The classic swordplay of Swashbuckling movies: Threaten high countered by parry high, threaten low countered by parry low, lather, rinse and repeat as you climb the spiral tower staircase, until the hero can drive his sword through the villain's heart. It looks exciting, and the "tink-tink-tink" of sword tips clashing has become so familiar to the ear over the decades that this is what most people would think of if you asked them to imagine a "sword fight".
But it's not practical swordsmanship for a real, deadly fight. It wouldn't even work in a sword-based competitive sport like Olympics rules fencing or kendo. Instead, it's a type of choreographed fighting for show that we call Flynning, which often boils down to two combatants deliberately trying to hit each others' weapons with an impressive clanging sound, rather than trying to actually hit each other. Each attack will be deliberately aimed too high or off to the side so that it would miss the opponent even if they stood still without defending, and yet the defender will go out of their way to meet it in midair with a clumsy block instead of taking advantage of the attacker's mistake by avoiding and striking back in the same motion. Then the swordsman who just parried will make his own telegraphed attack for the other guy to parry, and in this fashion they take turns giving and receiving attacks as if they have an understanding not to hurt each other. In theatrics, this trick where two fighters take turns attacking and parrying in an endless loop is called "Pirate Halves"note . Whenever an attacker seems to attack into a parry instead of straight at their opponent's body, or the defender starts moving to parry an anticipated attack before they could have even seen it coming, it's a dead giveaway that they're following choreography. Note that just having a lot of parrying or blade-on-blade contact does not automatically make a fight Flynning, since the parry is a fundamental defensive technique in many schools of swordsmanship: what makes it Flynning is that the participants pass up the most direct and obvious opportunities to kill each other, and ignore sound principles of defense in a way that they can only get away with because they're performing a choreographed dance with each other's cooperation.
In the more flashy and energetic varieties of flynning you can expect to see a preposterously reckless offense, typically consisting of 360 degree spins and somersaults that would leave the back wide open, combined with absurdly overshot slashes and swipes that would invite a quick, lethal interruption. Despite the benefit to be gained by just sticking out their point at the right moment, the defender allows the attacker to whirl around like a dervish without taking advantage of these openings. Another hallmark of Flynning is poor application of distance or measure; They will probably spend most of the time intentionally fighting at a distance just close enough so that they can clash their swords together at the center or tip of their blades, but not close enough to hit any body part except the other swordsman's hand or forearm. At other times they might get way too close to each other for the length of weapon they are using, perhaps resulting in a Blade Lock where they push against each other while glowering between the blades, and persist in using their long weapons at the point where in a real fight both parties would switch to daggers and grappling. The Blade Lock may be broken by one fighter using a push, kick, or headbutt to knock his opponent off balance, but of course instead of rushing in for the kill he will take his time so that the other guy can recover his guard and keep fighting.
To keep the excitement up, and sometimes to distract from poor blade work, the characters may chase each other through all sorts of locations and environmental perils as they fight, such as up and down marble staircases, across the tops of tables in a tavern, on the outside of a moving vehicle, or along the narrow catwalks of a construction site or factory with No OSHA Compliance. By the end of it one may have the other cornered in a dead end or on the edge of a precipice, which either leads to the killing blow or results in the cornered party performing a major stunt such as a Chandelier Swing to escape. Exotic Weapon Supremacy will be in effect and Dual Wielding is fetishized as the mark of a superior fighter, often appearing in contexts such as Viking Age Europe where dual wielding was almost never practiced. Exotic weapons and dual wielding did actually exist in certain historical contexts, but even if they are depicted in the right time and place, don't expect to see them used with correct technique.note
Flynning exists, in live-action at least, so that non-expert actors can put on an entertaining show without causing Real Life injuries. The first problem is that most actors aren't trained fencers, and most fencers aren't trained actors. Neither skill is something you can teach someone properly in a short amount of time, and audiences are more likely to recognize (and be bothered by) wooden acting than unconvincing swordplay, so in most cases choreographers must try their best to teach people who already know how to act how to pretend they know how to fence. Usually the actors learn the sequence of moves in a fight by rote without a good understanding of the underlying principles behind them. There is usually little time to rehearse fights before filming, and with the number of behind-the-scenes moving parts that go into filming it's not uncommon for some last-minute problem to make them throw out the choreography and fall back on improvisation.
This leads into the second problem: most stage and screen fights are done without hand or face protection, and the risk of accidents is compounded when everyone is an amateur. This is a big reason for Slice-and-Dice Swordsmanship, since there is greater risk of accidental injury when thrusting is involved. Actors depend on their bodies to make a living, and any kind of disabling or disfiguring injury can be ruinous for their careers. The more famous a star, the more expensive they are to insure, and both the insurance companies and the actors' managers will throw a fit if you let them do something they consider too dangerous. There are stunt doubles for productions that can afford it, but with the amount of dialogue and acting that go into these swordfight scenes, any shots where you can clearly see the characters' faces will still have to use their real actors. Live theater presents the most chances for injury, since unlike in recorded performances the actors can't rest between takes, switch with stunt doubles, or use camera trickery to fake things. And unlike in film or television where the end of filming means that fight's in the bag, on stage the whole fight is reproduced live every night with all its chances for something to go wrong. With all of these things in mind, and since hardly anybody in the audience will know or care about the difference, it's all too understandable that choreographers would use less realistic choreography in order to minimize the risk of injury. Aside from safety, there are various other problems. If a key actor is injured or disabled, or if there's trouble with the props or costumes, then the fight director has no choice but to plan the action around those constraints.
