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Combat Compliment

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Inigo Montoya: You are wonderful!
Man in Black: Thank you. I've worked hard to become so.

Most fights either have the combatants forgoing conversation to focus on kicking ass, or engaging in Trash Talk, either as psychological warfare to psych out their opponent or just for the lulz.

However, sometimes one of the fighters will be genuinely complimentary to the other. Not in a sarcastic "Nice punch!" kind of way, but sincerely praising their opponent. It might be a disguised form of gloating ("You're awesome, and since I'm kicking your ass that makes me even more awesome") but the point is that they mean it.

Most common from the guy who is winning, since coming from the loser it might sound like they're making excuses for being beat. The praise will often stop when the tide turns, but some characters will keep it up all the way to their defeat. Such genuine cases may be motivated by Sympathy for the Devil or Sympathy for the Hero.

When someone takes delight in the amount of destruction a fighter causes, that's In Love with Your Carnage. This is usually intended as a compliment but the object of the affection may or may not take it that way. Crosses over with Baddie Flattery when the fighter giving the compliment is also a villain. For an even more polite assailant, see Apologetic Attacker.

Contrast You Fight Like a Cow, where the characters' battle is as much verbal as physical (though it may still be somewhat friendly). Also contrast Opponent Instruction, where a character critiques and offers feedback to their opponent mid-fight.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: When Guts first approaches the Count on his throne, he senses the Count's slug appendage about to burst up from beneath the stairs and stabs it with the Dragon Slayer. The Count says, "Nicely Countered." In their fight, Guts manages to hit the Count's only weak point — his face — but it turns out to only be a graze, and he gets struck down in response. The Count tells Guts that his loss was inevitable because of the difference in their power, but that he's a first-rate warrior, and ought to die proudly knowing that at least he managed to inflict one blow.
  • Samurai 7: When Kambei was fighting Kyuzo, he said "I'm in love...with your fighting style," or something like that.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's: The rematch of Fate and Signum had both fighters pausing momentarily after a flurry of blows so that they can compliment the other's skills and the power of their Device. Humorously, it's the Devices that give thanks, not the fighters themselves.
      Signum: Testarossa, you got really strong, you and Bardiche.
      Bardiche: Thank you.
      Fate: You're strong, too, Laevatine and Signum.
      Laevatine: Danke.
    • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS: "You're young, but you're a good knight" were Zest's words to Vita when she was handily stopping him from achieving his goal. Agito promptly complained to Zest about how he shouldn't be wasting his time praising his opponent.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball Z:
      • In the first part of Goku's fight with Frieza, they compliment each other several times when they pull a fast one on each other or when they demonstrate their power. This quickly drops after Frieza uses half of his power and pummels Goku.
      • Cell compliments Goku several times during their fight, saying that he's everything he expected. He was designed to kill him.
      • Goku praises Kid Buu for being so powerful, even when he's about to kill him.
      • As far back as a kid, Goku always compliments his opponents for being strong, whether he's winning or losing.
      • A very rare compliment came from Vegeta to Goku. During their second match, Vegeta says that Goku has become much stronger, more than he expected.
    • Dragon Ball GT: When Goku fights Uub. His entire purpose in the fight is to gauge Uub's strength, and he is pleasantly surprised.
    • Dragon Ball Super:
      • Despite losing godhood, Goku is still able to battle Beerus as a normal Super Saiyan. This makes Beerus give his respect to Goku and even says that he somewhat regrets looking for the Super Saiyan God.
      • Frieza actually gives a bow of respect when he hears that Goku has become a god among the Saiyans.
      • After dispatching Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Vegeta, Hit notes that Vegeta was the first to take so many blows to his vitals.
      • Although Goku didn't speak these words out loud, he praises the entire U6 team for giving such fantastic battles. He even muses that he gets to fight the strongest of them in Hit. When Future Trunks returns, he praises him for reaching Super Saiyan 2 and becoming so powerful.
      • Trunks is left speechless for several seconds when he sees Super Saiyan 3 Goku. He also compliments Goku for becoming so strong since the last time he saw him.
      • Vegeta gives Future Trunks a mock grade for almost hitting him by tricking him into charging blindly since Trunks was using the obsolete Ultra Super Saiyan form, which is known for being extremely slow.
      • While he looks down on all mortals, Goku Black has real respect towards Goku. During their first bout, he calls Goku the strongest of the proud warrior race and compliments Goku on his strength. When he sees Vegeta turn into Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan, he claps, saying how magnificent it is to see the warrior race clad in godly garbs.
      • Jiren also respected Goku and Vegeta as warriors, despite dismissing them at first. When Goku's Ultra Instinct ran out and he suffered a crippling backlash, Jiren even lamented that he didn't want to win the fight this way (by taking advantage of the weakened Goku). Goku and Vegeta paid similar compliments to Jiren.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba:
    • Akaza loves it when a slayer gives him a good challenge; he was quick to praise Kyojuro for doing quite well against a demon as powerful as him, but Akaza doesn't see humans going too far against him no matter how strong they seem to be, so Akaza tries to convince Kyojuro to become a demon like him so both of them could fight each other for eternity so they could stronger forever, the ever diligent Kyojuro naturally refuses the offer, preferring to fight as a human to the end, dying in the process. When Akaza fights Tanjiro later in the story, he comes to accept Tanjiro as becoming strong too; after recovering his human dignity Akaza goes further with respecting Tanjiro's strength, forcing his demon body to just stop regenerating and accept Tanjiro's timely beheading him as just too good, he has to die from it.
    • In the same vein as Akaza, Kokushibo respects strength in others, he is more polite and composed about it though, to him it is more about noticing how much effort one has put into disciplining themselves in martial arts than loving how good the slayers are doing against him.
  • Claymore: Clare is fighting Rigaldo, who had previously dismissed her as a weakling unworthy of his time and is instead focusing on killing her (allegedly) far more powerful allies. This is a mistake; Clare taps into her Superpowered Evil Side in a very specific manner, allowing her to gain speed that he can't match. His final word as she tears him apart? Superb.
  • In Moriarty the Patriot, after pinning Colonel Moran to the ground while he's distracted worrying about Fred, Sherlock compliments him on his defense, saying that as expected of someone William trusts so much, Moran had no openings to take advantage of while in combat with Louis.
  • One Piece
    • After surviving being impaled, buried alive, and dehydrated, Crocodile compliments Luffy's tenacity before he takes out his poison hook, deciding to fight Luffy as a true pirate.
    • Lucci, when he isn't being a Smug Super, compliments his opponents when they do especially well. When he learns Franky took out one of the CP9 agents, he praises him for being superhuman. He also compliments Luffy's leadership skills and praises the crew when he learns that they beat all of his comrades.
    • Blackbeard is not shy to compliment anyone he sees as worthy including his old commander Ace, Luffy, and even Whitebeard just before he tries to murder him.
  • Rebuild World: A Noble Demon black forces operative Akira ends up fighting, Erde, commends him on shooting the blast that kills him, before uttering his Last Words apologizing to the subordinates who were sent after Akira and killed just prior to their battle.
  • Soul Eater: Asura (who normally views humans and even Death the Kid as little more than dust compared to himself) actually calls Black*Star a warrior-god during their battle, as Black*Star at that point managed to withstand multiple attacks that should have disintegrated him and launch several of his own rivaling the Soul Resonance of a Death Scythe and their Meister.

