"Swordfighting is a little like making love. It's not always what you do, but what you say."Cutting implements and cutting remarks, combined. Two characters are fighting, probably with swords or fists. They're also engaged in Witty Banter or Volleying Insults or, perhaps, having a discussion on fighting technique, the meaning of life, what they had for lunch, or why new music is so awful. In comics (and comic-based cartoons), this is typically referred to as "quipping" and is standard operational procedure for most heroes. Except Batman. Common when the action sequences need some dialogue. If done right, the dialogue is more memorable than the action, and will probably be quoted incessantly. This is also a common trick of the Warrior Therapist. Luckily for them Talking Is a Free Action, so they're never short of breath or time (and can hear each other clearly over all the crashing and punching and loud gunshots). Compare Gunpoint Banter. If an insult's delivered just before the killing stroke, see Pre-Mortem One-Liner. If a few moments later, see Bond One-Liner. See My Grandma Can Do Better Than You and My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad for similar insults.
— Captain Smirk, The Secret of Monkey Island
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- The Duels in Revolutionary Girl Utena often contain some form of this; Utena's part, though, can be either participatory, or merely reactionary, depending on how invested she is at the moment... or how confused. (Utena, not the audience.) Theatrically, in a series where the difference between reality and reality-as-a-stage has blurred, the duels were depicted as cathartic. This is especially blatant in the final Nanami duel, as both participants know Nanami hasn't a shot in hell of winning from the start and just needs to HIT someone.
- In the Utena Live-Action Role-Play Still Places, the winner of a duel is partially determined by whose banter was more psychologically damaging to the opponent.
- Also, the Duels in Yu-Gi-Oh! are frequently peppered with insults when the characters don't Contemplate Our Navels.
- The Abridged Series references the Monkey Island insult during Joey vs. Kaiba. One of Kaiba's put-downs goes on for nearly a minute.
- The Amerimanga incarnation of the Dirty Pair mention taking a class in "Combat Quips," although they may have been just pulling their interlocutor's leg.
- During his battle with Kyuzo in Samurai 7, Kambei confides that he is in love... with Kyuzo's skill, that is. He also tries to convince Kyuzo to join the samurai.
- Dragon Ball Z: Vegetto, the fusion of Goku and Vegeta, is the absolute master of this, having the perfect blend of Vegeta's (now justified) arrogance, and Goku's sense of humor.
Buu: Are you ready?
Vegetto: That depends. If by that you mean "am I superior to you in every way?" then yes.
- One Piece
- Roronoa Zoro is the most prone to this. Nearly all of his battles have featured gratuitous Trash Talk on his part. While holding a sword in his mouth. His heart allows him to speak.
- Sanji is definitely no slouch either.
- When Luffy talks in a fight, you can be sure he's either telling the other guy to shut up or fanboying over how cool the other guy's attacks are.
- During Franky's fight with Fukuro at Enies Lobby, they start calling each other various forms of underwear.
- Ranma ½: Ranma does this so much when he fights that it's a battle tactic. "Anything Goes."
- The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer: Mikazuki picks up on this when he plays "catch" with Yuuhi.
- Spider-Man may not use a sword, but nevertheless, he's the master of the fighting quip. This is greatly amplified in the Ultimate Spider-Man incarnation, likely because he is a teenager, making him more of a wiseass and more terrified. How he is able to talk this much while performing superhuman acrobatics without taking so much as a breath is another mystery, though of course, Talking Is a Free Action.
- Word of God has it that he quips so much because he's horribly horribly scared and running off at the mouth keeps him distracted from that. Other writers suggest that he does it out of boredom: he perceives everything as moving slower and uses jokes and one-liners to kill time. Either way, it serves the purpose of taunting the enemy so that they target him rather than civilians.
- Spider-Man and Ronin (formerly Hawkeye) were members of The Avengers simultaneously. Spidey was taken aback that somebody was horning in on his quipping racket, but Clint basically says "tough, I like to quip, too."
- When the New Avengers went to Japan, Luke Cage is thrown over a balcony by ninjas. Being Nigh Invulnerable, he not only survives, he finds the bright side — while he was running back up, Spidey "ran out of material."
- The Spider-Girl series has the title character realize this as a sort of automatic coping mechanism. When she came upon scenes that should have horrified her and left her shocked and speechless; if she just made a quick joke about the whole situation and thus help herself treat it less seriously, she could focus on the bad guy. In an early situation, while dodging a teleporting baddie's fire, the second-person narration points out that her dad would, according to legend, be throwing out jokes, but she knows she'd only be able to manage "a cracked voice and a few stuttering comments."
- Green Goblin (particularly Norman Osborn's and Harry Osborn's versions) has a very wacky personality and the tendency to crack sadistic jokes toward Spider-Man whenever they fight.
- Venom from Earth X isn't so good at it, perhaps because her father refuses to have anything to do with her crime fighting. Later, once they've reconciled, he begins training her at it.
- The main universe Spider-Man occasionally comments on this too. In the eighties he suddenly realized that as the villains were killing people, he was wisecracking.
- Part of being Peter's Evil Counterpart, Venom is known to be the villain that actually makes Spidey scream "Shut up!"
- When Mary Jane temporarily appeared to be dead a few years ago, Spider-Man beat down a group of small-time criminals without saying a word. The last of them fled in terror, realizing that something was seriously wrong. Rule of thumb: if you're fighting Spider-Man, and he's not making jokes, you're about to have a very bad day.
- The Spider-Man of 2099 is the opposite of the present-day Spidey: in his civilian guise, Miguel O'Hara constantly spouts snide comments, but when he puts the mask on, he gets very quiet (at least early in his career...) The man is damn scary when he stops quipping. In his 2014 series, while he was trapped in the past, be temporarily tries to pass as Spiderman. The woman he's saving calls him on it, pointing out that he's not as chatty as the real deal.