Even when you factor out the problems of live actors, Flynning still has its uses. Real combat involving swords tended to be gory and violent, usually resulting in nasty bloody wounds and body parts being chopped off. That isn't gonna fly with the Media Watchdogs and Network Censors, especially in the case of works geared toward children, so you end up with fights where swords clash but nobody dies. Another issue is that the goal of practical swordsmanship is to take the shortest possible sequence of moves that leads to your opponent being dead or incapacitated and you being unharmed, and it doesn't necessarily have to look impressive as long as it works. In contrast, a choreographer often has to contrive various ways for a fight to be as drawn out and flashy as possible, all while keeping the action comprehensible to the audience. Many highly effective real life techniques are either Boring, but Practical, so subtle or fleeting that average audience members wouldn't be able to understand what they were seeing, or so direct and effective that they would make a hyped-up fight scene end in a premature anticlimax if they were actually employed in the appropriate situation. We also can't ignore the fact that a lot of cartoons and anime depend on Limited Animation so they can be produced quickly and cheaply, and it's much easier to put together a repetitive loop of two characters whacking their blades against each other than to fully animate a sequence of unique attacks and counters. Finally, there is simply the fact that most writers, artists, and animators don't know how to fence, and if they do seek out advice it will often be from the same choreographers and stuntpersons who serve theater, film, and television. Thus, the same Flynning moves tend to show up across all kinds of media.
A lot of Flynning entries will be written by people who know and care a lot more about swordsmanship than the average person, and therefore can tend toward being critical and nitpicky. Tropes Are Tools, however, and Flynning is not necessarily a "bad" trope: it's just that it comes out of a real-life safety concern that makes it difficult to show the full range of historical combat techniques, and it's often used as a crutch to cover up for a lack of time, money, or expertise. A significant number of fencing snobs can still acknowledge even fights that aren't technically realistic as great pieces of storytelling, and they will almost always appreciate when a production goes above and beyond to train the actors or to incorporate a cool move that has some historical plausibility. At their best, Flynning and stage combat can be like real swordsmanship filtered through Rule of Cool. Stage combat in particular is an art form in and of itself, particularly in live theatre, where well-practiced actors can get up to absurdly high levels of skill. Likewise, experienced choreographers and stunt people can help to create fight scenes both onstage and onscreen in which there's something for everybody to enjoy.
This trope is named for the film star Errol Flynn, who relied on it as the star of swashbuckling movies such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and Captain Blood. It is worth noting that, as some of the examples below illustrate, quite a number of his colleagues in early 20th century Hollywood actually were expert fencers, but rather than go for realistic fights they used their knowledge to produce something that just looked cool instead.
Compare A-Team Firing, where instead of lots of sword clashing with nobody getting cut you have lots of bullets flying but nobody getting shot. Contrast Single-Stroke Battle, where both fighters are clearly aiming to kill with their first strike and which can be over in an instant. A Flynning sequence that looks obviously fake can break the audiences suspension of disbelief, a subjective reaction called Fight Scene Failure. See also Anachronism Stew as swords and sword fighting techniques shown on film tend to be hundreds of years ahead of what would have been available in the time setting of a medieval film.note For details on how to depict sword fighting more accurately, see our Useful Notes pages on European Swordsmanship and Kenjutsu. See the Analysis page for a detailed discussion of why getting realistic fights on stage or film is a lot harder than it sounds.
- In a Dos Equis "The Most Interesting Man in the World" commercial, The Most Interesting Man is shown taking on two opponents with sabres, for sport. Flynning mixed with camera cuts (as if it were an old, worn film).
- Best Buy as of Summer 2014 has an ad for 2-in-1 tablets where there is a brief scene of two students in fencing garb Flynning it up.
- The Asterisk War: The anime features many sword fights in which the fighters zip around at tremendous speed, attacking and dodging. While the intent may be to show the consequences of extreme agility, it often just looks as if they were deliberately missing by several feet, or simply unable to hit the side of a barn with their swords.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena's sword heavy duels Flynns to cut down animation costs, though the participants generally aren't actually trying to kill each other (the victory condition of the duels is to cut a rose off the lapel of one's opponent's outfit, which means that fights can and frequently are resolved without more than minor Clothing Damage). But Utena, ever the Deconstruction, lampshades and exploits this in the worst possible way.
Akio: No, you know nothing besides play duels. But if you don't put up your sword now, you'll find out how terrifying real duels are.
- Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Max and Milia's duel with daggers in episode 25 includes a part where they're furiously clashing their blades together, but the animation is quite repetitive and it looks more like a stylized sword fight than the techniques that are actually used with short blades. If they were real life knife fighters they wouldn't keep at such a wide distance where neither of them would be in range to make a proper attack, and they would use their off hands for grappling in conjunction with the knifes instead of holding them behind their bodies and doing all the parrying with the blade like Olympic foil fencers.