    Comic Books 
  • In Marvel Comics Presents #53, Silver Sable and Black Widow clash over custody of a French criminal named Yves Chevrier. Black Widow has been hired by several agencies to capture Chevier for gun-running, fraud, drug dealing, and grand larceny. Silver Sable is after Chevrier for aiding a Nazi criminal named Heinrich Edelhardt who later killed Silver's agents when they tried to apprehend him. The two end up in a brief scuffle in which they compliment each other's moves before turning their attention back to Chevrier who is trying to escape.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Zero and his henchmen regularly compliment the protagonist both during their fight in the New York Continental and during pauses. Zero explicitly says that his target does not disappoint. John eventually concedes that it was a good fight when he manages to kill Zero near the end.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: In Iron Man, during the climactic fight, Stark's opponent is constantly praising Tony's technical genius and tactical cunning.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: Jack Sparrow complimenting Will's form during their first duel.
    Jack: You know what you're doing, I'll give you that. But how's your footwork? If I step here... [swash swash buckle buckle]... Very good!
  • The Princess Bride:
    • In the famous duel, both the Man in Black and Inigo Montoya treat the whole thing like a game and are free with their compliments of each other's skills. Inigo straight-up admits that the Man in Black is better, then switches to his right hand to get the advantage, forcing the Man in Black to switch to his right hand to get it back.
    • There are also some good-natured compliments between the Man in Black and Fezzik during their battle.
    • And between the Man in Black and Vizzini. "You've beaten my giant; you must be very strong."
  • Serenity: The Operative compliments his opponent's accomplishments, but also declares their "sin".
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: General Chang appreciates Kirk as a fellow warrior.
  • Star Wars: At the end of The Empire Strikes Back, Vader does it to Luke to try and encourage him to unleash his dark side, and then the Emperor does the same at the end of Return of the Jedi.
    Darth Vader: Impressive. Most impressive. Obi-Wan has taught you well.
  • Strange Magic: The Bog King is increasingly impressed by Marianne's skill with a sword throughout their duel- and says so. On her part, she's having fun taunting him but later tells him she enjoyed their fight.

  • In Twig, the viewpoint protagonist Sylvester, while undercover at a preparatory school, meets a clone of a student named Mary, who successfully manipulates the other students into getting him alone with her before pulling a gun on him in order to interrogate him. He expresses sincere admiration for her cunning and continues to do so over their next several confrontations, leading her to betray her creator when she comes to the conclusion that he left her to die in order to delay Sylvester.
  • As mentioned above under 'Film', The Princess Bride features the duel between the Man in Black and Inigo Montoya where the two compliment each other on their prowess.


