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The Rematch

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These characters have fought before, which makes the next one even more suspenseful.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
KingZeal on Dec 22nd 2013 at 2:06:43 AM
Last Edited By:
Arivne on Jan 13th 2019 at 9:05:40 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

Do We Have This One??

In a Fighting Series, you'll often find that when characters battle, it ends with one being the clear victor and claiming clear superiority against his/her opponent. In rare cases, however, the first fight will be inconclusive—either one side still has unfinished business, it ended in a draw, or the battle was lost but the war is far from over.

All of this leads up to The Rematch, the second (or even later) fight between these characters or groups. While first-time battles tend to be exciting because both characters are fighting relatively blind against each other, the Rematch is exciting because now there's some familiarity, and both fighters (and the audience) want to see what's changed. If the last fight was interrupted, or spoiled by some other factor, this fight is typically used to "settle" things once and for all. If not, there'll be another rematch after that, and possibly another still.

As mentioned, this is common in Fighting Series—especially Shōnen, where it's often the third act to an arc (following the initial battle and then Training from Hell).

See also Revenge, which is often a motivation for a Rematch, and can be another way of building excitement.


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     Anime & Manga 
  • In Bleach:
    • The Substitute Shinigami arc is notably lacking in this, at first opting for a Monster of the Week format. However, one storyline ends with one Hollow (the Grand Fisher) vowing to defeat Ichigo in a rematch. (He's killed before it happens.)
    • The entire Soul Society arc starts with Ichigo almost defeating the 6th Division Vice-Captain Renji, only for Renji's Captain, Byakuya, to step in and defeat Ichigo effortlessly. The subsequent arc is as much about Ichigo's rematch with the two of them as it is about him rescuing the Damsel in Distress they captured. Ichigo narrowly beats Renji again, and the rematch with Byakuya introduces both Ichigo's Bankai and his Super-Powered Evil Side—both of which help Ichigo defeat him.
    • The Arrancar arc once sets up two different rematches for Ichigo: his Not So Different rival, Grimmjow, and his polar opposite [[The Stoic Stoic]] Foil, Ulquiorra. Both defeat him easily early in the arc, but Ichigo later defeats each one. Like Byakuya before him, though, it takes Ichigo's Superpowered Evil Side to defeat Ulquiorra.
    • The Blood War arc has a few of these going on:
      • Ichigo is defeated by, and is thus expected to fight later, Yhwach, the new Big Bad.
      • The war is kicked off by a rematch a thousand years in the making between Head Captain Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto and Yhwach. Yamamoto defeated Yhwach last time they met and this time he is tricked into fighting Yhwach's doppelganger, thus expending a lot of his energy. Yhwach thus steals the Head Captain's Bankai and kills him.
      • Several of the Captains are defeated by Stern Ritters that "steal" their Bankai power, and in the second arc, the Big Bad explicitly orders those with stolen Bankai to defeat their owners with them.
      • Renji gets trounced by a Quincy named Mask de Masculine early in the arc, but later returns from training with the Royal Guard. And curbstomps him.
  • In Naruto, The first thing Big Bad Madara Uchiha wants after being brought Back from the Dead is a rematch with his friend-turned-archenemy Hashirama Senju.
  • In Hajime no Ippo, two of the most memorable bouts were rematches.
    • The first was Echiji Date versus Ricardo Martinez, with Martinez being undefeated and Date's only loss being his prior bout with Martinez. The outcome is the same, although the fight is extremely close.
    • The second was Ippo Makunouchi versus Takeshi Sendo, who are very close friends and share similar styles. Takeshi lost to Ippo while the were both in a rookie tournament, but still managed to claim the vacated Featherweight Title. Ippo defeats Takeshi again to launch his own title reign.
  • In Dragon Ball, most of Goku's opponents (Tienshinhan, Piccolo, Vegeta, Paikon, etc.) are primarily motivated to try to defeat him after losing to him before. Worthy of note, however, is that Tenshinhan defeated Goku in their first tournament bout, and lost in a rematch in the next tournament (where Goku defeated Piccolo). Vegeta, on the other hand, was the Big Bad of his own arc and actually curbstomped Goku (in his Great Ape form) before losing to a combined effort from Gohan, Krillin and Yajirobe. However, Vegeta's anger at Goku is mostly borne of being upstaged by Goku in battles against subsequent Big Bads.

    Live Action Film 
  • In the Rocky series:
    • The second Rocky film is all about a rematch between the champ Apollo (who narrowly won by decision) and Rocky Balboa in the first movie. This time Rocky wins and takes the title.
    • The third Rocky film is centered around Rocky being defeated by Clubber Lang and training with Apollo to recapture his title. Once Rocky succeeds, Apollo cashes in his favor to request one last fight with Rocky (privately), and we never see who wins.
    • The fourth Rocky movie takes this on a macro-level. After the Soviet Ivan Drago defeats (and kills) the American Apollo Creed, Rocky challenges him to a fight. Since this is pretty much a Combat by Champion, this is a rematch between America and the Soviet Union. (And seeing as how this is an American movie, guess who wins?)

Feedback: 26 replies

Dec 22nd 2013 at 7:59:07 AM

Kinda want this to be named Dramatic Rematch. :P

Mar 18th 2016 at 10:37:25 AM

I thought I wanted to bring this back since I think this trope can work.

[[folder:Pro Wrestling]]

  • A number of rematches happens in pro wrestling.
    • The match between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels in Wrestle Mania 26 which was the rematch from WM25. Only this time, a stipulation was added - if HBK wins, he ends The Undertaker's undefeated WrestleMania streak, but if he loses, he retires. Unfortunately, HBK lost and his career is over.
    • In WrestleMania 29, John Cena faced off against The Rock in the rematch from WrestleMania 28. Not only was this for the WWE Title, but also for Cena to seek redemption from the huge WM28 loss, in which this time, he did defeat the Rock to win the title.