- As any villain who has ever seen Spider-Man quiet could tell you, if Spider-Man is quipping, you are probably okay and won't get hurt TOO bad. They also know that if he ever STOP quipping, You. Should. RUN.
- She-Hulk, a fellow Lighter and Softer (of sorts) superheroine is also a frequent quipper. When Spidey appeared early on in her revived title, with her serving as his lawyer in a suit against J. Jonah Jameson, he even mentions that they enjoy quipping together. (This is also the source of the panel where Spidey claims JJJ hates him because "he's black".)
- Deadpool, being an lunatic who knows he's in a comic book, has some truly... interesting... battle banter which often derails into stream-of-consciousness rambling about something completely unrelated (even as he handily beats the stuffing out of his opponent.) In fact, it's speculated by some characters that he does this on purpose to distract his opponents. Several characters, at least, have had lines like, "What are you talking about?" cut off by a blow to the face from Deadpool.
- Given that Spider-Man and Deadpool are the masters of this trope within the Marvel universe, it should come as no surprise that they utilize this to the fullest when they meet up in Amazing Spider-Man #611, which writer Joe Kelly describes as "a fight that very quickly degenerates into a 'your mother is' joke contest."
- Deadpool has at least one voice in his head that he converses with; often he has two or more. As a result, he is one of the only comic book characters who can give "fight like a cow" insults to himself.
- On the villain side, The Joker. Whatever hero he meets or situation Batman finds him in, he's always got some quip to deliver as they square off for the fight... often centered around the people he's just slaughtered or, in some cases, people important to the hero he's killed in the past. He'll often even give running commentary on the beating he's being handed, sometimes as a lead-in to a Breaking Speech.
- Defied by Sodam Yat in Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War when he's fighting Superman-Prime:
Sodam Yat: I don't trade quips, insults or banter. I'm Corps, not a comedian.
- Superman-Prime himself tries to do this... but he's not good at it.
- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Knives: I totally grazed you!
- Knives attacks Ramona and manages to score a shallow cut on her face:
Ramona: How appropriate. You fight like a cow.
Scott: Shut up, you... guy!
- Scott himself, however, sucks at battle quips:
Wallace: Better comebacks, Scott!
- Sin City has this exchange between Wallace and Manute:
Manute: You're quick. I should've brought a fly swatter.
Wallace: You should've brought an army.
- Part of Nightwing's stock in trade.
Nightwing: I'm chatty, it's part of my charm.
- Even when Dick was Robin, he was an expert in strings of witty quips. Even the other Robins seem to have picked this up.
- It seems to be a habit of the Robins. However Tim Drake (third Robin and now Red Robin) seems to have dropped it and was never really that witty to begin with. Damian Wayne (4th or 5th Robin, depending on the continuity), throws insults in a Sophisticated as Hell sort of way. Jason Todd (second Robin and Red Hood) seems to give Dick a good run for his money. He does throws a lot of smack talk at his opponents (like Nightwing) as a way to get them emotional or distract them. The real difference is that Nightwing does it in a lighter and more playful manner. Jason's witty quips are darker and more sadistic.
- Even when Dick was Robin, he was an expert in strings of witty quips. Even the other Robins seem to have picked this up.
- Defied in an issue of Generation X, where X-Cutioner explicitly tells Skin that he is "not interested in engaging [him] in a witty repartee."
- While he doesn't do it a lot in the games, Sonic, being the resident Motor Mouth, does this quite a bit in the comics. 90% of the time it's as simple as an Incredibly Lame Pun derived from his opponent's name.
- He does it often enough that in issue 48, it was explicitly noted by the narration that he wasn't running off at the mouth during a fight.
- By extension, Scourge also does it quite a bit as well.
- Tails also shows signs of picking up this habit from time to time.
- In Astro City story "Pastoral", Roustabout is full of quips when taking down the bank robbers. Less so with Team Carnivore, which actually looked able to overwhelm him for a time.
- In ''Vinyl and Octavia Have Multiple Dates'', Octavia ends up getting into a pun battle with Neon Lights. Also includes a Shout-Out to the Trope Namer.
Neon Lights: Yeah well, youï¿½ youï¿½ You- fight like a cow!Octavia: How appropriate. You fight like a dairy farmer.
- In the Homestuck fanfic series Golden Age, Queen Jane has a grand time taunting the highblood captain of the ship she's appeared on. Granted, since he never seems to connect the dots that, as a hologram, she can't exactly be harmed by gunfire, he kind of has it coming.
- Being somewhat based on Spider-Man, Madison/Tether from Atonement naturally indulges in a lot of quipping. So much so that when she fights an enemy who can redirect and weaponize sound, she endangers herself several times by accidentally quipping, thus giving her opponent ammo.
Films — Animation
- In The Road to El Dorado:
Miguel: You fight like my sister!
Tulio: Ah ha! I've fought your sister! That's a compliment!
- In Animalympics, when The Contessa confronts the crooked fencer Count Bordeaux:
Bordeaux: You'll never fence again!
Contessa: You've never fenced before!
- Pretty ludicrously done in the eighth script draft for South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. The Doctor from the Hospital scene runs in with an M-16. A Canadian steps in front of him; the doctor shoots and blows the Canadian's head clean off.
Dr. Gauche: Hey, pal, don't lose your head.
(suddenly, the ticket guy's chest rips open. He falls dead, and standing behind him is a Canadian with a double-barreled shotgun)
Canadian Soldier: I'm glad you got that off your chest.
