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Circling Monologue

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"We're like sharks right now."

While a foe is Monologuing, they'll be circling the hero like a wolf circles a lamb, hoping to ensnare the hero with their arguments and offers like a python hugs its victims. Spiraling ever inwards as their Creepy Monotone reaches deeper and deeper to the core of the hero's motivation. The hero will usually have the facial expression of a deer in the headlights of an eighteen wheeler, or seem deeply conflicted, confused, or about to have a nervous breakdown. This is made all the creepier when the hero is bound and can't turn to face the villain, as they go behind the hero, monologuing the hero's flaws and how easily they could backstab them, or will if it's a Just Between You and Me moment.

It's rare, but sometimes the hero will do this. In this case, the hero usually isn't the ideological predator, but a flexible thinker, offering a Last-Second Chance while the villain remains dead set in their ways, immovable and proud before their impending fall. Some examples are both of these at once, where the hero and villain circle each other while trying to convert each other.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Death Note anime Light Yagami does this with Misa and Rem when convincing Rem that for Misa to be happy L has to die.
  • In the very first episode of the animated adaption of Fate/Zero, both Tohsaka Tokiomi and Kotomine Risei circle Kirei while they explain their plan to him in an effort to convince him to join them. See here for an example.
  • This happens between Shun and Aria in Episode 6 of Occultic;Nine, though unlike most examples, the camera itself spins as the two talk.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm:
    • At the start of the sequel, Voldemort does this to Harry, though mostly just to taunt and torment him, and make clear that since Harry can't hurt him without hurting the people that Voldemort's linked to, he's the one dictating the terms.
    • In an unusual heroic example, Harry circles Ron in the sequel, explaining how he's changed over the last year, the various sides to him, with illusion magic changing his form and voice to punctuate the differences: there's Harry Thorson, Prince of Asgard; there's the Red Son, the Red Room's Living Weapon; there's the 'Light' Phoenix, who heals and repairs the world; its Evil Counterpart, the Dark Phoenix; and then, of course, there's Harry Potter, teenage wizard and Boy-Who-Lived. He claims that he's all of them, and above all, Ron's friend.
    • The Spirit of the Fallen Fortress does this to Harry when it takes on the form of Harry himself (though it uses a few others), trying out a Breaking Speech. It doesn't work.
  • The Ultimate Evil: This is done during the Demon World part of Jackie Chan Adventures. When the J-Team reaches Hsi Wu's tower, Jade brings the Sky Demon's attention to herself. At first they circle each other as they exchange arguments about their status as Others, but it turns into a classical villainous example when Hsi Wu reminds Jade of the deal they made in the original timeline, which included her being bound to him through blood. He then tries to apprehend her, only to be banished instead to the Netherworld.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: Seems to be a fondness with alicorns. Luna unleashes one of these in Longest Night, Longest Day when letting Trixie know she's very disappointed in her, and another in At the Grand Galloping Gala, on why she doesn't just rule as an autocrat, complete with turning into Nightmare Moon (for visual effect). Meanwhile, Celestia inflicts one on Luna upon her return in LNLD.
  • All Mixed Up!: Otto circles Mariana Mag when confronting her about her suspicious activity over the course of her story, with Oprah and Oscar listening to him thoroughly and the Big Bad aquarium owner acting very shifty with every accusation he throws at her.
  • Guys Being Dudes: Candela paces in circles around a restrained Arlo, dissecting how the Operation: Jealousy he planned againt her by dating Spark wouldn't have worked and he likely knew it, suggesting he just used it as an excuse to get close to Spark.

