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Counterpart Combat Coordination

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"Wait a second! This isn't working, guys! Let's just fight our counterparts, okay?"
Bringing mirror matches to a whole new level.

This is when a team of characters, generally Color-Coded for Your Convenience, faces off against their counterparts, and specifically plans for or around any possible confusion that could arise by the matching schemes and themes. As with the Psycho Rangers page, confusion could be invoked by one side by an Opponent Switch.

Maybe it's to help each other understand what's going on. Maybe It's Personal, or to stop a case of The Only One Allowed to Defeat You. If this shouldn't be possible due to the characters looking nothing like each other, this is meant to invoke a bit of Rule of Funny.

Designated Girl Fight is a related trope. May lead to Fearful Symmetry.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita and The Space Heroes, a Superhero Episode in the entry, have the gang gaining different powers and facing their direct counterparts in the finale:
    • Doraemon and Suneo vs. Hyde: Gadgeteer Geniuses / The Lancer vs. Evil Genius / The Dragon, with Hyde taking on the gang with his Drill Tank. Doraemon had a Rummage Fail as always, but Suneo uses his powers to turn a pile of random junk and turn it into a spaceship in three seconds and counter Hyde's weapons.
    • Gian vs. Ogon: The Big Guy vs. The Brute, in two occasions. In the rematch Gian turns the tables and smashed the alien brute into the floor, defeating Ogun.
    • Shizuka vs. Meba: The Heart vs. the Dark Action Girl, both of them the sole female of their teams taking their fights near a series of hot springs. Unfortunately for Meba, Shizuka's power upgrade happens right then, allowing her to manipulate water and steam, and Meba's weakness happens to be hot water.
    • Nobita vs. Lord Ikaros: The Hero vs. the Big Bad, with Nobita taking Ikaros heads on in Ikaros' lair just as Ikaros is breaking out of his stasis tank. Nobita wins by unlocking his power upgrade in time and restraining Ikaros.
  • In the second season of The '90s Sailor Moon, when the Sailor senshi face the Ayakashi sisters. Every senshi fights the sister who has similar powers and serves as her Evil Counterpart: Koan uses Dark fire against Mars, Bertier uses Dark water against Mercury, Calaveras uses Dark whip/chain against Venus and Petz utilizes Dark thunder against Jupiter.
  • Many fights in One Piece function along these lines, to the point where once combatants on both sides are known, it can be predicted who will have each fight. Most crews fought by the protagonists, for example, seem to have a clear (physical fighter) leader, a Blade Enthusiast, and another physical fighter, to match up with Captain Luffy, swordsman Zoro and kicking guy Sanji. The Blackbeard Pirates are expected to have this kind of fight with the Straw Hats, thanks to the number of analogues. Though lately, Oda has been switching up the formula to keep it from getting too stale or predictable.
  • Defied out of necessity in Medaka Box when the four main characters come across the four doppelgangers that guard the entrance to the Shiranui village. When the doppelgangers become copies of the four, they spend the first round battling their lookalike counterparts, only to realize that they'll be locked in a permanent stalemate if they do so due to Mutual Disadvantage. They thus decide to swap opponents and inflict a Curb-Stomp Battle on the doppelgangers in four-way Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors, with Medaka overpowering Zenkichi, Zenkichi outskilling Kumagawa, Kumagawa sealing away Ajimu, and Ajimu overwhelming Medaka.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman and Batman do this so often, they'll occasionally switch just to throw their opponents off. Batman being The Chessmaster, he refers to it as castling.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Most of the individual fights between heroes and villains in "The Witch and the Warrior" end up being between characters with similar or contrasting powersets. In the first group Scirocco takes down Terra, both of whom have Dishing Out Dirt abilities, the winged women Hawkgirl and Harpi fight, the two former Female Furies Barda and Knockout take each other on, New Wave fights Tsunami and Cascade and Black Canary outscreams Silver Banshee. In the group of opposing powers Nox and Nightfall try to take out Dr. Light and Killer Frost easily defeats Inferno.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played for laughs in the fifth Police Academy movie. There are 3 different fights between a cop and a criminal, each with a distinctive style.
