aka: Sissy Fight
Fight Scene where the combatants have no fighting skill whatsoever, usually played for laughs, and often in slow-mo, for additional comedy. Especially silly versions may consist of nothing but the two characters standing at arm's length and flailing their hands at each other. They may also have their faces averted, which protects them from the minute chance of their foe getting a hit in on their face, but also prevents them from aiming whatsoever. This is almost invariably harmless. This can also be played dramatically: when two combatants have no skill, no finesse, nothing but a determination to kill each other by any means possible, it can make for a more realistic and compelling fight scene than the most choreographed kung-fu. Compare What the Fu Are You Doing?, Fight Scene Failure, and I Know Kung-Faux. See also Combat Breakdown, when an initially-skilful fight devolves into this after going on too long. A Catfight can be this, but isn't if the women involved are Action Girls. A Designated Girl Fight, however, is never this trope, as by definition, at least one combatant is an Action Girl.
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Anime & Manga
- Nanoha's very first befriending in the original Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, which she did way back in kindergarten, long before she gained any magical abilities. After the initial slap, it quickly degenerated into two little girls tugging and pushing at one another. In this case, it's played for adorable.
- In a very early episode, both Ash and his opponent try to battle using Metapod, a cocoon Pokémon that's pretty much incapable of attacking. Both Metapod just sit there and harden their shells while Misty and Pikachu relax and catch some sun.
- Subverted earlier in the episode when Metapod is able to beat a Pinsir only using Harden.
- Amusingly averted in a Johto episode, where Gym Leader Bugsy uses a kung-fu Metapod, much to Ash's surprise.
- Ash's Scraggy vs. Iris's Axew, both are very young and don't have much battling experience. Once Axew masters Dragon Rage, he defeats Scraggy with it two episodes later.
- In Welcome to the N.H.K., Satou and Yamazaki get into a fight while high. Both of them are scrawny hikikomori so they fail to do any serious damage.
- Garfield once watched "Collegiate Face-Slapping" on TV, which was exactly what it sounds like. One of the competitors was disqualified for poking the other guy in the eye, so he retaliated by poking the referee in the eye (with the commentator describing all of this as if nothing were wrong). Garfield turns to the reader and remarks that he hates niche sports.
- In Djy1991's version of Half-Life: Full Life Consequences, Gordon Freeman's "fightin the final bosss" is pretty much the two flailing their arms at one another.
- One issue of X-Statix had Tony Stark, minus his power armor, and Orphan, minus his sensory-deadening suit, fight each other naked. Orphan knows pressure points and can cause great pain with just a touch, while Tony can do the same to Orphan due to his Super Senses that are way too sensitive. End result: lethally painful tickle fight between two grown, naked men.
Films — Animation
- Curtis vs. Porco in Porco Rosso eventually devolves into this. Both men are ace pilots, yes. Neither of them are particularly good at boxing, especially after going at each other for a couple of rounds and being too stubborn to quit.
- Played seriously in the fight between Muntz and Carl at the end of Up. A fight where two old men struggle as much against their arthritis as against each other. At one point, Carl gains the upper hand by spitting his dentures at Muntz.
- In Toy Story 3, Rex and Hamm get into one of these fights to distract a guard in the daycare toy-prison they've become trapped in as part of an escape attempt. Probably justified, in that Rex has very short arms and neither are exactly built for a rumble.
- In Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2, arguments between Gru's Minions tend to degenerate into slap-fights, or childish brawls at worst.
- In The Book of Life, although both Manolo and Joaquin are established to be fairly skilled fighters, their argument over who will marry Maria quickly devolves into ineffectually flailing at each other.
Films — Live-Action
- The final version of the duel between the Samurai and the bandit in Rashomon: as portrayed by the Woodcutter. They run around swinging desperately at each other with their weapons. It's often taken as one of the hints that his testimony isn't exactly truthful — a trained Samurai wouldn't have done such a thing — but this was how Kurosawa commonly depicted fights. This may be also be explained by the men's mutual unwillingness to fight until the wife goaded them into it.