    Films — Animation 
  • Grendel's mother in the 2007 movie of Beowulf does this to the eponymous hero. She promises the trifecta of Sex, Money, and Power, strumming every chord of this flawed hero's heart and pride as she circles him.
  • Parodied in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: The mayor is trying to convince Flint to make more food fall from the sky, and uses Offscreen Teleportation to great and hilarious effect. First he whispers in one ear, then the other, then somehow from above. While driving a Rascal scooter.
  • Frollo in the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame offers Esmeralda a way out when she's about to be burned at the stake. He tells her, 'I can save you from the flames of this world and the next. Choose me, or the fire,' and Esmeralda promptly spits in his face before giving him an epic Kubrick Stare.
  • The Incredibles: Syndrome starts this when confronting Mr. Incredible after the Time Skip, but is interrupted by a thrown tree trunk to the face.
    Syndrome: You sly dog, you got me monologuing!
  • The Lion King:
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
    • The original movie has Sunset Shimmer circles Princess Twilight Sparkle when she confronts her in a dimly lit hallway of the school. Telling her she might have followed her to the human world, but Sunset already rules the school and Twilight doesn't know the first thing about how to fit in.
    • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks, Adagio Dazzle and Aria Blaze do this to Sunset Shimmer while telling her they've learned of her reputation and putting her friendship with the Rainbooms to doubt. Note that there is obviously little space between Sunset and the wall corner, yet they still walk around her for the sake of the trope. Sonata Dusk joins in too, although she doesn't exactly master the concept of "circling".
    • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games, Principal Cinch and the Crystal Prep students circle around Twilight Sparkle during the Villain Song to convince her to "Unleash the Magic".
  • The Prince of Egypt has this where Rameses' two priests circle Moses during their Villain Song.
  • At the end of The Princess and the Frog, Dr. Facilier offers to make Tiana's dreams come true in exchange for his talisman. He shows the illusions of her restaurant while circling her.
  • In Rise of the Guardians, Pitch's shadows circle Jack while taunting him with his deepest fears. When Pitch approaches Jack with the We Can Rule Together offer, he also walks in circles around him.
  • Rock-A-Doodle has the scene where the evil owl and his henchowls are shown threatening the farm animals as the barn starts to fill up with water by singing "No Batteries!" (which for some reason contained the lyrics "Twiddly-dee, twiddly-dee") while marching around them in a circle.
  • Tangled:
    • One Bad Mother Gothel circles Rapunzel with fake affection at the start of her Villain Song, "Mother Knows Best." Later, in the reprise of this song, Gothel still feigns affection but is more openly mocking and derisive, and she even does a semi-circle that has a seductive twist. Just watch for yourself.
    • Rapunzel herself walks in circles around Flynn when she interrogates him in the tower. It's Played for Laughs as she is a cute girl trying her darnedest to seem intimidating, and Flynn looks a bit creeped out but only by her endless hair.
  • The Singing Cat Gang actually do this to Tom and Jerry during the Big-Lipped Alligator Moment from Tom and Jerry: The Movie.
  • Jim does the heroic version in Treasure Planet, but it's mainly to tell Silver that he won't be fooled a second time, condemning him for what Jim thought was a Bastardly Speech, and letting him know that he won't let Silver ever get ahold of the treasure which serves as both characters' motivation.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Dark Knight, at a party scene, the Joker circles around Rachel and appears to sniff her while calling her "beautiful".
  • Done in the Dungeons & Dragons (2000) movie as Ridley and Profion finally confront each other.
    Profion: You think you can steal my destiny?! I'll invent a new destiny especially for you, full of pain! New kinds of pain, and new senses to feel it with!
    Ridley: Not if I kill you first!
  • Mephistopheles in Ghost Rider (2007) does this twice to Johnny Blaze, once when he imbues him with the Ghost Rider's powers, and again when he reawakens them years later.
  • Teatime does this to Susan in the movie version of Hogfather.
  • In the climax of Labyrinth, Jareth circles Sarah in this manner as he explains how, while he's capable of cruelty, he has been "generous" to her all along. Her response is the heroine's speech from the play that inspired her adventure in the first place, and a battle of wills ensues.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Wormtongue does this to Éowyn in The Two Towers, during his "Who knows what you've spoken to the darkness..." speech.
    • Smaug does this to Bilbo in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, regarding how Thorin views him. Given Smaug is the size of a fortress, this is impressive.
  • The Matrix Reloaded plays with the trope as Agent Smith clones surround Neo, each one of them speaking a part of the monologue while the camera pans. It gives the impression he's circling, when they're mostly just standing still or walking towards Neo.
  • At the start of Shoot 'Em Up, Smith outshoots several gunmen trying to kill a pregnant woman. When his pistol runs out he grabs a Desert Eagle off the last man standing, demanding to know why they want to kill her. Instead of answering, the man tells a rude limerick instead while circling Smith. This lets the audience know he's the main antagonist.
  • Star Wars:
    • In Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku was circling and tempting a captive Obi-Wan.
    • Revenge of the Sith:
      • There's an example of a heroic, well, Anti-heroic circle. Anakin rounds Palpatine as the latter calmly and matter-of-factly lays out his motivations and plans, doing his best to convince Anakin that it's best for Padmé.
      • The same happens between Anakin and Obi-Wan before their fight on Mustafar.