- The beam-sabre fights in the various shows go back and forth between using this trope and utterly averting it. Most are short and brutal, ending with severed limbs & impaled cockpits and/or reactors, but if both combatants are named characters expect a fair amount of Flynning before somebody finally bites it. The worst offender is likely Gundam Wing, although in the case of Wing Zero and Epyon this is somewhat justified; their pilots are trying to kill each other, but since the Gundams' computers are in perfect sync, they're able to parry any attack the other makes. Interestingly, whenever characters clash with real swords outside their Humongous Mecha this trope is conspicuously averted. Witness Char and Amuro's memorably bloody rapier duel in the final act of the original Mobile Suit Gundam show.
- Another memorable aversion is the final duel between Loran and Ghingnham: Ghingnham throws Loran a sword and asks whether Loran ever fought with a real sword before. Loran replies in the affirmative, the two charge at each other screaming... and Loran unleashes a furious barrage that breaks Ghingnham's sword in about three seconds, then Ghingnham gets scooped up by a berserk Moonlight Butterfly. Talk about anticlimactic...
- This was used intentionally during Kira and Athrun's brief duel during Gundam Seed Destiny. Since they were friends and only wanted to convince the other to leave the battlefield and let the their respective forces deal with the problem, their battle consisted entirely of firing warning shots at each other and beam sword Flynning while telling the other to return to their ship. Eventually Kira loses his patience and, instead of parrying, dodges and slashes for real, which results in Athrun's Gundam getting completely dismantled in the space of a few seconds (though without killing Athrun, this is Kira we're talking about).
- Averted in Gundam 00 a lot of the sword fights between important characters are usually pretty short and to the point. Setsuna vs Graham the 1st time and then at the end of season 1 or Setsuna vs Alejandro in his MS.
- Averted in (the paper) One Piece, where swordsmen make it a clear point to go straight for the opponent's person. The only reason swordfights have any real length is because most fighters are Made of Iron, a Determinator, or both.
- Though one of Brooke's techniques, the Prelude Au Fer (prelude on iron), directly strikes the opponents weapon. Though in that case the intent is to destroy the weapon of the foe and is accomplishes it by pitting the length of his weapon against the breadth of his foe's.
- Similarly averted in Bleach. Usually, excessive blocking is the sign of either a reluctant or fearful fighter while their opponent is aiming to kill. Urahara made it quite clear early in the series that this was not acceptable.
When you dodge, Im afraid of getting cut. When you attack, Im afraid of cutting someone... Yes, your sword only speaks to me of absurd fear.
- Justified with Kira's fighting style as his zanpakuto's power doubles the weight of anything it hits. Thus he hits his opponent's weapon repeatedly until it's too heavy to lift.
- Again averted in Katekyō Hitman Reborn!, with Squalo's attack Scontro di Squalo, deliberately hitting his opponent's blade, sending paralytic vibrations up the sword and into his opponent's arm.
- In Hayate the Combat Butler Hayate and Athena's fights are constantly swords clashing. Apparently Athena was aiming for this effect, since her swordsmanship was supposedly so good she'd kill him if she actually aimed for Hayate. When Midas attacks Hayate, he apparently OHKOs him.
- Averted in Le Chevalier d'Eon outside of staged fights. When two enemies are engaged in a fight, they go straight for the kill.
- Possibly because the animators are a little sketchy on the details of Western-style fighting, most of the fights in Record of Lodoss War have severe Flynning; people not only attack each other's weapons but each other's shields, which is even more silly.
- In Akame ga Kill!, many of the sword fights involving Night Raid include this, most obvious in the fight against Zank in 3rd episode. There is also a ridiculous amount of times when people hold their sword without ever moving it and the other attacking with inhuman speed but nobody gets hit. Justified with Akame, however; her sword is a One-Hit Kill if it cuts someone anywhere unless extreme measures are taken and many of her enemies know it, so Flynning is required in order to stay alive against her.
- In Naruto, while some of the fights between people wielding swords or similar weapons fall into this, often, one or both of the combatants have special techniques related to their weapons, enabling them to slice through their opponent's weapon or otherwise injure their opponent while they lock blades.
- Played straight, averted and justified in La Seine no Hoshi: French soldiers usually go for the body (and the eponymous heroine got her ass handed to her in her first real fight specifically because the commander of the French Guards has the habit of alternating between lethal attacks at the heart and mobility kills on the leg, catching her flat-footed when he suddenly uses the latter). The Black Tulip, however, alternates between playing it straight to disarm his foe and going for the kill. The Star of the Seine, being strong enough to wield a heavy sidesword like a rapier, usually goes for the enemy's sword in the attempt to numb the sword hand, thus making him drop it (most of the times) or even breaking it in two (the one time she fought a foe strong enough to not have the sword hand go numb but wielded a decorative rapier), and has no problems going for the kill whenever pissed or otherwise motivated (see her final duel with the commander of the French Guards: until then she had gone for trying to disarm, but as soon as she was unmasked she eschewed her usual tactics and tried to stab him until she succeeded).
- In Yu Yu Hakusho, at the beginning of Kurama's fight with Ura Urashima, they swing and parry with their razor-sharp rose whip/fishing line, respectively. Kuwabara, who while tough is not very experienced, is absolutely amazed and says they are evenly matched. Hiei calls him a fool and says Kurama could kill Urashima at any time, but has an annoying habit of feeling out an opponent due to curiosity of their fighting talents.
- Parodied in Slayers OVA "Jeffrey's Knighthood". Jeffrey Mailstar, an inept and unskilled warrior, does ridiculous Flynning every time he tries swordplay (the opponent just stands there with weapon readied and watches Jeffrey repeatedly hitting his sword, or sometimes empty air). Most real swordfights between skilled swordsmen (Gourry, Zangulus, etc) in this anime are either a few stop-shots of parries followed by a Single-Stroke Battle, or a showdown of sword magic abilities.