  • Captain America: Civil War: Every hero has a counterpart on the other team that they share similar roles and abilities with, although the posters don't actually pair them correctly:
    • Although Steve and Tony aren't similar in powers and are polar opposites in personality, they are the leaders of both of their teams and are both fighting for what they think is right.
    • Natasha and Clint are Platonic Life-Partners to each other and are both ultra-deadly black ops spies that used to be partners during their S.H.I.E.L.D. days. Both are even pulling their punches against each other in the airport battle.
    • Sam and Rhodes are both snarky African-American friends to their respective team leader, and both are USAF airmen with a suit that lets them fly.
    • Vision and Scarlet Witch:
      • They are each powered with (close to) magical abilities coming from the Mind Stone.
      • They spend most of the first half of the film with each other in the base headquarters and debate the best way to help Scarlet Witch and her abilities be accepted by the public. Vision claims that it's best for the Avengers to defer to the accords in part because it will force the world to lose its fears of Wanda's abilities, while Wanda feels like the public will be scared of her no matter what path she chooses and decides to go for the path that will allow her to ultimately be more in charge of her fate.
    • Spider-Man and Ant-Man:
      • They are both outsiders to the Avengers in general, with each having attained their powers relatively recently.
      • They also both have bug motifs and have been doing their hero work outside of the law for the duration of their careers.
      • Each are specifically recruited to action by a single Avenger (Tony Stark for Peter Parker, Sam Wilson for Scott Lang).
      • They are similarly star-struck when they meet the heroes for the first time and have to quickly acclimate to the seriousness of the situation.
      • They prove to be immensely capable in the airport battle, regularly turning the tide for their respective teams because they are extremely mobile and they carry abilities that take their opponents completely by surprise.
      • Ironically, they also end up taking each other out of the fight, when Spider-Man ties up Ant-Man's legs for him to be taken out by Iron Man and War Machine, but ends up slammed through a pile of crates for his trouble.
    • Black Panther and Bucky Barnes:
      • They aren't official Avengers and get drawn in as a direct result of the team's fight with the official villains. Crossbones's bomb ends up killing several Wakandans, leading to T'Challa and his father organizing the summit at which the Avengers plan on submitting to the accords. Zemo blows up the summit building while disguised as Bucky, killing T'Challa's father. As a result, Bucky is motivated to find out what is going on with Zemo's plot in order to clear his name while T'Challa becomes hell-bent on killing Bucky as revenge for his father.
      • Both Bucky and Black Panther are also the only Avengers present to witness Tony and Steve's final fight, with Bucky helping Steve to fight Tony before the latter incapacitates him while T'Challa ends up capturing Zemo.
  • The climactic battle of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation has each of the four heroes taking on thematically appropriate opponents:
    • Liu Kang The Hero vs Shao Kahn the Big Bad.
    • Jax The Big Guy vs Motaro The Brute. As Jax was a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for the deceased Johnny Cage, it made sense for him to fight a character who was a sub boss from the game.
    • Kitana battled her brainwashed mother.
    • Sonya had no thematic connection to Ermac but as she said, "Leftovers are fine with me".