- The fights between Colin Firth and Hugh Grant's characters in both of the Bridget Jones movies.
- Simon Pegg and Dylan Moran in Run Fatboy Run go back and forth between fighting like little girls, and attempting pro-wrestling moves on each other.
- Napoleon Dynamite features the climactic "fight" between Uncle Rico and Napoleon... in which Napoleon threatens to throw oranges at Rico, eventually throws one, and falls on his face trying to jump a fence. There is also the scene where Napoleon makes Kip show off his "cage fighting skills".
- In the second act climax of Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy, the wimpy Dr. Cooper and the effete Don Roritor engage in an childish brawl. First, Cooper slaps Roritor's accusatory finger out of his face about twenty times in a row. Finally the pair awkwardly grapple and push each other for a few moments. When they finally break away, they're humorously flustered and gasping for breath, as if they'd been through a war. In a later scene, Roritor wears an outlandish full-arm splint for his injured finger.
- The first fistfight between Tyler and Jack in Fight Club has elements of this, but they get better.
- Most of the title character's fight scenes in Kick-Ass consist of him flailing around a pair of sticks and surviving serious beatdowns. The showdown at the end between Kick-Ass and Red Mist has both combatants with very little skill. And in fact, they finally simultaneously knock each other out.
- A bad guy and a protagonist in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka square off sans weapons, but the bad guy immediately confesses he doesn't know kung fu. The good guy admits neither does he. "Want to fake it?" "I don't care." Cue hilarious movements that look like involuntary muscle spasms.
- Most of the fights in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
- In The Big Lebowski, the Dude finally confronts Da Fino, a Private Detective who's been tailing him in a blue Volkswagen, and things get physical. If by "physical" you mean "standing about a foot away from each other, arms outstretched, and sort of flinching ineptly at each other for a few seconds". The nihilists also turn out to be this; while they talk a good talk, they end up being completely outmatched by Walter, who single-handedly kicks their asses.
- In The Wild Hunt, the LARPers don't actually know how to sword fight. Their in-game duels are just childish flailing, often followed by arguing. This is all subverted in the end, when things get dangerous.
- Horse Feathers. Chico and Harpo attempt to kidnap two big football players on the opposing team. Chico gets Harpo into fighting mode until he's puffed up, huffing and cross-eyed with rage - and then grinning as he gives them each a little slap on the face. He then gets hurled across the room onto a couch.
- Steven and Randy's scuffle in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.
- In Team America: World Police, two martial artist marionettes square off, and then are simply bumped into each other while their legs and arms flail about. DVD commentary reveals that this was done through an odd combination of Rule of Funny and Uncanny Valley: the puppeteers were perfectly capable of having the puppets do more complex, realistic motions throughout the movie, but it was deliberately oversimplified because it's funny and realistic motion was actually a little creepy.
- The real-world fight between Neo and Smith-possessed Bane is in stark contrast to their supernatural Kung-Fu feats inside The Matrix.
- The Room has Mark and Johnny's "fight" on Johnny's birthday party. All they really do is slap each other limply and make chicken noises, making what was supposed to be a dramatic revelation of Mark sleeping with Lisa into Narm
- There's a dead-serious example in Chinatown, where Hollis Mulwray is held under water in a backyard fish pond and drowned by Noah Cross. Both men are pretty physically weak, especially Cross (who is, after all, a feeble old man), but in the end it's Cross who triumphs, as he is the aggressor and has the superior position. Even so, Jake Gittes's detective work establishes that the fight was pretty inconclusive for a while: both men's eyeglasses fell off in the struggle.