- In My Bride is a Mermaid, Kai is normally a trained swordsman, but when he's Mistaken for Dying, his fear and panic makes him flail his katana like a child throwing a tantrum. A disappointed Nagasumi easily evades the sword and punches him into submission.
- A scene in the comic Jon Sable, Freelance had movie stuntman "Sonny" Pratt tell Johnny Carson that "Oliver Reed fights like it's for keeps."
- Normally Averted in Tex Willer, as whenever blades are involved they use simple moves aimed at their opponents and punches and kicks may be involved (in fact Tex usually wins his knife fights by punching out his opponent, either because he feels he doesn't deserve to die or humiliate him. The one time it's played straight there's a good reason: Tex, who was visiting Cuba, was forced in a sword duel in a church against a Spanish ussar, with Tex having no experience with sabres and the ussar playing with him... And then Tex lures his opponent between the benches, where there's no space to properly use a sabre and Tex can use his superior strength to disarm him.
- Happens in Shadow Snark when Uma, Pinkie Pie, and Shadow try to poke each other with sticks. It eventually becomes a deconstruction when they end up trying cool sword fighting moves and have to ask their opponents to stage it.
- In How I Became Yours, Sokka's "sword fight" with Sho involves several panels of the two in an "en garde" stance with each other, and Sho once doing a flip. Then again, this is in large part due to the frequent copying of panels in the comic, to the point where a character will have the same expression for several panels in a row in a dialogue scene.
- Done in the Danny Phantom Unlimited Halloween Night by Danny and the Fright Knight at the climatic final battle. Justified since Danny wasn't looking to defeat him in a straight sword fight but actually making some time so the nanobots he threw at his face at the begining of the fight as a blinding metallic dust (yes, he cheated and that's the nicest thing he does here) would attach to his entire nervous system. And what do they do? They explode him from the inside out. Even Danny reckons he wouldn't defeat him in a straight sword fight with the 3 months of training he got from Pandora and his high-tech claymore sword whihch is made of Ecto-Ranium and templed in Blood Blossom water.
- In the Expanded Universe Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, the Guild of Assassins makes a virtue of this, formally teaching Flynning alongside less showy but possibly more effective techniques for fighting with bladed weapons. It is described here, where we learn the Guild has specialized teaching facilities set aside for this very purpose.
For these are Assassins, where swordfighting and duelling are done with style and panache.
- Justified in The Road to El Dorado. Protagonists Tulio and Miguel deliberately use Flynning to stage a pantomime street-fight (with rapiers; the classic dueling weapon) to divert attention from their con-tricks, in a manner that suggests they've done it before. Once out of trouble, they announce:
Tulio: Ladies and gentlemen, we've decided it's a draw!
Miguel: [tosses swords to guard's feet] Thank you all for coming! You've been great, see you soon!
- In a 2009 animated Wonder Woman film, Wonder Woman comes to modern America and sees a group of boys flynning in a park with wooden swords while excluding a nearby girl. The girl tries to make the best of it, saying she doesn't know how to sword fight anyway. Wonder Woman points out that the boys have no clue how to really fight either, and gives the girl some practical tips on how to handle a sword and avoid flynning. The girl promptly wipes the floor with all the boys.
Steve: That was sweet, teaching her to disembowel her friends like that.
- Briefly defied in The Mask of Zorro, where Don Diego De La Vega asks his successor Alejandro to demonstrate his sword fighting style. The student energetically swishes around his sword only to have Don Diego casually disarm him with one move with the implied lesson of not to waste energy with such useless flamboyance. Given that this is Zorro, the rest of the movie ignores this lesson for more Flynning, but points for trying.
- The Disney TV Version of Zorro in the 1950s somewhat Downplayed it as well, as Guy Williams, who played Zorro, was actually a champion fencer. His Zorro used a more accurate fencing style, though still stylized to avoid injury.
- Played totally straight in the 1920 Douglas Fairbanks The Mark of Zorro.
- Ditto with William's occasional sword fights in Lost in Space.
- The Legend of Zorro has plenty of flynning in the climactic sword fight between the hero Alejandro (Zorro) and the villain, Armand. See this commentary by Matt Easton of Schola Gladiatoria.
- Wielding rapiers, Zorro and Armand both elect for Slice-and-Dice Swordsmanship instead of relying on thrusts, which they only attempt a couple of times. Whenever one of them does thrust, they do it in a telegraphed way that opens them to a counter: when Armand tries it inside the passenger car Zorro captures both of his swords, and when Zorro tries a thrust on the side of the locomotive, Armand strikes it from his hand, leaving it to be crushed by the train's wheels.
- Instead of closing the opponent's line of attack while advancing into distance to deliver a thrust, as a fencer is supposed to do, they spend a lot of time artfully swatting at each other's blades from out of distance, meaning that they aren't even getting close enough to hit each other. To be fair, a lot of this is hard to notice unless you slow the footage down because the film-makers make the characters look like they're at closer range through some clever Forced Perspective and fast-paced editing: you get a better idea of the actual distance whenever they circle around each other or attempt corps-a-corps, such as elbows or kicks that were out of distance but made to look like they connected.
