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Diner Brawl

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Today's special: the knuckle sandwich.

A sub-trope of the Bar Brawl. Sometimes, you don't have to go to the Bad Guy Bar in order to have a beat down. Sometimes, all it takes is a trip to the local Greasy Spoon. One or more characters are trying to have a nice meal when an inexplicably aggressive diner patron decides to pick a fight. The inexplicably aggressive patron might even have one or more inexplicably aggressive friends backing him up. This will result in an altercation of some sort, despite the character's best efforts to avoid a fight.

This scene might play out in more family-friendly movies where a bar could be seen as inappropriate. Maybe the scene involves teenagers, so a bar is certainly out of the question, but the writers still want to invoke the same idea as a bar brawl. It's also possible that the writers simply wanted to move the action to a different locale in order to have a nice breath of fresh air. Unlike the Bar Brawl where the hero is usually guaranteed a winner, this scene might have a more unfortunate result. Sometimes, the scene is meant to show how meek the hero is before having his or her final moment of glory. They may even end up Paying for the Action Scene.

In some cases, the owner or manager may see the fight coming and encourage everyone to Take It Outside. This sometimes works.

Occasionally a follow-up to the Bar Brawl, when, after a night of drinking, the consumption of other substances and tension-building, the combatants-to-be have retired to a diner or restaurant for a meal.

See also Food Fight. Compare Wok Fu.


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  • In a commercial for U.S. Cellular, a woman is watching a soap opera (some kind of period piece romance) on her tablet, but it's downloading really slow. When it stops at one part, this group of bikers who were watching it start arguing about what's going to happen until it turns into a full-on brawl.