(Tom, the Rhinoplasty surgeon, leaps in and stabs the Canadian through the head with his bayonet.)
Tom: I guess he got the point.
(a Canadian rushes in and machine-guns Tom full of holes)
Canadian Soldier 2: Plastics are a cheap and efficient insulator for electrical applications.
- Po vs. the Wolf Boss in Kung Fu Panda 2:
Wolf Boss: Is that all you got? 'Cause it feels like I'm fighting a big, old, fluffy cloud!Po: Well this cloud is about to bring the thunder!
- Subverted in Megamind.
Megamind: [fighting Titan] Now it's time for some witty back-and-forth banter! You go first!
Megamind: Okay, I don't know where to go with that...
- Spoofed in Sev Trek: Pus in Boots when Captain Pinchard is fighting his Evil Twin.
Evil Pinchard: You fight like a girl!
Good Pinchard: Oh yeah? Well you look like a... never mind.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame played it straight in the fight between Esmeralda and Pheobos, which was rich with Casual Danger Dialog.
- Pheobos: You fight almost as well as a man...
Esmeralda: Funny, I was about to say the same thing about you!
- In Strange Magic the duel between Marianne and the Bog King consists of a duet liberally mixed with these kinds of comments. And, as they prove to be each other's equal it turns downright flirtatious.
- Bog King: You fight well- for a fairy.
Marianne: Wish I could say the same for you!
Bog King: What do you mean?
Marianne: I dunno. I was expecting... more.
Films — Live-Action
- The famous Inigo/Westley duel in The Princess Bride, where the two duelists discuss swordsmanship styles and dexterity as they fight, may be the most well-known example. Interestingly, though the fighting itself is pure Flynning, the various techniques they claim to be using (Bonetti's Defense, Capo Ferro, etc.) all include the names of real fencing masters.
- Robin Hood: Men in Tights, the Mel Brooks parody of Robin Hood stories, featured Cary Elwes reprising his role as Westley... complete with similar quipping swordplay. His archenemy the Sheriff of Rottingham attempts this and fails...every time.
- The swashbuckling films of Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. (and Jr.) were rife with this trope.
- The title heroes of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films indulge in this with Michaelangelo and Donatello being the prime offenders.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl features a short exchange of witty banter between Jack Sparrow and Will Turner, and the series only builds on the banter from there. Indeed, at many points in the PotC franchise one can discern who has the advantage in a fight by paying attention to who gets the better lines.
- The three lightsaber duels in the original Star Wars trilogy use this, with A New Hope having the most and Return of the Jedi having the least. The prequels are pretty devoid of it though.
- Galaxy Quest's (mostly) fake fight in the airlock consists of trading insults ("Raving egomaniac!" "scene-stealing hack!") and (mostly) fake punches ("You used to pull your punches") while maneuvering into position to grab a blunt object.
- The beginning of the third The Librarian movie, Curse of the Judas Chalice, has an excellent example of this, with Flynn and the villain du jour dueling on stairs while critiquing each other's technique.
- In Woody Allen's feature-length Gag Dub, What's Up, Tiger Lily?, the hero shouts nonsensical insults such as, "Russian dog! Spanish fly!" at his opponents.
- Plenty of this happens in martial arts spoof Tongan Ninja, most notably when Action Fighter quips: "You fight like a baby... a dead baby!"
- In Kuffs during a standoff with some bad guys:
Bad guy: (paraphrased) There's more of us than them! Let's get them! (he is promptly shot by Kuffs' partner)
Kuffs: Well, now we know that he [the bad guy] can add, and he [indicates his partner] can subtract..."
- The duel between Mina and Dorian Grey in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is Better on DVD because A) the version in the deleted scenes lasts longer and B) the double entendres are hilarious.
- In The Deluge (1974 polish film), Kmita, robber and murderer, kidnapped a noblewoman, with whom he fell in love. He barricaded them in a house and threatened besiegers that he would blow up the house with a barrel of powder. Col. Volodyovski forced him to duel, offering Kmita freedom if he wins. But Kmita quickly realised that he met his match.
Col. Volodyovski: You strike like a man with a flail!
Kmita: Finish - spare the shame!
- In Tamora Pierce's Song Of Thelioness books, Alanna notices that her opponents tend to get more nervous when she remains eerily silent throughout. However, during a friendly match between Alanna and Kel in Daughter of the Lioness, they do taunt each other.
- In Piers Anthony's book Crewel Lye, the protagonist notes that some physically weak fighters with sharp tongues do well.
- In Johannes Cabal the Detective Cabal uses this to his advantage-he challenges Count Marechal to a swordfight (as opposed to just shooting Cabal dead) by provoking his pride into giving Cabal the chance of a fair fight. During the actual fight he wonders if the Count learned to fight via correspondence course. The Count calls him a "low-born dog."
- Harry Dresden of The Dresden Files; it makes sense, since his creator is a self-proclaimed Spider-Man fan. He has managed to quip about following the Tao of Peter Parker while being interrogated by a Big Bad. Which makes a bit of sense since you don't need technology to read comic books.
- Several characters from Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers, the most serious offender being Porthos. He quipped so much that it was actually part of his combat technique. In the first sword fight from the book the duel between d'Artagnan and all three of the musketeers, that got interrupted by the cardinal's guards, Porthos gets stuck fighting two adversaries at once and he finishes first because he keeps tormenting them with questions about the time, what they thought of this and that social event at court, corrections about their fighting styles, etc. He of course is not the only offender, all of the characters engaging in this behavior from time to time.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe has a form of this called Dun Möch, waging psychological warfare on their opponents through taunts and insults while using the Force to manipulate their enemies' emotions. Almost entirely a Sith technique, although there has been the occasional Jedi who made use of it for more benign reasons. Admittedly, Jedi use of it tends less toward hurling insults and more toward Warrior Therapist, but the goal remains the same: put your opponent off balance by interfering with their ability to concentrate and thus their ability to use The Force.
