"Wizard fight... Wizard fight!"A Wizard Duel (also Wizard's Duel or Wizardly Duel) is when two (sometimes more) characters with magical or magic-like powers (spells, usually) battle each other using them. A trope found mostly in Fantasy, though it may apply to characters with magic-like powers of other genres. If both the heroes and villains have a wizard on their side, you can be assured this will happen at some point. Usually at or near the story's climax, probably because such a battle tends to be visually impressive. Of course, if the protagonist of the series is the sorcerer, then it happens all the time. The battle doesn't have to be between enemies; it can occur between friends or rivals, a master and his apprentice, and so on. Sometimes, there are specific rules that have to be followed in the duel, especially if both characters belong to a special caste or organization. Of course, if one of the participants is dishonorable, expect him or her to cheat. If such rules prohibit direct attacks on each other, or the work's demographic would make serious violence inappropriate, or the duel is just more of a friendly rivalry than an all-out fight, the participants may limit themselves to ostentatious spell contests instead; "any fish you can summon, I can summon bigger", if you will. This kind of duel goes right back to The Bible, if not earlier. Curiously, one trick rarely used is to magically silence the opponent. This may be because it would make the duel too easy...or because an unspoken assumption of the setting is that it would not actually work. (Not all magic depends on incantations, and as long as the caster isn't physically prevented from speaking in the first place an invocation's effectiveness rarely seems to be depend simply on how loud it is, or perhaps all competent magi have some defense against such spells) One exception is in Role-Playing Games, where Silence spells are fairly common. If the win condition involves the death of an opponent, see Duel to the Death. If the magic users are specifically using Voluntary Shapeshifting spells to get the upper hand, it's a Shapeshifter Showdown.
— Henry, Fire Emblem
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Anime & Manga
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, wizardly battles handle mostly like an Action RPG. In particular, Invoked spells can be held for 20 second, simple spells can be thought, and some spells can be activated within another spell already active. This makes for some interesting strategies for piling spells atop each other, leaving the only limitation up to the magic-users magic pool.
- Zatch Bell! is about a series of Wizard Duels to decide the next ruler of the "Demon World", thought the real magic is in the humans' Mamodo partners, they just activate it by reading from spellbooks.
- Unsurprisingly since the main characters are mages, the Lyrical Nanoha series has quite a few. The big, decisive battles for the seasons are often such, such as Nanoha vs Fate and Nanoha vs Vivio.
- Umineko: When They Cry has Beatrice vs Virgilia and Battler vs Beatrice, which was more like the bloodiest, most spectacular debate the world has ever seen. End of the Golden Witch has similar debates, only some of them even have laser scythes and summoning angels. It doesn't even have to be a real debate, bickering over candy is enough of an excuse to break out all the spectacular spells and summons in the Umineko world.
- When debates involve ghost dragons, flying stakes, and red laser swords we can sufficiently count them as Wizard Duels.
- Especially considering Umineko can be argued as being in the fantasy genre. Magic makes up a very large part of the series. Whether it's real or not is an important concept of the game Beatrice and Battler play.
- Haruhi Suzumiya examples:
- Yuki versus Ryouko. Data manipulation rather than magic, but that hardly matters from the audience's point of view.
- Parodied with Yuki versus Mikuru in "The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina Episode 00", which consists of Yuki waving a wand and producing extremely low-budget special effects.
- Lina Inverse vs. Vrumugun, Zelgadiss vs. Copy Rezo in the first season of Slayers. The later seasons did not involve enemy wizards or sorcerers, they moved on to Demon Lords and Archdevils, Eldritch Abominations and so on.
- The very purpose of Magic: The Gathering is to simulate a Wizard Duel. Depicted and encouraged in Arcane Melee by making spells easier to cast for everyone.
Flavor text: Debates between wizards are never purely academic.
- Considering Duel Monsters was originally a Bland-Name Product for Magic: The Gathering, it's unsurprising that Yu-Gi-Oh! was very similar to the earlier game. It would take a good number of releases before it became a truly different game.
- Another collectible card game with the same concept is Magi-Nation, with the same beast-summoning spell-hurling gameplay.
- Marvel's Doctor Strange has participated in many wizard's duels, considering that he is Sorcerer Supreme and the majority of his enemies are either rival wizards like Baron Mordo (as pictured in the page image) or extradimensional wizard-gods like the Dread Dormammu and Nightmare.
- Battles between the upper-level mutants in the Marvel Universe tend to play out this way, especially when uber-telekinetics, powerful energy projectors or Omegas are involved. Fights between ultimate enemies and heroes empowered at the last second to fight them also become as spectacular. There are even occasions where both sides have weaknesses that they try to avoid or exploit and the outcome is decided when someone gets lucky with the 'rules'.
- In Stephanie Brown's Batgirl series, when Stephanie unintentionally insulted the bonnet-making-craftmanship of a witch in Limbo Town she is challenged to a standard duel, to be conducted per the guidelines set in Alchan's Book of the Damned, Third Edition, Twice Removed. Stephanie opens the duel with "accio fist," though she admits afterwards that "accio face" would be the more accurate description.
- Amusingly subverted in Society of Superheroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1. The issue appears to set up a Mirror Match between Doc Fate and Doctor Faust, but when Faust shows up before Fate, Fate just kicks him in the balls and drags him away.
- Also subverted in a Suicide Squad comic, where Nightshade and Incubus get into a standard wizard duel only for Deadshot to abruptly shoot Incubus in the head, killing him instantly.
- The Dynamite comic The Blood Queen sees the witch main character Elizabeth battle the Court Mage in a magic duel so no one will stand in her way of taking over the kingdom.
- Alley-Kat-Abra of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! has gone toe-to-toe with a variety of wizardly foes in classic duels, including Salvadore Doggi and the Great Gnudini in her solo stories and Feline Faust in a pseudo-crossover with the JLA (Just'a Lotta Animals).