    Comic Books 
  • Every Asterix book in which the heroes journey outside the village will feature at least one punch-up in a restaurant.
  • The Invisibles. A local cowboy doesn't like the fact that Lord Fanny is transgender and tries to pick a fight. Doesn't go well when the heroes take down entire military bases on their off days.
  • The graphic novel Mesmo Delivery begins with a fight between the main characters in a truck stop.
  • A backup feature in Savage Dragon shows Zeek eating at a diner that happens to be owned by a superhero couple: Rock and Widow. Zeek does not realize he has to pay for a meal so a fight erupts between him and Rock, which resembles the old 1960's fights between The Incredible Hulk and The Thing. Eventually, the matter is solved by Rock employing Zeek.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Several scenes from Baby Driver take place in "Bo's Diner" before the inevitable brawl, which winds up being a swift gun battle between Buddy, Baby, and an unfortunate police officer who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • The Back to the Future trilogy:
    • In the first Back to the Future movie, Biff and his gang bully George McFly while in Lou's Diner and then turn their attention to Marty once he tries to stand up to them on behalf of his dad. Later, Biff and his pals go back to the same diner to beat up George only to have Marty trip them and sucker-punch Biff. This leads to the car chase around the town square culminating in Biff getting a load of manure dumped on him.
    • In Back to the Future Part II, it's Biff's grandson Griff who bullies Marty's son, leading to a similar sequence of events.
  • Bad Day at Black Rock: Spencer Tracy as a one-armed Handicapped Bad Ass wipes the floor with Ernest Borgnine.
  • In Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers briefly talks about getting beaten up behind a diner.
  • At the start of City Heat, Lt. Speer goes to a diner for coffee. Two men arrive, looking for a former cop turned private eye named Mike Murphy. Speer and Murphy were good friends until the latter left the force. The men pounce on Murphy the minute he arrives. Speer ignores them until a goon causes him to spill his coffee. Both goons are thrown through the front door. Murphy sarcastically thanks Speer for saving his life.
  • Cloud Atlas: A downplayed example. When a rowdy customer at Papa Song's gets a little too frisky with Yoona, she turns around and punches him in the head. Unfortunately, Yoona's owner kills her on the spot a few moments later, however, as she tries to escape.
  • The Kris Kristofferson movie Convoy begins with a diner fight between truckers and a corrupt sheriff. The truckers win but they have to flee across the state line in order to avoid trouble.
  • Mickey Rourke's character slugs a gambler outside the eponymous eatery in Diner.
  • In Disturbing the Peace, one of the bikers picks a fight with Catie in her diner in order to get arrested: the plan being for the gang to capture Dillon and Matt when they they are transporting him to the county lockup.
  • John Cryer and his two friends (one of which is played by Flea) get into a diner brawl with a large punk in the Western action comedy Dudes. Later, the main characters get into another one at a redneck diner, which apparently houses brawls all day, judging by the warning the gas station attendant gives them just before going in.
  • Frankenstein Created Woman: When Anton and his friends harass Christina in the cafe, Hans demands that they apologise. When they refuse, a brawl erupts.
  • The James Dean movie Giant. Seen here. Rock Hudson is the one delivering the beating, however.
  • The straight-to-DVD horror/comedy The Gingerdead Man starts with Gary Busey killing people in a diner before being caught and eventually sent to the electric chair.
  • In Part 1 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a wand battle ensues in a diner between the Trio and two death eaters.
  • Heat: depicts a scene in which Neil McCauley starts to beat up Waingro while still in the booth at a truck stop diner. They follow up on the deed outside, but he's forced to stop the beating when Chris spots a police car nearby. They wait until the police car drives off, by which point Waingro is gone.
  • A History of Violence has a very violent, yet important instance of this trope. After the main character kills two robbers in his diner, it begins a cycle of violence and unearths his shady past.
  • In Howard the Duck, Howard has to fight for his life inside of a diner in order to avoid being cooked and served to customers. The Big Bad enters the diner during the same scene and begins attacking.
  • Played for Laughs (note the obvious Stunt Double) in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka when Mr. Big's goons arrive at a local diner to beat up Jack Spade. Luckily Jack's mother is there to protect him, much to Jack's chagrin. Includes a Bar Slide.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has the scene where Indy and Mutt start a Diner Brawl between the jocks and the greasers in order to get away from the KGB agents that had them cornered. It even came with 50's brawling music!
  • While it had apparently been closed for the night, Tony Stark faces off against a female Extremis infectee in Iron Man 3 while inside a diner.
  • In It Happened in Hollywood, Tim gets in a fight with Joe Stevens who is mocking his destroyed career in a diner. Al Howard witnesses this and is impressed enough to cast him a gangster film.
  • In Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Reacher takes down a group of thugs outside a diner in a small town as a gambit to take down the corrupt sheriff in the town by drawing him out to the crime scene.
  • The film Legion involves angels attacking a lone diner and its patrons in order to bring about the Apocalypse. One of the first scenes shows an angel in the guise of an elderly woman brutally attacking the main characters until she is shot dead.
  • Love and Death on Long Island has an in-universe example. John Hurt watches a Movie Within a Movie called Hot Pants College II which apparently starts with a scene of hooligans beating up Jason Priestley at a 50's style diner.
  • In Man of Steel, Clark is working as a busboy at a truck stop and nonviolently stands up to a rowdy trucker, who hurts his own hand by punching him. Later, we discover that Clark has gotten his revenge by completely destroying the trucker's semi.
  • The opening scene in Natural Born Killers also has a particularly nasty diner brawl and one of the few examples of the protagonists causing it.
  • In The Nice Guys, one of the main characters has a backstory that involves stopping a robbery at a diner.
  • Happens in Robert Altman's live-action Popeye.
  • In The Presidio, Sean Connery's character has to take a Jerkass down in the middle of a diner, using only his thumbs. He says he'd only use his right thumb, as his left is far too powerful. Once the fight begins, he uses both thumbs and a foot.
  • It's more of a diner hold-up, rather than a brawl, but the Pulp Fiction is bookended by the two different takes on the same diner scene where two small-time crooks try to rob the restaurant where Jules and Vince decided to have a breakfast.
  • Secondhand Lions has a memorable brawl, with Hub giving the teen delinquents who are hassling him fighting lessons, then working off some angst on them, then bringing them home to provide first aid and a lecture called "what every boy needs to know about being a man".
  • Space Truckers has a fight scene in a diner IN SPACE!.
  • In Streets of Fire, we're introduced to our hero Tom Cody when he arrives at a diner and finds some unruly greasers getting out of hand. He beats them all up and makes a big mess of the joint. It turns out that the hostess is his sister and a little annoyed that he trashed her business while protecting her honor.
  • In Sunset, two stuntmen are paid by Dibner to pick a fight with Mix in the El Coyote restaurant. Earp tricks them into looking under the table, which Cheryl then kicks into them. They try to retaliate but are quickly jumped by Mix's friends.
  • In Superman II, Superman loses his powers and is reduced to mild-mannered Clark Kent. He visits a diner, only to be harassed by a truck driver and roughed up. Later in the movie when he regains his powers, he goes back to the same diner and throws the truck driver down the length of the counter. He leaves, claiming that he's been working out.
  • Universal Soldier featured an example in which the hero started the fight, although not intentionally. Jean-Claude Van Damme played a cyborg who just discovered food and orders multiple plates without realizing that he has to pay for it. You can imagine where it goes from there.
  • In U Turn, another movie directed by Oliver Stone, Sean Penn's character gets beaten up in a diner by a jealous boyfriend who is pissed that his girlfriend has a crush on him. He actually gets beaten up a lot in this movie.
  • In xXx, protagonist Xander Cage is abducted from his home by government agents and wakes up the next day in a busy road diner. Almost immediately there's a stick-up by two armed men, but Cage easily dispatches both of them. Agent Gibbons reveals himself and explains that this was a test which Cage passed, but asks why Cage was confident enough to just walk right up to the second gunman and take his shotgun. Cage points out all the increasingly unlikely discrepancies he noticed before the hold-up; one of the gunmen packing a cop-issue Beretta and the other one dressed up as a broker on a Sunday when the stock market is closed he deemed unlikely, but still plausible; a career waitress coming to work in high heels, however, was beyond the realm of physical possibility, so he realized that if she was fake, then the whole setting was fake and the guns only had blanks.