- A Song of Ice and Fire
- Ser Rodrik criticizes the people he's teaching swordplay in this manner. Specifically he tells one that he fights like a porcupine (presumably stabbing out a sword aimlessly to try and keep an opponent away) and another that he fights like a goose, letting himself be hit and hitting back harder, ignoring the fact that with real swords the first blow would have killed him.
- The climactic duel between Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper of Dorne and Gregor Clegane, the Mountain that Rides. The former talks a lot, but it mostly consists of repeating the same thing over and over in an attempt to infuriate his opponent and get him to confess his crimes. The latter gets worked up enough to shout at him to shut up a few times, but doesn't actually reply coherently until the end.
- Happens a few times in Redwall, particularly with the hares, who seem to include more friendly-sounding snark the more serious the fight is, often even offering tips on fighting to their opponents. Dippler and Fenno also get in a bit;
"I'm gonna slay you just like I did Logalog!"
"You can't kill me the way you killed Logalog. I'm facin' you, Fenno. You stabbed Logalog in the back!"
- Snape, ever the teacher, corrects Harry's technique and lectures him on his mistakes while they duel near the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
- While dueling Qui-Gon in The Captive Temple, Xanatos taunts his former Master for being slow, claiming he's faster now. Qui-Gon disagrees.
- "No. You just talk more."
- Later he says that Xanatos always starts his taunts when he's tiring, and that his fatal flaw is his need to boast, often revealing aspects of his complex plans that would be more effective if secret.
- Royal Flash. Flashman does this to the Rupert of Hentzau-expy he's fighting to make him lose his temper and wear himself out in wild thrusts, so the stronger Flashman will have the advantage. It doesn't work.
- In ''The Deluge'', during Wołodyjowski's duel with Kmicic, the former calls out the latter on all of his shabby fencing techniques. A less trashy example than usual, but there are a few comments along the lines of: "Alright, that one? Good for chasing off stray dogs."
- Warrior Cats: The Clan cats will use a phrase called "You're fighting like a kittypet(house cat)" to a cat whose fighting is poor. The best example is Blackfoot telling Darkstripe this when he's having trouble against a beaten and starving Stonefur.
- Most of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer crew get a shot at it, as they're living in a World of Snark.
Willow: Well, w-w-well, the Slayer always says a pun, or-or a witty play on words, and, I think it throws the vampires off! And, and it makes them frightened, because I'm wisecracking. Okay, I didn't really have a chance to work on that one, but you try it every time!
- Spoofed with the Buffybot, when Willow tries to make it as much like Buffy as possible but messes up the "quipping" feature, resulting in the likes of "That'll put marzipan in your pie plate, bingo!"
- And lampshaded in the first Season 3 episode that showed the rest of the crew trying to get on with the slayage without her. Willow, after a really bad one :
You're as inadequate a troll as you were a boyfriend! Uh, y-you're hairy, and unattractive, and even women trolls are put off by your various odors. Your menacing stance is merely alarming! And your roar is less than full-throated!Buffy: If I were at full slayer strength, I'd be punning right now.
- Also, in season 5, during the fight with Olaf the troll. Anya, being the reason he is a troll, has a lot to say about him - though she runs out of snark once she gets past, "You're a troll!";
- Lampshaded when Buffy finds herself up against a female vampire who's as good as she is, including snark-wise. One of her henchvamps asks if they're going to fight or just have a monster sarcasm rally.
- Kurenai Otoya from Kamen Rider Kiva tends to quip a lot when fighting as IXA.
- A lot of characters in the Power Rangers franchise like to chat while they fight, but the undefeated masters of this has to be the Ninja Storm Rangers who sometimes layer jokes and quips so thick it's like Spider-Man times six.
- Kaamelott's weaponmaster does not hesitate to insult the king while sparring with him. Arthur is usually not amused, doesn't really see the point though the weaponmaster does try and get him to throw insults around. He finally gets his way... only for Arthur to say something which he finds really, really offensive.
- Star Trek: Enterprise ("In a Mirror, Darkly"). In the Mirror Universe, the Hotter and Sexier versions of Hoshi and T'Pol exchange snarky comments during a Knife Fight.
Hoshi: I was hoping you'd put up a fight.
T'Pol: I'm surprised you're not exhausted from all the beds you've jumped into recently.
Hoshi: Commander Tucker told me I should give you a few pointers in that area.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In "Way of the Warrior" Garak is beaten up by Klingon soldiers.
Bashir: They broke seven of your transverse ribs and fractured your clavicle.Garak: Ah, but I got off several cutting remarks that no doubt did serious damage to their egos.
- Cutthroat Kitchen: Chefs often do this in the middle of the round. The exchanges often go like this:
Chef 1: How is that dish working out for you, eh? You can't cook without the thing which I took away.Chef 2: Oh, this is nothing. I can make a better dish out of these. I can't imagine cooking with with those eggs.Chef 1: These may be stink bombs now, but that won't stop me.
- Firefly: "War Stories" when Niska has Mal and Wash abducted and tortured. The two of them frustrate Niska by ignoring him and arguing with each other throughout the torture session, bantering and needling each other in between jolts of electricity.
- It's revealed later in the episode that Mal specifically goaded Wash with the banter to keep his mind focused and keep him sane throughout the brutal torture.
