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Battle-Halting Duel

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"I miss the hush. When I meet an opponent worthy of me. Everyone around us stops to watch. The din of battle drains away like a wave. And for a few moments, it's just the two of us. And then I kill him. And then everyone gets back to what they were doing."
Achilles, Troy: Fall of a City

It's the Final Battle, and chaos is reigning supreme all around the Big Bad and the Hero, who are leading their respective armies to battle. The audience gets to see all sorts of little pieces of the surrounding climactic battle, but then, suddenly, the first blow is struck between the Big Bad and the Hero (usually the Big Bad first).

Then, everything goes silent.

All around the chaotic fighting grinds to a sudden halt as the main event between our hero and the Big Bad gears up. All the fighters stop fighting and come into a circle surrounding the battle as the two main characters start circling, ready at any moment to strike. This is the Battle Halting Battle. Everyone stops and puts aside their differences to watch the fight between their leaders.

Related to Combat by Champion, in which case it's understood that the duel will actually decide the battle. If a Designated Girl Fight becomes a Cat Fight, it can cause a comedic example of this trope. May be caused by Leave Him to Me!. Possibly a more willing version of Locked Out of the Fight. Compare Battle-Interrupting Shout.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk:
    • When 15 years old, Guts takes part in the storming of a castle. Furious fighting occurs in the courtyard after the attackers breach the defenses, when the enemy champion Bazuso appears and kills several hapless soldiers and challenges any foe to face him in single combat. This somehow brings all fighting everywhere to a halt, as the defenders are enjoying the sight of the entire attacking force being so afraid of Bazuso's reputation that not one of them will accept his challenge, no matter what rewards or threats their employer gives to motivate them. Then Guts steps forward and demands ten gold pieces if he kills Bazuso, which the tight-fisted noble haggles down to seven. Everyone thinks he's going to get himself killed, but instead he slays Bazuso in a Curb-Stomp Battle. There's a moment of stunned silence, and then cheers break out among the attackers, who quickly rout the dispirited defenders.
    • During the Battle of Doldrey, Raid Captain Guts and General Boscogn engage in a one-on-one fight to the death, which the horsemen on either side can't help forming a circle around to gawk at. The justification is that both Guts and Boscogn are so strong that no one dares to get too close to their dancing blades, lest he become Half the Man He Used to Be.
  • Due to the nature of the friendly war in Dog Days, this happens on occasion when heroes clash, and Leonmichelle in particular is prone to draw all attention to her.
  • Dragon Ball Super: This is what happens when Jiren and Goku first square off in the Tournament of Power (a free-for-all among 80 fighters). All other fighters stop what they're doing and gather to watch. Since Goku and Jiren are known to be likely the two strongest fighters in the Tournament, the other fighters all want to see which is stronger, and to gauge exactly what they're up against. Ribrianne does try to take a potshot at Goku while he's charging the Spirit Bomb, but Vegeta puts a stop to that.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has this in the final battle, when Edward regains his arm, at the cost of Al's soul, and takes it out on Father, who'd caused the situation that necessitated Al's sacrifice in the first place. Despite pretty much everybody having contributed to beating the hell out of Father immediately prior, they recognize that for Edward, It's Personal, and stand down as he engages in a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Father's ass.
  • King of Hell: Right as The War between the Black and White Sects starts, Majeh steps in the middle and challenges EVERYONE to a one-on-one duel, and proceeds to curbstomp the people that step up.

    Comic Books 
  • In IDW's original Transformers continuity, Optimus Prime and a captive Megatron reminisced about the many times they'd personally fought during their Forever War. Megatron brings up the first time they ever fought as the leaders of their respective factions: when they encountered each other atop Sherma Bridge. He fondly recalls that both sides stopped fighting to watch them fight.
    • Optimus points out he has less fond memories of that encounter: it ended with Megatron throwing him off the bridge (with him needing several months worth of repairs) and the campaign an Autobot defeat with 5000 dead.
  • Usagi Yojimbo: One arc has a bunch of swordsmanship students and their instructor Takao chase after Usagi and his recently-discovered cousin Yukichi for defeating them earlier. They start fighting, but when Yukichi and Takao size each other up for a one-on-one duel, the students immediately break off from fighting with Usagi, who's left saying "What?" in utter confusion.

