The second rule of Fight Club is — you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.
Third rule of Fight Club: if someone yells stop!, goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over.
Fourth rule: only two guys to a fight.
Fifth rule: one fight at a time, fellas.
Sixth rule: the fights are bare knuckle. No shirt, no shoes, no weapons.
Seventh rule: fights will go on as long as they have to.
And the eighth and final rule: if this is your first time at Fight Club, you have to fight.
An abandoned warehouse in a peaceful city is used as a rink for suburbanites to set out their differences (or just blow off some steam) through violence, in illegal matches. Usually has a level of secretiveness added to it, and sometimes, when teenagers are the perpetrators, they'll film it and put it on the internet, "the greatest of all evils".
While fight clubs aren't necessarily a bad thing (as long as there are set and agreed-upon rules and all fighters are willing participants), TV tends to demonize it a bit. There must have been some real-life examples based on the fictional ones.
This trope is quite common in Martial Arts movies set in the modern day, as a way to facilitate fight scenes and show off the fighters' moves. Fight clubs in these movies tend to be set up by the bad guys of the movie, and often have their members fighting each other to the death like gladiators in a Roman arena.
Not to be confused with a Club Fight, that is, a Bar Brawl.
- In Battle Club there is the Nightmare of the Battle NOB in short, a group of fellow highschoolers only interested in strength. It is a place where experts in karate, boxing, wrestling and any other martial arts gather. And the skills they earn. They use to modify and strengthen their own style of martial arts.
- Parodied in Kamichu!, in which stray and domesticated cats gather at an abandoned factory to train in martial arts so that they can protect themselves from humans. Their leader is even named Tyler Nyaaden.
- Penguin Memories features a sequence where the main character Mike, suffering from PTSD after dealing with the horrors of The Vietnam War, becomes a drifter who participates in underground fighting rings to get by until he finds a life he wants to lead. The sequence feels a bit absurd because Mike and all the other characters are penguins. Extremely cartoony penguins.
- In the Pokémon Sun and Moon anime, a pair of Lycanroc, a Midday and a Midnight, appear to run a Pokémon Fight Club at a place called Clawmark Hill. That's where dozens of wild Pokémon fight each other—among them, the Rockruff that stayed with Professor Kukui.
- Tiger Mask has a brief period fighting in these after reverting to Tiger's Cave-style assassination moves in the fight with Red Death Mask, as he feels he'd be too dangerous for normal wrestlers if he fought on normal rings before getting himself back under control (in a rather humoristic variant, Tiger Mask goes in Tiger's Cave Paris club knowing they'd shoot him the moment they confirmed his identity, confiding in the situation being so ridiculous they won't even consider him being the real deal until he's already on the ring and their own rules forbid them from unmasking him until he's defeated). This is Adapted Out of the Lighter and Softer anime, with the fights there recast as normal fights on legal rings.
- In a variant, it's not the club to get demonized but the patrons, rich and bored people who bet on the fights and on who's going to die. They're considered so bad that Mr. X is appalled by them as soon as he sees them and what they're entertaining themselves with while they wait for the fights in Tiger's Cave Paris club.
- Tiger Mask W has Hell in the Hole, an event where the new Tiger's Den disgraced wrestlers are offered a chance to get out of their horrible punishment and back on the ring... Provided they survive the battle royal and defeat the Gatekeepers, again with bored rich people betting on the outcome. The new Mr. X, being a much bigger jerk than his predecessor, is the one who sets these up and even arranged the one seen in the series to have a Killer Robot as the lone Gatekeeper.
- The two gangs at the center of 20 Fists seem to exist for no other reason than to get into huge fistfights with each other.
- Batwoman: Kate Kane and Sophie Moore conducted a private one during their last year as West Point cadets, meeting alone and in secret for an illegal bare-knuckle boxing match.
- Dave Clark, who later become the superhero Midnight, earned a living during the Depression by travelling around the country as a bareknuckle boxer.