- Iron Fist (2017): Danny Rand gets challenged to a duel with a bunch of the Hand's finest assassins, all of whom have various taunts to level at him. When he gets to the last one, Scythe, this happens:
Scythe: Who the hell are you? [beat] When does the real warrior get here?Danny Rand: These childish insults are getting tiring. It's like you all trained on the same playground.Scythe: [chuckles] Would you like to choose a weapon? [motions to his rack of scythes]Danny Rand: I am the weapon.
- An advantage of its origins in wrestling, since a locked in hold is about as good a time to trash talk your opponent as any. Unless it's some form of choke or smother, the held wrestler can also return insults, especially if they're about to escape. Not a particularly smart thing to do in a match but its doable all the same. Tag team matches allow for banter, since (in theory) at least two wrestlers will always be free to talk. For the most part though, wrestlers prefer to talk to their audiences than to each other during matches. They have promo segments set aside for each other.
- Sporting Trash Talk can take this form. This exchange from an Australia vs England Cricket match:
Merv Hughes: You can't fucking bat.
Robin Smith: (after smashing Hughes' next delivery to the boundary) Hey, Merv, we make a great pair. I can't fucking bat and you can't fucking bowl.
- This one from a county game:
Greg Thomas: (after Viv Richards completely missed his delivery) It's red, round and weighs about 5 ounces.
Viv Richards: (after hitting Greg's next delivery out of the ground) Greg, you know what it looks like. Go ahead and find it!
- A classic cricket exchange:
Glen Mc Grath: Why are you so fat?
Eddo Brandes: Because every time I make love to your wife, she gives me a biscuit.
- Australia vs England, again:
Rod Marsh: Now then, Beefy, how's your wife and my kids?
Ian Botham: (taking guard with apparent unconcern) The wife's fine but the kids are retarded.
- 7th Sea is made of this trope, the description of the game world is "Where a cutting remark is as sharp as any blade." The game has a Repartee system that includes taunts (making a flourish and then forcing an opponent to make an equally impressive flourish) and intimidation (depriving opponents of dice), to the point that some swordsman schools are built around it. For example, one gives the player an extra action each turn that can only be used to taunt his foe.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- In the 4th edition, the Bard class is a master of this trope. And since their puns and insults are actually magical attacks, it is possible for a Bard to insult someone to death. Not so spoony now, eh?
- This is very likely derived from some prestige classes in some third edition settings (like the musketeer class in D20 Past) who gain the ability to automatically confirm critical hits if their player can come up with a witty, relevant and previously unused remark (or a cheap pun, you know whatever) to go with the attack. Like stabbing a vampire and saying "Looks like the stakes were too high." (We're ignoring the fact that vampires cannot be critically hit.) See the The Order of the Stick reference below.
- 3.5 edition had the Jester class, which was like the Bard but more focused on taunting the enemy into submission with insulting jokes than inspiring allies with heroic songs.
- Kender, a race in the Dragonlance setting, have the racial ability to taunt opponents into attacking them wildly without regard to their personal safety as a tactical combat option.
To wizards: "You call yourself a wizard? You couldn't even cast a fishing line!"
- In GURPS, there is an advantage called Rapier Wit, which enables its user to stun an opponent with a well-chosen remark. And it is a free action.
- Mutants & Masterminds has the Taunt Feat, which allows a character to use their Bluff Skill to lower an opponent's defenses.
- The True 20 system adds an ability to the Bluff skill called Conversational Paralysis, in which you say something so flat-out ridiculous that your opponent can do nothing but spend their next turn marveling at how wrong you are.
- Vampire: The Requiem has a bloodline called the Spina who can gain combat advantages against opponents they've engaged in dialogue. At their power's highest level they can injure opponents just by insulting them.
- Deadlands allows three social actions to hinder opponents in combat: staredowns (i.e. give 'em the old steel eyed glare and get them pecker heads quaking in their boots), bluffing to keep them off balance, and mocking them into doing something stupid.
- Scion lets Scions of the Tuatha De Dannan (the gods of Ireland) insult their opponents so harshly that it destroys their ability to do the task mocked ("I've seen blind children who could hurt me worse than this idiot!", for example, would cripple the target's combat skill).
- Warhammer: The Chaos special character Wulfrik the Wanderer is able to do this in order to challenge enemy champions. His insults are crude and unsubtle (think nine-foot-tall Viking Jerk Jock metalhead), but thank to Chaos magic they infuriate the target so much they have to fight back (and often fight badly because of it).
- In Lace & Steel, exchanging witticisms during combat is facilitated by rolling (mutually agreed upon) Repartee contests at the start of combat, as well as whenever a Disengage or Lock Hilts card is played. The winner of the contest gets to steal two cards from the loser's hand.
- Exalted gives bonuses for using stunts, interesting descriptions of a character's actions. Combat quips, insults, banter, and repartee are all valid stunts.
- Averted (though the trope apparently hadn't been invented yet) in the climactic duel in Macbeth:
Macbeth: Of all men else I have avoided thee: but get thee back; my soul is too much charged with blood of thine already.
Macduff: I have no words: My voice is in my sword: thou bloodier villain than terms can give thee out!
- Older Than Television: Cyrano de Bergerac in Rostand's play, while fighting a duel, made up an insulting poem about how he was going to kill his opponent during the last line. He did.
Hark, how the steel rings musical!
Mark how my point floats, light as the foam,
Ready to drive you back to the wall,
Then, as I end the refrain, thrust home!
- The trope name is taken from the above Monkey Island quotation; in that game, the results of sword fights are based entirely on insults, with lots of Flynning between barbs. As the game's sword fighting instructor put it, sword fighting is a lot like making love: It doesn't really matter what you do, but what you say.