    Live-Action TV 
  • In the first episode of The Aquabats! Super Show!!, "ManAnt!", the extremely famished band attempts to order at a deserted burger joint when ManAnt's henchmen show up to attack.
  • In the sixth episode of the first season of Ash vs. Evil Dead, the main characters fight their way out of a diner overrun with deadites.
  • Cobra Kai: In season 3, a group of flashbacks detail the origin of John Kreese. The first flashback involves some thugs causing trouble at the diner young Kreese works in, promoting them to take it outside where Kreese mops the floor with them.
  • An episode of Community depicted the cast dressing up as Pulp Fiction characters in a diner for Abed's birthday. When Troy damages Abed's gift by accident, he and Chang get into a fight in the diner, resulting in them hitting the jukebox.
  • An early storyline of ER had a doctor and her husband being diagnosed with HIV. The husband had not known about this and accidentally infected a co-worker during a work-related accident. The co-worker saw the doctor and her husband in a diner in one episode and began to harass them until the husband stepped in and fought him. It was one of the more dramatic examples of this trope.
  • Fargo: Season 2 kicks off with a triple homicide in a diner. Rye Gerhardt tries to intimidate Judge Mundt into unfreezing his partner Skip's bank accounts as she's eating late in a Waffle Hut on the outskirts of Luverne, Minnesota. The meeting turns hostile and she sprays him with a can of bug spray. Rye then pulls out a gun and shoots her in the shoulder. Then he kills the cook as he charges out of the kitchen carrying a frying pan, then shoots the waitress. Mundt recovers and manages to stab Rye in the back with a knife from the table before he is able to finish her off. The waitress, badly wounded, tries to flee the scene as Rye steals the money from the cash register to make it look like a robbery, but Rye hears her opening the door, follows her out into the parking lot, and shoots her in the back. He's then distracted when he sees the lights of a UFO appear overhead. Wandering out into the road to investigate the lights, he's suddenly struck by Peggy Blumquist, who drives off with Rye stuck in her windshield. State Trooper Lou Solverson and his father-in-law, Rock County Sheriff Hank Larsson, end up being the primary investigators on the case.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Agent Carter fought through a diner full of SSR agents when they suspected her of being The Mole and tried to arrest her in a huge sting operation.
    • Daredevil (2015) has a rather gruesome example of this in the episode ".380". Frank Castle uses an unsuspecting Karen Page to lure two of the Blacksmith's henchmen to a diner. The hitmen come inside and Frank savagely beats and kills them both while a horrified Karen hides underneath the counter in the kitchen.
    • Jessica Jones (2015): In the season 2 finale, Jessica, on the run with her homicidal mother, stops off at a diner to meet with Oscar so he can get her and Alisa some new IDs. However, some of the diner patrons turn out to be undercover cops waiting to catch Jessica. Jessica fights off the undercover cops and then escapes the diner in the back of a dump truck.
  • Red Dwarf had a reversed diner brawl in "Backwards". It started with a patron uncracking Lister's ribs, proceeded with Lister being thrown across a table, and finally Lister putting a tooth back into someone's mouth before the bar returns to normal activity.
    Lister: It's not a bar room brawl, it's a bar room tidy. Unrumble!
  • Supernatural: Sam and Dean get into a lot of diner brawls.

