenes that take place on a narrow catwalk above a rather perilous drop, and in both of them the loser gets at least one of his limbs amputated.
  • Constantly used in Jackie Chan films (and probably many martial artists) and Jackie Chan Adventures. Anything from a room filled with weapons, a construction site, a cliff, or a flying house.
  • In Inception, if a dreamer experiences G-forces in the real world, they experience altered gravity in the dream. So the van flipping over on the upper dream level translates to Arthur fighting thugs on the walls and ceiling of a corridor.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has a bunch of these, but the best is the fight that takes place on top of a bamboo forest - i.e. standing on giant, flexible stems of bamboo.
  • The Living Daylights has a really epic fistfight between James Bond and Necros while both of them are hanging out the back of a cargo plane. In mid-flight. And a time bomb is about to go off...
    • Done again in Die Another Day. Only this time, the plane flies through a solar-powered laser beam and starts to fall apart. And speaking of laser beams, there was another Interesting Situation Duel earlier against The Dragon; Bond and Mr. Kil fight to the death inside a room full of out-of-control laser beams and must dodge the deadly beams while they're in the middle of trying to kill each other.
  • The clifftop duel in The Princess Bride.
    • In the original book, Inigo trained heavily for these to ensure he was Crazy-Prepared for the duel with the man who killed his father.
  • Every Indiana Jones movie has at least one: the flying wing fight in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the rock crusher fight in Temple of Doom, the tank fight in The Last Crusade, and the sword fight on two moving jeeps in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
  • Scaramouche has a swordfight in a theater, fought on the backs of the seats. They started by dueling along the rims of the balconies and finished on the stage.
  • The Adventures of Quentin Durward had the eponymous hero and the villain battle it out in a church tower. Not so interesting? They were swinging from and travelling up and down on the ropes used to ring the bells. The dramatic soundtrack even cuts off right at this fight in order to let the bells be heard better.
  • In Legend of the Drunken Master, there's a fight in a steel mill, but more to the spirit of this trope is a battle in the beginning where a good chunk of it takes place under a house (or something), with lots of narrow wooden pillars that help and hinder both fighters.
  • Gangs of New York has Bill the Butcher and Amsterdam Vallon fighting their climactic duel while New York is being bombarded by cannon fire during the New York Draft Riots of 1863. The final stretch of their fight takes place in the midst of the intense dust the cannon fire has kicked up, visibility reduced to a handful of metres.
  • The fight in the gear room in Hellboy II.
  • In Tangled, Flynn—with a frying pan—duels a horse who has a sword.
    "You should know this is the strangest thing I've ever done!"
  • In Army of Darkness, Ash fights Deadites in a pit of thigh-deep filthy water surrounded by Spikes Of Doom as the walls are closing in.
  • The climax of Equilibrium features a gun duel. It's awesome by virtue of the range being two feet; the combatants fire at each other with pistols while simultaneously trying to hit the other's gun away.
  • The Four Musketeers had a duel on a frozen pond, with all sorts of slippery fun.
  • Kung Fu Panda had the Furious Five fight Tai Lung on a thin rope bridge. When the animators complained that they didn't know how to animate that kind of action sequence, the directors took it as a good sign because it meant that kind of action had never been done before in animation. So, the crew persevered and one of the wildest fights in the wuxia genre was created.
  • The climactic, several dimension spanning Sword Fight in Waxwork II Lost In Time.
  • Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines features a duel based on the Real Life balloon duel mentioned below.
    "Choose your weapon."
    "Balloons. ...And blunderbusses!"
  • In The One, Jet Li fights his ending battle with Jet Li in a labyrinthine factory with pipes, catwalks, and volatile machinery. Near the end, Jet Li kicks Jet Li into a running machine that starts raining sparks everywhere, leading to a variation on a Battle in the Rain scene where they fight in slow-motion as sparks fall amongst them.