- In later games things get more... interesting... In the third game the fights all take place at sea, so all insults and comebacks have to rhyme. By the fourth, everything is based around insulting: Insult Darts, Insult Mudwrestling, Insult Arm Wrestling, and the Big Bad is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who goes around performing hostile property takeovers by challenging everyone into playing insult games with him. Naturally, he wins every time because no-one can make heads or tails of his Australian insult vocabulary. The latter half of the game even centers on finding the Ultimate Insult and using it to power up a monkey-shaped Humongous Mecha.
- Also in later games, the line "You fight like a cow" itself reappears as a Running Gag. Generally the player has the option to respond "Oh yeah? Well you fight like a cow!" or something similar when he feels he's been insulted, and is usually told either that his material is stale or he's using the line out of context.
- It's also a Running Gag in the original game — it appears as a dialogue option (used completely out of context) in a couple of situations, one of which gets him the response "You never did know when to use that one."
- It also turns up in non-LucasFilm games, such as A Tale of Two Kingdoms, where you can use insult sword fighting against Rashakk the Goblin Warlord. Turns out he's better at it, though.
- There's a Shout-Out to it after the tutorial battle in Jade Empire, where you can tell a fellow student he fights like a cow.
- It should be noted that the insults were written by none other than Orson Scott Card.
- In Tales of Monkey Island, Guybrush tries using it on Morgan LeFlay. She responds by cutting off your hand.
- It comes back with a particularly dark twist in Chapter 4. After Guybrush is killed, LeChuck tells Elaine she waves her sword around like a dairy farmer, and Elaine replies with the no-longer-funny "How appropriate... you fight like a Pox-infected undead cow."
- Also comes back with a twist in Chapter 5. In the Crossroads, Guybrush tries to cheer up Morgan LeFlay's spirit and ends up getting in a fight with the ghost of an overzealous sword fighter. So you have to simultaneously compliment Morgan and insult your opponent.
- Ron Gilbert said that the creative team often watched 1930s swashbuckling movies for inspiration and noticed the abundance of taunts. This fit the game way better than originally planned arcade sequences.
- In Fallout 4, the Super Mutants said this line:
"You hit like a radroach."
- Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
- ALL Spideys have nice quips during battles and while traveling, making the game a perfect way to show the differences between Spideys. Amazing Spidey has the best lines, full Deadpan Snarker mode on. Ultimate Spidey has a Motor Mouth that won't shut up, combined with lame puns and bad jokes that are still endearing. Noir Spidey may not talk a lot, as he's almost always on stealth mode, but he has nice Bond One Liners all the way. 2099 Spidey jokes more often than not (unlike his comic book counterpart), but he still has good quips during serious fights.
- Deadpool is one of the funniest characters on the whole game, completely crazy and talking all the way. However, he just. won't. SHUT. UP. There's two kinds of players: those who replay the level because they enjoy his talk, and those who want to wire his mouth shut.
- Shin Megami Tensei games often have the Taunt move, which increases the opponents' Attack through the roof, while dropping their Defense values to nothing. Works best when combined with Dekaja, which will burn off the Attack boost while leaving the Defense penalty intact.
- Wing Commander lets you insult enemy pilots using your fighter's communications system. This is actually an important tactic — insult them enough, and they attack you instead of whatever you're protecting.
- The Elder Scrolls
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion use this, especially Oblivion, where one of those sentences is 'you move like a pregnant cow'. Of course, most people "fought mudcrabs tougher than you!"
- "This is the part where you fall down and BLEED to death!" Not as scary when being said by a mentally unstable but otherwise defenseless wood elf, oddly enough. Especially if you know and can cast the spell "Enemies Explode."
- And for extra fun, species specific insults!
- Knights of the Old Republic 2 has the last duel with Sion, which is punctuated by short conversations in which you try to weaken his resolve.
- Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2 gives all creatures and characters with human vocal capabilities a few one-liners they spout off at random during combat, so two characters will do this in a duel if it lasts long enough.
- Morte, of Planescape: Torment, actually has a special ability directed related to his ability to cuss someone out. If they fail their save, they are enraged and attempt to attack him in melee. So, fired at a D&D style spell caster... Even better the save to resist actually becomes harder the higher the target's intelligence score, presumably on the basis that dumb characters won't understand most of the taunts.
- The "Provoke" ability in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance works similarly—use it successfully on an enemy, and they'll only be able to use the "move" and "attack" commands, with the former primarily serving to bring them close enough for the latter. However, they also get a bonus to attack damage.
- The Pkunk in Star Control II insult their enemies to make ammunition. Yes. Really. You actually have to do this in-game.
- "Baby! Jerk! Stupid! Dummy! Fool!"
- Also, in order to get either Tanaka or his brother Katana to join you, you must, despite how you are supposed to keep a cool head with almost every other sentient race in the game, insult him constantly, retreat, rinse, and repeat, until he realizes that you are not a Ur-Quan Dreadnought. Or as the Melnorme put it, try to talk to them on their own level.
- You can hail any ship you encounter and speak to them, even ones who intend to attack you no matter what. The dialog tree pretty much always contains some insult that will result in instant combat. Ironically the Pkunk (the race which uses this trope as an actual gameplay mechanic) is an aversion; you need them on your side to proceed, so no matter how much you insult them, they will never take offense and fight you. After all, you're just refueling your ship.
- Averted in ''Star Control III'. If an alien ship attacks you because you insulted their commander, you're considered the aggressor and heavily penalized. This can lead to a Non Standard Game Over. (Particularly nasty because there are two different opportunities to call the K'tang dolts, and only one of them has an associated penalty. The second is a Crowning Moment of Funny. Apparently whether an insult counts as starting a fight is dependent on whether the specific alien you're talking to understands it.)
- Near the end of Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, you insult-duel a wizened old pirate to convince him that you're someone else.