  • Kavinksy's video for Odd Look features a short-film inspired by Drive (2011), of which, they contributed to the soundtrack. It involves a Driver-like hero stopping a robbery in a diner and saving the waitress.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The introductory Feng Shui adventure, "Baptism of Fire", opens with one of these, with the heroes fighting off a vicious gang that has come to shake down the owner of the establishment.

    Video Games 
  • In LJN's Back To The Future for the NES, one of your goals is to fight off Biff's goons at Lou's Cafe, using milkshakes as weapons.
  • Mafia II allows you to partake in such activities, as seen in the page image.
  • Street Fighter IV has a level in which opponents fight outside a '50s-style diner.
  • Claire's campaign in Resident Evil 2 starts out with her getting attacked by a zombie in a diner, before Leon rescues her.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: The Surfside Diner is normally a masquerade zone, except for that one mission where Jeanette or Therese tricks you into walking into a trap, with three hired goons packing pistols and a third wielding a shotgun waiting to corner you. Being four puny humans against a vampire, even a low combat player character can redecorate the diner with their faces.
  • Likewise with Mulder's campaign in The X-Files: Resist or Serve, which begins with him going into a diner to look for help and then getting attacked by the zombified staff.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!! gives us Stan vs. Bullock
  • In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the first time Bruce Banner first confronts the villain, the Absorbing Man, they are in a diner. Sure enough, Banner is soon tossed through the front door and has a Hulk Out.
  • Dan Vs. has one. Well, dinner theatre brawl actually, but pretty much the same. Incited by Dan, of course.
    Dan: Who would've thought an angry mob would get so out of hand..?
  • This happens in two Fleischer Popeye cartoons We Aim To Please and What - No Spinach?.
  • Regular Show featured one in the episode "Eggcellent" where Benson, Skips, Muscle Man, and High-Five Ghost get into a fight with a bunch of angry diner staff that are trying to prevent Mordecai from completing the Eggcellent Challenge.
    Manager: (angry) Step aside.
    Muscle Man: Why don't you MAKE us, bro?
    • The episode "Steak Me Amadeus" shows a mass shootout between the Capicola Gang (who were previously thought to have been killed in "Fuzzy Dice") and the police at the eponymous restaurant.
  • The Secret Saturdays: Zak and Fisk cause one at the start of "Cryptid vs. Cryptid".

    Real Life 
  • Search for "Dennys Brawl" and at least three different viral videos will pop up depicting nasty fights witnessed in the diner-chain. They must be putting something in the Moon Over My Hammy
    • Denny's, both in Japan and in cities in the US where they may be, has become popular among the Yakuza for some reason. There was at least one fatal shooting at a Denny's in Japan that happened when two enemy yakuza members met.
    • This tends to happen at 24-hour diners or open late diners in general. Often, 24-hour diners or late-open diners are in areas with a lot of nightlife. The Diner Brawl in these cases is often just a Porting Disaster of the Bar Brawl.
  • Waffle House is infamous for its brawls. Of course, this is likely due to the fact that it is open 24 hours a day and tends to attract Lower Class Louts.
  • The famous Mel's Diner in West Hollywood was trashed in a particularly nasty late-night food fight that turned into a violent brawl. And of course, it's up on YouTube.
    • Mel's Diner on the Sunset Strip is somewhat known for these, for the above reason - its nightlife proximity.


Video Example(s):


Surfside Diner Brawl

Four thugs are waiting for the player as soon as they enter the Surfside Diner. When the dust settles, a phone call gives away that either Jeanette or Therese hired those thugs, and the next step is to confront them directly.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / DinerBrawl

Media sources: