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Duel of Seduction

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Love is war... and the one who falls in love loses!

A Sister Trope to Ladykiller in Love, this is what happens when The Casanova and the Femme Fatale (Or some similar character archetypes) are both trying to seduce each other for their own purposes at the same time. Most of the time, there is no sincere romance between the two, each one is strategically putting the moves on the other, trying to seduce them to join their side, give them information, or obtain the MacGuffin for them. As such, this is often one of the Espionage Tropes. Often, a Duel of Seduction ends in a Sex–Face Turn. In the meantime, it's a good opportunity for copious Fanservice.

There is a bit of a Double Standard with this trope. Because a woman with a lot of sexual experience and drive is a lot less socially accepted than a man with the same, more often than not the seducer is on the side of good, and the seductress on the side of evil. The seducer is more likely to convert the seductress to his side in the end, and she often loses much of her power and appeal in the process because Good Is Dumb.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War crosses this with Battle of Wits. Kaguya and Shirogane are in love with each other, but a combination of pride, shyness, and insecurity keeps both of them from confessing. So they both try to force the other into a situation where they'd be forced to admit they're in love. Hilarity Ensues.
    • This eventually ends with Kaguya finally asking out Shirogane over winter break a week after their First Kiss, though it was merely a formality at that point since both of them had ceased to care about "winning".
  • Maken-ki!: Love Espada ends up facing off against Red "Desire", essentially a succubus version of herself, during chapters 111 - 113. Each tries to force the other to submit, via orgasm, using any and all manner of seduction and foreplay.
  • Alluded to in Yuri!!! on Ice: Yuri, for a figure skating performance on the theme of "Eros" (sexual love), imagines the story of a Casanova who comes to town to seduce the most beautiful woman there. Since Yuri cannot empathize with the womanizer, he gives the story a twist—the beautiful lady turns the tables on the Casanova and seduces him—and Yuri then plays the woman's part in his figure skating performance.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman (1942):
    • Steve Trevor had been working on seducing Dolly Dancer, a Nazi spy who was dating him to get information and didn't realize he knew who she was before he'd ever met Diana. Dolly tries to keep Steve alive when her superiors' plans finally come to fruition and manages to escape Diana in the ensuing chaos.
    • Steve and Draska try to get each other to lower their guard with flirtations, the problem being that Steve is there on orders even though Draska knows exactly what he's doing and who he works for. This means the flirtations are entirely a smokescreen of courtesy and she holds all the cards, which Steve realizes but can't do anything about.

    Fan Fiction 
  • A Brighter Dark: A relatively low-stakes but no less interesting example occurs when Solei and Laslow meet for the first time. It starts with him trying to invite her out to a night of tea, and then somehow spirals into an argument over who is superior in their skill of enrapturing the heart of their targets; him citing his longer lifespan and thus longer experience, and her citing her overall superior skill. It ends with her eventually deciding to prove her point by seducing him on the spot. After a rather...intimate speech, he quickly has to concede that she is clearly the expert of her field.
    • Takes on another interesting layer with the strong hint that he might be her father...
  • The Dangerverse has a variant. When Amanda Smythe and Luna Lovegood realize that they are both in love with Draco Black (and that he has feelings for both of them), they decide to make a formal contest out of it. Each of them gets two months to seduce Draco while the other steps back, and they repeat the cycle until he picks one or the other of them.
  • Harry and the Shipgirls: Draco Malfoy and Ehren du Chasteler's romantic relationship is made of this trope. Since Draco wishes to 'ride the tiger' by being a husband to a powerful, strong willed, independant, and deadly woman (like his mother Narcissa's relationship to his father), while Ehren's Muramasa magical nature demands that her beloved Master must continually prove his worth by controlling his and her darker urges to misuse her, the result is a centuries-long 'game' of subtle one-upsmanship point-scoring and mutual consensual seductions that results in over a dozen biological children of theirs after the wedding....
    "You unspeakably clever underhanded little Prussian minx!" Draco declared joyfully as he stepped forward, grabbed Ehren by the shoulders, and kissed her very thoroughly and passionately. "You planned this setup all along for when I died, didn't you?!"

    Her smugly triumphant smirk grew as she slipped into her most aristocratic Hochpreußisch German dialect to answer his accusation in a pedantic voice. "Eigentlich bin ich ein Amerikanisches Schwarzfußfrettchen Animagus, wie du weißt. (Actually, I'm an American black-footed ferret Animagus as you know.)"