- Kingdom of Loathing has Insult Beer Pong, a Shout-Out to Monkey Island. In order to win, you need to buy The Big Book of Pirate Insults and use it against pirates, and each time they embarrass you with a witty comeback, it's added to the list of retorts you can use during Insult Beer Pong. "You fight like a cow" is one of the default insults that don't work.
- The starship flight sim Darkstar One featured an actual button for you to taunt your enemies. Of course, this was taking your concentration away from shooting them, meaning it was best reserved for when you were coated in turrets.
- If any Fighting Game uses the concept of having the characters briefly have particular conversations with one another before the battle at all there is a strong chance that this will happen at least once.
- Paper Mario featured The Master saying that Mario "fights like a plumber." In case you forgot, Mario is a plumber.
- The Mortal Kombat series has Shao Khan, who insults you (or laughs) often during a match (usually after knocking you down). In Mortal Kombat Trilogy, when you could finally play as him, these moves were still there, as taunts.
- Wet has a load of Cluster F Bombs amongst some genuinely funny barbs.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum:
- Mooks frequently says things like "You fight like a girl" and you "fight like a old man", thankfully a punch can interrupt them.
- Courtesy of the public-address system Joker spends the entire frigging game making comments like this. Punching the Joker square in the jaw at the end of the game is one of the most satisfying moments ever.
- [PROTOTYPE] has Captain Cross being all chatty while Mercer remains relatively silent soon after the duel begins. Depending on the player's performance against Cross, the Badass Normal will spout the appropriate lines.
- In NetHack, imps will often have lines such as "I first mistook thee for a statue, when I regarded thy head of stone," immediately following their hit messages.
- In Sleeping Dogs, Sifu Kwok will constantly belittle protagonist Wei Shen and the other students alike when Wei is in a move-training session. (There's also a separate set of lines exclusive to the introductory session.)
Sifu Kwok during the introductory session: All men must lose sometimes, but not to American tourists!Sifu Kwok during a move-training session: You hit with the strength of a porn addict!
- In Mass Effect 3, Kai Leng often taunts Shepard during their fights. In their last fight Shepard taunts back, and Kai Leng proves he can't take what he dishes out.
Shepard: How's the legs? Getting tired?Kai Leng: You're still slow, Shepard!Shepard: I'm only slow 'cause I'm not running! You ran at the Citadel! You ran at Thessia! All you can do is run!Kai Leng: Sh-shut up!
- In Time Gal, Reika, the Player Character, often taunts whatever is chasing her. For example, while being chased by bugs in the year 4000, she says, "This way, this way!"
- The combo breaker system in Injustice: Gods Among Us has the characters quip at each other before launching their attacks. Certain character pairings have one or more unique back and forths, which vary even more depending on which character initiates the combo breaker. Needless to say, there are a lot of them.
Lex Luthor: You look like a chicken.Hawkgirl: And you look like an egg.
- A more direct example:
Harley Quinn: You fight like my grandma!Nightwing: You fought your grandma?!
- A more direct example:
- Can happen in the fight with Daud in Dishonored if you take long enough.
Daud: This is who protected the Empress?
- In Improbable Island it is possible to learn a skill that allows you to fight and kill enemies simply by insulting them.
- Half the fun of Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monster Coliseum is seeing Yami Yugi or his opponents mock each other during the fights.
Bandit Keith: Face it, kid. You suck!
Yami Bakura: Keep on losing like the loser you are!
Seto Kaiba: Now I've got a stranglehold on victory!
- The [adult swim] web game Gigolo Assassin parodies Monkey Island's insult swordfighting mechanic into "Pick-Up Line Battles", where the goal is to defeat your opponent by pitching your best woo, while supplying the proper comebacks to their attempts at seduction.
- During the dream sequence of RuneScape quest "Lunar Diplomacy", one of your tasks is to battle a vision of yourself called "Me". You and "Me" have some amusing banter of this nature.
- In the fan game Rakenzarn Tales, bosses will often taunt the heroes during their fights. Sometimes, the player has the choice to taunt them in return. If the correct answer is selected, the ennemies will be weakened (or will become stronger if the wrong taunt is chosen).
- One of the nastiest monsters in Beyond Zork is the Insulting Puppet, whose quips are so lethal they cause physical damage. In this case, though, responding in turn is the worst thing you can do.
- In one episode of Red vs. Blue Caboose uses some bizarre ones, such as "Your soul is burnt and no amount of scraping will remove the black parts!" and "Your brain is a mountain of lies!" This while using what was assuredly a form of autohypnosis to turn himself into a killing machine. Sarge was quite impressed.
- One segment in This Spartan Life (A Halo 2-3 machinima series) is called Body Count and is a debate staged in a Halo competitive match where the combat flow is based on who is winning the arguments.
- The Order of the Stick
- Elan takes a prestige class called the "Dashing Swordsman", effectively this trope in a nutshell. It can teach you to "harness your natural charm to turn you into a real bonafide, wisecracking, swashbuckling, damsel-saving action hero!" In fact, the quipping is shown to be an absolutely necessary part of the class's abilities. When Elan fights so many enemies that he winds up reusing a pun, his attacks suddenly cease to do any amount of real damage. Elan also discovers the hard way that if his target is too stupid to understand the quip, it doesn't count. An effective counter to his style is best delivered with an effective counter to his puns.
- Tarquin is also familiar with the technique, and he and Elan provide the first real back-and-forth pun duel in the series. It's later revealed that Tarquin's former opponent was the very person who mentored Elan, Julio Scoundrél — and when it comes to puns, he's in an entirely different league to either of them.
- On the other side, Xykon isn't too bad either — he makes puns and jokes and mocks his foes as he completely demolishes them.
