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Chance Meeting Between Antagonists

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This trope is when the hero and the villain (or any two people at odds with each other) happen to cross paths, purely by coincidence. This might happen at some particularly dramatic moment, though this isn't always the case. Perhaps one of them made a mistake, or the other just got lucky, but in either case, the main point of this trope is that they are both surprised by the encounter, but unaware of who they were until their next meeting. By the time the encounter ends, one of them would look back to see who that person was, as they feel as something unusual had occurred for a slight moment.

For example, Alice may be infiltrating Bob's secret lair. She finagles her way past all the guards and security systems, finally making her way into Bob's inner chamber. Just as she cracks Bob's safe, filled with all his secrets... a toilet flushes in the adjoining room and Bob steps out zipping his fly, unaware that anything had been amiss. Until now, that is.

Another (and more likely) scenario is when the hero and villain simply happen to cross paths without either being consciously aware that the other would be present beforehand. In some cases, they may not even realize who they saw until sometime afterward, when someone else mentions them. Or it could be the Secret Identity is revealed and the hero had been Living with the Villain all along.

A subtrope of Contrived Coincidence. Also compare Villains Out Shopping, which is one of many possible setups for such an encounter.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Diamond is Unbreakable: Josuke grabs Koichi just as he's about walk in front of a moving car, the driver being the hidden Serial Killer of Morioh, Yoshikage Kira.
    • Golden Wind: Bucciarati unknowingly ends up asking for assistance from Doppio, who is The Dragon / split-personality of Diavolo after becoming too fatigued to continue making his way to Rome's colosseum.
    • Stone Ocean: Before attempting to head towards the prison courtyard to meet with Savage Garden, Jolyne has a run-in with Enrico Pucci, unaware that he's the one that stole Jotaro's memories, as he only allows Jolyne passage to prevent her from finding out his identity.
    • Steel Ball Run: Lucy Steel has a meeting with Scarlet Valentine, wife of Funny Valentine, using the opportunity to get close while acting as The Mole for Johnny and Gyro to steal Valentine's corpse heart.
    • JoJolion: After learning the extent of Satoru Akefu's Wonder of U ability, Josuke, Yasuho, and Rai attempt to find a way to counteract it while running into Toru, not knowing that he's the actual user.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Team Nanoha (the heroes) accidentally meets Team Wolkenritter (the heroic antagonists) in a hospital while visiting the Wolkenritter's master Hayate (who also happens to be a friend of Nanoha's friend Suzuka; they didn't know she was their enemies' master until then, however). This takes place just before the Final Battle, so it doesn't go well at all.
  • This is a staple in the various Gundam series, with the heroes typically meeting their enemies by accident while out of their respective mechas and uniforms.
    • Late in the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Amuro and Char meet on a road in the neutral colony of Side 6 and Char even helps the young soldier get his car out of a ditch. While Char is quite famous in-universe, Char does not learn the name of the Gundam pilot he's been fighting for the whole series until after this encounter. Earlier, Amuro ran into Zeon officer Ramba Ral in a tavern after (temporarily) deserting from White Base.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Kira and Cagalli accidentally meet the enemy commander Andrew Waltfeld and his lover/partner while scouting an enemy town for supplies. That meeting ends rather amicably: even though Waltfeld immediately realizes he is dealing with enemy aces, he likes them well enough to let them go on that occasion.
  • In One Piece, the ultimate antagonist Blackbeard is first mentioned when he attacked Drum Kingdom, though he's never seen him in person until in Jaya, where Luffy and Blackbeard get into an argument over cherry pie.
  • Tokyo Revengers: In Chapter 5, just as young Takemichi considers the possibility of an event that could have changed Mikey, he passes by a young Kisaki. Though he doesn't recognize Kisaki, only noting that he seems familiar.
  • Patlabor:
  • In Heat Guy J, Daisuke is going to lay sunflowers on his father's grave, and meets up with Clair, who has just visited (and stomped on) his own father's grave. The two look at each other for several minutes, before walking past one another.
  • In one of the K prequel novels, this is how Mikoto and Reisi first met. Mikoto, the Red King and King of destruction, is smoking in a non-smoking area, and Reisi, the newly awakened Blue King and King of order, tells him not to. They bicker about it, but don't fight.
  • Lagrange: The Flower of Rin-ne: In the first season, when the trio of De Metrio pilots go looking for Madoka Kyono, the pilot of Vox Aura. Kirius actually runs into her wandering around town, they chat a bit, and then she runs off to do something else. As she leaves, Kirius thinks to himself, "Oh, I should have asked her where Madoka Kyono is."

    Comic Books 
  • In Uncanny X-Men #183, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus unwind in a bar after the events of Secret Wars (1984) and see Juggernaut across the room. A fight breaks out between him and Colossus. Since Colossus has just broken Kitty Pryde's heart, Wolverine stays out of it and keeps Nightcrawler out as well.