    Live-Action TV 
  • This pops up from time to time in Super Sentai/Power Rangers whenever there's a squad of Psycho Rangers.
    • In the "Gangsta Crizzab" episode, the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers are beaten by their counterparts in a straight up fight. Instead of trying any confusion, they have to go back and get empowered weapons from Zordon, which pretty much breaks their rule of "don't escalate fights when you don't have to." The parody lampshades this with quotes like "It's time for some Black on Black crime!"
    • The Trope Namer Psycho Rangers knew the moves of their respective Space Rangers inside and out, and by learning their voices, switched back the first time they tried an opponent switch. Then T.J., the Blue Ranger, comes up with the idea of making everyone blue and, to make sure it works, having the Silver Ranger dress up as "Psycho Silver" to make the Psycho Rangers even more confused. It works, and the Psychos eventually resort to attacking each other to make sure they are the only ones who can beat their counterparts. For the rest of this run of the Psycho Rangers, coordination wasn't needed again as the rangers could go 2-on-1 from this point forward.
      • ... And then they went right back to it both times the Psychos were revived. When it happened on Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, it resulted in two teams of Rangers going against the Psychos. The Black Space and Green Galaxy rangers, being the only color that changed regularly between seasons, went against the Black Psycho Ranger. The Magna Defender note  took on the regular villains.
    • Played with when the Dino Thunder and Ninja Storm Rangers played Let's You and Him Fight, as the expected color-coding was averted. Yeah, the two Red Rangers fought each other, but the other two fights were a Yellow vs. a Blue, being based on gender instead of color (Yellow Dino Ranger vs Blue Ninja Ranger was the Designated Girl Fight, Blue Dino vs. Yellow Ninja was between guys).
    • However, colors rather than genders set the match-up when Power Rangers S.P.D. did a Ranger-on-Ranger fight. Rather than switching, they win by simply having greater experience by this point, as the battle happens in the penultimate episode of the season.
  • In the Chuck episode "Chuck Versus The Frosted Tips," a version of this takes places when Chuck, Sarah and Casey confront Gertrude, Morgan and one of her goons. Gertrude and Sarah fight in a Designated Girl Fight, Chuck tries to talk Morgan, his best friend back from his recent insanity and Casey is left beating up the other henchman.
  • One of the highlights for Kamen Rider X Super Sentai Superhero Taisen are the battles between the eponymous heroes that are arranged in such ways. For example, Blade vs. JAKQ (Card-themed), Kabuto vs. Red Buster (Super-Speed), and so forth. And naturally, Decade vs. Gokai Red, being the lead characters of Reunion Show seasons who can use the powers of their predecessors.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Justified in TNA's World Cup (not to be confused with their World X Cup, which is not an example). Every team that enters has one wrestler for each of TNA's title belts, which means that aside from the "no limits" X title, all heavyweights weights will fight other heavyweights, every Tag Team other tag teams, each woman other women etc.

    Video Games 
  • Canonically speaking, the penultimate fight in The King of Fighters '97 pit the Japan Team against their elemental counterparts from the New Faces/Orochi Team: Kyo faced Chris, Benimaru fought against Shermie, and Daimon tangled with Yashiro. When defeated, Yashiro and Shermie simply commit suicide to give their energy to Chris, prompting Orochi's resurrection and causing Benimaru and Daimon to bail.
  • Near the end of Super Paper Mario, each character faces off against their equivalents: Bowser fights O'Chunks, Peach fights Mimi, Luigi fights Dimentio and naturally, Mario fights Count Bleck.
  • In Star Fox 64, each member of Star Fox has a counterpart in the rival mercenary team Star Wolf whom they focus on: Fox and Wolf (leaders of their respective teams), Falco and Leon (the second-in-commands), Peppy and Pigma (both members of the previous Star Fox with the latter betraying the team), Slippy and Andrew (the unskilled, reckless pilots). If one of the Star Wolf members manages to shoot down their respective counterpart, they will go straight for Fox instead.
  • This trope is effectively part and parcel of the meta for League of Legends. Each time will have a tough, close-quarters frontliner, typically a tank or fighter, face off against eachother in top lane, a more burst-oriented slayer or mage in the midlane, and a marksman and support of some sort in the bottom lane where they'll face off against their counterparts from the other team. The final member of each team, the Jungler, breaks from this somewhat as their job in the laning phase is to be a wild card that can show up in any lane to tip the scales, but often "counter-junglers" and fights over objectives placed between the two jungle areas force the junglers into direct confrontation anyways.

