Two adversaries are locked in brutal combat, and the tension is thick enough to cut with a knife. Naturally, the writers grab a knife and cut it.
In the midst of combat, the fighting will suddenly stop. All parties involved will turn around, take a few deep breaths, then turn around and simultaneously resume fighting. Occasionally, the fighters will resort to something more nonsensical during the break, such as fixing their hair or yelling at a friend/sibling/teammate. A common cause is when a character crosses a joke version of This Is Unforgivable- usually through burning a hole in the opponent's favorite jacket, a chopping off a chunk of hair, or, well... In those cases, the tea break takes the form of a "Dude, why did you do that?" (or, in the protagonist's case, "What the Hell, Hero??") Bonus points if the hero and the opponent do something fun together as part of the tea break.
As for the initiation of the tea break, one party may call a time out or some variant thereof ("Hold on just a second."). If the tea break takes place in the middle of a Montage battle (especially parts of battles that are just a sequence of stills), expect the tea break to appear completely randomly and then end just as quickly.
Obviously a comedy trope. A Combat Pragmatist may grab a weapon or heal himself during such a break and launch an attack before the opponent realizes the break is over. See Anticlimax, where the fighting never resumes, and Inaction Sequence, where a break in the fighting isn't for comedic purposes. See also Uncomfortable Elevator Moment, which can be a variation.
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Anime and Manga
Kenshin and Soujiro pause during their second fight in Rurouni Kenshin so Soujiro can get a new sword (which Kenshin broke earlier) and change his sandals, while Kenshin bandages himself up. Then they promptly resume fighting. Lampshaded by the other characters watching this as being bizarre. NotPlayed for Laughs, as the interlude marks the turning point of the fight by revealing Soujiro's Freudian Excuse for being a Stepford Smiler.
Played with in the first season of Slayers. Rezo's clone has been unstoppable the last few episodes, having absorbed the demon Zanaffar into himself. Lina has been critically injured, and Sylphiel has retreated with her in order to heal her. Meanwhile, the rest of the party are fighting a desperate holding action against Rezo until Lina can recover. Right about then, Prince Phil, Amelia's father and designated comic relief, shows up on a horse and proceeds to make a wonderful mess of things. Gourry protests, but Zelgadis simply puts a hand on his shoulder and tells him they can't let the show get too serious.
In Naruto, during his fight with Kimimaro, Rock Lee calls for a break to allow him to take his medicine. Hilariously, he does this just as Kimimaro is about to kill him. (As it turns out, the 'medicine' was actually sake, and the inebriated Genin proceeds to wipe the floor with his opponent.)
In a rare non-comedic example, in Mahou Sensei Negima!, Fate demonstrates his Reality Warper powers by causing he and Rakan to go from being in a deadly battle to a high-class tea party in the blink of an eye. He then tries to tell Rakan that he is completely unbeatable and that Rakan should really stop trying. Rakan... does not stop trying.
Strangely averted in Umineko No Naku Koro Ni, as we have in one scene the last of the survivors about to meet their fate, when it suddenly cuts to a tea party with no explanation how they got there. Then it tells us that that was the end of the Episode and everyone was in Purgatory. It happens again in a later Episode but with different characters. Doesn't help that there's no reveal to who's the culprit in any of these scenes.
Played for Drama in an issue of Black Panther, where one of the rules for tribal duels is that opponents get a break from combat whenever either of them requests it.
The Ren and Stimpy comic book once did a story about Ren becoming Dogzilla and then fighting a giant hairball monster. During the fight, they stop for a lunch break.
Not exactly "fun," but in an old Mickey Mouse comic, Mickey and a sword-toting foe realized in mid-fight that they had each taken severe Clothing Damage (sufficient for us to tell that Mickey isn't anatomically correct.) They stood still in shock for a moment, then rushed to the nearest two barrels.
Astérix in Britain had the Britons observe Afternoon Tea religiously enough that they stop in the middle of battles for a tea break. However until Asterix introduces the leaf in question, they only drink hot sweet water. Julius Caesar, military genius that he is, responds to this and their habit of taking two-day weekends with the highly effective, albeit terribly unsporting, tactic of beginning his attacks at mid-afternoon and on weekends.
Done randomly and hilariously in Hack/Slash short comic "Deadbeats".
Film - Animated
In Snoopy Come Home, Snoopy suddenly takes a break from fighting Lucy by prepping himself up before fighting her again.
In The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Gromit and Philip are fighting in a bumper car that suddenly stops working. They stop fighting to insert some more change, then they resume fighting as soon as the car starts working again.
In The Aristocats while a fight is happening, Roquefort the mouse tries to crack a lock on a chest. He yells for everyone to be quiet so he can concentrate and everyone holds perfectly still. The fight continues the second he unlocks it.