    Fan Works 
  • Venus Flash (A Sailor Moon/Cutey Honey crossover):
    • Minako and Honey's secret identity are in a jewel shop because of a discount sale at the same time the youma Morga is in waiting for the right moment to kidnap and replace the owner. Then Jadeite and a platoon of low level youma barge in, as they have just found out what the owner is up to and were disgusted by it. Then the owner is revealed being a member of Panther Claw...
    • After a battle, Minako returns home... And finds that the tentacle youma Electricus is servicing her mother. Wisely, the youma leaves.
  • In the Steven Universe fanfiction Don't Even Bother, Steven runs away from Beach City and the Crystal Gems by hitching a ride on a freight train. On the way, he stops by the Kindergarten, where earlier chapters revealed Peridot was staying after she tried to destroy the Crystal Gems and they ended up stranding her on Earth. As would have it, they eventually run into each other, and while they are at first adamant to each other’s presence, they both begin to draw parallels to their respective situations, and eventually decide to hide from the Crystal Gems together when they come searching for Steven. This leads them to developing a strong friendship that would serve as the main focus of the story.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Pulp Fiction: A boxer named Butch, on the run for not throwing a fight for Marcellus Wallace (a local crime boss), shows up at his apartment to retrieve his gold watch. He decides to have a quick snack...and notices a submachine gun lying on the counter and picks it up to examine it. Cue toilet flush, and Vince Vega (who works as muscle for Wallace) walks into the kitchen, finding Butch with his gun. Then, Butch is driving back to the hotel he and his girlfriend are hiding out. He stops at a light, and who should cross the street at that exact moment but Marcellus Wallace, the man who put the hit out on him, who was out getting coffee.
  • In The Town, the Villain Protagonists have just pulled off a daring robbery and managed to escape pursuit... only to run smack into a police officer while they switch cars. The officer chooses to pretend he didn't see them.
  • In Superman Returns, Lois sneaks onto Lex's yacht (not knowing it's his) and runs into the man himself, while he is brushing his teeth and utterly surprised to see her there.
  • In Kick-Ass, after having his operations foiled, the Big Bad puts a hit out on the eponymous hero. Then, as he's casually driving down the street in his limo, who should walk past but Kick-Ass! Actually a subversion. It was really an unfortunate Kick-Ass imitator, whom the Big Bad shoots in the head and then inspires the real Kick-Ass to retire in fear of his safety.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Captain America: The First Avenger: While searching for Bucky, Cap happens to spot Dr. Zola fleeing his lab, but abandons pursuing him in favor of finding Bucky. A few minutes later, however, the two encounter Schimdt and Zola as they all head for the elevator, and Zola ends up cutting them off so that the heroes can't reach them.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: While the Guardians are infiltrating Orgo Corp to find the file with the passcode to Rocket's kill switch, Quill incidentally bumps shoulders with Recorder Theel, who has just removed the passcode from the file to take to the High Evolutionary. Quill recognizes Theel later when Nebula is analyzing the file and the record of who previously accessed it.
  • In Batman Returns, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are at the same party when they realize that they are enemies (i.e., Selina figures out that Bruce is Batman, and he that she is Catwoman) while they dance together.
  • In Ariel (1988), Kasurinen runs into a man who robbed him earlier.