- Robin Series: "The Legless Master" (one of Tim Drake's martial arts instructors) and his brother "The Armless Master" (one of Selina Kyle's martial arts instructors) made a name for themselves in the underground Thai fighting circuit in their youth.
- Thunderbolts had a bizarre period at the end of its original run when it became a book about an underground fight club for supervillains.
- The Transformers: Megatron Origins had Megatron establish an underground gladiator arena where lower-class bots could engage in illegal fights prior to the outbreak of the Cybertron Civil War. Notable contestants (beyond Megatron himself) included Grimlock, Overlord, and Scorponok. Also, Cy-Kill, who in fine Hasbro tradition was shown getting scrapped by Megatron.
- Moon Robinson in Wonder Woman (Rebirth) did this before becoming Mayfly, as a way to not let her hemophilia confine her life. Obviously, this would put her at even more of a risk.
- Wynonna Earp: In #3 of the IDW series, Wynonna breaks up a paranormal fight club being run by demon/human hybrids.
- Youkai Academy has one in Big Human on Campus. Naturally, Ranma immediately joins up.
- The Rigel Black Chronicles contains a free-duelling tournament with slightly different rules from the Trope Namer; confidentiality is still required (because the tournament is illegal), but weapons are fine, and there isn't the same obligation to compete. Harry takes part mostly to test her own skills, having learned free-duelling as a practical form of self-defence.
- It's mentioned in RWBY: Scars that Yang fought for money as a young teenager (and possibly a preteen) at a place called "the Hole" in order to put food on the table for her family. Her father fell into a depression after her step-mother's death, so Yang had to act as her little sister's mother. Yang would fight others as an easy way to get money. This led to her becoming Street Smart. After falling into a depression after losing her arm to an Ursa, Yang begins visiting the Hole again to vent out her frustration.
- Best Of The Best 2: Travis has been secretly competing at "The Coliseum", a brutal underground fighting arena managed by Weldon, whose protégé Brakus is the venue's owner and undefeated champion. Ordinarily a challenger must defeat three of its "Gladiators" in order to face Brakus, but Travis challenges Brakus outright. Amused by Travis's arrogance, Weldon grants his wish.
- Bronson, as with truth in television, Bronson has a brief career as a bareknuckle boxer. Bronson thinks that he's quickly becoming a star, but his manager reminds him that fighting gypsies and dogs in barns is hardly the big-time.
- In Cradle 2 the Grave, Jet Li gets in a fight with all of the competitors in an illegal Extreme Fighting club.
- The protagonist of Damage (played by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin) participates in an underground fighting circuit to pay for a little girl's heart transplant. The fact that he killed her father in self-defense is further motivation for him to see it through.
- Possibly the ur-example in film is Every Which Way but Loose, where Philo Beddoe (Clint Eastwood) travels around the country with his friends as a bare-knuckles boxer.
- Fighting takes place entirely in the world of high-stakes underground pit fighting.
- In a deleted scene of The Foot Fist Way, Mike is first introduced killing a man at an underground fight club.
- Hot Shots! Part Deux had a hilarious version, parodying the beginning of Rambo III.
- Jason Bourne has Jason competing in fight clubs in Greece when we catch up with him. The scene is portrayed as Jason looking for direction and not finding it.
- Man of Tai Chi is about a martial artist getting seduced by underground arena fights.
- Never Back Down features underground MMA fights at a party, at a dance club, and underneath school bleachers.
- Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior: Humlae steals Ting's money and bets all of it in an underground fighting tournament at a bar on Khaosan Road. Ting tracks down Humlae and gets his money back after stunning the crowd by knocking out the champion in the ring with one kick.
- Real Steel features the Crash Palace, one of many underground joints for robot boxing. It's an abandoned warehouse, with little lighting, and littered with humans and robots milling about. Later on, Atom has his first fight in an abandoned zoo.