Film - Live Action
In the film of Bridget Jones's Diary, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth briefly suspend their fist fight in a restaurant to join in a chorus of 'Happy Birthday.'
The short film A Gentlemans Duel features the two titular gentlemen pausing to enjoy an actual afternoon tea party... under the shade of their steam-powerHumongous Mecha. Which are frozen in the position they were in when the bell rang. And a bird perches on the spot where one mecha is about to punch the other...
Hot Shots!: Part Deux has the shadows of President Benson and Saddam Hussein continue Flynning in the background while the actors towel themselves off and exchange drinks in a break.
Earlier, Topper and Saddam are sword-fighting - well, Saddam's using a sword, Topper is using a phone with an extended metal antenna - when the phone rings, and Saddam obliges while Topper answers the phone, finds out it's Saddam's wife on the line (Hillary Rodham Hussein), and then lies to her to cover for Saddam. Makes sense, it's Saddam's phone, after all.
Robin Hood: Men in Tights also had have Robin and the Sheriff playing with shadow puppets in the middle of their final fight.
In the Borat movie's famous... birthday suit scene... the angry fight stops as both characters wait awkwardly in an elevator with a woman. Once they leave the elevator, the violence starts again.
Casino Royale 1967 - there's a bit of background business at Q Branch where a prisoner is being brutally beaten in an interrogation...the tea cart comes around moments later and he's amicably drinking with his interrogators.
In the new Sherlock Holmes movie, twice in the same brawl first Sherlock and then the other guy ask (and are granted) a second to catch his breath and get his bearings.
The Princess Bride has a variant. Wesley wears himself out just climbing up to where Inigo Montoya is waiting for him, so Inigo (who wants to defeat Wesley in a fair fight) politely waits for him to catch his breath before their fight, and they have a chat about Inigo's origin story.
During a long brawl in The Quiet Man Thornton and Danaher end up in a bar where they stop to have a shot of whiskey and each politely offers to pick up the tab. This soon turns into an argument and they end up fighting again.
The epic Schwartz duel between Lone Starr and Dark Helmet near the end of Spaceballs has a couple of these - first, when they get their Schwartzes tangled up and have to work together to separate them, and second, when Helmet stops to apologize for killing a member of the camera crew.
Oddball takes one of these during the final battle of Kelly's Heroes when his tank breaks down.
Used in the lesser-known sequel to The Pilgrim's Progress, when Great-Heart fights the giant, Maul. Both combatants tire after a while, and take an hour-long break before resuming.
Used seriously in David EddingsThe Sapphire Rose, the final book of The Elenium. Sparhawk and Martel agree to a quick breather in the middle of their fight to the death. In this case it is said that this is a formal tradition in a duel, whose rules they are both honoring.
Also played straight in Eric Flint/David Drake's Belisarius novel Fortune's Stroke:
In the tales of bards, and the lays of poets, truth takes on a rosy tinge. More than a tinge, actually. The reality of a single combat between two great warriors becomes something purely legendary.
There is little place, in legends, for sweat. Even less for thirst and exhaustion. And none at all for urination.
But the fact remains that two men do not battle each other, for hours, without rest. Not even if they were fighting half-naked, with bare hands - much less encumbered by heavy armor and wielding swords. Single combat between champions, other than a glancing encounter in the midst of battle, is by nature a formal affair. And, like most formalities, has a practical core at the center of its rituals.
The softness did not last. I have seen something like this happen in a battle. A man was coming at me, I at him, to kill. Then came a sudden great gust of wind that wrapped our cloaks over our swords and almost over our eyes, so that we could do nothing to one another but must fight the wind itself. And that ridiculous contention, so foreign to the business we were on, set us both laughing, face to face—friends for a moment—and then at once enemies again and forever.
In one of The Icelandic Sagas, a fight to the death is put on hold so one guy can tie his jacket around his belly after a wound made his guts spill out.
Troubled Range by J.T. Edson features an epic Cat Fight beyween Calamity Jane and Belle Starr. In the middle of it, the two combatants break off, stagger to the bar, down a drink, and then start waling on each other again.
Live Action TV
Played with in The Aquabats Super Show episode "ManAnt!". While ManAnt's goons are beating up everyone but the MC Bat Commander, the Commander stops to look at some grilled chicken. "It's like no one wants me to eat! I'm starving, okay?!"
And then Jimmy the Robot fires a buttermint at the Commander, after which ManAnt lampshades the trope: "What is this, a kindergarten snack break?!"
In one episode of Frasier, Niles and his opponent take a brief break when one of them smashes a vase during their sword fight.
On How I Met Your Mother, Marshall and Lily have been known to do "time outs" during their (verbal) fights to have sex or do something else more fun.