    Video Games 
  • In Dragon Ball Xenoverse, several characters have race-specific taunts and insults depending on which of the Standard Fantasy Races you're using. The final boss of Xenoverse 2, Final Form Mira, has race-specific compliments where he praises your power and says that he respects you; he calls Saiyans "endless wellsprings of power", says that Frieza's Race truly are the rulers of the galaxy, and remarks on how Namekians can produce incredible warriors despite their peaceful nature.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • Tsun, the old Nordic god of "trials against adversity" and shield-thane of Shor is met in Sovngarde and must be bested in single combat in order to prove your worthiness to enter Shor's Hall of Valor. Throughout the fight, he compliments the Player Character and almost seems to become giddy as you dish it out.
      Tsun: I have long awaited such a worthy adversary!
    • After initially defeating Alduin at the Throat of the World, he admits that the Dragonborn has become extremely powerful.
  • Final Fantasy XIV fights often contain this as part of the Boss Banter. For an early example, if you do Ifrit's mechanics properly and get the non-One-Hit Kill version of Hellfire, he declares "Thou art strong, mortals!"
  • In Mega Man 8, Sword Man's death quote is simply "Nice shot."
  • Metal Gear is full of this. The bosses in the game often compliment Snake's ability.
    • The most pronounced is probably Snake and Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater — at the beginning, Snake defeats Ocelot but compliments his ricochet shots and in later battles, Ocelot compliments Snake for good shots.
    • At the very end of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, As Ocelot is dying, he takes a moment to compliment Solid Snake with the same words that Naked Snake used to compliment Ocelot 60 years earlier: "You're...pretty good". It's impactful by revealing that, in spite of his "possession" by Liquid Snake, Ocelot still recognizes Big Boss in Snake.
  • All of the fighters at the Dojo in the original Paper Mario.
  • Elizabeth in Persona 4: Arena is more than happy to get the crap kicked out of her, and has no problem telling you how well you're doing while you do it. Given that she's a Cloud Cuckoolander, and that she's never actually hurt by any of the fighting (her "defeated" pose has her lying on her book, looking at you with a smirk, whereas everyone else is passed out from the beating they just took), her fights come across as more of a test than a true physical contest. Which isn't to say she won't kill you if you let her win.
  • Whenever you destroy powerful enemies in Razing Storm, or play well in general. "Alpha 1! Awesome!" "Crazy skills, Alpha 1!"
  • Sengoku Basara:
    • Tokugawa Ieyasu praises his opponents in a friendly, chatty way as he punches the crap out of them and their mooks. Makes sense, since he's actually trying to recruit some of them into his army and dissuade others from the path they've chosen... through punching.
    • Ashikaga Yoshiteru's taunt actually involves applauding his opponent and declaring how much he's enjoying himself.
  • StarCraft: In the multiplayer community, "gg" (Good Game) is the courteous way to surrender before leaving a match. "gg wp" (Good Game, Well Played) is a variant showing respect for your opponent's skill, said by the winner or loser. Several other online communities have since adopted the same shorthand.
  • In Street Fighter V, thanks to Ryu's view of battle as a Spirited Competitor, one of his damage grunts is "Nice hit!" if his dialogue is set to English.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In the episode "Sokka's Master", Sokka receives several compliments about using his environment and superior agility during an intense sword fight. (With an Old Master who's teaching him, mind you.)
  • Dexter's Laboratory: In the episode "Snowdown", Dee Dee continuously torments Dexter with snowballs and he informs this to his father, who teaches him how to throw a snowball. When Dexter finally confronts his sister, he ducks from one of Dee Dee's thrown snowballs and throws a snowball back at her, which hits her right in the face. Dee Dee gets up and congratulates Dexter for finally hitting her with a snowball.
  • Home Movies: In the episode "History", this is used in the finale of "Starboy and the Captain of Outer Space", the movie Brendon and Jason are making. By complementing Mr. Pants, they get him to turn on the other villains and throw them into space.
  • Kim Possible: When Kim first wears her new Postscript Season mission garb, Shego admits that it looks pretty good (this after mercilessly — even by her standards — mocking the various outfits she'd worn earlier in the episode).
  • Samurai Jack: Jack tends to do this whenever he runs up against truly formidable opponents, such as the Guardian or the Minions of Set, although this is usually less for the purpose of complementing his enemies and more for the purpose of letting the audience know that he's in serious trouble.
  • Transformers: Animated: Pick a fight scene with Sunstorm, any slaggin' one.
  • Wakfu: Qilby the Traitor compliments Adamai twice during their fight. He is impressed by Adamai and Grougal's tag-team attack and admits that they almost had him. When Adamai later goes One-Winged Angel in a fit of rage after Qilby knocks out Grougal, Qilby expresses admiration for Adamai's fighting spirit, calling him the pride of the Eliatrope race.