- Not Quite As Planned: In a World... where fighting with swords is the norm, Ichigo tends to use his feet, elbows and knees in fights. He even uses a Cero pointblank in a blade lock. Due to this he ends up with a defeated captain count of six. Two of them he takes down by unleashing his Super Mode before they're even aware of him and blitzing them immediately.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- In Spy Game Xander fights this way and encourages others to. After he questions Kennedy's teaching she decides to have him fight a Slayer in an effort to humiliate him. Before Kennedy shouts begin, Xander whips out a collapsible baton and hits the Slayer on the head, followed by a kick to the knee, a powerful blow to the head knocking her to floor, and ending it with a kick to the stomach.
Done yet? Kennedy: (stunned)
You. You cheated. Xander:
You think this a game? Treat this like a game and you'll get your ass beat. Just like she did. You want to win? You want to survive? Then you hit 'em hard. But, smart. In the right place. Right time. You box the ears. You spit in their eyes. You kick 'em in the balls. You don't let up. Ever. And when you think they're done, you fucking
cut their heads off. Just to be sure. Power will only get you so far." You go in with that as your only weapon, and you'll just get everyone killed. You. Your sisters. Skill beats strength. Every time.
- In Better Living Through Chemistry, Buffy offers to let Xander patrol with her if he can knock her out, even offering him the first punch. Xander sprays formaldehyde in her eyes then punches her with brass knuckles on. Buffy later insists he "cheated".
- Jack Napier in But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci uses every advantage he has, whether it be calling on his allies when his opponents are unsuspecting, sneak attacks, or using equipment like hidden liquid kryptonite sprayers. When your usual opponents are Superman and the Justice League, it pays to be prepared.
- The Self-Insert Black Lantern in It's An Unliving takes out the leaders of The Light by appearing before them at Flash level speeds, punching out their hearts, and incinerating their bodies before moving on. He notes that part of why he's so brutal is that killing them is literally his job and he hates it, so he uses the fastest and most effecient method to insure he doesn't have to spend more time than necessary on it.
Dragon Ball Z
- Much like his counterpart in the real series, Future Trunks of Dragon Ball Z Abridged is more concerned with winning fights to the death to save lives than he is in "honor". He begins to run out of patience for the other characters' nonsense when Goku is running out of steam fighting Cell, he recommends throwing Goku a sensu bean in order to revitalize him to continue fighting, and everyone else hesitates.
Future Trunks: Guys, if you're bothered by cheating, either loosen your moral code, or stop hinging the fate of the world ON DEATH MATCHES!
- The plot of Inheritance is kicked off when Piccolo subverts Transformation Is a Free Action and kills Freeza mid-transformation.
- Ulyssian's preparations for his duel with Jael in The Odyssey included, but weren't limited to: poisoning him with contact poison via his armor, breaking into his apartment to steal his money, then placing it in a trash chute to separate him from his twin (neutralizing his Gemini bloodline), and hiring a sorcerer to summon demons to ambush him.
- Fate/Harem Antics: Archer/Francis Drake prides herself on using dirty tricks in a fight, like firing her gun through her own jacket so her opponent won't see it coming. A few characters call her out on this, but she points out she is a pirate.
- In Golden Threads Tie Us, Severa is an expert in attacking enemies from the back, and she can't care less about fight fairly when she's fighting the unending army of zombies overrunning the world.
- Forward also plays with this, including replicating the legendary Raiders of the Lost Ark scene with River casually shooting an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy who tries to fight her with a bo staff. At one point in the most recent story arc, Mal points out that he considers any fight where he's forced to fight fair as inherently unfair.
- The Basalt City Chronicles has Tors Beers (who hates fighting) taught to end fights as quickly as possible—biting, clawing, breaking bones, and outright killing are all acceptable means to win (though it's best to avoid the last).
- In Finishing the Fight, the Master Chief and company emphasize this is the way to fight. They then show nightmarish videos of the war with the Covenant and Flood to emphasize why they think this way.