- Played with at the climactic scene of Her Alibi: the protagonist, who is undercover at the circus as a clown, gets into a no-holds-barred fight with another clown...who is actually a Soviet agent who's been tracking the protagonist's Eastern European girlfriend and her family (likewise dressed as clowns) after learning they are trying to defect to the West. It seems like a Wimp Fight (and the other clowns treat it as if it is, cheering on the combatants), but it's deadly serious.
- Near the end of Lolita, a pair of middle-age perverts engage in a deadly version of this.
- The climax of Robert J. Sawyer's novel Frameshift involves a fight between the scientist hero and a fugitive Nazi war criminal. The scientist is suffering from Huntington's disease, and the Nazi is nearly ninety years old, so at least it's even.
- The Tom Holt novel Falling Sideways has the main character get into a fight with another man on a UFO. Following both of them making asses of themselves and falling around, the non-protagonist one is defeated when he slides into the wall and knocks himself out. The narration actually lampshades how balanced it was, with neither having any meaningful ability to hurt the other.
- In A Barrel Of Laughs A Vale Of Tears by Creator/Jules Feiffer the hero and his enemy have a ridiculous "battle" in a forest of knee-high trees. The enemy is such a bad swordsman, the hero just moves from side to side, avoiding his blows, till he is too tired to fight anymore.
- Towards the end of Perelandra, Ransom — an aging Oxbridge professor — fights the similarly unfit, but demon-possessed, Weston. It's the dramatic version of this trope, but that doesn't keep a few parts from being funny.
Ransom: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, here goes — I mean Amen.
- Xander-vs-Harmony in Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode 4.7, "The Initiative". Of course, even apart from the magic military skills, Xander was supposed to know how to fight. Harmony, naturally, was a moron even as a vampire. Notable for being one of the few times a vampire character averts Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting. The slow-motion and dramatic combat music makes the whole scene even more awesome.
- One utterly anticlimactic battle of the English Robot Wars series, no matter how much the announcer tried to play it up. Afterwards:
Craig Charles: I was going to say, "Let's look at the highlights of that battle"... but there weren't any.
- As stated in the audio commentary, any fights between the Bluth boys in Arrested Development were staged to show that none of them had any idea what they were doing.
- In the 1989 Get Smart TV movie, a sidekick and a Mook grab decorative swords to fight each other, but they can barely lift them above waist level.
- A sketch in Important Things with Demetri Martin has two people attempt to break out fighting due to road rage, but neither is sure how to go about it, so they just keep yelling at each other to delay having to actually throw a punch or swing a tire iron.
- In Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Ned and Cookie had a spat over a "spelling bee" clique taking Cookie away from Ned and splitting them up. They even had fight announcers trying to do a play-by-play but they quickly realized that the fight consisted of mostly Ass Kicking Poses and nothing else.
- In an episode of Black Books, Bernard and Fran decide to settle a dispute in the usual way, which is apparently by turning their faces away and childishly slapping at each other until Fran grabs Bernard's hair and forces him to say "Peanuts".
- In The IT Crowd, Douglas' first appearance at his father's funeral was marked by him getting embroiled in a sissy slap-fight with the officiating vicar.
- In New Tricks, Gerry and Brian get into one of these fights after an argument about whether one gets paid more than the other spirals a bit out of control. Sandra and Jack, who walk in on them partway through, are greatly amused, particularly when they sheepishly try to pass it off as tripping over a chair once they realize they've been caught out.
- Yes Dear has Greg and a recurring minor character do this twice.
- Drake & Josh occasionally has the title characters get into slap fights.
- The Cha boys in Protect the Boss.
- Abe and Craig's Cock Fight in Malcolm in the Middle, mostly consisting of slapping and pushing.
- The Big Bang Theory
Leonard: Oh jeez, does that suit really look that bad?
- Howard and Raj engage in a wrestling match to decide which of them would be the better superhero. They spend 45 minutes just circling each other, trading superhero-style insults, and never once make physical contact.
- In "Hofstader-Cooper Polarization" Leonard and Sheldon get into a fight at a physics lecture, which gets recorded and put on YouTube by Howard. They are both embarrassed by how silly they look.