    "Du bist immer noch ein Luder, Ehren. (You're still a minx, Ehren.)" Draco declared in German with his own smirk. "Und du hast nicht auf meine Anschuldigung geantwortet, Häschen. (And you haven't answered my accusation, dear.)"

    She promptly 'dropped the proverbial microphone' by Transfiguring her Celtic dress into her Seventh Year school uniform (complete with her Head Girl's badge) before seductively posing for him with a challenging 'Do it to me! I know we both want to!' look in her sparkling eyes. "Was diese Anschuldigungen angeht, bekenne ich mich schuldig. Du solltest wissen, dass ich unter meiner Hufflepuff-Schulmädchenuniform mein liebstes Paar nuttiger, unanständiger Schlüpfer für meine 'Erotikdisziplinierungssitzung' trage, mein geliebter Held und Ehemann. Was wird der Präfekt von Slytherin tun, wenn er die Hufflepuff-Schulsprecherin dabei erwischt, wie es gegen die Schuluniformvorschriften verstößt... schon wieder? (As for those accusations, I plead guilty as charged. You should be aware that I'm wearing my favorite pair of slutty naughty panties under my Hufflepuff school-girl's uniform for my 'discipline session', my beloved hero and husband. What is the Slytherin Prefect going to do when he catches the Hufflepuff Head Girl violating school uniform regulations... again?)"

    Draco laughed joyfully as he realized that — once more! — Ehren had cleverly maneuvered him right to where she wanted him to be. Not that he'd have it any other way when it came to their romantic relationship, honestly. "Das ist meine unglaublich schlaue und hinterhältige Ehrendolchin! Komm hierher, damit Präfekt Malfoy von Slytherin dir die 'richtige preußische Erotikbestrafung' geben kann, die du verdienst, du ehrenhafte und treue kleine Hufflepuff-Schülerin. (That's my wonderfully cunning and sneaky Ehrendolchin! Come here so Prefect Malfoy of Slytherin can give you the 'proper Prussian punishment' that you deserve, you honorable and faithful little Hufflepuff schoolgirl.)"