- In a ShoutOut to the Indiana Jones scene, During the retaking of Mithril Hall, Johnson and Drizzt encounter a Drow who spins her scimitars around in a fancy display. Drizzt is about to go fight her, but then Johnson just shoots her.
- In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Professor Quirrell explains this in the very first class of "Battle Magic", formerly known as "Defense Against the Dark Arts", that the methods that their textbooks show are useless in a real situation.
Quirrell: Your useless excuse for a third-year defense textbook will suggest to you that you expose the mountain troll to sunlight, which will freeze it in place. This, my young apprentices, is the sort of useless knowledge that you will never find on one of my exams. You do not encounter mountain trolls in open daylight! The idea that you should use sunlight to stop them is the result of foolish textbook authors trying to show off their mastery of minutia at the expense of practicality.
- He later states that one should use only one of two things, if you can: either the Killing Curse or teleport away. Bear in mind that telling a bunch of kids to use Avada Kedavra (that even if a very practical offensive spell because it's a near-constant One-Hit Kill, it's an "Unforgivable" (that is "instant ticket to Azkaban" levels of illegal) spell) as their "hammer" brings an awful lot of Foreshadowing to the front in retrospective.
- In Bungle In the Jungle: A Harry Potter Adventure, Harry goes to Collins and Qwan with the expectation they'll teach him how to duel. They laugh and say neither of them knows anything about dueling beyond it being two idiots standing in place and trading spells. They're going to teach him how to fight. Their instructions later show through when Harry, Qwan, and Bill fight a demon by first siccing a horde of inferi on it.
- Dumbledore lectures Harry in What Was Your Plan for going to a duelist to learn how to fight, noting that dueling is useful only for dueling where there's rules on what you can or cannot do, likening it to a glorified play. He even notes that Harry's mistake was to draw a wand on him, believing him to be an enemy, and not immediately casting as many borderline illegal spells as he could think of. If Harry had gone to someone like Snape or Moody, they would have drilled such an "unforgivably stupid action" out of him.
- Harry himself in Brutal Harry does not fight fair at all. To quote the boy himself; "I don't duel, I fight." He obsessively trains himself in not just magic, but also in melee combat like martial arts and both handheld and projectile modern weapon wielding, two areas that the Wizarding World is significantly behind on. To wit, he has:
- Killed the mountain troll in his first year by shoving his combat knife up through its eye socket and into its brain.
- Pulled a concealed blade on Lucius Malfoy's throat before the man can even draw his wand.
- Summoned the wands right out of Draco and his goons' hands so that they can't attack.
- Smashed through a magically sealed room simply by blowing it up with sheer force.
- Shoved a table into Scrimgeour's stomach during a formal interrogation, knocking the air out of the man before pulling a knife on him.
- Utilized a combination of silent, wandless magic, Teleport Spam, and muggle weapons like grenades and machine guns against Voldemort and his Death Eaters to literally mow them down.
- Harry/Mr. Black in Make a Wish uses anything and everything he can think of to win a fight. When Harry starts teaching the DA again, the number one rule of their matches is "It's only unfair if the other guy does it."
- Harriett Potter in The Rigel Black Chronicles learns most of her self-defence skills from "free-duelling", where pretty much anything goes, from a Groin Attack to nerve gas; even in a tournament, killing or maiming your opponent is more frowned upon than actually forbidden (there are healers on standby, and the atmosphere is mostly one of friendly contest rather than bloodthirst, but the risk is there). When she's later in a more formal tournament, she has to hold back on some of her dirtier fighting skills or risk disqualification.
Jackie Chan Adventures
- In Queen of All Oni, one of Jade's Co-Dragons, Left, comes off as this. While he — like his "brother", Right — usually fights with his swords, he'll resort to quicker methods if necessary. For example, during the assault on Lung's fortress, he breaks out a chainsaw to get by a Hybrid Monster, and when confronted with a gateway that's impervious to magical attack, he simply blows it open with dynamite.
- Captain Black's Number Two, Agent Wisker, also qualifies. When Jade infiltrates Section 13 to try and steal the masks in the Vault, he stands in the way. She attacks him with magic, and he retaliates by shooting her — intentionally non-lethal shots, and it doesn't even work, but it's still the thought that counts.
- He also tries to (lethally) shoot Hak Foo in a later fight. Hak dodges and breaks his gun arm, but hey, he tried.
- Jade's foreman Blankman — we finally get to see him in combat when he fights Drago, and while he primarily fights with savate (a French martial art), he does enhance it with magic. And when even that isn't enough to win, he resorts to whipping out a mystically-enhanced shotgun.
Kill la Kill
The Land Before Time
- Pretty much everyone to some extent in Game Theory, but special mention goes to Fate, during the TSAB assault on the Garden of Time. She uses ambushes, Anti-Magic Fields to weaken them and scramble their sensors, shuts off the lights to blind them, Mecha-Mooks to even the numbers, and seals the doors and rearranges the corridors to isolate small groups of enemies and prevent them from reaching their objectives.
Marvel Cinematic Universe
- In I'm still alive this is the only reason Jen survives after thrust into a kill-or-be-killed world.
- In Volpina, the Accidental Matchmaker this is how the two fights with Volpina (after the one in canon) can be described:
- In chapter one, Volpina has put dozens of illusions in the dead-end corridor she knew her opponents would come from. But as she has unknowingly put them in the room behind her, they just jumped her from behind and destroyed the Akumatized object.
- In chapter two Volpina steals a car, even if Roof Hopping to her goal would be faster, because she plans to use it as a weapon, and when Ladybug and Chat Noir catch up with her she throws the chaffeur at Chat Noir and hits Ladybug with the engine block. She gets dirtier from that, and gives them a desperate run for their money.
Mobile Suit Gundam
- As befits a full-scale war, A Feddie Story has pretty much nobody fight fair. Both sides are quick to employ ambushes and exploit it when they have a local superiority. Earth Federation tank crews tend to go several steps beyond Zeon mobile suit pilots, though, because they know they're at a disadvantage to start with.
- The Earth Federation Air Force is more than willing to exploit the fact that they're trained to fly in all kinds of weather and Zeon's pilots (trained in climate-controlled space colonies) aren't. They also sometimes stage week-long round-the-clock bombing campaigns against Zeon ground units, not because of the casualties inflicted but because they are trying to break them psychologically: they know it makes the Zeon troops feel that they are defenseless and it denies them much chance to sleep or eat as long as the campaign goes on.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
- In Diaries of a Madman, Navarone doesn't just show this, but actively shows his contempt for fighting honourably on multiple occasions. Given that doing so would almost certainly have gotten him killed, he does have a point.
- In The Life and Times of a Winning Pony, Cloud Kicker notes that both Blossomforth and Fluttershy are fighting their hardest just to win one little catfight. She does note that they probably didn't learn any formal training, so fighting dirty was pretty much the only thing to do.
- In The Rise of Darth Vulcan, the titular character will take any advantage he can in a fight, be it diversions, his immunity to his own fire attacks, a Breaking Lecture, or anything else that might help him win. When Tirek tries to drain his magic, Vulcan shoots him dead with a shotgun.
- Bad Future Crusaders has both Apple Bloom and Scootaloo. The former calmly remarks she fights to win after being chastised for pulling a gun on an unarmed opponent, and the latter actually calls out Lightning Dust for comparing her to Rainbow Dash who didn't fight dirty.
- Pony POV Series:
- In the Dark World timeline, once Fluttercruel gains Reality Warper powers, she instantly makes the air around the heroes turn to stone, commenting that unlike Discord, she's not going to screw around. The only reason why it failed to take them out was because Pinkie Pie's Toon Physics powered Offscreen Teleportation allowed her to escape. In the ensuing fight, almost everything she tries is a killing blow.
- Prime Fluttercruel is also this trope: she's very willing to fight dirty when she actually fights. As several Changelings found out during the Wedding Arc.
- Trixie is this trope, as while having become very powerful, she's a trickster first and foremost. It's safe to say the more powerful she gets, the more this trope she becomes, as that power just provides more tricks for her to play on her enemies.
- Back when Chrysalis was named Kifuko, she was once forced into a gladiator match with a hulking Changeling named Wolf Spider. The night before the fight, she tricked him into eating food laced with black mamba venom. The next morning, he keeled over and died just as the match began.
- In The Witch of the Everfree, Nightmare Moon is impressed with Sunset's willingness to blow up Ponyville's town hall for the sake of stopping her.
- Tydal in The God Squad does this for FUN. He can wipe pretty much anyone off the face of the earth with a wink but prefers to fight cheap and dirty to keep from getting bored. This is a capricorn that once defeated several criminals by weaponizing PINKIE PIE.
- Triptych Continuum: As a unicorn with minimal physical strength, strictly average field strength, and no offensive or defensive spells beyond telekinesis, Rarity goes into every fight knowing she could very well die, and therefore preared to do absolutely anything to survive.
- The First Try Series has Naruto outright admit himself as one. As a Trap Master it's to be expected.
Naruto: "In the fights we've had that were pure taijutsu, who won?"
Naruto: "In fights where ninjutsu is allowed who wins?"
Sasuke: "You... because you cheat."
Naruto: "Since you've gotten your Sharingan, has that changed?"
- Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox: Just about every fight shown has the combatants as this, in accordance with the story's direction toward realism. The best example is Shino, who gets Kiba to surrender their qualifier match in Sasuke's tournament by grabbing him in a submission hold and then threatening to break his arm if Kiba doesn't yield.
- In Vapors the original character Aiko Uzumaki is one. She knocks out Zabuza because he can't believe that she'd use a lightning jutsu that would also hit Kakashi, she purposefully takes a hit to invoke Naruto's Roaring Rampage of Revenge on Gaara, and she uses shock and ambush tactics to humiliate a strike team of 8 jonin that include a Kage's bodyguard and a jinchuriki.
- In A Teacher's Glory, Anko makes it very clear to her students that if they get into a fair fight, they've already failed.
- In Sugar Plums the main character Ume does not usually win her fights by fighting fair, she isn't afraid to hit delicate areas, hit people mid monologue, and coats her weapons with poison. She has some hang ups with killing people but as time goes on she gets more comfortable with ending someone because it would be easier then dealing with the fallout of them living.
- In Dreaming of Sunshine, Shikako prefers to ambush her opponents or take them out with traps whenever possible, and would even resort to murder if she thinks it's the safest and most efficient way to achieve her goals.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Doing It Right This Time: In chapter 2, Misato pits Shinji and Asuka against each other in unarmed combat training, culminating in Asuka dropping Shinji with a Groin Attack. When he cries foul, Misato reminds Shinji that the Angels don't play by tournament rules and she expects her pilots to fight dirty.
- Higher Learning: Invoked and reinforced in chapter forty-eight's prologue: "Bring a bat to a fist fight. Bring a knife to a bat fight. Bring a gun to a knife fight. Run the hell away from a gun fight."
- Once More with Feeling: When Shinji and Asuka sortie to fight Israfel, Asuka complains "two against one is not a fair fight". Right away Misato tells her the last thing she wants to give the Angels is a fair fight.
- In This Bites!, Blueno tries to avoid entering his dimension to fight Sanji by throwing a couple grenades in via a hand sized door.
- Team Rocket in Common Sense will do everything from attacking a trainer directly to fighting Pokemon themselves in order to win. One of their earliest victories consisted of using Koffing's smoke to take out an entire hive of Beedrill at once.
- Any trainer worth their salt in Challenger utilizes unusual tactics and Combinations Attacks. Besides ganging up on wild Pokemon, flying types will often be instructed to attack from the air to prevent retaliation. Though no one takes it as far as Team Rocket who will not only use hideously overpowered Pokemon, but will try to kill enemy trainers from the start.
- Red in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines believes that there's nothing wrong with using his bloodliner abilities to give himself an edge in Pokémon battles since there's no written rule forbidding them. This puts him at odds with Ash, who refuses to use his own in competitive battling because he considers it cheating.
- His philosophy does get a bit deconstructed in a later sidestory: after losing to Ultima while on Two Island, he's upset that the old woman's Dragonite defeated his Charizard without using its full strength. Ultima however points out that she was only gauging Charizard's power, and she held back to avoid injuring him more than necessary, pointing out that, barring a life-or-death situation, holding back isn't necessarily a bad thing.
- In A Force of Four, Power Girl has to fight three Kryptonians used to gang up on their enemy and fight coordinately. Fighting "fairly" doesn't even cross her mind. Heat beams to the groin followed with an uppercut are perfectly good tactics.
- Kaoru from the AU fanfic Frozen Moonlight is quite willing to let her opponents think she's helpless while hiding the knife taped to her wrist or to try bashing their skulls in during their monologues. Notably, her father specifically taught her to think like this and to use other people's perceptions of her being vulnerable to her advantage.
- Both Jaune Arc and Roman Torchwick in Not this time, Fate are described as fighting to cause as much pain and damage as possible to their enemy. The first time they have a proper fight, Roman is surprised to note that Jaune isn't fighting to disarm or disable, but to kill and to hurt his opponent as much as possible to make killing them easier.
- Jaune in The ProfessionARC admits early on he hates that Huntsmen are taught to fight the Grimm when they should be taught to kill the Grimm. Unlike many other Huntsmen, he'll set up traps in advances, use explosives and poisons, and basically anything he can to make killing his enemy easier. In the backstory, when hired to act as Weiss's bodyguard, Jaune proved his point by kicking the table between them into her then slammed her into it before pulling a knife on her. As Jaune explains afterwards, the people after Weiss don't care about attacking when she's ready, waiting for her to draw her rapier, or hurting bystanders. So she needs someone to watch her back so she doesn't spend all her time looking over her shoulder for enemies.
- All of the Vale Secret Service agents in In the Kingdom's Service fight as brutally as possible, seeking only to kill or disable an enemy before moving on. As such they will use explosives, distractions, cheap shots, and gang up on targets when possible. Jaune has used his grappling hook vambraces multiple times against enemies, including shooting them point blank into Neo's shoulder. At one point, Jaune even uses a corpse as a decoy against Mercury and Emerald in order to get the drop on them. Vanguard/Cardin softened up Neo for Jaune by blowing up their car, which she was currently standing on. In many of his fights, Jaune makes a point of fighting at extreme melee range because even martial artists tend to be unused to fighting someone too close to even punch.
- Jaune uses this same philosophy to explain why he can fight stronger, better trained enemies despite his cover identity being a small time criminal who failed to get into a huntsman school. Such as getting away from Blake and Ruby while sabotaging the CCT by first smashing computers to spread broken glass all over the floor (Ruby took off her heels to fight) then taking Blake hostage long enough to escape.
- Professor Arc: By virtue of necessity, Jaune learns to fight as dirty as possible: low blows, attacking an unprepared opponent, using others weapons, etc. In the sequel, Jaune thinks to himself that Neo didn't teach him how to fight fair, but how to survive at all costs. Neo herself loves using both surprise attacks on distracted opponents and weaponizing Distracted by the Sexy, such as throwing herself at Jaune in such a way that her crotch is pressed against his face then pressing her blade to his throat.
- Professor Arc: Student of Vacuo:
- Jaune, Neo, and Ilia are all predominantly Taught by Experience and fight as brutally as necessary to take out their enemies. Jaune and Neo use Groin Attacks and Friendly Fire among other tactics against Team CRDL. Ilia gains a reputation fighting more brutally than Jaune and Neo combined, attacking groins, striking joints, and strangling opponents after using smokescreens, flashbangs, and explosions to hide her approach long enough to close with her enemy. Pyrrha notes that even those who can beat Ilia certainly don't enjoy fighting her.
- Jaune teaches his students to abuse rules as much as possible, including outright telling them to cheat at times. For example, what's supposed to be an eight on four match becomes an eight on twelve match due to the lone team having bribed two other teams in advance to help them out.