Literature
  • In the first Gormenghast book, Flay and Swelter have it out nightly on an attic that is a Cobweb Jungle and is slowly flooding from a thunderstorm taking place at the same time. Flay is thin like a stock, Swelter fat like a pig.
  • In the book Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures, a fencing master has a garden built specifically to accommodate these kinds of duels.
  • Pick a Matthew Reilly book. Any Matthew Reilly book. ...okay, we'll make it interesting and not count the fights that take place on a moving car/truck/train/boat/airplane, which narrows it down from the hundreds to the dozens. Of note is:
    • Hand-to-hand fighting in a multi-level pitch-black ice station that's full of hydroflurocarbons.
      • The fluorocarbons mean any gunfire will blow the place sky high. The ranged weapons are crossbows and grappling hooks.
    • Fighting in the water while being attacked by killer whales (or sharks, 'cause that's also happened).
    • Fighting on an aircraft carrier while it's being attacked by a badass stealth plane/exploding from the inside out, Death Star style.
  • During the climactic fight between Drizzt and Artemis Entreri inside of Cryshal-Tirith in The Silent Blade, Jarlaxle uses his power over Crenishinibon to create a room filled with staircases, platforms, and obstacles specifically so that the fight would be more interesting to watch, since strategy and cunning would be more likely to come into play.
  • In Snow Crash there's a fight with some interesting conditions during the waning days of World War II. An American prisoner of war (Hiro's father) in Japan is caught during an escape attempt by a one-legged Japanese lieutenant with a samurai sword. However, they're just outside Nagasaki, and as the lieutenant is about to execute the American, the atomic bomb drops. The American shields his eyes; the lieutenant isn't so lucky.
    Hiro: It was a half-blind, one-legged samurai with a katana versus a big strong healthy man with his arms tied behind his back. A pretty interesting fight. A pretty fair one. My father won.
  • In A Confusion of Princes, Khemri's duel with Atalin takes place in a simulation of a snowy mountaintop.

Live-Action TV
  • The Taiwanese Cop Show Black And White has a weaponless fight in a moving tram where both opponents (and all the passengers) are high. The scenes alternate between normal and the twisted, wobbly perspective of the fighters.
  • Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain features a duel which takes place: while sledding down a mountain during an avalanche, upside-down inside a construction scaffold, and while hanging from the remaints of an inevitably-demolished rope bridge.
  • The Horatio Hornblower TV movie "Loyalty" had a young Irish midshipman fighting The Mole, Captain Hammond, on a beach amidst a pitched battle between British and French Republican forces. The Mole wins the fight handily, but the midshipman escapes to fight another day.
    • In the same battle, Styles ends up catching up with the other mole, who had him framed for negligence aboard the Hotspur, and uses his belt to whip his opponent repeatedly amidst the fighting.

Professional Wrestling

Tabletop RPGs

Theater
  • The central concept of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Grand Duke, or, The Statutory Duel. Under the law of Pfennig-Halbpfennig
    By this ingenious law
    When any two shall quarrel
    They may not fight with falchions bright,
    Which seemed to him immoral.
    But each a card shall draw,
    And he who draws the lowest
    Or, so 'tis said, is henceforth dead,
    In fact, a legal ghoest.

Video Games
  • Nearly every level in Power Stone and its sequel is comprised of one of these.
  • Half of the stages in the Super Smash Bros. series. Special mentions go to: The PokéFloats stage (Melee); the Brinstar Depths, in which Kraid slashes at the stage with his claws, making the entire thing spin (Melee); Big Blue (Melee and Brawl); and the Pikmin world, in which you fight on top of a Bulbax while it's trying to eat you (Brawl).
  • Half of the stages in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up as well, which even includes the moving train.
  • The action/fighting arcade game The Outfoxies. Stages include a moving train, a boat on a stormy ocean and a plane in mid-flight. Two other stages (an aquarium and a skyscraper) are relatively normal... until bombs start going off, altering your surroundings.
  • Bayonetta has a lot of this. Standouts include two fights on pieces of buildings plummeting to the ground, multiple fights taking place inside explosions, a fight on the ocean involving you surfing on a piece of a downed aircraft (and, near the end, a whirlpool), and a battle with The Rival that jumps from the top of a building to the side of a building to on a fucking MISSILE.
  • Kingdom Hearts II has a few of these, most notably in the ending battle, where Sora & co. fight Xemnas on a flying motorcycle-thing, in space, on the side of a skyscraper and in the literal manifestation of nothingness.
    • Also of note: Roxas vs. Axel at the end of the (very long) prologue. Axel with a pair of gaint flaming chakrams, Roxas being the first person to ever Dual Wield Keyblades, fighting inside a ring of fire and occasionally on the ring of fire. Also the floor sometimes turns into lava, which has to be dispelled by hurling a column of light at the ground. It's that kind of fight.
  • The second and third Uncharted games feature fights against GiantMooks and bosses in all kinds of interesting situations. Like, say, on the roof of a speeding train (and later, a speeding truck) as it climbs the Himalayas. Or in the corridors of a hijacked cruise ship while it flips, floods and sinks. Or on the cargo ramp of a plane while it flies over the Rub'al Kahli Desert. Or inside that same plane while it's being torn apart by sudden depressurisation and random explosions. Or on a stone bridge in an ancient city that's slowly being consumed by a giant vortex of quicksand.
    • All situations can be neatly summed up by Nate in the second game, who is busy avoiding fire from a helicopter while battling many mooks on his way up the train.
    Nate: Don't you assholes see the helicopter?! I got enough problems.
  • Deadly Premonition has Thomas, who at this point is thought to be the killer but is really just a minion, stand on a gear in a clock tower, and get into a gunfight with Emily, while using a hook as a means of fighting her. Did we mention Thomas is wearing a dress while shouting derogatory insults?
  • Donkey Kong Jungle Beat has, as the game progresses, a battle in the branches of trees, one on a log floating down a river, a battle in the rain and a fight on top of a meteor burning up in a planet's atmosphere.
  • It's hard to imagine a battle quite as interesting as the Franzea stage in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, which mashes up the world of Loco Roco with Metal Gear. Think about that for a second.