- Obvious kills are missed. Several times Zorro dodges a wild swing by Armand that ends up missing by a huge margin. On the side of the locomotive boiler, immediately after the explosion caused by Elena throwing Armand's henchman from the train, Armand considerately continues to give ground while Zorro is busy climbing over an obstacle, instead of skewering Zorro while his guard is down.
- There's a Blade Lock where Zorro and Armand each use their empty hand to grab the other's sword arm, and they glower at each other while ineffectively pushing against each other for three seconds before Armand manages to throw Zorro on his back. A headbutt to the face or a knee to the groin would have ended that quicker.
- Rather egregiously, Zorro manages to knock Armand off the wood pile and into the cab of the engine, disarmed of his weapons. Zorro knocks Armand further back with a kick to the face, performed while hanging from the roof of the cab. Instead of dropping into the cab and finishing off his momentarily helpless opponent, Zorro inexplicably climbs back up on the roof and calmbers out onto the boiler, giving Armand an opportunity to pull himself together, grab a gun, and take a shot at Zorro.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail:
- Played for Laughs during the first few seconds of the fight between the Black Knight and King Arthur, in which the Black Knight attacks boisterously while Arthur dodges and counters in a stiff parody of what an "expert" fencer is supposed to do in a movie. This quickly degenerates into a Bloody Hilarious farce when the Black Knight refuses to admit defeat or even that he's significantly hurt after losing an arm to Arthur. And persists when he's lost both arms. And both legs.
- Hilariously subverted during Lancelot's otherwise very Flynn-esque attack on Swamp Castle, as he slaughters guards and unarmed wedding guests without encountering the slightest resistance.
King of Swamp Castle: Did you kill all those guards?
Lancelot: Err, yes. Sorry.
King of Swamp Castle: They cost fifty pounds each!
- Invoked in the big duel in the filmation of Potop, where an arrogant noble picks a fight with an experienced army colonel. The colonel spends the entire 'duel' meticulously humiliating the nobleman, who is very much trying to kill him, by deflecting every blow and relenting every time he's taken the offensive. Eventually the noble just asks him to Get It Over With.
- The duel in The Great Race was an even more exaggerated version of this. For those who understand fencing terminology, it was two people endlessly repeating parry-riposte-counter parry-counter riposte-etc. in line 4. For those who do not, it was two people endlessly repeating the first two moves taught to beginning foil fencers. When they switched to sabers, it quickly descended into Pirate Halves.
- The Princess Bride:
- For all that it looks spectacular (and the dialogue cites real fencing masters and styles), the great battle between Inigo and Westley is almost entirely Flynning. The screenplay even says that the ''characters'' are Flynning; Wesley and Inigo both being masters with nothing personal driving their fight, they want to enjoy it as it is so rare for them to encounter someone else on their level.
- Averted in the rest of the movie, especially the final duel between Inigo and Count Rugen. Rugen is a Combat Pragmatist, aiming to kill with every attack. Inigo is at first simply defending himself. As his strength returns, he toys with Rugen for a few moments, then finishes him.
- Commentary states that Cary Elwes (Westley) and Mandy Patinkin (Inigo) were complete novices at swordfighting, but threw themselves into the fights with a lot of energy and panache. The first time that Patinkin and Christopher Guest (Count Rugen) practiced together, Patinkin actually stabbed Guest. At that point, Guest informed the fencing choreographer that instead of flynning he would actually and actively defend himself. Being a noble does comes in handy upon occasion.
- Star Wars:
- The lightsaber battles from the original trilogy, dubbed "budget kendo" in some circles. The original idea behind the lightsabers was that they were difficult to handle, which limited their choreography to mostly slashes and parries. There were technical limitations involved as well as skill limitations. Every duel in the Original Trilogy involves Darth Vader. In A New Hope, the Vader mask left actor David Prowse with such a restricted field of view that he had trouble even seeing the person he was dueling with, never mind trying to fight. The props themselves were also fragile, preventing the use of more aggressive and intense strikes. For The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, the fighting was done by fencer and choreographer Bob Anderson, who was much better at it, and the props were sturdier, but he still had difficulty seeing.
- For the prequels, George Lucas specifically stated that the battles of the original trilogy were fought by "old men, feeble cyborgs and young kids" and he wanted the prequels to highlight a more sophisticated fighting style. They are more technically impressive and faster paced, but still use common tricks associated with flynning such as time-wasting flourishes, obviously not aiming strikes at their opponents, and keeping at too far a distance to hit each other. It's a bit more downplayed compared to most other times this trope comes into play, however, as not only does the Force make all the more acrobatic, inefficient moves more applicable, most of the time the opposing duelists are aiming at each other, rather than each other's blade. However, as a single lightsaber strike means certain amputation and/or death in most instances, lightsaber combat is based as much around countering your opponents moves as it is around quickly killing/ disarming the opponent.
- The expanded universe elaborates on lightsaber combat, based partially on the forms developed by stunt coordinator Nick Gillard and he made unique styles as a fingerprint for each character. Wookieepedia spells it all out, and Gillard himself said the styles were meant to evoke that the Jedi use an Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age and thus have to be really good at it. There are also handwaves that the sheer lethality of lightsaber blades mean that it isn't enough to get the killing blow, you have to make sure you won't be hit even slightly as your enemy drops their weapon.