Sheldon: Forget about your suit, look at my arms. I'm like a flamingo on Ritalin!
- In the fifth-season opener of Head of the Class, Arvid and Dennis come to blows over the departure of Mr. Moore. For them, "coming to blows" involves a lot of weak slapping and nose-pulling.
- The dramatic version happens in Kamen Rider Kuuga: During the final battle, Yusuke (Kuuga) and N-Daguva-Zeba damage each others' Transformation Trinkets, forcing them to revert to human form. At that point, the battle goes from Megaton Punches and pyrokinesis to two ordinary men stumbling wearily and throwing clumsy punches that spatter their blood on the freshly-fallen snow.
- The Slammer: Happens when the Governor and the governor of the Russian version of the Slammer catch each other attempting to sabotage the props. It degenerates into them attempting to slap each other at arm's length.
- In Fresh Meat, Howard gets into an argument with a big, tough-looking bloke over a library geology textbook. He agrees to meet outside the library for to fight it out, but manages to get it put off a week... and spends the week desperately trying to learn how to fight, beginning with finding out whether you keep your thumb in or out when making a fist. The fight finally comes along... and it's over in five seconds when the other bloke dislocates his thumb, and Howard takes him to hospital. Turns out he didn't know how to make a fist either.
- Doctor Who: "Warriors of the Deep" has an interesting sequence where the Fifth Doctor defeats a whole platoon of guards in hand-to-hand combat while constantly making it look like he has no idea how to fight. Why the Doctor is projecting Obfuscating Stupidity while being in the process of kicking arse is unclear.
- Hockey fights in general usually consist of both combatants doing something along the lines of "stand relatively still and punch him in the face until he goes down".
- Pretty much any "fight" in soccer matches is embarrassing. Generally players square up to each other and are dragged apart by team mates/officials before anything major can happen. Sometimes even when they're on the same team.
- Almost any wrestling match where two comic relief wrestlers go against each other. Santino Marrella and Chavo Guerrero had an ongoing feud that mostly consisted of these.
- Tifa vs. Scarlet in Final Fantasy VII. Tifa has punched robots to death and she engages in a slap fight. A bit ridiculous? Perhaps. Utterly satisfying? Yes! Of course given that Tifa can punch robots to death, it makes sense that she'd hold back on a completely normal human with no special training.
- Often happens for comedic effect in videos made in Garry's Mod (using invisible thrusters attached to limbs).
- In Bully, this is the fighting style of the Nerds. Goes without saying that they're the weakest enemies in the game.
- Ryu's default attack animation in Breath of Fire III at the start of the game. He holds his sword out at arm's length and turns away in panic as he waves it around. He does grow out of it pretty quickly, though.
- Given the wide array of combat options and the quirky A.I., combat in Dwarf Fortress tends to resemble this, unarmed combat in particular. The A.I. is especially prone to grabbing any part of their target in reach, only to let go upon realizing what they grabbed can't be put into a joint lock.
- In a Floating Hands Studios X-Men parody, one of these culminates... between Emma Frost and Dark Phoenix!
- Hand-to-hand combat in the Full Life Consequences machinima videos mostly consists of this if the fanfic itself doesn't go into specifics.
- The fight between Leslie and Marcus in Doraleous And Associates. Especially funny since it's Combat by Champion between the Wetalds and Callas (Neebs killed Callas' two best guys through a misunderstanding and suggested Worst vs. Worst).
- The parody Scientlolojyuuichi depicts the fight between Anonymous and Tom Cruise this way.
- El Goonish Shive:
- Tedd and Susan finally ends up coming to blows... over Star Trek. In the strip named "Red Alert: Insert Original Series Duel Music Here" and referred to as a "sissy slap-fight" ever after.
- Return of the sissy slap-fight! Over the same subject. This time complete with a facepalming witness.