- Shinji And Warhammer 40 K had a spectacular battle between Shinji and Kaworu. True, no actual magic was involved - but Shinji's godlike expertise with psychics and AT-field manipulation was utterly awesome.
- This is the basis of the My Little Pony fanfic Duel Nature - the most important Wizard Duel happens between Twilight Sparkle and Luna, a sparring match that quickly goes out of control when Twilight attempts to make up for the difference in strength with psychological warfare after finding out that Luna hadn't been trying at all in their fight, repeatedly pushing Luna's Berserk Button in hope of breaking her concentration.
- The My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fanfic The Moonstone Cup is all about Twilight Sparkle being invited to and participating in a major formal wizard tournament — in which more than just ponies compete for the eponymous prize and not everyone looks too kindly on her being chosen as the Element of Magic.
- Queen of All Oni:
- Jade and Uncle engage in a Beam-O-War style one when Uncle shows up to prevent Jade from stealing the Oni masks and the Talismans from the Vault in Section 13. She manages to hold the advantage for about ten seconds before he pushes her back and defeats her.
- Jade engages in another one with Tohru during the fight in the Hall of Ice. And by this point, Jade's powers have increased to the point that the only reason she loses is because the homunculus she summoned turns on her.
- The Powers of Harmony: Twilight and Trixie engage in one when they confront each other in the Hollow Shades. Thanks to the combat spells learned from her Guards, Twilight eventually overpowers Trixie, only for Trixie to retaliate thanks to the power of the Alicorn Amulet... until she realizes it's corrupting her and fights it, which causes her to pass out.
- Being a Harry Potter fanfic, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality features some of these. Friendly examples (which Quirrell disparages as a sport) include Daphne challenging Neville to a duel when he and Harry attack her mock-army — hostile examples include Quirrell vs. Auror Bahry.
- Webwork has Daolon Wong challenging Uncle to one of these after his escape from prison.
- Subverted and played for laughs in Child of the Storm. Loki, being hunted by Death Eaters, notes that when people think of wizard duels, they imagine bursts of multi-colored power, Stuff Blowing Up, and maybe a Shape Shifter Showdown.
"Transforming opponents into stone statues is a classic, and much applauded, though it is usually expected after a long and exhausting duel. It adds a certain mystique to the battlefield. Shrinking them down and pocketing them, however, does not. The amount of fucks that were given by Loki at this point coincidentally happened to be exactly zero."
Films — Animation
- In the Disney version of The Sword in the Stone, Merlin and Madam Mim hold a Shape Shifter Showdown, complete with cheating and creative twisting of the rules. They actually use the words "Wizard's Duel".
- Subverted in Wizards. Avatar and Blackwolf plan to have one, but Avatar simply pulls out a revolver and shoots Blackwolf instead. They did play it straight in the backstory, complete with Shape Shifter Showdown. Avatar won.
Films — Live-Action
- Big Trouble in Little China. The magicians Egg Shen and Lo Pan have a Beam-O-War battle in the middle of the grand melee at Lo Pan's wedding. The duel is inconclusive, though Lo Pan seems to claim victory. At the very least, he claims that Egg Shen could never beat him.
- Just about any one-on-one fight in Harry Potter qualifies, although for the most part they are even more mundane than in the books, and wands could be replaced with multi-set ray guns for all the wizardry involved, especially in the last movies, where it's basically "Call of Duty", cover-based combat and all (probably to facilitate the production of the tie-in games).
- This is basically the entire point of the family wizard tournament in Wizards of Waverly Place. It's a magical duel for control over the families wizarding powers.
- In In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, Merrick duels with Gallian as a distraction for Farmer's infiltration. It pretty much involves multiple swords dueling in mid-air, while the two magi are talking. Muriella does this later with Gallian with a flame spell, providing Farmer another distraction to move in for the kill.
- Yoda and Palpatine's battle in Revenge of the Sith is half lightsaber-fight and half this trope.
- In Attack of the Clones, Yoda and Dooku have a telekinesis-and-Force-Lightning wizard's duel, before fighting it out with lightsabers.
- The film version of Night Watch has Anton and Zabulon on a rooftop... dueling with a sword and a halogen lamp instead of spells. To be fair, though, Zabulon at that point would've wiped the floor with Anton if it came down to a standard Wizard Duel.
- There are a large number of CG-heavy Wuxia films that are all about this in addition to Wire Fu and good old martial arts. Conspicuous CGI abounds and storylines tend to be melodramatic Excuse Plots to set up apocalyptic battles between champions of good and evil.
- Gandalf versus Saruman in the first The Lord of the Rings film. Does not happen in the book.
- Though he does battle the Witch King (to a draw) on Weathertop in Fellowship of the Ring, seen from afar by the hobbits.
- Also, Gandalf versus the Balrog is at least implied in the first The Lord of the Rings film. DOES happen in the book in which an exhausted Gandalf states that he put a shutting-spell on the door. In the film the Balrog apparently can't follow them directly and takes another path, rather shaking things up as he does, implying that Gandalf (who does look pretty haggard by then) did something to impede him.
- Also, for a given definition of "wizard", his battle with Sauron in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Definitely the most epic (and most horrifying) so far.
- In Oz: The Great and Powerful, the climax does this twice in succession with different twists:
- The first is actually a subversion, as Oz doesn't have actual magic, just cleverness and special effects. He's still able to use this to appear like he's shrugging off everying Wicked Witches West and East can throw at him and manages to scare them both off. Evanora (Wicked Witch of the East) retreats to her throne room, where...
- Glinda the Good Witch of the South is waiting for her. They proceed to have an actual Witch Duel, culminating in Glinda breaking Evanora's power and banishing her from the Emerald City.
- Happens in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters between the evil witch queen and a good witch who happens to be Hansel's Love Interest. Unfortunately, the good witch is killed.