    Fan Works 
  • In A different weasel makes a difference, everyone stops fighting to watch the climatic duel between Stannis and Euron. Even the dragon Dreadwing pauses. Fortunately, when Euron is about to win Devan Seaworth shakes off his stupor and slices open Euron's back.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: The Wolf enters the Battle of the Bastards by teleporting his longship into the Bolton lines, then demanding the leader identify himself and fight him. While fighting Smalljon Umber (Ramsay having fallen disappointingly quickly), both the Bolton and the Norscans stop fighting to watch their chiefs fight. This duel is itself interrupted when Ramsay tries to sneak attack the Wolf, who proceeds to demonstrate his disapproval of such unsportsmanlike practices. Smalljon, having to choose between defending the local Hate Sink or fighting Wildlings, takes what's left of the army into battle, completely unnoticed by the Wolf.
  • The Wizard in the Shadows has this with Harry vs Voldywraith has this, along with a bit of Leave Him to Me!.

    Film — Animated 
  • In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, at the climactic showdown Simba and Zira's prides battle each other out, but once Zira strikes Simba, all the lionesses immediately stop and turn their attention towards the two.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Happens in Alexander Nevsky between the titular prince and the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, both sides standing apart to let their bosses battle.
  • The final battle of The Last Jedi is halted when Luke appears and challenges Kylo Ren.
  • In Troy, the big battle between Achilles or rather, Patroclus in Achilles' armour and Hector causes the battle to halt around them, especially when Patroclus dies a painful death.

  • Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest volume 10. In the final labyrinth, Kaori is in a Mirror Boss fight and is about to finish off her opponent... when all of a sudden Yue and Shea crash through one of the walls, having already beaten their trials and then gotten into a fight when an If I Do Not Return-type comment from Yue pissed Shea off, interrupting Kaori's fight.
  • In the Belisarius Series, the Roman army is forced to make a fighting retreat against the Rajputs, and Valentinian, covering Belarius as he escapes near capture, engages Rana Sanga. The fact Valentinian survives the initial clash and manages to give as good as he got causes the Rajputs to come to a complete halt as they see an epic duel in the offing, which quickly becomes official. The Rajputs do not pursue the retreating Romans, the army's commander doesn't even try ordering them to, and the Romans do not make any move to counterattack, watching the fight at long distance.
  • Brother Cadfael has one in The Virgin In The Ice when Olivier de Bretagne faces off against the bandit leader Alain le Gaucher, despite being in the middle of a heated battle between the sheriff's militia and the bandits.
  • Ciaphas Cain once found himself facing the ork warboss Korbul and half a dozen nob bodyguards, with only Jurgen on his side. Korbul goes for Cain, and while Cain is fighting for his life, Jurgen tells him he can't interfere or the other orks will get involved (as an intervention from the nobs would be seen as telling the boss he's too weak to handle the threat).
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final battle with Voldemort effectively starts this way, though the "strike" seen by all is Harry revealing himself from under his cloak.
    • Right before Harry reveals himself everyone in the room is silently watching Voldemort duel Kingsley, McGonagall and Slughorn and Bellatrix duel Hermione, Luna and Ginny. Mrs. Weasley jumps in to fight Bellatrix and the rest is history...
  • There's an interesting example in Knaves on Waves, as while not a battle per se, the duel between Jacques and Hargrave is so anticipated that the entire race halts to watch. They even print out posters.
  • Combining with Keystone Army, this is how most Redwall final battles end, the book's hero taking out the Big Bad in single combat and the rest of the vermin fleeing for their lives.
  • Happens frequently in the Tales of the Branion Realm series. Justified by the fact that when one of the combatants is on fire, you probably want to stand away.
  • In the novelization World of Warcraft: Tides of Darkness, the next-to-last battle between The Alliance and The Horde takes place near Blackrock Spire, the orc stronghold. The Alliance besieges the stronghold, when the orc warchief Orgrim Doomhammer leads a counter-attack. During the battle, he encounters the Alliance supreme commander Lord Anduin Lothar. After Lothar's death, his lieutenant Turalyon picks up his broken sword and knocks out Doomhammer. The defeat of their warchief sends the the Horde into a full retreat.