- The X-Wing Series novel Starfighters of Adumar introduced a culture that practiced semi-ritualistic duels to the death with so-called "blastswords."note This trope was definitely not played straight; a lot of people apparently did tend to fence like this when fighting merely for sport, and fared badly when they came up against someone who was playing for keeps, even if that person has very little idea how to use a blastsword.
- Exception: Unlike modern performers, many actors from The Golden Age of Hollywood, such as Basil Rathbone and Tyrone Power, were actually champion swordsmen in Real Life. Combined with a very active fencing scene in Hollywood at the time, this led to superb fights in films where all of the male leads knew what they were doing.
- Cornel Wilde, too. It is said he dropped off the US Olympic fencing team for lack of money.
- Rathbone, who played the villain opposite Flynn in Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood, actually used his fencing skill to make it look plausible that Flynn won the fight!
- Rathbone was often cast as villains (with one notable exception), and so was not allowed to win most of his on-screen matches. the only two exceptions were his role as Tybalt in 1936's Romeo and Juliet, and a very short duel against Eugene Pallette in The Mark of Zorro. However, Hollywood concensus was that in any non-choreographed fencing match, Rathbone would have cleaned the clock of any other Hollywood figure.
- Rathbone vs. Danny Kaye in The Court Jester. Either a brilliant example of this trope or a brilliant parody of it. Danny Kaye, though not a skilled fencer, was fast enough and agile enough to keep up with Rathbone in a choreographed fight, thus giving him a rare chance to show off his skill to the fullest. Naturally, he took the opportunity and ran with it. Rathbone was 63 at the time, and he still effortlessly gave Kaye a run for his money. The most impressive thing about that fight scene is Danny Kaye was able to mimick Rathbone just by watching him.
- Rathbone was approached by Warner Brothers to play opposite Flynn in his third great swashbuckler, The Sea Hawk, but Rathbone, who had a horror of type-casting, turned down the part. It therefore went to Henry Daniell — an excellent actor, but too incompetent with a blade even to Flynn convincingly. In the end he had to be doubled extensively by fencing master Fred Cavens.
- The 1952 movie Scaramouche is Crowned with not just a Moment but several straight Minutes of Awesome as Stewart Granger and Mel Ferrer (and/or their stunt doubles) methodically Flynn their way through a theater, starting the balcony boxes, working down to the lobby, through the main seats, backstage and ending on the stage itself. That particular scene was possibly the most masterfully done aversion of this trope ever. A careful observer may note that the combatants are actively trying to hit each other, dance through every one of the eight lines (except for #1), exercise such complicated procedures as feints and disengages, and generally fight very well given the uneven footing they find themselves on. Especially impressive is the fact that they manage to work Andre's game breaker multiple disengage sequence from the book into the duel, though you won't notice it unless you know what to look for.
- The three-way fight between Sparrow, Turner and Norrington in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. However most other sword fights in this trilogy are portrayed far more realistically, although duels between main characters tend to have decent amounts of Flynning.
- The duel between Jack Sparrow and Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in Will's blacksmith shop. Neither is trying to kill the other: Sparrow just wants to escape, having entered the shop so that he could hide from his pursuers, and Turner wants to apprehend Sparrow so that he can actually get some credit for something for once. The result? A lot of fancy swordplay and use of the environment (the fight eventually even goes up into the rafters) with no one really aiming to harm the other. It eventually ends when Sparrow pulls his gun on Turner, who claims that he's cheated by using a gun.
- Later in the film, when Barbossa and Jack fight, it devolves into great amounts of Flynning when it's revealed that Jack stole a piece of gold and cannot die, meaning that neither can physically kill the other.
- The fight between Davy Jones and Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. It involves lots of Jack's trademark "if I wasn't crazy, this probably wouldn't work" tactics to escape the immortal and unkillable Jones, including but not limited to swinging from the rigging, using the chest as an impromptu weapon, and Flynning on the crossbar holding up the mainsail, all of which occurs on a ship that is sailing on the side of a massive whirlpool.
- Averted in The Three Musketeers (1973) and its sequel, 'The Four Musketeers': Not only was the swordplay highly realistic (with moves like grabbing the opponent's blade, and hitting them with one's cloak), but all the stars were trained swordsmen. Christopher Lee admitted in an interview that he had to remind Oliver Reed during one of their fights that he wasn't really trying to kill him. It didn't help that the swords they used weren't foils.
- In Broadway Melody of 1940, the dance to "Please Don't Monkey With Broadway" has Fred Astaire and George Murphy flynning with canes.
- 1995's Rob Roy with Liam Neeson climaxes with a duel containing some of the most realistic sword fighting in modern cinema. Though some Flynning occurs, you really get a sense that these two men want to do each other serious bodily harm. Especially with how it ends — Roy grabs his opponent's blade firmly enough for it to lodge into the bones of his hand, then — whack. Watch it here
- Notably, Tim Roth's character, Cunningham, is clearly staying out of range of Roy, with his greater reach, weight, and heavier sword. He's trying to bleed him out and exhaust him, which is also a valid swordfighting technique.
- "Heavier" in this context means that the blade is thicker and more durable. Rapiers have a slender blade, but it is very long, often over 40 inches, and they have a heavy pommel to counterbalance that long blade. As a result, rapiers are actually quite a bit heavier than you'd think, from their appearance, often as much as 3-4 pounds, which is fairly heavy for a single-hand sword.