- Doctor Mordrid: In the climax of this film (loosely based on Doctor Strange), the heroic sorcerer Mordrid and the villainous sorcerer Kabal do battle in the halls of the Museum of Natural History. Further complicated because Mordrid is only present through an astral projection, so Kabal can't assault him directly while Mordrid can do everything right back to him. This prompts Kabal to animate a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton and have it attack random people to make Mordrid back off.
- X-Men: Apocalypse: There's a mutant equivalent of this trope with Storm's lightning vs. Cylops' optic blast.
- Curiously, there aren't any proper wizards' duels in Doctor Strange, though the brief siege of the Sanctum Sanctorum, with Doctor Strange fending off a single attacker while relying mostly on magical items, is fairly interesting.
- Harry Potter:
- This obviously happens multiple times, although the descriptions rarely get more picturesque than "X was battling Y" or "X was casting spells". One notable exception is Dumbledore vs. Voldemort in "Order of the Phoenix" which was truly epic and arcane. As a subversion, a dueling club is introduced in the second book, but it only lasts for one session.
- A silencing spell is used at least once in Order of the Phoenix, but the opponent is able to cast spells all the same: in Half-Blood Prince it is explained that experienced wizards can do magic without talking, which Hogwarts students begin to learn.
- Fairly frequent in the Deryni works, and usually to the death.
- Cinhil vs. the priest who poisoned his infant son, in a spur-of-the-moment affair.
- Cinhil vs. Imre subverted when Imre kills himself.
- Alister Cullen vs. Ariella fatal for both combatants.
- Donal vs. Sief Mac Athan, also spur-of-the-moment when Sief realizes he's been cuckolded by his king.
- Brion vs. the Marluk
- Kelson vs. Charissa, played straight (including throwing down the gauntlet) after a slight delay.
- Kelson/Morgan/Duncan/Arilan vs. Wencit/Lionel/Rhydon/Bran Coris subverted by "Rhydon" revealing himself to be Stefan Coram after poisoning himself and his side.
- Kelson vs. Conall, to clear defeat only. Kelson had no wish to give Conall an honourable death in combat.
- Liam-Lajos/Kelson/Matayas/Morag vs. Mahael/Teymuraz/Branyg, prompted by Mahael's attempt to Mind Rip Liam during his investiture.
- Discworld Wizards occasionally duel, but due to the nature of magic on the disc, it is discouraged, as "There are still places where nothing grows" due to wizard duels, and the whole thing with the Dungeon Dimensions. There's a general analogy of "magic-as-nuclear-weaponry", with talk of standoffs, "First Use of magic", and mutually-assured destruction - "It's hard to tell which greasy smudge was the winner".
- In Sourcery, the Sourcerer Coin walks into the great hall and challenges the most powerful wizard to a duel. Even at this point in the series when Klingon Promotion is common, they use mundane traps rather than magic because of the enormous quantity of defensive spells they all have. But because Coin is about ten they find the challenge amusing, and one of the wizards eventually decides to demonstrate some magic, casting a very difficult but harmless spell that creates a tiny garden in the palm of his hand. Coin asks why it isn't bigger, enlarges the garden so they all fit inside, dismisses it, and then obliterates his opponent instantly.
- Equal Rites featured a duel between Granny Weatherwax and Archchancellor Cutangle which took the form of a Shapeshifter Showdown where the clash was more conceptual as physical (at once point Cutangle transformed into a snake and Granny Weatherwax countered by transforming into a basket). It's interrupted by the approach of abominations from the Dungeon Dimensions, to Cutangle's great relief since he had a nasty feeling he was going to lose; he compared fighting Granny to being like trying to swat a fly that keeps landing on your own nose. Notably it's one of the few times in the series that Granny disregards headology completely and engages in full-blown physical magic.
- The Witch Trials in "The Sea And Little Fishes" and A Hat Full of Sky are the "friendly competition" type. Although that's "friendly" by witch standards; as Nanny Ogg puts it in A Tourist's Guide to Lancre, "a witch is the kind of person who'd play Snap with kiddies for ha'pennies and play to win".
- Not actually a fight, but Ged's attempt to outdo a schoolyard rival with flashy demonstrations of magic led to tragedy in A Wizard of Earthsea.
- The Dresden Files has institutionalized this, in which one of the acceptable forms for a formal duel is a contest of "energy", meaning solely magic. Harry though tends to do various other interesting/crazy/insane things to win fights. In the first book Storm Front Harry's greater strength and experience gave him an advantage he needed to make up for fighting on Shadowman's home turf. The only formal magical duel he's been in was in Changes in which he fought the ancient vampire Arianna Ortega. She was put at a significant disadvantage by this, because as a vampire she was unaccustomed to purely magical combat.
- There are also duels of will, where two supernatural individuals attempt to exert their will over a medium. In Death Masks, Harry ends up in a duel with Red Duke Julio Ortega where the two participants attempt to will a mote of mordite (instant kill-anything stuff from beyond the borders of reality) towards one another.
- The laws of magic the setting tend to mean that any informal duel between good and bad human practitioners is going to handicap the good one. While the evil sorceror is going to be throwing fireballs with gusto, a good-aligned wizard, like Harry, can't try and kill the other one with magic lest he break the first law. Meaning on those few occasions Harry's up against someone who's not an acceptable target (such as in his confrontation with the Shadowman), he's forced to find another way to subdue the enemy. Harry being Harry, this occasionally involves his .44.
- It doesn't go as planned, but Harry gets challenged to one of these in one of the short stories by Darth Wannabe and his goth buddies. When they ready their wands and crystals and what not, he opts out by drawing his .44 and snarking at them.
- The battle between Allanon and The Dagda Mor in The Elfstones of Shannara. It's a Wizard Duel that also doubles as High-Altitude Battle, since Allanon's on a Roc, and the Dagda Mor on a Bat Out of Hell. Also, The Isle Witch vs The Morgawr in The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, and Rimmer Dall vs everybody in the conclusion to The Heritage of Shannara.