  • Frank Herbert's Heretics of Dune. Murbella tries to use an Honored Matre technique to seduce and mind control Duncan Idaho's ghola, but his secret Tleilaxu conditioning allows him to seduce and condition her instead.
    • They actually manage to condition each other.
  • In The Demon Princes final volume, Alice Wroke is under orders from the villain to seduce the hero. He, being several steps ahead of the game, obligingly plays along. Although he doesn't sleep with her.
  • Implied to have happened in two of the Lord Darcy stories. In one, a female spy zaps Lord Darcy with an infatuation spell. Darcy realizes what happened, and spends the night letting her get false information out of him.
  • In the Wings Quartet, Tamani seduces Yuki, a spy for troll hunter Klea, in order to get her to give information on Klea's whereabouts. It is revealed that Yuki is a faerie and knew that Tamani was one as well. However, she did eventually develop real feelings for him.
  • Elsabeth Soesten is hired to recover incriminating documents from Lord Cuncz, the Baron of Leyen. She decides the best means of gaining access to them is to seduce the Baron. And then she learns Cuncz was the one who hired her in the first place, and that he was seducing her by letting her think she was seducing him (and her own plan was built on pretending to fall for his seduction attempt). It didn't even have anything to do with his own plans; he did it entirely because he wanted to bed her.
  • In the Urban Fantasy Red Room series, succubus Shannon O'Reilly and seduction-trained agent Derek Hawthorne use their formidable skills on each other to get an advantage while being forced to team up. They fall in love instead.
  • In Jason Matthews's Red Sparrow, Russian SVR seductress Dominika Egorova is tasked to seduce CIA agent Nate Nash for information on a mole within the SVR. Nate had just been kicked out of Moscow and was just looking to get his career back on track in Helsinki when he stumbles on Dominika. Throughout their interaction, it's only Dominika who tries to seduce; Nate was only looking to recruit her as an asset. Yet they enter into a relationship anyway.
  • In Thin Air by Richard K. Morgan, freelance overrider Hakan Veil and Earth Oversight auditor Madison Madekwe engage in a Duel of Seduction in order to influence the ongoing political and economic conflict between Earth and Mars. Due to the Double Standard, Veil's allies assume that he alone is being seduced and Veil helpfully lampshades this trope for them to get them to stop warning him off.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played for Laughs in the Friends episode "The One Where Everybody Finds Out". Rachel and Phoebe have just found out about Monica and Chandler's secret relationship. Phoebe flirts with Chandler to mess with them, but Monica and Chandler find out and get back at them by playing along. Chandler invites Phoebe over to have sex and they each try to scare the other person away with their advances, with Monica encouraging Chandler and Rachel encouraging Phoebe. It becomes very awkward since they are both repulsed by the idea.
    Chandler: [in fake enthusiasm] I'm so glad we're going to have all the sex!
    Phoebe: You should be. I'm very bendy!
  • Star Trek: The Original Series
  • Gossip Girl - Chuck and Blair, nearly all the time. Subverted as they do in fact actually love each other but are just incapable of admitting it to each other and are/were in fact, the most popular pairing on the show. Blair is also not portrayed negatively or evilly.
  • In Firefly, a good one between Inara and Saffron. Both recognize what is going on, as they've both had the same training as high-class courtesans.
    [Klaxon Sounds]
    Inara: I guess we've done enough lying.
    Saffron: You're good.
    Inara: You're amazing; Who Are You??
    Saffron: Malcolm Reynolds's widow.
  • Annie Walker and Simon Fischer for several episodes of Covert Affairs.
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of Chuck. Spy couple Chuck and Sarah are both trying to seduce each other. Over their wedding plans. Hilarity Ensues when they both realize what the other is up to. And it gives five minutes of Sarah in a belly dancer outfit.
  • In the short-lived Australian historical sitcom Bligh, a Senior Cassanova is running a quiz competition between Governor Bligh and his Sitcom Arch-Nemesis John Macarthur, who both send their wives to seduce him and steal the answers. They always seem to forget the second part of the plan.
  • One early Mission: Impossible episode had Cinnamon Carter in one with a veteran Honey Trap working for an East Bloc nation. He was trying to seduce her into revealing where the team had hidden a man he wanted to kill, while she was trying to seduce him into walking into a trap where he could be caught red-handed and his capture used to discredit his faction of the enemy's intelligence service. While the IMF team does complete their mission, Cinnamon's last lines make it ambiguous as to who had seduced who.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • An ancient in-game joke: Once Upon a Time a young lad and a young lass, wizards' apprentices. They decided to exchange some magics. Both cheated and cast Charm Person to ease the bargain, and both failed their saving throws horribly. They lived Happily Ever After and even died the same day.
    • One source describes two very unlikely lovers, the agathinon Janarr and the erinyes Nalura hiding out in mortal disguise on the Prime. They sort of just did their jobs too well; she tried to seduce him, he tried to turn her attitude up to celestial standards. Before they knew whom exactly they faced, both succeeded. They had to hide from their respective bosses from that point on, though.
  • This is one of the many, many ways Maids can compete for Master's love in Maid RPG. They can do this with each other as the target of seduction.

    Video Games 
  • Knights of the Old Republic plays the hell out of this one in the trial scene on Manaan. It starts as a straight-up version of this, then gets interesting.
  • An interesting version (with Psychic Powers) turns up as Samara's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2. Shepard is required to catch the attention of Samara's daughter, Morinth, who kills people by sleeping with them. This requires three steps: first draw her attention by making a scene in her favorite bar (punch people, stare down a krogan, dance really well), then pique her interest in conversation, and then she takes Shep back to her apartment and tries to turn her telepathic abilities against the commander, who tries to resist through sheer virtue and/or badassery. It's possible to blow either the second part (in which case she walks out and you fail the mission) or the third ( she draws Shep under her spell and is about to strike when Samara blows the door in). Oh, and Morinth is an asari, so Shepards of either gender can participate.
  • Medieval II: Total War: Princesses can attempt to seduce members of other factions into defecting to your faction, but if your Princess critically fails her seduction check she might defect to her target's faction instead.



Video Example(s):


Kaguya Outsmarts Shirogane

Kaguya and Shirogane get into a battle of wits on which of them is going to ask the other to share an umbrella, with Kaguya outwitting him since she has been planning it for much longer.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / DuelOfSeduction

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