- Pineapple: Since Jaune is the only one to pass Initiation, and thus on a team by himself, he learns to fight dirty by necessity. During his match against Team BRNZ, Jaune traps the three melee fighters in ice Dust then spends some time pummeling their sniper, May. By the time the other three break free, Jaune's already run off and takes out the entire team by using May's sniper rifle to shoot her hat, which he'd stuffed full of all the Dust he carried.
- The Sanctuary Telepath: Janine very quickly abandoned her idealist views about her telepathic powers and generally uses them as she finds necessary. Yes, this includes reading her friends' minds too. Then again, when one goes up against an elemental from another dimension radicalism becomes a requirement...
Sonic the Hedgehog
- In Prison Island Break, since they're all convicts, most of the cast does this, even Sonic - but it's emphasised that the Knife Nut Shadow will always find a shiv even directly after a shakedown, and can make them out of anything. He constructs a shotgun out of his bed, and matches.
- Beelzebub from Sonic X: Dark Chaos is one of these. Rather than using a gigantic continent-sized flagship like Astorath, he uses a small battleship armed with a cloaking device so he can surprise foes.
- Astorath himself wields two Gatling miniguns, which create such a huge storm of projectiles that they pin down both Knuckles and Sonic. Then he moves in so he can crush them in melee, knowing Sonic and Knuckles are too agile for guns. In the same episode, Cream realizes that Astorath is basically invincible to regular weapons - so she fights dirty and throws her chao Cheese into his eyes to blind him.
- Tsali uses his robotic abilities - super strength, super speed - and his Chaos powers - energy blasts and telekinesis - in lethal and unique combination, allowing him to fight Super Sonic one-on-one and win. And he nearly defeats both Super Sonic and Super Shadow again later on.
- Sonya uses Demon-made plasma weapons against Shroud in order to burn them, as she knows they are highly resistant to ballistic projectiles. She also handily averts Katanas Are Just Better (and she even mocks the trope at one point despite it being linked to her Japanese ethnicity), only using her plasma katana as a backup for emergencies.
- Tephiroth stabs Tsali in the back in Episode 72 rather than get into a long battle with him.
- Hellsister Trilogy: As much as Satan Girl is concerned, biting ankles in order to hamstring your opponent or clawing their eyes out are perfectly acceptable combat techniques.
Kara drew on her every erg of reserve power to keep fighting. But, increasingly, she found herself on the defensive. She fought to keep Satan Girl's fingers from her eyes, her jaws from her carotid artery, her knees from her crotch.
- In Urusei Yatsura The Senior Year, during part 10, an OC gives this advice:
"Now, here's something I once heard when it comes to a fight! You kick them in the balls, stab them in the back, poke their eyes out, and if they're still in the mood to fight..." she gives them a fanatic sneer, "...THEN, you fight dirty!"
- And a few paragraphs later...
Mie then transforms into a female General Patton. "Then go do it!" she points to the door with her riding crop. "Remember, you can't serve your country by dying for your country! You serve your country by making the other dumb bastard die for his country!"
- Attelus Kaltos, the main character of Secret War. One of his first actions in the story is to kick an attacker in the shin... with a boot knife.
- The All Guardsmen Party uses every dirty trick in the book and arms themselves with potentially-heretical xenotech and illegally-procured weapons - but if it keeps them alive, they'll use it.
World of Warcraft
- Keleria in Children Of The Stars, messy kills when available, groin attacks, biting, she gets progressively worse the more she slips into that blood rage thing.
- Quicken: Emma doesn't care for fighting fairly. She cares for surviving and knows that shes completely outmatched against thugs and murderers, so she fights extremely dirty and never holds back. And since she has super-regeneration
shes perfectly willing to bite her own tongue off and spit it out and on the eyes of an enemy.
I knew what I had to do. She was making the same mistake the ABB thugs made in the alley. They treated me like another person when I had been fighting, as if I was concerned with protecting my body first and foremost, as if I wasn't willing to do anything it took to win. This wasn't some fucking prize fight. This was combat.
The Familiar of Zero