  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • In A Game of Thrones]] two characters (Catelyn Stark and Tyrion) travelling in opposite directions, going about their own business, recognise each other in an inn, causing the intrigues of other characters to spiral out of control into an all-out civil war.
    • In A Dance with Dragons, Tyrion is on the lam and has travelled to an entirely different continent, where he convinces his travel buddies to let him stop off at a brothel. While there, he happens to bump into Jorah Mormont, the dismissed-but-still-loyal knight of Daenerys's court, who are enemies to the Lannisters. Jorah was only there for the same reason as Tyrion himself: he was going through depression and needed a quick lay.
  • In Soon I Will Be Invincible, Dr Impossible is having a cup of coffee and reading the paper when several members of the New Champions run across him and a battle ensues.
  • A frequent occurrence in The Affix, because the Affix is a probability warper and it's drawn a lot of antagonists into one city at the same time, each with different reasons for trying to acquire it. Later in the series this still happens a lot, for similar reasons.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Burn Notice, Michael is infiltrating a bomb-maker's apartment. The bomb-maker had rigged a booby-trap to the door: a claymore, pointing at the door, tied to a rope. If the door opens, the rope slackens, which will set off the claymore. Michael, luckily, notices the trap and pulls on the rope to keep it taut. At that exact moment, though, the bomb-maker happens to walk in the back door. Though surprised, he quickly takes advantage of the situation, since Michael is standing directly in the path of the claymore and can't let go of the rope.
  • Firefly: The episode "Trash" has Mal run into Saffron his ex-wife, who tried to get him and his crew killed on some backwater moon. As soon as they see each other they draw guns on each other.
  • Breaking Bad: Walt happens to meet Jane's father Donald Margolis the night she dies. He later talks with Jesse about the "astronomical" odds of the meeting after he realizes what happened.
  • The 100: When Clarke checks out the forbidden areas of Mount Weather, she discovers Anya, last seen trying to kill Clarke and all her friends, locked up in a cage.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • While going about their own business, Catelyn Stark and Tyrion Lannister recognize each other at an inn, causing the intrigues of other characters to spiral out of control into an all-out civil war.
    • In "The Children" the two character duos wandering the Riverlands and the Mountains of the Moon bump into one another by chance.
  • Hannibal: During season 3's "Red Dragon" arc, the first significant divergence from the novel's plot happens when the killer Francis Dolarhyde, who has conned his way into the Brooklyn Museum to destroy the William Blake painting, is interrupted by Will Graham, the man in charge of catching him, who was tipped off to the painting's importance by Hannibal.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Galadriel spends several thousand years looking for Sauron, and she happens upon him by chance, in the middle of the ocean, in his fair form.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • In "Speak of the Devil," Matt Murdock visits the art gallery run by Wilson Fisk's girlfriend Vanessa Marianna, hoping to tease some information out of Vanessa. While Matt is talking with her, Fisk shows up and Matt has to make some awkward small talk with him about the tenancy dispute Fisk is having with one of Nelson & Murdock's clients to avoid blowing his cover.
    • In "No Good Deed", Matt's first face-off with Benjamin "Dex" Poindexter is while he's trying to infiltrate the hotel where Fisk is on house arrest. He gets stopped by Dex (who is screening those coming to and from the elevator) while trying to follow Fisk's lawyer Donovan to the parking garage. This is three episodes before they meet again, this time with Dex sporting a Daredevil suit procured by Fisk.
  • Luke Cage (2016): In season 2, Luke is being forced to headline at a party being thrown by Piranha Jones to raise money to repay Cockroach, who is suing him for assault. By chance, Shades is also at the party because he doesn't trust Piranha to keep his mouth shut about the shady stock deal he just helped Mariah make. This results in a hilariously awkward moment when they cross paths at the party.
    Hernan "Shades" Alvarez: You do parties now? 'Cause my cousin's quinceañera is next week.

    Tabletop Games 
  • One War Zone battle scenario works like this, pitting two scout teams (the Bauhaus and Mishima) against each other. The scenario starts with the sergeants of both sides already dead; both scout teams have been crawling through tall grass and somehow Failed a Spot Check until the leaders nearly bumped into each other.
  • In Fate system games like Spirit of the Century, if you take an Aspect representing a nemesis, you are begging your GM for this to happen. But at least you get bonus fate points out of it. Other games with Nemesis disadvantages (or advantages) also ask for this, though the degree to which such nemeses are part of the rules versus "just" a story hook varies depending on system.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: While Ann is on her way to The Walter Raleigh, K, a passenger on the boat and actually a member of The Consortium, decides to tell her a story about a past incident. Later, Ann notices that he somehow vanished off the boat before she could ask more questions.
  • Devil Summoner: This is how the protagonist and Sid first meet in Hirasaki City, until the latter bluntly tells the former that he'll kill him for not having the book with him.
  • Mega Man Battle Network 2: Before boarding the airplane back home, Lan encounters a boy who gives him a silent Death Glare. In the final fight, Lord Gospel is revealed to be the same boy, Sean Obihiro.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, there is a scene where the protagonists are going to visit a scholar who have knowledge pertinent to their quest. When they arrive, the Big Bad is already there, reading up about the same subject. The two of them have a bit of a row, but out of respect for the scholar (an old friend of his), the Big Bad leaves without anything coming of it.
  • In one sidequest in Final Fantasy VII, Cloud and the gang pursue Yuffie to Wutai after she steals all of their Materia, where they find several members of the Turks hanging out in a bar. Fortunately, the Turks are currently on leave and aren't interested in pursuing their conflict with Cloud.
  • In Medal of Honor: Frontline, Agent Patterson gets a sneak peak at the Big Bad Sturmgeist during an infiltration mission of a German seaport while the latter is inspecting said seaport. Sturmgeist becomes Patterson's target of pursuit in the later campaigns. Said early encounter occurs during the mission named "A Chance Meeting".
  • Last Scenario has a scene where Hilbert returns to his hometown to fend off invading bandits and finds that Castor had also come to put down the bandits. Castor tells Hilbert that they're not so different, and leaves because he realizes fighting at that point would be pointless.

    Web Comics 
  • In Weak Hero, protagonist Gray's first meeting with Big Bad Donald, all the way in Episode 163, is pure coincidence, as he leaves a hospital (where he was looking for volunteer work) at the same time as Donald enters (for unnamed medical reasons). Gray is fully aware of who Donald is and feels his heart thumping as they pass, whereas Donald doesn't seem aware of Gray and silently goes his way.

    Western Animation 
  • My Adventures with Superman: In "Hearts of the Father", Clark has a shocking reaction to seeing Lois' father and realizing that he's The General that's been trying to kill him, the latter having no idea that Clark Kent is also Superman.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: Lotor's Generals and the Voltron Paladins happen to meet at a post under siege.