- Sherlock Holmes (2009) has Sherlock competing in a bare knuckle boxing match in the style of a fight club, though all boxing matches in the Victorian era were unlicensed, thrown-together affairs.
- Snatch.: The unlicensed boxing scene in London is a major plot line, both gloved and bare-knuckle. Mickey, one of the main characters, is an Irish Traveler bare-knuckle boxing champion. This is Truth in Television, as England is a hotbed for underground boxing, particularly in the Irish Traveler community.
- The 1994 Street Fighter movie has Vega in one of these.
- In the 2011 film Warrior: Brendan intends to scrape together a living by fighting in "smokers," which are small-time, often unsanctioned fighting events.
- X-Men Film Series:
- X-Men: Wolverine takes part in one of these near the beginning to earn money.
- X-Men: Apocalypse: Mutants are forced to participate in cage fights in East Berlin.
- Taken to the logical extreme in The Dispatcher. Poor men from the South Side are paid by fight organizers to battle with hammers and baseball bats. But even the winners are normally badly hurt, and can't go to a hospital without revealing the underground fights, so the organizers pay a Dispatcher under the table to kill all the combatants at the end of the night. They wake up uninjured at home, and are ready for the next set of fights.
- Fight Club, also the Trope Namer. The eponymous Fight Club, however, is more the cult of local Dark Messiah Tyler Durden than it is an underground boxing group. Probably the reason most fictional depictions demonize the concept is that the original did not stop at fighting.
- In Hard Rain, a Yakuza boss runs the occasional Deadly Game using members of a dojo he's running, but John Rain points out that he'd barely break even on the gambling money, when set against the large prize money awarded to the winners. Tatsu suggests that the actual goal is either to desensitize the fighters to killing so they can be recruited as assassins, or so the boss has a pool of muscle he can draw upon if Japan falls into political turmoil.
- Taken interplanetary with the Musashi Flex in Steve Perry's Matador Series, a galaxy-wide street-fighting circuit that several protagonists fight in.
- Soon I Will Be Invincible depicts minor-league superbeings holding underground gladiator battles, complete with flamboyant stage names.
- In an episode of 30 Rock, Liz finds out that the women she's been hanging out with are part of one.
- Liz: Oh god, is this a fight club?!
- In another episode, when Liz asks Pete how he's getting out his aggression after losing his private time, a cutaway shows Pete fighting in one of these.
- An episode of Alphas has a metahuman fight club. It's rather more morally ambiguous than is common: some of the participants are a bit creepy, but the death that occurred turns out to have been an accident, other participants are entirely sympathetic, and one of the regular cast ends up joining up. The actual villainy in the episode turns out to be almost unrelated to the fight club: the bad guys were taking advantage of participants being exhausted when they left to kidnap them.
- Angel - except here the fighters are demons.
- Birds of Prey (2002) has Gladiatrix, a club for New Gotham's wealthy men, which drugs metahuman women into fighting each other to the death in cage matches.
- Blood Ties does it with zombies.
- Blue Bloods has an episode where Danny encounters an underground boxing ring frequented by Wall Street execs as both spectators and competitors. One of the competitors ended up dead due to doctored gloves.
- An episode of Bones revolved around this.
- In an early third season episode of Chuck, the Buy More guys start a fight club after Chuck accidentally flashes on combat skills and kicks Lester in the face.
- Criminal Minds has unsub who takes part in one of these. However the unsub is a weakling and is beaten by just about everyone, so he settles for ambushing and shooting his opponents in cold blood as his way of dominating them.
- Parodied on Dead Ringers as Brian Perkins' Fight Club:
The first rule of Brian Perkins' Fight Club is that you don't talk about Brian Perkins' Fight Club.
The second rule of Brian Perkins' Fight Club is that you don't talk about Brian Perkins' Fight Club.
The third rule of Brian Perkins' Fight Club is that you don't talk with your mouth full.