- A sissy slap-fight as a sign of friendship in one flashback.
- It returns during this time involving cards from a Magic: The Gathering/Duel Monsters Expy.
- When Dexter and Mandark finally square off in Powerpuff Girls Doujinshi, they start out with some dramatic poses and then end up in a sissy slap-fight, as a direct reference to the original show (see below). THEN they pull out all the stops for a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown with advanced combat technology.
- In a strip of Questionable Content. "It's like a pathetic real life version of Scott Pilgrim..."
- Shortpacked! has Ethan and Jacob getting into a nerd fight over who has the better rogues gallery, Batman or Spider-Man. Robin still finds it erotic.
- Justified in JL8, as they're still kids having a tussle on the playground... even if it's Bruce and Lex.
- The That Guy with the Glasses anniversary crossovers raise this to an art form. Though in Suburban Knights, the guy playing Malachite shows he actually knows karate.
- The 2009 Halloween story line on Gaia Online featured a huge war between two gods. By the end, they had both lost all divinity and were nothing more than mortals, and all their followers had abandoned them, leaving the two pathetically struggling to kill eachother in the middle of an empty battlefield.
- Most characters in Stupid Mario Brothers such as UPS, Fed Ex, Luigi and Kamek fight using this. Kamek even referred to it as Slap Combat.
- Kung Tai Ted is about a paunchy martial arts fan who dissects cinematic fight scenes while showing off his own complete lack of skills. Any fight he gets into with his equally unskilled rivals invariably falls under this trope.
- Sadly, this is what would actually happen if you gave untrained people lightsabers.
- Eat Your Kimchi: In their TL;DR video explaining that they don't fight has Simon and Martina fake a slap fight.
- Turns out this is how penguins fight each other. As Cracked puts it:
When they fight, it is the greatest thing in the entire animal kingdom, because there is virtually no effort put into it at all. They just kind of stand around halfheartedly squawking at each other until one of them gets up the energy and motivation to swing a flipper. If it makes contact, so be it. It just bounces off with a soft, barely audible *pop*, while the other penguin looks on with a disinterested "How dare you?"
- Speaking of Cracked, the "Worst Fight Club Ever" sketch sees Dan O'Brian and Cody Johnston called upon to fight each other as part of the titular fight club. When their fight eventually degenerates into the two of them chasing each other round trying to get into one of these, they defend themselves by pointing out that they've never been in an actual fight before and so, unlike the characters in the movie, have no idea what to do.
Dan: Yeah, I don't wanna... punch Cody.
Cody: (horrified) In the face?!
Dan: Yeah, that's probably what I would have done.
Cody: No! I would have hated that!
Dan: I figured! That's why I didn't do it.
- On Dexter's Laboratory, when Dexter and Mandark engaged in unarmed hand-to-hand combat, they would primarily stand there slapping ineffectually at each other. This comes to a head in "Ego Trip", when a massive fight breaks out between a bunch of Dexters and Mandarks from various points in time. The Dexter and Mandark from the episode's Bad Future are in a massive action hero fight, while regular Dexter and Mandark just flail awkwardly at each other, and Old Man Dexter and Brain in a Jar Mandark are just hurling insults at each other until Mandark beats Dexter by just falling over on him.
- Something similar happens whenever Ron Stoppable and Dr. Drakken get into a fight in Kim Possible (while Kim and Shego are engaging in a much more serious and skilled battle). Of course, since both have taken a level in badass, that may no longer be the case.
- South Park:
- In "Tweek vs. Craig", the boys engineer a brawl between Tweek and Craig, but are disappointed when the boys hopelessly slap and push each other, having no idea how to fight. The bout is postponed so the combatants can train.
- In "It's Christmas In Canada", Cartman challenges Kyle to a fist-fight for "ruining Christmas". Kyle lightly taps Cartman on the nose, and he begins crying.