- In The Belgariad, after 3000 years, Belgarath finally gets a chance to duel the singularly loathsome wizard Ctuchik. It starts with lightning, escalates to the two of them ripping reality open to batter each other with things from outside it, and ends with Ctuchik accidentally annihilating himself in a panic.
- In The Elenium, Sephrenia and Otha get to have a go at each other: each of them ancient sorcerers and the most privileged acolytes of their respective deities. Otha has more raw power, but Sephrenia has the advantage of not being a total drooling idiot — and Sparhawk ends up cutting it short by killing Otha's patron god anyway.
- The Finnish national epic, The Kalevala, has a strange example. A Hot-Blooded young sorcerer seeks to dethrone an Old Master. Their magic doesn't seem to have a distinction between "insight into" and "power over," so when the old man goads the youngster into showing his stuff, the youngster launches into a recitation of agricultural facts like he was a Poor Richard's Almanack. Some of his knowledge is pretty impressive, such as the birth of iron, but the old man goads him until he boasts of having helped to plow the oceans and forge the sky. He then becomes Too Dumb to Live by not backing down when the old man goes "Funny, I would've remembered seeing you there." The battle that follows is entirely one-sided.
- There's an earlier example of the "magical competition of oneupmanship" variation in Exodus, with Moses and the Pharaoh's priests.
- Inheritance Cycle
- Given an interesting twist in the series. Since deadly spells activate instantly, if two mages were to meet in battle they would just kill each other simultaneously. However, mind-reading is a pretty standard ability for those that practice magic. Thus, when two magic-users meet they attempt to read each other's minds and discover what the opponent's spell will be so that they can neutralize it and come away from the duel alive. Defending your mind and attacking your opponent's at the same time is difficult; doing both while sword-fighting is even harder.
- In the final book, Carn and an Empire magician enter a wizard's duel. Carn manages to gain the upper hand, and the enemy magician panicked and tried to cast a death spell. Carn is incinerated, but before he was killed, he managed to get one last spell out, which drained the enemy magician of all the water in his body, causing him to crumble to dust.
- Quite a few examples in The Malazan Book of the Fallen. Quick Ben Delat gets into a few himself, including one where he blows away both Korbal and Broach in a matter of seconds.
- In Septimus Heap, the Bottomless Whirlpool of Bleak Creek was created during a Wizard Duel long ago.
- The Silmarillion
- The duel between Finrod (Galadriel's big brother) and Sauron, "which is renowned" (though neither character is technically a wizard, Middle-earth having a strict definition of that term, they're both powerful magic-users). It consists of the two of them singing Songs of Power at one another, and though most of 'The Silmarillion is prose, it goes into poetry for about a page to describe it. Unfortunately, Sauron wins "and Finrod fell before the throne".
- Melian and Sauron have a constant Wizard Duel around the borders of Thingol's realm that rather resembles No Man's Land in World War I, even including unfriendly fire or in this case unfriendly magic, which makes Beren's life almost as uncomfortable as Sauron's magic. Not to mention there are also Omnicidal Neutral spider demons skulking about in the no man's land.
- Counselors and Kings
- Played with. Heroine Tzigone has both wizard magic and Anti-Magic powers, so even though she's only an apprentice she thinks she's got a duel with a Smug Snake archmage in the bag. Unfortunately, it turns out that while he can't hurt her directly, he's fully capable of, say, summoning a giant air elemental and telling it to pick her up and drop her. She winds up having to goad him into breaking the rules (which counts as a forfeit) in order to win.
- Subverted in the trilogy's climax during King Zalathorm's (Tzigone's dad) battle against his Arch-Enemy Akhlaur. Since both are archmagi of almost exactly equal power and are tied to the same Soul Jar, neither is capable of permanently harming the other- until Tzigone and fellow main protagonists Matteo and Andris destroy said Soul Jar, at which point Zalathorm sacrifices himself to kill Akhlaur for good. Zalathorm gets better; Akhlaur doesn't.
- In Codex Alera, pretty much everyone in the dominant human society has Elemental Powers, and they also have a formalized duel for settling disputes called the juris macto, so among the upper ranks magical duels are fairly common (magically-assisted sword duels are also popular). Subverted in a fight between two Canim ritaulists in the final book, where the older and more powerful ritualist One Hit Kills his younger, more ambitious rival by forcibly expelling his guts from his body before he can so much as cast his first spell.
- In Castle Roogna of the Xanth series there's an interesting version. Given that the Magicians of the setting each only have ONE type of spell, it's hard to have a simple face-to-face duel. Instead the 'good' Roogna (can alter spells) must finish building his castle before a certain deadline, meanwhile the 'evil' Murphy (bad luck magic) tries to skew events so the castle never gets finished.
- The Hand of Thrawn duology of the Star Wars Expanded Universe explains the Dark Side cave on Dagobah (The Empire Strikes Back) as the result of a Force duel between Yoda and a powerful Dark Jedi, with the cave still retaining a "stain" from his death when his Dark Side power was released.
- The Kingkiller Chronicles has a few:
- Sympathy fights are garden variety voodoo. If you got someone's blood or hair and strong enough will, you can kill someone pretty horrifically. There are also indirect duels, where two Sympathists try to exert their Alars in conflict. It's regularly noted that knives are easier than either method, but tracking spells and Binder's Chills are nothing to shake a stick at.
- However, attacking a person with Sympathy in earnest is highly illegal. "Malfeasance" has been outlawed for centuries, and it's been nearly a century since anyone's been caught doing it before the events of the book. It's a sort of internal policing amongst magicians to keep the muggles from burning them at the stake.
- Also, there is a type of charm, called a gram, that when worn renders someone immune to direct sympathy attack. These seem to be expensive and difficult to craft, but would tend to render such fights pointless.
- Namers can have much more primeval fights - they command raw forces of nature if they know its name. There's only been one duel between two people who know Names as of the second book, and it tore up the surrounding countryside. When Kvothe related it to Elodin, the latter was seriously impressed.
