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Wake Up Fighting
aka: Rude Awakening
To prove how aware/crazy/focused a movie character is, a friend will wake the sleeping character. The character will instantly, ferociously, leap up from a deep sleep and pull a knife/gun or kung-fu choke hold on his friend, before apologizing for almost killing him.
Roger Ebert's Movie Glossary

Basically, a character wakes up violently, drawing any weapons or techniques in the process.

Compare Ring... Ring... CRUNCH, Instant Waking Skills. For a similar reaction from someone who is awake, but taken by surprise, see Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Hunny in Ouran High School Host Club does this a few times.
  • Happens in Gunsmith Cats, in the hospital: a mook is trying to plant a bomb under Rally's pillow (where she also kept her gun), Rally instantly snaps to alertness and shoots the mook. Mook runs off and jumps into his car. Rally notices the bomb and tosses it out the window... onto the mook's car. And we later learn through all this, she wasn't even fully awake.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin Trust & Betrayal Tomoe drapes a sleeping Kenshin, who at this point in his life is an assassin who sleeps sitting up with his sword held to him, in a blanket. She gets a katana drawn and placed inches from her neck for her trouble, but as soon as Kenshin realizes who it actually is he immediately stops and shoves her away.

    Comicbooks 
  • When Cook wakes up Jason in Jason vs. Leatherface after the night when he is accepted into the Sawyer household, he instictually grabs him by throat.
  • In both the Marvel-616 and Ultimate Universes, Captain America goes on the offensive as soon as he's defrosted from the block of ice where he was discovered.

    Film 
  • Gladiator: Maximus wakes up armed with a small dagger in his hand.
  • X-Men:
    • Wolverine does this to Rogue in X-Men, however goes too far and instinctively stabs her in the chest.
    • And again, repeatedly, in The Wolverine. Fortunately this time without inadvertent stabbings.
  • Overlapping with Catapult Nightmare, Aragorn in the movie version of The Lord of the Rings.
  • Happens in the closing scene of Dressed to Kill.
  • Kyle Reese in The Terminator wakes up from a nightmare and reflexively grabs for his rifle.
  • Lieutenant A.K. Waters (Bruce Willis) in Tears of the Sun is awakened by a subordinate while in the middle of a nightmare. He instantly grabs his pistol, take off the safety and point at his target, all in under a second.

    Literature 
  • In Alex Garland's novel The Beach, one character talks in a very pissed off manner about a time when another character was nodding off to sleep. There came a slight noise in the bushes, and he leapt up with his knife.
    "He wanted me to see how fucking alert he was."
  • In Harry Potter, Harry warns Ron against visiting Moody first thing in the morning, for fear that Moody will respond this way.
  • In The Hunger Games, Haymitch often sleeps with a knife in his hand, due to his experiences in the Games.
  • Tortall Universe
    • Aly of Daughter of the Lioness tends to leap up with knives in hand when woken up unexpectedly.
    • In Provost's Dog, Beka's mage friend Kora takes to being woken up by throwing a fireball.
  • Most characters react this way in the brief moment between waking up and being awake enough to think properly. In The Colour of Magic Hrun the Barbarian is apparently so used to people trying to kill him in his sleep that he reacts before he wakes up:
    Hrun made a glubbing noise, turned over, and slept on.
    With a careful movement, as though handling some instrument of rare delicacy, the woman drew a slim black dagger from her belt and stabbed downward.
    Before it was halfway through its arc Hrun's right hand moved so fast that it appeared to travel between two points in space without at any time occupying the intervening air. It closed around the woman's wrist with a dull smack. His other hand groped feverishly for a sword that wasn't there ...
    Hrun awoke.
    'Gngh?' he said, looking up at the woman with a puzzled frown.
  • At least one of Redwall's Badger Lords has done this. One of his hares had come in to wake him, right as he reached the end of a nightmare about his sworn enemy. The result was a Catapult Nightmare complete with a battle cry and a sword hacked straight through a shield. The hare was unhurt, but shocked.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Between Planets the teenage protagonist demonstrates his development with his time with Venusian guerrillas by waking instantly with a knife in his hands when the company runner looking for him taps sharply on the support rope of his hammock.
  • Played for Drama in The Children of Húrin, where the anti-hero Turin Turambar fails to stop in time and kills his friend this way.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Doctor Who story "Image of the Fendahl", the Doctor wakes his companion Leela and she pulls her knife on him. She wouldn't normally overreact that badly, but she'd been having nightmares because of the baleful influence of the Fendahl.
  • Parodied in 30 Rock. Tracy warns Liz that he has Bad Dreams, but not to wake him or he will attack her.
    • In another episode, the writers get Kenneth to prank a sleeping Lutz by waking him up while wearing a gorilla mask. They underestimate the violence of his reaction — his first reaction is to punch Ken hard in the face, and his second is to grab a nearby golf club — and by the time they (eventually) break them up, Lutz is throttling Kenneth with the shaft of the club.
  • When alarmed, NCIS's Tony, Ziva, and Gibbs have all been shown to leap for a weapon/punch.
  • A sitcom thirty or forty years ago had a commando veteran visit the main character's place on a date. Unfortunately, he'd just had to spend an unusually long time without sleep, so he kept dozing off just sitting there — and every time she tried to rouse him, he'd come awake frantically lashing out with karate and destroy another piece of furniture....
  • Happened to Duncan once in Highlander 'Forgive Us Our Trespasses''. Duncan was having problems with an old enemy who saw him as a mass killer for things that happened during the Scottish rebellions in the 18th century. Duncan had nightmares and woke up struggling and punching until Amanda calmed him down.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • According to The Unfinished Spelling Errors Of Bolkien, this is so common in Rohan, the morning buglers have learned to just run away after playing a single note, lest they get hacked to bits by the troops they just woke up.

    Video Games 
  • If the player chose the High Chaos path from the Old Save Bonus in Dishonored: The Brigmore Witches, a scene which has Daud grabbing one his underlings by the throat as he is waken up is shown.

    Webcomics 
  • This is the reason no one tries to wake up Bun-bun in Sluggy Freelance.
  • In Commander Kitty, the first thing that Nin Wah's android clone does upon waking is punch CK in the face.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, sidekick Gordito is afraid of waking up Dr. McNinja for this very reason.
    • Gordito himself is often subjected to literal rude awakenings; the Doc only seems to drop him off at his parents' house when he's asleep, leaving him to wake up startled in strange and often dangerous conditions.
    • The doctor himself admits he doesn't just wake up fighting, he defends himself in his sleep.
    • VERY justified in the case of Dr. McNinja. His parents did 'sneak attack' training sessions.
  • Richard Stallman in xkcd takes a pair of katanas from under his bed and fights off Microsoft's agents who try to kill him. After this comic came out, some fans bought him a Katana.

    Western Animation 


Vorpal PillowSleep and Wakefulness TropesWake Up Make Up

alternative title(s): Rude Awakening
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