Monty Python's Flying Circus: In the bookshop sketch, shortly after the evil Diabolical Mastermind makes his dramatic entrance, the hero observes that it's lunch hour. Everyone walks off for a lunch break except the hero, who uses the time to gain a decisive advantage.
Get Smart: At a hospital, Max, Chief and Larabee were fighting three KAOS agents. At some point, a member of the hospital staff informed Max that his wife gave birth to a boy. The fight was then interrupted so his allies and his enemies would congratulated him. A similar interruption happened soon after as Max was informed about his daughter's birth. (99 gave birth to twins).
An episode of Kids in the Hall did something similar with a police chase— when the criminal's car runs out of gas, both criminal and cop pull into a gas station to fuel up. While pumping, they glare at each other but the cops do nothing to arrest the criminal. At the end of the skit, the criminal gets past the border without getting caught.
The Far Side: "The battle came to an abrupt halt as both sides waited for the hornet to calm down."
A semi-example (in that the fight doesn't resume) occurs in Super Smash Bros Brawl. In one cutscene from "The Subspace Emissary", Sheik smashes Fox's Arwing, forcing him to bail. The two then land, and charge at each other, only for Peach to stop them in order to hand out cups of tea.
In Sid & Al's Incredible Toons/The Incredible Toon Machine, one of your usable parts is a lunch whistle. Assuming they're in a condition to stop what they're doing, pulling the whistle stops all Sids and Als currently in the machine for a lunch break, even if Sid's being actively chased by Al. Sid's lunch is a gigantic sandwich, Al's is a proper tea break, complete with tea cart and crumpets.
Invoked in Radiant Historia. The most plentiful MP restoration item is Herbal Tea.
The superhero battle royale crashes across the metropolis! Skyscrapers crumble! Buses are crushed! Quick break for lunch. Then back to the fury!
In thisSkin Horse Tip and Konstantin put their traditional Russian mud-wrestling on hold in order to sort out Konstantin's inadequacy issues in light of the recent union crisis. None of the living women are impressed. Comedic Sociopath Unity is still completely turned on.
Unity: Hot! All peacefully working out their differences and crud. I don't get why they're not beating each other up. It scares me but I can't look away.
In this strip of Flaky Pastry, Zintiel and Mona put their fighting on hold to take a breather and have some drinks.
In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Dan and an astronaut are attacked by a demon riding a fearsome dragon-goat! The astronaut is incinerated by the beast's flaming nasal exhalations! And then the demon/monster pair leaves because it's lunchtime, allowing Dan to escape and figure out how to kill them.
Occurs in Im A Marvel And Im ADC's "After Hours" special, when Lex Luthor and Dr. Doom halt their shock battle to pant from exhaustion.
A variation occurs in the Rooster Teeth short "Paper Cut." Joel and Matt have been running around town screaming because of their head injuries, only to take a break in an elevator, before resuming running and screaming.
The short film A Gentleman's Duel features the two titular gentlemen pausing to enjoy an actual afternoon tea party... under the shade of their steam-powerHumongous Mecha. Which are frozen in the position they were in when the bell rang. And a bird perches on the spot where one mecha is about to punch the other...
The first brawl also had a moment where the Critic was pushed into a pile of boxes, yelled at the Nerd for keeping boxes around, and the feud devolved into them name-calling and firing F-bombs at each other for about 30 seconds straight.
The Fairly Odd Parents: Abra-Catastrophe: The ex-Trope Namer. Cosmo's fight with Crocker is a sequence of stills. One of the stills randomly features Crocker, Cosmo, Wanda, and Timmy sharing tea with an oddly Sugar Bowl background.
In the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "The Fry Cook Games", Mr. Krabs and his arch-rival Plankton spot each other from across the stadium and stalk menacingly towards each other. The camera jumps from one to the other repeatedly... until the two suddenly break out into a brief tap-dance routine, which turns into Krabs playing piano while Plankon plays a tuba. Because Plankton loves messing things up.
In the same episode while Spongebob and Patrick are doing a quick montage of events against each other, right before the Bun Wrestling match, they're briefly seen dancing in Carmen Miranda costumes.
Kim and Shego both have a cold. They both stop in the middle of a fight to sneeze a few times, and immediately start fighting again. They've stopped to snark back and forth about Ron and Drakken, to briefly conversing with each other about Drakken's lastest Idiot Plot to his becoming Genre Savvy.
Season Four: while Kim and Shego fight each other in San Francisco, Ron circles around the block driving Kim's car, and informs Kim that he can't find a parking space. Meanwhile, Señor Senior Junior is having the same problem parking the car he and Shego arrived in.
Shego: You too, huh?
Kim: Yeah, what's with this town?
In the Wolf and Sheepdog cartoons, the lunch whistle would frequently go off just when Sam the Sheepdog was about to pummel Ralph Wolf. They would have their lunch, talk and smoke together. The when the lunch whistle went off again they would resume the beating with Ralph sometimes even putting his neck back into Sam's grip.