  • A variant appears in Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber series. The villain is circling closer to the protagonist because he's got to be close enough for his ranged attack to work, but he's not absolutely certain what that range actually is. The antagonist's attack involves mind control and is invisible, so he's hoping the conversation will distract the protagonist as he keeps moving a bit closer and trying again.
  • Harry and Voldemort's final battle in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows starts with them circling each other, debating who will triumph. Harry is level-headed, assured that he has the upper hand, while Voldemort is arrogant and dismissive, refusing to believe he can be beaten.
  • This happens at least twice in Madeleine L'Engle's books — A Wind in the Door and Many Waters, to be precise (although this is more of forcible-possession than monologuing, in both cases).
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • A hero-to-villain example occurs in The Vor Game. Cavilo is in a suit of Powered Armor that's been depowered and acts as a Tailor-Made Prison, leaving only her head able to move. As Miles and Gregor pressure her for information, Miles repeatedly paces behind her because he can see it makes her nervous.
    • Baron Ryoval does this to Mark in Mirror Dance; it does not turn out well for the Baron.
  • In Who's Afraid of Beowulf? by Tom Holt, the last viking king, Hrolf Earthstar circles the evil Sorcerer King before battle, determined to break his attempt to rule the world. Unusually, the mighty but doomed villain accepts the Last-Second Chance given by the hero. After all, someone could have got killed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In a Season Three episode of Alias, McKenas Cole pulls this on Sark. However, Sark makes it a point to keep shifting so Cole's never given the opportunity to stab him in the back.
  • In Babylon 5, in the climatic three-way showdown between Vorlons, Shadows and the Army of Light each one of the former two pick a general of the Army and try to reason him/her into following them. Shadows do this with Delenn by having impersonations of her friends and even of herself circle around her while setting forth the Shadows' doctrines. Meanwhile, the Vorlon representative manifests as a woman frozen inside a block of ice, and Sheridan circles her while she argues the Vorlon point of view.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has an example in "Lessons" when the First Evil delivers a Break Them by Talking to Spike while circling him... and while shifting forms between the Big Bad of each earlier season and, at the end, Buffy herself.
  • In Dallas, episode "The Family Ewing" (first of the "Dream Season"), Sue Ellen comes home the night Bobby Ewing, having been out all day with Dusty Farlow. Her chipper attitude was all J.R., who was openly (as much as a proud Texan man could) mourning the death of Bobby, could take. He circles her, berating her for not (never) being there, before driving her off.
  • Doctor Who has had this, particularly with the Doctor and the Master.
    • In "Survival", the part-cheetah Master stalks around the Doctor.
    • "Dalek": When the Doctor first talks to the Dalek, he walks around it while it's chained to the floor.
    • "The End of Time": The Master walks around a tied-up Doctor at the beginning of part 2, but after he gets ungagged, it's the Doctor doing the pleading.
  • A different use of circling than usual, but Dr Cox from Scrubs has a tendency to circle people during his rants. In one memorable scene, he and J.D. actually take turns on who's playing what role.
  • Star Trek: Voyager

  • In Elisabeth, the song "Wenn Ich Tanzen Will" ("If I Want to Dance") frequently turns into Elisabeth and Death circling each other.
  • In Pokémon Live!, Ash and Giovanni circle each other as they sing/fight in "You Just Can't Win."
    • Rocket Grunts also circle Ash and Giovanni as the latter gets the upper hand.
  • In Tsukino Empire 2, after Shiki bonds with Suzaku, he falls into a coma because Suzaku is too powerful a Shinjuu for one ordinary human to bond with alone. While Shiki is unconscious, in his mind, Suzaku appears to him, showing him the faces of the team members he needs to find to share the bonding with. That is, Tsubasa, Rikka, and Dai stand on a revolving ring of the stage, with Shiki in the center as they move around him, speaking Suzaku's words. Subverted in that they aren't precisely enemies, but fiery and stubborn new teammates finding their way with each other. And there's the fact that Suzaku will always burn Shiki's hair, even when they reconnect with Shiki's reincarnation 3000 years later.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Played with in Avatar: The Last Airbender, as Ozai circles Zuko while extolling his accomplishments in Ba Sing Se. Zuko still seems very nervous to be there, especially when he finds out that Azula gave him all the credit for Aang's supposed death.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the episode "Call of the Cutie", Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon circle around Apple Bloom and Twist while delivering a mocking monologue.
  • Neo Yokio: Invoked when the Helenists have Kaz captured and prepped for a demonic sacrifice - Helena arrives on the scene and begins to monologue about how Kaz represents everything that's wrong with Neo Yokio, circling him as he's tied to a crude wooden altar. Subverted immediately afterward when she knocks down one of the Helenists with a giant candy bar, revealing that she was only using the monologue as a distraction to get in position to attack.
  • The Teen Titans do this to Terra after she betrays them for the last time. Not to give her another chance, but to clarify that they won't be giving her any more chances.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Spiral Spiel, Circle Of Extinction, Circling And Monologuing


Kratos and Thor Clash

During their fight, Thor's Hammer and Kratos' Axe collide mid-air, causing the element's within their mythic weapons to explosively interact and create a frozen lightning bolt, but not before Kratos calls out the God of Thunder for his failures as a father.

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