- The Defenders (2017):
- Luke Cage (2016): When he was an inmate in Seagate Prison, Luke was forced by prison guard Albert Rackham to participate in an underground fighting ring. The experiment that got Luke his powers was the result of getting beaten up by Shades and Comanche after Luke decided to rat Rackham out to the authorities.
- Iron Fist (2017): Colleen Wing participates in cage fights as a means to pay the bills, at least until Danny buys out her building. When a cell phone video of one of her matches surfaces on YouTube, Colleen has to admit to being a hypocrite since she'd earlier discouraged another student from fighting for money, and this goes against the Bushido code that she practices.
- In season 11 of Degrassi, Drew gets beat up by gang members. He deals with the resulting PTSD by joining a fight club.
- Fair City once did a story about a fight club in a school.
- This show's version of Black Mask offers his interns a chance to advance themselves in his company - if they'll fight each other to near-death for it (and, in the episode that focuses on it, all the way to death). The whole thing is broadcast live for the amusement of middle management.
- One of these is set up in the Narrows, and Solomon Grundy becomes its champion.
- Hawaii Five-0: The Five-0 team deals with one in one episode, a fight club that has kidnapped the daughter of a well-known MMA fighter to force her to fight in an exhibition match. In a bit of Lampshade Hanging, McGarrett and Chin Ho promptly quote the "You do not talk about Fight Club" line upon learning of the group.
- In How I Met Your Mother, it is revealed that Marshall actually brawls with his brothers in a Fight Club scenario.
- Parodied on The IT Crowd on the Countdown episode.
- Prime: "The first rule of Street Countdown is... that you really must try to tell as many people as possible about it! It's a rather fun game and the more people we tell about it, the better."
- In the "Hundred Dollar Baby" episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the gang tries to forge Charlie into an underground pit fighter, believing that he is impossible to injure. His "training" consists almost entirely of getting pummeled by Dennis and Mac. Ultimately Mac takes his place under the name "Clownbaby" and gets beaten up by a much smaller opponent.
- Law & Order - fighting for a girl that was actually thirty, teenage example.
- In The O.C., Ryan is so sad about Marissa's death that he has to fight club about it.
- Sanctuary: This time with "abnormals" doing the fighting.
- Clark Kent gets involved in one of these during Season 7 of Smallville in order to get rid of one of the Phantom Zone escapees.
- Spaced had their own parody with Robot club, an underground Robot Wars arena.
- Announcer: The first rule of Robot Club is, you do not talk about Robot Club. The Second rule of Robot Club is, you Do Not Talk About - no, wait, I got that wrong. The second rule is, No Smoking.
Tim: Why aren't we allowed to smoke?
Mike: Shhhh! We're not supposed to talk about it.
- Suburban Shootout - trope-heavy show...
- An episode of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger had the Rangers investigating one of these. Also contains a Shout-Out to the Trope Namer, in that the Monster of the Week was an alien named Durden from the planet Tyler.
- The Torchwood episode "Combat" does this with aliens added to the fun.
- In Under the Dome, Maxine Seagrave runs a fight club that offers prizes such as toilet paper.
- The Witchblade episode "Palindrome" has Sara, Danny, and McCarty come across a fight club while investigating a man who died of a severe beating. While the boys go undercover inside as competitors, Sara keeps watch outside because women aren't allowed in. Except not really: Sara has an Evil Twin who's the champion of the club and the killer, hence the episode title.
- Christina Aguilera's video "Dirrty" appears to be set in an underground fight club involving sexy women in Stripperiffic clothing.
- The Apocalyptica track "Repressed" does this with a twist. The video shows different women with rather obvious bruises calling each other up to organise an event. The whole video makes it look like these women are the victims of abuse...up until the end, where it's revealed they got these bruises from beating each other up in a warehouse. The very end shows them leaving the warehouse laughing and giving each other hugs.
- Sick Of It All's video for "Take The Night Off" also takes place in what appears to be an abandoned building. Slight variation as, like the above example, the combatants are both women.