- Sympathy fights are garden variety voodoo. If you got someone's blood or hair and strong enough will, you can kill someone pretty horrifically. There are also indirect duels, where two Sympathists try to exert their Alars in conflict. It's regularly noted that knives are easier than either method, but tracking spells and Binder's Chills are nothing to shake a stick at.
- In A.L. Phillips's The Quest of the Unaligned, these are called duels of power, and have the slight quirk that the rules are enforced by the magic of the world itself, and so are physically impossible to break. As there are only three such rules (1. If the challenger has a genuine grievance against the challenged the duel cannot be refused. 2. If you are in a duel, you can't use magic on someone outside of the duel, and if you are outside of a duel you can't interfere. 3. Duels end only through death or unconsciousness), this is generally not a problem.
- Happens in The Story of the Second Dervish in Arabian Nights where a princess fights a Djinn by the two transforming into different creatures and attacking each other; a lot like the Disney Sword In The Stone.
- Incuel in Tough Magic is a Fictional Sport that involves kung-fu wizards duking it out. As it a fairly major part of the series, wizard duels abound.
- Several magical type duels occur in The Will Be Done, special mentions including when Myssia wins five duels in a row, and the final battle between her and Praen.
- The Revolutions contains multiple examples of magical combat, but the only proper duel happens between Lord Podmore (newspaper magnate/powerful magician) and Archer (terrifying old woman), in the middle of a crowded restaurant. Much collateral damage ensues, not least because by the end of it they're actively mind controlling the patrons en masse and making them fight each other.
- In The Goblin Emperor, the emperor always has two bodyguards with him, one of whom is a magic user. The protagonist recalls having read that the one time a magic user attacked the emperor, this lead to an epic wizard duel between the attacker and the emperor's bodyguard.
- In The Black Magician Trilogy, formal mages' duels are held in an Arena with an exceptionally powerful Anti-Magic barrier, with each combatant's personal shields augmented by adjudicating mages. The setup allows the use of deadly magic but prevents it from doing anything worse than pushing a combatant to exhaustion.
- Happens frequently in The Wheel of Time, especially at the climax of a book. Because the One Power is much better suited to causing wanton destruction than containing it, magical battles are mostly tactical, with the combatants trying to gain the element of surprise or distract their opponent enough to hit them with a deadly attack or a shield that will disable their magic. If they're very close in skill and power, they can prevent one another's attacks from forming, resulting in a duel that looks to a muggle like two people just staring at each other.
- When Meemy first arrives in Mahou Sentai Magiranger, he challenges the heroes to one, besting each of them in their own magical specialty, and then becomes a giant so tall that their Humongous Mecha form only reaches the tops of his feet.
- In Spellbinder, one of these is held between Regent Correon and Spellbinder Ashka. Slightly subverted, as the Spellbinders employ advanced Lost Technology rather than magic, but since they don't really understand how any of it works, the power suits that Correon and Ashka blast each other with are treated as magical.
- In Wizards of Waverly Place, this is how control of the family wizarding power is resolved. It's implied that at some point in the series Max, Justin and Alex will have to have a three way fight.
- Merlin (2008) engages in a few of these with fellow sorcerers over the course of the series. He wins all of them.
- Another Merlin example, the famous Wizard has a Magic Duel with a Dark Fairy Goddess at the end of the Merlin (1998) Miniseries.
- Though Kamen Rider Wizard mostly fights against Phantoms, there are times when he faces other wizards, such as Sorcerer in the movie and the White Wizard/Wiseman in the series
- Homaged (above) in the duel between Granny Weatherwax and the wizard Cutangle in Equal Rites, Steeleye Span perform an old English ballad The Two Magicians, in which a wizard and a witch engage in a shape-shifting battle involving continual transformation into, er, male and female archetypes. In a funny sort of way, both parties can eventually claim, by the last verse, to have "won"....
Myths & Religion
- Older Than Feudalism: In the Egyptian tale Prince Khaemwase and Si-Osiri, the story-within-the-story features a duel between an Egyptian wizard and an Ethiopian wizard at the royal court in Memphis. The effects are quite dramatic: starting fires, manipulating the weather, creating flying boats, turning into invisible geese, causing humungous blocks of stone to materialize in midair, etc. Though Egyptian, this tale only dates to the 1st century CE.
- Book of Exodus has Aaron dueling against the Pharaoh by turning his Magic Staff into a snake, and the Pharaoh sends his own sorcerers to turn their staves into snakes. But Arron's snake swallowed the Pharaoh's snakes. The Ten Plagues incident also involves Moses dueling against Egyptian sorcerers, but it only lasts until the plague of lice, when the Egyptian magicians try to mimic the plague but were unable to.
- This is the premise of Williams Electronics' Sorcerer, which has the player challenging an Evil Sorcerer.
- Seawitch depicts a battle between two Sea Monster-riding witches.
- Magic Girl is ultimately about helping the titular protagonist challenge a Big Bad Wizard Classic for possession of the Wizard Ball.
- Dungeons & Dragons has this, in certain settings and circumstances. Although informal fights between spellcasters are usually quick.
- From 3.5, the greatest way of doing this was the popular Disintegrate spell, which blows you to powder unless you pass a Fortitude save — and mages suck at Fort saves. The spell itself has become known as "wizard for 'fuck you'." note
- In 2nd Edition D&D, the High-Level Campaigns supplement has alternate rules for staging a wizard's duel, mostly to avert the standard rules' tendency for the wizard who'd won initiative to blow the other duelist away in a single round.
- The Dawn of the Emperors boxed set, a supplement for Mystara, included an Alphatian spell called Duel-Shield. It traps two wizards in an impenetrable force-field sphere, allowing them to battle each other to (always) the death, without risk to bystanders or property. Alphatian law forbids all dueling except inside a duel-shield, so wizards there only risk it if they really, really hate each other.
- Forgotten Realms likewise allows for "mageduel" within a magically enclosed area, although here the same magic also keeps them nonlethal. Given and policed by local gods of magic, so they and the participants get to show off without the counterproductive parts where wizards get killed and viewers are too busy running away to enjoy the show. Of course, wizards still duke it out "for real" all the time, formally or spontaneously.