- And then the EPIC SHOWDOWN in "Cartoon Wars, Part 1" ends with a teaser for a truly epic mano-e-mano fight. What we actually got... was a bitch-slapping contest that took 5 minutes before they became exhausted. But they still manage to crash through walls. Featuring such gems of Badass dialogue as "Time out! Time out! ...Time in!" and "No hitting in the balls!"
- This was subverted in "Breast Cancer Show Ever", where the entire episode led up to a fight between Wendy and Cartman, which was expected to be a Wimp Fight. Instead, Wendy beats Cartman down in a parody of the climactic boxing scene from Snatch.
- Also subverted in the eponymous scene in "Cripple Fight", which turns into a shot-for-shot remake of a scene from They Live!.
- In The Venture Bros., Dean attacks Dermott for insultingly hitting-on his would-be love interest Triana. Dean fights like a total sissy, with tears in his eyes and snot coming out of his nose, ineffectually punching with his tiny little fists... and wins. Dermott may talk a big game, but he sure as hell can't back it up. He later claims the only reason he won was because he was sick.
- In the Spongebob Squarepants episode "Student Starfish", Patrick and SpongeBob start a fight as a chanting crowd gathers around them. They soon stop chanting and disperse as they see that the two are not even standing close enough to make contact.
- MermaidMan and his past counterpart in Back To The Past engage in one of these to prevent Patrick from screwing up history. They first try punching each other (which result in slowpoke punches) before getting into what the trope says.
- Celebrity Death Match:
- The main event fight between Jerry Seinfeld and Tim Allen. The "fight" devolves into purple nurples, at which point the announcers and audience are happy when the cast of Seinfeld interferes to kill Jerry for canceling the show.
- This happens in a few matches where two comedic actors are placed against each other (matches with only one usually lead to a Curbstomp Battle), with them exchanging childish blows until the referee threatens to off them both unless one of them kills the other. Ben Stiller vs. Adam Sandler is another standout example.
- Family Guy
- The fight in the episode "German Guy" between Herbert the elderly pedophile and a Nazi he knew Franz Gutentag who was holding Chris hostage, it results in an Overly Long Gag because they are both quite weak and elderly and at one point they stop to take their medications.
- One of the Cutaway Gags in another episode has Peter musing on how the founding fathers would have solved their problems had guns not existed. Cue this trope.
- In the Family Guy Viewer Mail 2 episode "Chap of the Manor", Neville (British Peter) gets into one of these with the Giant Pheasant (British giant chicken). This contrasts the normally colossal damage the American Peter and Giant Chicken would do.
- When Stewie engages in an epic dog fight with Bertram, their entire army and their own fighter crafts explode, leading them to parachute right next to each other. They slap fight until they land in a tree.
- Another cutaway has Mort join a Jewish Fight Club. The first rule being that the fight ends when someone says 'ow'.
- Time Squad had Otto and his past self deciding to fight since their friends are fighting. They looked at each other, shrugged, and started slapping each other.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Bat-Mite versus Joker-Mite in "Emperor Joker!".
- In The Life and Times of Juniper Lee Egg-tastic Easter Special, the "war" between the chickens and rabbits quickly degenerates a series of multiple one-on-one Wimp Fights, including the requisite "sissy slap fight".
- Dudley and Kitty's occasional fights with each other in T.U.F.F. Puppy.
- Most fights between Andy and Kevin in Mission Hill dissolve rather quickly into a wimp fight. One even has Kevin dressed as a Jedi with a toy lightsaber and Andy 'dressed' as Darth Vader with a plastic candy cane set to epic music. Hilarity Ensues.
- Gravity Falls:
- In "The Hand that Rocks the Mabel", Dipper and Li'l Gideon manage to have a slap-fight while falling off a cliff.
- Dipper ends up provoking one among his doppelgangers in "Double Dipper": "CLONE FIGHT!"
- In the Deadpool episode of Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man and Deadpool have a brief slap fight in mid-air.