- Lucha Underground is presented as this. Whole most pro wrestling promotions are presented as a sports event, Lucha Underground is set in a dirty Los Angeles warehouse, known as The Temple, and is specifically referenced in the show as an underground wrestling club.
- Skin Lad from Road belongs to one.
- In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Ezio can fight downstairs in Bartolomeo's Roman barracks. The challenges are generally for the at least 40 year old man to take on up to five mercenarii and win. In less than a minute.
- In Revelations there's a similar fighting ring at the southern docks of Constantinople. Here, Ezio is in his fifties and still whipping 5 youngsters at once.
- In Syndicate, Fight Clubs are strewn around London; either of the Frye twins can participate if they need some cash. They're actually run by the guy Evie runs into during her opening segment.
- This is the point of Def Jam: Fight for NY. New York is apparently home to a very large underground fighting circuit and it must be very lucrative due to gambling... or something... because two large criminal empires are willing to go to war for control of it, and your character is the fighter who'll singlehandedly turn the tide in favor of one or the other.
- You can join a fight club in Fable. One of the strongest members is the mayor of one of the towns.
- Fallen London has three, all run by the same guy, Feducci. The first, the Ring of Meat, is the most normal of them, where people in a meat locker just beat the crap out of each other. The second, the Ring of Roses, is organized in an old cemetery, inside a ring of rose petals, and its only rule is "first to make a noise of any sort loses". The third, the Painted Ring, is overseen by the man himself, and the arena is a painted circle on the dome of a slippery chapel. Obviously, the first to fall off loses, though thankfully Death Is Cheap in London and even the dead will get back up later. Feducci also runs (and participates in) the Black Ribbon, though that doesn't quite qualify, as its members duel each other to the Final Death.
- Final Fight
- Final Fight Streetwise opens with an underground fight involving the main character. Throughout the rest of the game, you can choose to participate in the fights for cash. One of the opponents you can face is Cammy from Street Fighter doing an Intercontinuity Crossover.
- In the first game, our three heroes fight Sodom in an underground fighting ring and The Andore family (Father, Grandpa, and Uncle) in a steel cage match.
- In Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, Kenshiro must Win His Freedom in Eden's Colosseum. Afterwards, he can return to the Colosseum to fight for prizes.
- Luis from Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony is a former club fighter, and is forced back into the ring to pay off his mother's debts.
- Jagged Alliance 2 has a fight club in the local Wretched Hive. It's a handy source of extra cash in the early stages of the game. The only rule is no weapons, although you can get away with using a knuckle duster, and if you win too many fights your enemies will start bringing guns into the ring.
- The early 90's coin-op game Pit-Fighter is all about this trope.
- In Republic: The Revolution, participating in an underground "boxing club" is one of possible backgrounds for the protagonist, which shifts his ideology towards Force. There was supposedly an option to start up one yourself in the game proper, but it doesn't seem to have made it to the final version.
- Saints Row 2 has two of these. More appear in Saints Row IV, only with psychic powers and simulated versions of old gang leaders and one TV show character.
- Various 3D fighting games have some stages with this theme, mostly Tekken and Dead or Alive.
- Once per chapter in The Witcher there's a pub with underground brawling in the corner. Butterbean appears as the mid-tier opponent in a game-wide championship.
- In World of Warcraft, there is the Brawler's Guild, in which solo adventurers fight against challenging opponents with a two-minute time limit. The entire area is a Shout-Out to Fight Club, from spectators saying "His/Her name was (player name)" when a player gets killed, to a related achievement being called "The First Rule Of Brawler's Guild."
- In every Yakuza game, there is always a secret underground fighting tournament that the protagonists will have to fight a few rounds of in order to progress the plot, though afterwards you can participate on your own accord.
- In Spirit Hunter: NG, Akira's friend Seiji used his Yakuza connections to set Akira up in an underground fighting ring in middle school. This helped pull him out of poverty and tempered his anger issues. His winning streak was unbroken and he was one of the most popular fighters as a result. He calls it quits just prior to the events of the story, which Seiji reluctantly abides by. In Seiji's ending, Akira decides to get back into it, recognizing that he can't return to a mundane life after dealing with the supernatural.