Web Comics
  • In Juathuur, Soveshei and Rowasu duel on top of a tower, because fighting is forbidden inside the building.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, the titular Doctor fights Dracula in a mirror maze within his secret moon base. Doesn't sound particularly inspired until you're reminded that Dracula casts no reflection. Although Dracula's robot double does.
  • Goblins is very fond of these. Examples include: A fight on a platform hung by only two ropes, meaning that it could tip and send everything on it plunging to their deaths, that is ALSO swinging back and forth in another direction; a fight on top of an uprooted sacrificial totem pole that is sliding down a hill towards a cliff; a pair of fights against rock golemns with colored tags on them, where pulling one of the tags causes the tiles of that color to drop out from under your opponents; a fight in a room with a little hole in one of the walls that, when you put stuff in it, is replicated at mountainous size nearby; a fight in a corridor filled with zombies and holes that will make you never have existed if you fall into them; a fight in a room full of upside down trees that grow larger and downward when they're damaged; and many more. The author once lampshaded it in a blog post, before showing the real-life location that was going to be the site for the next one of these (it was a pretty little stream with a waterfall.).

Web Original
  • In Death Battle, this is subverted. During the fight between Justin Beiber and Rebecca Black, the fight moves to the top of a train, and the combatants just stare at each other for several seconds before Justin simply punches Rebecca off the train.
  • Red vs. Blue: Revelation features a fight in a storage room full of teleporters and explosives in Chapter 10 and on top of a glacier rigged with explosives in Chapter 19.
    • Episode 19 of Season Ten features a fight between Tex and Carolina in zero gravity aboard a spaceship falling uncontrolled through the atmosphere of a planet.
  • Dead Fantasy has one of these in almost every episode. They fight on moving surfaces, swinging blocks of stone, and even while falling down the side of a building.
  • Chaka's fall term combat final in the Whateley Universe. Chaka faces a giant, a brick, and a wizard/inventor in the middle of an earthquake and a tornado. She proceeds to use the tornado as a weapon.

Western Animation
  • Fly Me to the Moon has a battle between flies inside of a computer at launch control during a space mission! (And one of the flies is fighting with burning matches!)
  • Pretty much every episode of Xiaolin Showdown. The titular showdowns, in fact, automatically make the areas they take place in more interesting than they would be otherwise.
  • The Teen Titans episode "X" has Robin fighting his Evil Counterpart, Red X, as they both make their way through an elaborate security system involving loads and loads of laser beams. Then they have a rematch in "Revved Up" where they fight each other while riding motorcycles and chasing after another supervillain who keeps throwing obstacles in their path.
  • In the spirit of wuxia, Avatar: The Last Airbender has a ton of these. Some notable examples are the duel between Aang and Jet (fought in the treetops) and the first one between Aang and Azula (fought while they are both riding in carts down the chutes of the Omashu mail delivery system).

Real Life
  • In Ernst von Salomon's FRAGEBOGEN, he relates an incident from his service in Oberschlesien with a student freikorps, full of characters who thought they were still back in Heidelberg or wherever. One of these introduced himself as a "stud.math". "Yes, you look like one." A moment later, another university type comes to announce that his friend was greatly insulted, and would the Herr name his weapon? So Ernst, an artillerist who did not know one end of a sword from the other, chose heavy mine throwers. (Apparently something almost, but not quite, unlike a mortar.) Amid consternation, a special court of honor convened, and ruled that all Affairs must be postponed for the duration. Of course, afterward, they could not get hold of two heavy mine throwers.
  • According to this Smithsonian article, which informs us that "[i]n 1808, two Frenchmen fought in balloons over Paris," and "thirty-five years later, two others tried to settle their differences by skulling each other with billiard balls." Incidentally, during the balloon duel, the winner killed his opponent by shooting the canopy, causing the loser's balloon to crash fatally.
  • This Cracked.com article describes both the balloon and billiard balls incidents, as well as a naked duel and several other strange duels.
  • Organizers of gladiator fights back in Ancient Rome would keep things fresh by setting up specialty matches, like females vs. dwarves, groups of children vs one man, or regular gladiators who fought with completely blacked-out visors.

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