- Worth mentioning: In at least 3E and 3.5E, preventing the other wizard from casting is a valid tactic. If he can't speak, he can't use spells with a verbal component (this can be overcome with the metamagic feat Silent Spell), and immobilizing his hands will block him from casting spells with a somatic component (the counter is Still Spell).
- Complete Arcane also has rules for magical duels that don't end in one of the participants being carried out of the ring in a bucket... unless you take advantage of the rules for cheating, anyway.
- Mage: The Ascension (and its spiritual predecessor, Ars Magica) feature the rite of Certamen, a tradition by which two wizards engage in a duel to resolve their problems.
- Mage: The Awakening carries on the tradition as the Duel Arcane, wherein each participant chooses one Arcana to serve as sword, and another to serve as shield. The Duel takes place in a magically created arena so that their sword and shield Arcana manifest as flashy illusions to attack and defend with. Most Duels will have the combatants attack one another's willpower first and eventually moving on to actual physical damage. The Duel Arcane is the preferred method of resolving disputes in mage society, since it is quick, has no collateral damage, and will probably leave no lasting harm on participants (duels to the death are rare, if they are even legal). Occasionally, mages engage in less traditional duels.
- Warhammer Fantasy
- The game has these in spades, both in the background and on the tabletop. The spellcasting system in the game means that your wizards are essentially in a constant duel with your opponent's wizards throughout the battle, with his wizards attempting to thwart and dispel the spells of your side and vice-versa (although a lot of the damage tends to accrue to the army the wizard is accompanying rather than necessarily the wizard himself). The 2011 Storm of Magic supplement takes this up to eleven by introducing a range of super-powerful spells and cantrips for more direct wizard-to-wizard duelling and scenarios which are won by occupying magical node points with your wizards and denying them to the opponent. Magical duels to the death are almost innumerable in the background books, but the most prominent example of the (usually) non-lethal kind is probably the octannual ritual duel between senior Imperial College Wizards for the honour of becoming the Supreme Patriarch of all the magical colleges for the next eight years. The goal is to be the first wizard to grasp the Patriarch's staff of office at the centre of the ritual duelling chamber.
- The background to the comedy spin-off Fantasy American Football game Blood Bowl plays this trope for laughs. The reason each team is only allowed one wizard on their coaching staff, who is only allowed to cast one specially pre-approved spell during the game, is because wizard Blood Bowl fans supporting rival teams tend to get so out of hand in their excitement that before this ruling was introduced a game of Blood Bowl could often degenerate into a wizard's duel. Which is not what the other fans turned up to watch.
- Ars Magica provides for this with certamen — a generally safe formal contest of wizardly skill (if with some definite potential for flashy visuals) which is the preferred method for the magi of the Order of Hermes to settle disputes that have gone beyond just words. Any conflict for which certamen doesn't suffice is almost by definition one in which one side or the other is seriously out for blood, which the Order generally frowns on.
- Ironclaw's thaumaturgists seem designed for this, their apprentice spells comprise a magic Deflector Shield and two universal Counterspells, one of which is Silence, and their Journeyman spells include defenses that redirect spells back at their caster. But they have no directly damaging spells so many learn other forms of magic such as Elementalism, or melee combat in the Witch Finder's case.
- Shadowrun supplement State of the Art 2063. Some magicians in the Sixth World participate in formal magical duels with their opponents. One of the major magical groups, the Illuminates of the New Dawn, has a set of rules similar to the old rules for dueling with weapons. They include the challenged party being allowed to determine the terms of the duel, the dueling area being warded to prevent the spells from affecting bystanders, and the presence of seconds and a judge to keep things orderly. The opposing magicians are sworn to accept the outcome of the duel, such as resolving the dispute between them.
- Naturally, with characters like Ganondorf, Ness, Palutena or Robin, Super Smash Bros. has a lot of these. Virtually every character can hurl some kind of spell or use some kind of psychic powers.
- While frowned upon by the faculty of Academagia, it is possible to duel other students. There are even specialized dueling actions, skills, and spells.
- Used as the penultimate boss fight in Blue's game in SaGa Frontier. The winner absorbs the loser's magic and personality, giving them the ability to master opposing schools of magic. During the battle, every other turn, a different type of magic becomes more powerful.
- Touhou. The very basis of Spellcard Duels in Gensokyo is to resolve conflict amongst the land's residents in a nonlethal way, with magic missiles / bullets - lots of them.
- It can be made lethal too, as happened in extra stage of Imperishable Night with Fujiwara no Mokou, who is immortal. The characters reason that, since she can't die, there's no point in holding their magic back. Mokou herself endorses this; being supremely powerful and immune to both death and injury, she reasons that all she has left to train is her pain endurance.
- Similarly, fairies are presumably killed when shot, but like the above, re-spawn immediately if killed. In Fairy Wars, where the only playable character is the fairy Cirno, this is represented by the usual Lives counter being replaced by a Motivation bar. You have as many lives as you could ever need; you only lose when Cirno stops having fun and wants to stop.
- In the even more ancient days of Gensokyo, there was no regulation for Spellcard Duels. It's highly implied that the regulation is enforced to prevent the (relatively) already cramped sealed-world from collapsing entirely.
- The wizard mooks of the Magic Crafter levels often engage in these if left to their own devices in Spyro the Dragon.
- Eternal Darkness pits a supernatural spellcasting monster called a Black Guardian against Peter Jacob, who is in fact a normal human who realized his capacity for magic only about an hour before the fact, so this counts.
- In Clive Barker's Undying, the battle against Keisinger in Oneiros. Both of you have an identical and sizable array of spells (with the exception of flight, yours is limited, his isn't,) which you've painstakingly acquired through the length of the game, you're both flying around at the top of a ziggurat floating in his insane pocket dimension, ducking behind columns, using shield counterspells and charging up blasts of lightning and fireballs to cast at each other with distinct gestures for each hand in first-person.
- Fire Emblem
- Duels between sages tend to not be all that impressive, as they have extremely high magical resistance. However, in a battle between a sage and a physical unit..... Except in the 4th game where offensive magical units have generally mediocre magic defense but can use extremely powerful magic or have skills making their power ridiculously high when activated (Tiltyu's wrath ability can double her 40ish power, and her daughter can double 50ish power on characters with a maximum of 30 resistance).
- There also is the "Magic Triangle" of Light Magic beating Dark Magic, and Dark Magic beating Anima Magic, which beats Light Magic.
- Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
- Irenicus in has a few cutscenes where he combines this with a Curb-Stomp Battle, dispatching multiple enemy wizards in a manner of seconds. There are also several spells usable in game that are specifically designed for wizard duels, most notably the ones that protect the user from spells and the ones used to remove those.
- There is also a part in the tavern in the Drow City where your party mage can participate in such fights. Finally, Edwin apparently tried this with Elminster in the epilogue, but lost and got turned into Edwina again.
- As the vast majority of characters on Chaos's side in Dissidia: Final Fantasy specialize in magic, and Terra is the only warrior of Cosmos that does, many of her battles turn into this. Several of her comrades also use magic, but she's the only one who does so exclusively. Her cutscene battles with Ultimecia and Kefka also sorta count.
- If you're playing as a Magic User in Quest for Glory III, you get to engage in one of these against the shaman of the Leopardmen. It ends badly when the shaman, enraged at being outclassed, summons a demon to possess him. You can either fight him normally or use a Dispel potion to cancel the possession, which makes a bigger impression with the Leopardmen, as well as winning the shaman's thanks for saving him from his impulsiveness.
- In the Legacy DLC of Dragon Age II, a mage Hawke will briefly engage in a magical duel with Corypheus before killing him, though not completely.
- Dragon Age: Inquisition has one between Magister Erimond and Warden-Commander Clarel. It's pretty one-sided, as she brushes aside everything he throws at her and smacks him around like a rag-doll. It only ends when Erimond brings in the Red Lyrium Dragon.
- Mass Effect 2:
- One of the later loyalty missions features Justicar Samara and her daughter Morinth engaging in a biotic duel to the death. However, though Samara is the more experienced of the two, Morinth is equal to her in terms of sheer power; as such, after blasting each other against walls and battering each other with furniture, they end up caught in a Beam-O-War that can only be resolved by Shepard intervening, possibly killing Samara in the process.
- If you let him, Niftu Cal tries to engage the mercenary Captain Wasea in one of these. Unfortunately, since Niftu Cal is a) a Volus merchant with absolutely no combat experience pitted against an asari commandonote , and b) tanked up on drugs that have him believing that he's a "biotic god," the confrontation is hopelessly one-sided: he fires one biotic blast the size of a pea that fizzles just in front of Wasea's nose, and promptly gets imploded by Wasea's riposte.
- During the battle in West Harbor at the beginning of Neverwinter Nights 2, the town's resident wizard Tarmas engages the githyanki mage leading the attack in a rather spectacular wizard duel. His apprentice Amie tries to help her master, but the githyanki basically rolls his eyes and one-shots her with a flame arrow spell.
- Using Clarke's Third Law with Lost Technology, Assassin's Creed does this on a number of occasions:
- In the first game, Altaïr fights Al Mualim at the very end, countering his opponent's use of the Apple of Eden to summon the ghosts of his first nine targets and then his Doppelgänger Attack with Aura Vision, using it to see through the illusions.
- In Assassin's Creed II, Ezio and Rodrigo Borgia both use their respective Pieces of Eden to fight each other at the end of the game, with Ezio in particular imitating Al Mualim's Doppelgänger Attack from the first game.
- In The Tyranny of King Washington DLC for Assassin's Creed III, both Connor and Washington use more overtly magic-like abilities—Washington's are still derived from an Apple of Eden like most of the other "magic" throughout the series, but Connor's is never given a realistic explanation and is explicitly related to spirit animals that he encounters.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- In Morrowind, Mages Guild Archmage Trebonius Artorius is a talented Battlemage, but proved so hopelessly incompetent at managing Guild affairs that his mainland superiors Kicked him Upstairs to run the Guild branch in the most backwater district in the Empire where he could do the least amount of damage. While there is a peaceful way to claim his title, it leaves you co-head of the Guild with Trebonius, which is obviously less desirable. More likely, you'll challenge him to a duel to the death in one of these. Given that, unlike future games in the series, factions in Morrowind have attribute and skill requirements for advancement, you will both likely be quite magically skilled for said duel.
- Skyrim: If your magic skills are at a high enough level, you may encounter a "challenger" in your travels who wishes to duel you with magic. This rarely plays out straight, though, seeing as how there's nothing stopping the player from simply FUS RO DAHing him over the castle walls and watching him plummet to his death, or simply drawing your huge greatsword and cleaving him in twain the second the duel begins. And that's if the guards don't intervene first: apparently, no-one told the challenger that the Nords don't like the idea of someone flinging fireballs around in the castle walls. (This encounter becomes particularly hilarious if you happen to be the Archmage of the College of Winterhold, a position you didn't claim by being a magical weakling.note It also gets funnier if you drain his magicka with a load of lightning magic or magicka poison. He whips out a tiny dagger and starts wailing on you with it, and then when you pull out your own weapon and do the same, he starts bitching that it's supposed to be a magic duel, fought with magic).
- Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time: The Witch Hazel (which permanently turns zombies into puff-shrooms) targets and prioritizes transforming Wizard Zombies (which temporarily turns plants into useless sheep until he's killed). According to Word of God, she's the arch-nemesis of Wizard Zombie.
- The Secret World features one of these at the very end of "Sympathy For The Devil," the second dungeon of the Hell Dimensions arc. Here, Eblis Dominus Inferni in Profondis decides to end the demonic revolution that's been undermining his rule over Hell by taking out the ringleader, the Oxford magician Theodore Wicker. While this might seem hideously once-sided at first, it turns out that Wicker is a lot more resilient than he looks: not only is he the single greatest practitioner of portal magic seen in this Age, but the rituals that allow him to survive the Hell dimensions have left him effectively immortal, allowing him millennia to hone his affinity for combat magic. With both combatants effectively too evenly matched, they end up getting stuck in a Beam-O-War, forcing them to finish the battle through proxies: Eblis calls in an Oni hitsquad, while Wicker calls upon the players to defend him.
- Wizard 101: How else would you fight things?
- The wizards' duels in The Book of Gray Magic lean heavily on the multiple types of magic in that world and the teamwork between users of opposed magical styles. The climactic duel in the first chapter, Brilliant Shadows, ends tragically, with multiple deaths on both sides of the conflict.
- El Goonish Shive has Terra vs. Magus match, which seems to be more a contest of skill, if rather Hot-Blooded, than genuine attempt to fry each other. And a fight here (some spoilers).
- The Order of the Stick:
- In the prequel book, Start of Darkness, we get to see the epic battle between Xykon and Dorukan. It mostly consists of Xykon casting "Energy Drain" over and over until Dorukan is helpless.
- Vaarsuvius versus Zz'dtri of the Linear Guild. It isn't a particularly impressive battle, though, as Zz'dtri is able to effortlessly counter anything V could throw at him. Except Summon Lawyers.
- Vaarsuvius and Zz'dtri go at it again in the Empire of Blood arc, but this time V gets the upper hand by dominating the Linear Guild's kobold rogue and using him to fight Zz'dtri.
- The duel between Redcloak and the High Priest of Azure City. With lots of special effects.
- By contrast, V and Xykon threw down with a rather higher special effects budget. Arcanists get all the perks...
- Durkon vs. Malack, reclaiming the dignity of divine spellcasters everywhere.
- The appropriately-named "Caster Fight!" showcases a duel between V and the psion Laurin. V wins by pointing out that Laurin's expended a lot of power today already, while V has a ton of spells left, which prompts her to just teleport away.
- Wizard Duels are a staple of The Wotch comic, and tend to be marked by high mobility. Those wizards aren't about to stand and get spells hurled at them — they move.
- The climactic duel in Schwarz Kreuz, which technically is a vampire duel, but full of illusions, turning into mist and Voluntary Shapeshifting.
- Desolate Era: Ning engages in a series of magical duels called Dao Debates with more senior students as a form of hazing.
- RWBY: In the very first episode, Glynda Goodwitch tries to prevent Roman Torchwick's plane from escaping, but ends up engaging in a magic battle against the pilot, Cinder Fall. What ensues is a duel where Glynda controls the weather and transforms the ensuing debris into large objects, only to be countered by Cinder's spontaneous outbursts of fire.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Agni Kai, a duel between two firebenders is a formalized version of this in the Fire Nation.
- Most fights between benders qualify, but also standing out are Katara's duel with Pakku and her fight with Hama.
- The most extreme example would be Aang Vs. Firelord Ozai in the finale. During the duel Aang manages to finally unlock the Avatar State and is able to bend the elements almost like gesture-magic. Only the Avatar State's power lets each gesture has an absolutely titanic effect. E.g. clenching his fist crushes boulders to a hundredth of their size.
- In the sequel series to Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, "pro bending" is a team version popular as a spectator sport.
- Believe it or not, one of these happened in season three of the original Transformers, when some Autobots pursued a fugitive into another, magical dimension.
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic
- In the season 2 finale, Princess Celestia faces off against Queen Chrysalis in a magical duel that, for bonus points, overlaps nicely with Frickin' Laser Beams. To everyone's surprise, including her own, Chrysalis had absorbed so much power from consuming the love shared between Princess Cadance and Shining Armor that she was able to walk away the victor.
- The later episode "Magic Duel" features the "I can do it better" variant between Twilight Sparkle and Trixie. The first time Trixie uses an Amplifier Artifact to perform an age spell which Twilight can't do and she is forcefully removed from Ponyville. She returns for a rematch and uses a false amulet and smoke and mirrors to fake three even more powerful spells in order to get Trixie to steal the powerless amulet and removing her real one.
- "Campfire Tales": In the legend told by Rarity, Sable Spirit and Mistmane battle by using powerful unicorn magic; growing plants surrounding the opponent like a cocoon, and summoning dragon spirits (made of fire and water, respectively) to clash against each other.
- The Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner short "Whizzard of Ow" has one of these at the start of the episode between the Roadrunner and the Coyote.
- Papa Smurf has a few duels with wizards in The Smurfs, one of them being with Hotap in "Papa's Family Album".
- Adventure Time apparently has one of these anually, many of Ooo's greatest wizards gather to prove who's magic is the strongest, and to get a kiss from Princess Bubblegum.
- In Barbie and the Secret Door, Alexa and Malucia get into a duel with their magic wands.
- Even Star Trek: The Animated Series gets into the act with "The Magicks of Megas-Tu", an episode of the somewhat-obscure animated season which aired in 1972. The episode involves an alternate universe where magic works, and Kirk is forced into a formal magical duel with one of the Megans.
- Subverted in an episode of South Park where Cartman pretends to be a psychic detective. At one point he is forced to have a "psychic battle" with a group of rival psychic detectives, but because both Cartman and the detectives are just pretending to be psychic and don't have any real powers, the "battle" consists of them shouting sound effects and waving their hands at each other while looking constipated, before declaring it a draw.
- The Uncle Grandpa episode "Tiger Trails" starts In Medias Res with Uncle Grandpa and a boy named Caleb in a "wizard battle" with an evil wizard named Evil Wizard.
- The Discworld reasonably-official animated short "The Duel" is about two wizards in Unseen University fighting over a book, with increasingly powerful magics being used in the process. It doesn't end well for either of them.