- One of the major events in the pregame of Survival of the Fittest version three was an underground fighting tournament in the basement of a bar called Shooters. The tournament was a major enough event that it is still referenced in the occasional post during the main game. It is a slight subversion, though, in that tournament organizers Montezzo Valtieri and Lucas Dasai were said to have gone through the proper channels to make sure the tournament was completely legal.
- Played a bit more literally in version four and its pregame with Garrett Hunter, who created his own Fight Club based on the film and actually sees himself as Tyler Durden.
- Pam from Archer is shown in a flashback to have financed her college tuition through a highly successful and deadly tour of these. Her back is tattooed with over a dozen kill marks from these fights along with a quote from Lord Byron's "Destruction of Sennacherib."
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, an underground earthbending tournament presented like one of these, is where the heroes initially encounter Toph, before recruiting her to join them and teach Aang earthbending.
- In the Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness episode "Kung Fu Club", Master Shifu gets word of an illegal fight club in the village and sends Po to stop it. The club turns out to be being run by a friend of Po's, and is actually more like a self-defence class. By the end of the episode Master Shifu agrees to lift the ban on ordinary people learning kung-fu.
- The Book 4 premiere of The Legend of Korra has a smaller-scale example. Korra is fighting there incognito after tricking her parents into thinking she has headed back to Republic City. The next episode reveals that she was fighting her Enemy Without, rather than her actual opponent.
- The Secret Saturdays episode "Cryptid vs. Cryptid" features a cryptid fighting ring.
- In The Simpsons, Superintendent Chalmers has grim memories of his early teaching days where he encountered parodies of The Breakfast Club, only to learn that they're the Fight Club. They proceed to beat him up and dance on him.
- Spawn - with added cannibalism.
- Seen in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) episode "Fallen Angel", where this is one of the hurdles a candidate must pass in order to enter the Purple Dragons gang.
- Parodied on The Venture Bros. during the origin of Billy Quizboy, where he and Pete White earn money for a cross-country road trip on a circuit of illegal underground cutthroat Quiz Shows. Billy then gets his arm ripped off as a result of White having confused a Mexican dog fighting ring with one of these.
- Toughman contests usually set up in local bars and host a boxing tournament for novices. Butterbean is one famous participant.
- "Smokers" are private, unsanctioned boxing and Mixed Martial Arts events set up between gyms so that inexperienced fighters can get some ring experience before going into their first sanctioned bout.
- "Bumfights," an infamous serious of videos in which a group of young men paid bums to fight each other and otherwise degrade themselves for change.
- The Miami area became famous for its underground bare-knuckle boxing events in backyards and boat yards that got uploaded to on YouTube. Fighters such as Kimbo Slice, Sean Gannon, Dada 5000, Alex Caceras and Jorge Masvidal all fought in the circuit and later appeared in major MMA promotions.
- The Agreeable Recreation of Fighting, focusing on Ireland in the mid-to-late 19th century, where brawling was entertainment. The article contains several eye-openers: five percent of deaths were from infected bites; a policeman tried to stop an old man fighting, and was set upon by 500 people; another tried to break up a faction fight by firing his gun in the air, whereupon he was mobbed by the combined factions, then taken up against the magistrates for illegally owning a firearm. Drink was often involved, as were sticks and stones, but never malice.
- The tradition of academic fencing or Mensur is still practiced by some student fraternities in the German-speaking world (and other areas of central Europe). The aim is not so much to defeat your opponent, but to get a cool scar or two in your face. A hundred years ago, such a Schmiss was regarded as a badge of honour among the German upper classes.
- While the bear gardens of London were mostly known for bear-baiting and other bloodsports involving animals, they also hosted all sorts of prize fighting between humans, including boxing bouts, wrestling matches, singlestick matches and fencing duels.