In "The Old Grey Hare", a chase between Baby Elmer and Baby Bugs Bunny is briefly interrupted for naptime.
A very long version happens in in one of the Peter vs. Ernie the Chicken fights. They pause to wonder what they were fighting about, apologize to each other, and Ernie takes Peter to dinner with his wife. Only when both refuse to let the other pick up the check do they continue to fight.
There's the textbook example in "Ready, Willing And Disabled": while fighting during the night over the money, Meg, Chris and Stewie are occasionally seen only while there's lightning. During one of those frames, they're wearing traditional British clothes as they just calmly stand next to each other.
When Stewie and Bertram swordfight on the playground in "Sibling Rivalry", they both stop the fight when they reach the slide, slide down it complete with "wheeeeee" and then go back to fighting.
In Phineas And Ferb, the titular characters are driving cattle through a mall, and everyone (including every last bovine) stops at the food court to eat something before resuming. Yes, this even interrupts a musical number.
In The Grim Adventures Of Billy And Mandy, while Grim, Billy, Mandy, and Irwin are racing against the Boogie Man and his pirate crew for possession of Horror's Hand, both parties stop in the middle of the race to eat lunch. Though in this case, taking a picnic break was described as part of the race itself when the deadly course was initially being laid out.
Semi-example: in the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "Invisible Muriel", a bunch of commandos bursts into the room and proceeds to make exciting action poses, when suddenly all their watches ring. They stop, proceed to eat breakfast, then go back to their routine.
An Animaniacs episode features the Brain trying to cause an everlasting one of these after watching one in the middle of the arrest of the Hyde Park monster, trying to take over England by making the Big Ben stop during tea time.
One animated film version of Around the World in Eighty Days has the villain's plan revolving around the knowledge that Fogg would interrupt anything, even a chase scene, if offered a tea break.
In a one-hour episode of My Gym Partners A Monkey during the fight between Adam and Jake at the beginning, there's one point where they suddenly begin holding hands and skipping together, then later begin playing chess.
In "Dan Vs The Wolfman," after Dan's brass knuckles get confiscated by a police officer, he goes on an angry rant while tearing apart the police station room. He then proclaims that he's going to "confiscate some water" out of a water cooler. He fills up a cup, drinks it and smiles with a "ding" sound effect before getting angry again.
In The Powerpuff GirlsWhat A Cartoon! short "Meat Fuzzy Lumpkins', during Bubbles' No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Fuzzy for her meat hair, there's a bit where Fuzzy is walking cheerfully down the sidewalk and gets tripped by Bubbles.
The Danger Mouse episode "Ee-Tea!" starts off with our heroes having traditional tea. It ends with Colonel K ordering Miss Boathook to get the cups out after a tidal wave of tea floods his office.
The Snooper and Blabber cartoon "The Lion Is Busy" has a chase scene interrupted briefly so Snagglepuss and the Major can have tea.
Porky's Road Race (Tashlin, 1936) has the four occupants of the Cheerio Special noticing it's 4:00, so they drink a cup of tea while driving ("Pip pip! Cheerio!")
Invoked and Defied in the Chowder episode "Big Ball". Mung and Truffles and their teams are fighting when the horn sounds for "official tea-break time". Unfortunately, while Mung and his team are drinking tea, Truffles uses the opportunity to score a goal.
According to legend, a pointless but brutal war in medieval Brussels was ended when a little boy who had been separated from his parents wound up high on a building and relieved himself all over the combatants below. Everyone started laughing, and kept laughing, and then realized they weren't fighting any more and didn't want to start again. The war was over, and the toddler was hailed as a hero. The "peeing boy" is commemorated with a statue that stands in Brussels to this day. If he ever existed, his name is lost to time, so the statue is called (roughly translated) "Li'l Pissin' Boy". Classy.
This is standard behaviour for the British Army whenever they're not in combat, routine camp duties or marching somewhere. British armoured vehicles are even equipped with a "boiling vessel" so they can brew tea and heat field rations on the move. Putting a wet on (or brew if you're so inclined) is a routine camp duty.
In WWII, they tried to brew up after landing on the beaches on D-Day. The Germans were most a bit bemused, but didn't stop to observe the break.
The Brits did it again in the Falklands. Trapped between the ocean and a brutal artillery barrage, the British grunts decided to put the kettle on while the ruperts were figuring out what to do. In an understated way this is Badass.
Some Yanomamo tribes of the Amazon tie their... man-bits up with a cord that fastens around the waist. Even if two men are involved in mortal combat, if one's cord comes undone both parties will stop everything and wait until he's fixed it before resuming the fight.
Cats are well known for pausing fights with each other or toys to get in some much needed grooming, only to go back to fighting once they're done.