  • In The Order of the Stick, the protagonists face off against their evil counterparts in the Linear Guild: Roy vs Thog, Elan vs Nale, Haley vs Sabine, Vaarsuvius vs Zz'dtri, and Belkar vs. Yikyik.

    Web Original 
  • In "Ayla and the Great Shoulder angel conspiracy" in the Whateley Universe, Team Kimba is trapped in a holographic simulation against members of the New Olympians best suited to beating them, until Phase sicks Generator on the foe who has completely stopped Flying Brick Lancer, Phase (with the trickiest power set to make work right) takes the power mimic, and sends Bladedancer after the inventor (who has weapons specifically designed to stop Phase).
  • In RWBY, RWBY (plus Qrow) end up facing against an elite group of Huntsmen known as the Ace-Ops. However, only Ruby and Qrow face off against Ace-Ops with similar powers. Blake and Yang face off against Vine and Elm. This leaves Weiss to battle against Marrow, neither matching in theme or powers.

    Western Animation 
  • DuckTales (2017):
    • In "GlomTales!", Glomgold recruits several members of Scrooge's Rogues Gallery to act as a Legion of Doom, with each member corresponding to one member of the McDuck-Duck family. He recruits Mark Beaks to be Gyro's counterpart, which backfires hilariously when Gyro isn't present at the battle and Beaks finds himself having to fight Launchpad instead.
    • Discussed in "The Last Adventure!". When Gyro and Manny are sneaking around F.O.W.L.'s base, they run into the Phantom Blot and Pepper. Gyro tries to talk his way out of fighting them by explaining that they're the "science guys" and they should be looking for the "magic guys". Pepper isn't phased by his logic and proceeds to beat him up.
    Pepper: "Blot! Take a look! He's a grown man, but with the strength of a baby!"
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998):
    • Three tattooed, adult male criminals (one of them black) dress up as the girls, and fool everyone but Miss Bellum, including the girls themselves. Both teams wind up attacking each other during the fight, despite everything listed above, and the girls flying, until they agree to attack their counterparts only.
    • Averted for most of the fight with the Rowdyruff Boys. Both sides simply go berserk on the nearest enemy.
  • Justice League:
    • The original Justice Lords episode has the teams fight their counterparts, more or less. The Flash fought Lord!Superman as the other Flash died causing the lords to form. Superman was off getting permanent help (from his personal nemesis, naturally). Batman and Lord!Batman had a one-one one fight earlier on.
    • In the later episode "Divided We Fall", this was yet again the standard, with "Brainthor/Luthoriac" constructs designed to resemble the Lords (adding a Flash counterpart). As it turns out, Flash, Batman and J'onn beat their counterparts pretty much instantly. Superman and Wonder Woman have to trade partners because Superman can't kill his ownnote , while Green Lantern John Stewart and Shayera swap and rather transparently let loose some old frustration. Of course, we can never be too sure if J'onn beat his clone, because they both shapeshifted into the same thing.
  • In Teen Titans, Starfire, Beast Boy and Cyborg get stuck fighting evil copies of themselves. They eventually decide to switch targets after they start losing their Mirror Matches. Cyborg fights Beast Boy since his animal forms are unable to damage Cyborg's metal body. Starfire fights Cyborg, using Death from Above, since Cyborg cannot fly. Beast Boy fights Starfire, using his multiple animal forms to evade Starfire's ranged attacks.
  • In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, the League faces off against their alternate universe counterparts, twice in some cases. Not all of them had counterparts on both sides, so the ones without them were incapacitated in some way to allow for this fight style.
  • Humorously averted in the Robot Chicken "DC Comics Special" in which Wildcat, a Badass Normal, is paired with Darkseid, a Physical God, during the climactic fight scene and is instantly vaporized.