Mar 19th 2016 at 4:25:38 PM

Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. In the first fight in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke is not ready and no match for Vader. In Return Of The Jedi, he is a fully trained Jedi and more than a match for Vader.

Mar 19th 2016 at 5:02:44 PM

Count Doomu and Anakin in the prequels. Doomu easily bests Anakin in Attack Of The Clones and cuts off his hand. When they rematch in Revenge Of The Sith , Anakin is much stronger and cuts off both of Dooku's hands, then kills him at Palpatine's urging.

What about Anakin/Vader and Obi-Wan? We see them fight the first time technically in A New Hope and hear the Mustafar battle referred to. Only in the last prequel film do we actually see the fight. Chronologically, they fight at Mustafar and Obi-Wan leaves Anakin injured, limbless and burning alive from the lavs. Then, they battle again on the first Death Star 20yrs later and it's indicated that Obi-Wan let Vader win so he could show Luke life after death and continue to guide him from beyond and all that.

Mar 19th 2016 at 5:03:25 PM

Grr Dooku in the first line. Ipad makes editing hard.

Mar 19th 2016 at 5:07:17 PM

Also pretty much every gym badge Ash wins in Pokemon is won on a rematch because he lost the first time. Then there are his repeated battles with his rival in every region...idk, might need more specifics.

Mar 19th 2016 at 8:11:06 PM

Also a supertrope to Boss Rush (where you rematch a lot of bosses).

Mar 19th 2016 at 8:13:21 PM

Also a supertrope to Recurring Boss (where you fight the boss more than once).

Mar 19th 2016 at 11:18:29 PM

It might be worthy to note that the fact that x4 Kamehameha overpowered Gallick Gun was the moment Vegeta lost in his mind against Goku. Great Ape is for destroying civilizations, not for one on one battles. Being forced to use it was unheard of. Oh and that he finally got his rematch in the Buu Saga which is what this trope is actually about.

Mar 20th 2016 at 1:57:29 AM

  • Examples section
    • Add the word "Examples".
    • Corrected spelling (notabl, Comamander).
    • Corrected illegal Example Indentation in the Naruto example.

Mar 20th 2016 at 2:32:43 AM

  • The Justice League Unlimited episode "Grudge Match" ends with the Huntress and Black Canary's friendly rematch after a much more serious but indecisive fight they had in an earlier episode.

Aug 1st 2017 at 7:25:40 AM

  • Rinne from Vivid Strike wanted to fight Vivio because she was the only one to ever defeat her in a tournament. She gets her chance about halfway through the season and loses, prompting a Heroic BSOD.

Oct 21st 2018 at 5:11:08 AM


Video Games

  • Unreal: The Warlord is fought first in the "Demonlord Lair's" level, in the deepest level of the Nali Castle; after his seeming defeat, he teleports. The next time Prisoner 849 finds him is in the "Skaarj Generator" level, as the last obstacle to overcome before cutting down the Mothership's power. This time, he falls down for good, especially when the explosion of the generator leaves a huge hole behind. Cue the Mission Pack Sequel Return to Na Pali, where 849 finds in the very last level, "Escape from Na Pali", that he's alive. Third time's the charm, and the Warlord is down for the count, this time for good.

Oct 21st 2018 at 5:10:51 AM

Professional Wrestling

  • It's a common happening in wrestling that after a title changes hands, the loser challenges the winner to a rematch for the title itself. In some companies, this also is a rule.

Video Games

  • Quake Arena Arcade has some of the arena warriors (Fritzkrieg, Wrack, Stripe and Visor) challenge you to rematches due to not being able to get over defeat.
  • The "Head to Head" challenges in Unreal Tournament 2004 (but only those proposed by the game) take place after an enemy team's defeat in a rung, with the enemy team leader challenging the Player Character for a certain amount of in-game currency.

Oct 23rd 2018 at 2:15:36 AM

  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers dedicates an entire bonus chapter to the rematch between Nanoha and Signum, having alluded to their first (and implied to be only) mock battle earlier in the story. Given that Nanoha is one of the top Midchildan combat mages of the generation, while Signum is generally considered to be the best practitioner of the Belkan combat magic currently alive in the multiverse, the Administrative Bureau seizes the opportunity to turn their battle into a public event. Like their first bout, however, it ends inconclusively, with Signum edging out a slight advantage.

Nov 16th 2018 at 12:32:12 PM

Anime and Manga

  • Seto Kaiba and Yugi Mutou in Yu Gi Oh met for one final duel at the climax of the Battle City tournament, in the semifinals, with Marik already having defeated Jonouchi/Joey to enter the finals. In their first battle (and second, in the manga), Yugi won, but in their second battle, Yugi surrendered when Kaiba put himself into a position in which he would be killed if Yugi won the duel. This time, Kaiba played up the dramatics by creating a Roman Colosseum around them in which to do their battle. This also serves as a distant rematch for Yami/Atem, who had battled Priest Seto in ancient Egypt, the outcome of which was a mystery.

Jan 11th 2019 at 10:30:59 AM

^^^^As stated earlier this is the missing supertrope to those existing tropes.

Jan 13th 2019 at 9:06:37 PM

Fanfic.Dungeon Keeper Ami: Ami fights the Horned Reaper, four times, the first being at the very beginning, where she defeats him, and he pledges to serve her, the second, where the arena allows the Reaper to have greater mobility, but Ami puts up enough of a fight that the Reaper flees. The third time, they're both hampered by the holy environment, but Ami uses new powers to capture the Reaper, and the Duel To The Death final battle, where Ami, using a hidden chemical assault, wins.