    Live-Action TV 
  • It's over so quickly it's not really much of a duel, but when Merlin and Vortigern face off in Merlin (1998) and Merlin splits the lake ice with Excalibur, sending Vortigern to a frozen, watery grave, it certainly catches everyone's attention. Some combatants literally pause in mid-swing to stare at what just happened.
  • Seen in Troy: Fall of a City when Hector and Patroclus (in Achilles' armour) meet. Also discussed by Achilles, ahead of time.
    "I miss the hush. When I meet an opponent worthy of me. Everyone around us stops to watch. The din of battle drains away like a wave. And for a few moments, it's just the two of us. And then I kill him. And then everyone gets back to what they were doing."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • On an early-1987 edition of Saturday Nights Main Event, one of the matches was a 20-man battle royal. Around the mid-point of the match, Hulk Hogan and André the Giant (the two had recently been announced as the main event of WrestleMania 3) came together. All other action stopped while these two went at it for a little bit.
  • In the 2008 Royal Rumble, wrestling legend Rowdy Roddy Piper was in the ring when fellow legend (and longtime rival) Superfly Jimmy Snuka entered. The two immediately started brawling, and in an apparently unscripted moment, every other wrestler stopped what they were doing to watch the fight. The camera even caught CM Punk giving John Morrison a "can you believe how cool this is?" nudge as they rested on the ropes.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer allows Hero Units and squad leaders to make personal challenges during combat rounds, which creates this effect as it's resolved before the rest of the combat (whether the fighting is pausing to wait for them or whirling around them is presumably left to the players' imaginations). This mechanic was replicated in Warhammer 40,000's sixth edition.

    Video Games 
  • The Dynasty Warriors series has made a few attempts at these:
    • In Dynasty Warriors 5, if challenged by an enemy general, the player has the choice of accepting or refusing the duel. If accepted, both characters are moved to what resembles a professional wrestling cage to fight things out. The system was considered a Scrappy Mechanic for breaking the flow of a battle.
    • Dynasty Warriors 6 had a system where an enemy general could declare a challenge and all nearby Mooks would stop fighting to form a makeshift "ring" around the combatants, even stabbing or poking at a combatant who came too close to them. While better received than the one in 5, it was discarded for the next game because it was entirely possible for a player on a powerful enough horse (like Red Hare) to just plow through the challenging general and the soldiers trying to form a ring and be long gone before the general had even finished talking.
  • Flavor Text for the Auroran Firebird in EV Nova notes that battles between Federation and Auroran forces sometimes come to a halt to watch Viper/Firebird dogfights between renowned pilots.
  • In General Chaos, if any opposing soldiers get near enough to each other, everything else stops while the two duke it out in close combat.
  • In many of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms games by Koei, if generals get into duels during battle the game shifts to depict them in one-on-one combat. The effect of the duel differs by game: in some games the defeated general is automatically captured and his unit destroyed (presumably to depict the soldiers scattering after the loss of their general), in other games the losing general and his unit lose morale, making them more susceptible to damage.

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes: 1936's "When I Yoo Hoo" inverts this. Two hillbilly feuding clans enter their roosters in a cockfight. The two roosters eventually knock each other out, and when the referee declares a draw, the two clans enter the ring to beat the hell out of the referee and each other while the roosters watch from their respective side's stands.

    Real Life 
  • During the Three Kingdoms era (but before the Three Kingdoms actually existed), southern warlord Sun Ce encountered enemy general Taishi Ci while on a hunting expedition. Both were accompanied by small groups of bodyguards, but when Sun and Taishi began grappling with each other one-on-one both sides backed off. The duel was indecisive as Sun's other men came rushing when they heard the commotion, but Sun managed to grab Taishi's personal weapon while Taishi got away with Sun's helmet. Taishi would later use the helmet to taunt Sun's forces, having his men point at the helmet and go, "Sun Ce's head is already here!"
    • There was a practical reason for their bodyguards not interfering: not only were both men particularly known for their physical prowess, it was too risky to get involved for fear of accidentally wounding their own superior.