- Also, rapiers are anachronistic for the time period of "Rob Roy." They'd been out of fashion for over fifty years, and the smallsword, which is similar in proportions and purpose to the modern foil, as well as being the ancestor thereof, was the preferred personal sidearm. It was a much more compact and easy-to-carry weapon than the Rapier, which, despite being a superior dueling sword in most respects, was very clunky, awkward, and heavy to have on you as an every-day-carry weapon.
- Notably, Tim Roth's character, Cunningham, is clearly staying out of range of Roy, with his greater reach, weight, and heavier sword. He's trying to bleed him out and exhaust him, which is also a valid swordfighting technique.
- The brief stickfight between Adams and Dickinson in 1776 is rather unconvincing Flynning when it's not just the two men grappling.
- Robin Hood: Men in Tights had the characters Flynn with shadow puppets!
- Men in Tights also mocks this with the staff fight between Robin and Little John. Their weapons repeatedly break in half throughout the scene, and each time they simply throw half away and continue to attempt Flynning, to the point where they're playing medieval Pencil Pop when any sensible combatants would have simply given up and begun fisticuffs.
- And at one point in the last duel, Robin calls out the Sheriff's sequence of moves while responding to them.
"Parry, parry, thrust, thrust... good!"
- Troy's Flynning is so obvious one does not even need to have so much as a cursory knowledge of actual swordplay to spot it. When Hector and Achilles fight, both of them avoid obvious killing strikes and holes in their opponent's guard on several occasions, though the former is less experienced, and the latter is getting fancy in order to utterly humiliate the former.
- All sword fights in Nate and Hayes during the daring attack on the German gunboat are this.
- In Highlander, this was done in large part because Christopher Lambert's eyesight is so bad that he just swung his sword around. His opponents were tasked with hitting his sword with theirs to make it look like a sword fight (instead of a mostly blind guy swinging his sword wildly).
- Hook's climactic fight between Peter and the captain, which is all Flynning. In his review, Roger Ebert lamented how boring and uninspired the whole sequence was. Earlier averted when Hook reacts to Rufio trying to clang swords with him high by going low and stabbing him to death.
- In Cutthroat Island, William Shaw's Flynning during the tavern fight between Morgan's crew and Dawg's crew is justified, since he'd not yet learned how to do any serious fighting:
Morgan: Very pretty, Mr. Shaw.
William: Thank you, ma'am. I had the good fortune of studying with a grand master in Vienna!
Morgan: Now stop fiddling, and kill the man!
William: Kill him? Bless me, we never got to that!
[Morgan grabs William's arm and thrusts it forward, sending William's sword through the chest of the enemy mook]
William: I see.
- The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother. The sword fight between Sigerson Holmes and Professor Moriarty.
- Shanghai Knights features some of this in the final fight, but it's Justified for both combatants: Chon Wang, although trained in martial arts, does not know how to handle a sword, and Rathebone (specifically stated to be a master swordsman) is using overly flashy techniques to toy with and humiliate Chon, knowing that he doesn't have the skills to recognize and attack the openings Rathebone is presenting him with. Bonus points for Rathebone being named after Errol Flynn's iconic swordplay opponent.
- In Gladiator this is almost lampshaded; in the gladiator training camp scene, the instructor tells the student, "this is how you fight", and starts showing him the "Pirate Halves" move. Justified - gladiators were essentially entertainers, as well as fighters. Maximus, a former professional soldier, was actually told off for being too efficient as he naturally went straight for the killing move.
- Done deliberately in if when three self-obsessed teenagers get into a sword fight more or less for the hell of it and tear around the school flynning for all they're worth.
- Jose Ferrer's version of Cyrano de Bergerac starts with a vintage demonstration of Flynning. Justified in that Cyrano wants to humiliate his opponent before taking him down; he is composing a sonnet in honor of the duel he is fighting, ending each stanza with "Then as I end the refrain, thrust home!"
- Averted in Sherlock Holmes (2009) and its sequel, A Game of Shadows. Holmes actually uses a form very similar to historical Bartitsu, but with Wing Chun boxing and swordfighting introduced (the choreographer even called it "neo-Bartitsu").
- Subverted in Red Sonja (1985 film): When the Arnold Schwarzenegger character is fighting mooks, his first strike simply attacks the blade. His second strike muscles the sword back on target while the mook's sword is helplessly to the side. Which is known as "battement" and is a very effective fencing technique, especially if you're massively stronger than your opponents without being considerably slower.
- Played with in The Lord of the Rings. In some scenes, such as Aragorn's battle with the Uruk-Hai chieftain at the end of Fellowship, there is a certain amount of Flynning, done subtly enough so that things look dangerous. In most of the mass-battle scenes, on the other hand, the action tends toward the swift and brutal. Viggo Mortenson (playing Aragorn) and the stuntmen who were roped into playing Orcs suffered quite a few on-set injuries.
- Subverted in The Rocketeer: Neville Sinclair's role in movies is that of a Flynn-type action hero. As such, he engages in this kind of swordplay with one of his costars. However, he "accidentally" stabs said costar for upstaging him.
- The sword fight between Blakeney and Chauvelin at the end of The Scarlet Pimpernel is almost entirely this trope, though it is clear from the beginning that Percy, the clearly superior combatant, is just messing with his opponent. Eventually he tires of it and ends the fight. He doesn't strike the killing blow, though.