- Roy also plays this pretty straight sometimes, especially when he fights Miko for the last time. "Treasure Type O", anyone?
- Also somehow reversed by Vaarsuvius putting a bunch of goblins to sleep via his/her pre-fight speech.
- Antihero for Hire
- Dominic Deegan's father is a master of this kind of thing — the family is famed for their horrible puns.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Ninjas seem to be subject to this, too.
- In George the Dragon we get to see a very fishy version of this trope. This banter goes on for several pages.
- Used by Darths & Droids, complete with references to Monkey Island, Pirates of the Carribean and Princess Bride and linking to this trope in The Rant.
- Cheshire Crossing
- Girl Genius main Love Triangle presents a variation:
"You fight like ducks!"
- Spacetrawler, every single time Growp and Emily fight.
Growp: And your death can only be art if the kill is made by the master skill of a hand as poetic as mine.
Emily: Your flesh hand must be the poetic one... [rips Growp's cyborg hand out of its socket] the bionic one's better at long division.
- In Seekers, Errol trash talks this way during the duels.
- One Piece: Grand Line 3.5 handles the first Luffy vs. Buggy fight like this, referencing Monkey Island in the process.
- Sandra and Woo has this in this comic. Cloud and Theo insult one another, but Theo's hurts Cloud's feelings.
Cloud: You're so ugly that even Larisa wouldn't give you a kiss on the cheek!Theo: Your mom is a coward who abandoned her home country to live an easy life in America.Cloud: I... I am hurt.
- In Latchkey Kingdom, this is a favorite tactic in princess Rosaline's fencing.
- Given a Shout-Out in the web series Doomsday Arcade, where the main character is fighting Nefarious, who quips, "You fight like a dairy farmer," to which Lund responds:
Lund: How appropriate. You fight like a yogurt.
- The theme of the Britanick episode "OLS" — it's an infomercial for a company that provides witty one-liners on the fly.
- Almost the trademark of Chaka in the Whateley Universe. She even uses it as a very effective distraction during "Parents' Day" when a team of mutant superpowered ninjas attacks.
- The Spectacular Spider-Man proves it is possible to quip that much in real-time!
Dr. Octopus: Do you ever shut up?!
- "Group Therapy." When black-suited Spidey handily defeats the Six, he doesn't speak, prompting Dr. Octopus to comment that this time the hero is serious about what he's doing. However, Peter wakes up the next morning with no memory of the fight—the suit had used his body after he fell asleep. Thus proving that Spidey really does only shut up when he's unconscious.
- Lampshaded earlier in the series when Dr. Octopus, fed up with the one liners, asks Spider-Man if it is really necessary to quip as much as he does during the fight.
Spider-Man: Sorry, no. My fans expect a certain amount of quippage in every battle.
- Doubles as a Lampshade Hanging, Fandom Nod, or... something, as it came out not long after Spider-Man 3. One oft-mentioned downside to the Raimi Spidey trilogy is the absence of Spidey's trademark battle banter.
- The Green Goblin retains his wacky personality and manipulative planing from the original comics and even makes sadistic jokes towards his foe, Spider-Man.
- Venom is even worse than Spider-Man. The webslinger himself gets sick of it and screams at the symbiote/host duo to "just shut up". Venom's response: "That Spidey, he can quip it out, but he can't take it!"
- Spider-Man: The Animated Series:
- It comes close to referencing this trope by name:
Tombstone: Come down here and fight like a man!
Spider-Man: I don't suppose I could convince you to come up here and fight like a spider?
- There is one episode where Spider-Man loses his powers, tries to show up and deal with the bad guys, fails badly, and the bad guys conclude "This must be a fake — he didn't try to insult us."
- It comes close to referencing this trope by name:
- Used hilariously in South Park by Russel Crowe while he's beating up some random basketball players.
Russel Crowe: YOU FIGHT LIKE NORWEGIANS, YA FARIES!!
- Terry McGinnis in Batman Beyond develops a tendency to taunt his opponents which differs from the normally stoic Batman. Bruce doesn't seem to mind. In "Return of the Joker", he uses this to great effect against the Clown Prince of Crime himself, realizing that while Bruce refusing to laugh might be effective, the one thing a comedian really can't stand is being heckled.
Terry: He's tough. Any suggestions, Boss?
Bruce: Joker's vain and likes to talk. He'll try to distract you, but don't listen! Block it out and power on through!
Terry: Wait... I like to talk too...
- Danny Phantom
Danny: Come on, Guys, cut me some slack! (pause) Hey! Another axe pun!
- Lampshaded when, during the episode "Beauty Marked," Danny runs out of quips while fighting a medieval executioner ghost.
Danny: Who let the dogs in? (Sam stares) See, the song is "Who Let The Dogs Out," but I said "Who Let the Dogs In." (Sam continues to stare) I'll be right back.
- From "Shades of Grey," after the ghost dog bursts into the school cafeteria:
Sam: Bring some new jokes!
- In one episode of Teen Titans Raven briefly fights Jinx during which Jinx says "you fight like a boy."
- In the Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers episode "Mindnet", Shane Gooseman and Ryker Kilbane are fighting for Her Majesty's amusement, and Killbane is getting more and more frustrated the longer he fights.
Kilbane: You're finished! Stand still!
Shane: Fighting you is like standing still.
- In one episode of Street Fighter, Fei Long insults the crap out of Ken who replies "And you... You're a loser! But I'M... a star!"
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: In one episode, Aang taunts Admiral Zhao so Zhao will get increasingly angry and burn his fleet of river boats with errant fire blasts.
Aang: Ahoy! I'm Admiral Zhao! (proceeds to moon him)
You trope like a fingerless whale!