- Averted in Robin and Marian, which shared the same director and fight choreographer as The Three Musketeers. The sword fights look slow, rough and bloody. By the end of their climatic Duel to the Death, Robin and the Sheriff are so exhausted that they can barely stand.
- Mostly averted in Kingdom of Heaven, where some effort was made to present the use of weaponry at least somewhat correctly. Although not perfectly done, the guards Balian is taught are similar to those of the historical Italian school of longsword fencing, and the use of half-swording and striking with the hilt is featured rather prominently.
- Discussed at the end of the John Ritter comedy Stay Tuned when Ritter's character becomes a Fencing instructor whose student tries a fancy behind-the-back turn-and-block move that she saw on TV. Followed by him trying out the pose after his student leaves.
- In My Favorite Year Alan Swann (a parody of Errol Flynn) walks in, sloshed, on the writers on the TV show he will guest star on that week. They are watching one of Swann's films, where he is fighting a villain. He looks at the screen, sees the villain and himself in obviously over-the-top swordplay, and says, "I thought I killed you," as his character in the film uses his own sword to knock the blade out of the villain's hand, before running him through with his own sword. Seeing this, Swann says, "Oh yeah, I did."
- The sword fights near the end of The Phantom.
- Averted in By the Sword, as they follow the rules of fencing rather closely, and are trying to follow the rules of the sport, not the actual rules of combat. The real duel at the end is an actual swordfight, with both combatants trying to kill each other, and making stabs into each other, until the duel ends.
- As with most swashbucklers of the era, this happens in Anne of the Indies. It is especially obvious in the fight between Anne and Blackbeard; although this perhaps justified as this friendly sparring between two friends and not intended to be deadly combat.
- Justified in Paddington 2 when used by the villain Phoenix - since he himself is a stage actor.
"Stage combat, level 4!"
- Centurion, despite its historical accuracy in other parts, features a lot of this. For the protagonist Quintus Dias, it's justified, as his father was a gladiator. The other characters? Not so much.
- Two examples in Bond Movie Die Another Day. First Grave challenges Bond, where we see the whole gamut of Flynning, including spins, multiple sword changes, a slashed paintings, and fighting in the corridors. Later, Jinx takes on Olympic Fencer Frost, involving similar cool, but impractical moves.
- Played with in Masters of the Universe — He-Man is pretty clearly swinging for Skeletor's staff in the final battle, which turns out to be a pretty good tactic, as breaking the staff depowers Skeletor from his One-Winged Angel state, making hitting Skeletor himself more likely to actually work.
- The final fight scene in Mom and Dad Save the World consists of two guys flailing at each other with swords to the point where it looks like neither participant had a clue what they were doing. Given that the hero is a middle-aged suburbanite who may have never drawn a sword in his life before that moment, and the villain is an imbecile with an overly inflated sense of his own competence, that may very well have been the case.
- The villain of the book Maskerade complains about the unrealistic swordplay in operas (the book takes place in the Ankh-Morpork opera house). Ironically, he engages in an overly-clangy sword fight with another character, and dies when his opponent sticks the sword between his arm and his torso. Cue the super-long death speech.
- Lampshaded in Moving Pictures, where an inexperienced human has to fight a veteran troll actor, and doesn't fully realize it's fake. The troll explains that all he has to do is parry dramatically.
- Lampshaded in Wyrd Sisters, where Tomjon gets trapped in every live actor's nightmare: everyone else in the cast has forgotten their lines, gotten distracted, or developed stage fright. The poor guy foresees a fight scene in which he will have to "parry his own wild thrusts and stab himself to death."
- Exploited and counter-exploited in Monstrous Regiment. Corporal Strappi tries to humiliate Polly by "sparring" with the new recruit, fully expecting her to be unfamiliar with real swordfighting and try to hit his weapon. Polly understands this, and also knows she knows nothing about sword-fighting, so she gives him a headbutt instead.
- Subverted and Lampshaded in The Saga of Darren Shan. When Darren witnesses a knife fight between Mr. Crepsley and the mad vampaneze Murlough, he expects a drawn out battle with lots of clashing blades. He notes in retrospect that the two were trying to kill one another, not entertain an audience. The fight itself takes all of three seconds, and ends with Murlough brutally cut open.
- An early scene in Exile's Valor features two of Alberich's students deciding to Flynn during a class practice bout to show off. Since they aren't nearly as good as they think they are, all they do is embarrass themselves (and get stuck with a hideous bill for salle damage).
- Lampshaded and subverted in The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, when swordsmaster Don Tomsa Maramzalla explains the difference between the lessons he gives to his high-born clientele and those he'll be giving "Gentleman Bastard" Jean Tannen:
Don Tomsa Maramzalla: Those prancing little pants-wetters come here to learn the colorful and gentlemanly art of fencing, with its many sporting limitations and its proscriptions against dishonorable engagements.
You, on the other hand... you are going to learn how to kill men with a sword.
- The Fencing Master describes swordfights in a way that, while showy and dramatic, would be ridiculous if illustrated.
- In The Curse of Chalion Caz reminisces about how he thought he was a good fencer with a repertoire of fancy moves in his youth until he met another boy who ignored his flashy technique and launched a simple stab that would have killed him had they been using real swords.
- Lampshaded in the Kingpriest Trilogy, when POV character Cathan (a veteran knight) and an old comrade-in-arms attend an (obviously scripted) gladiatorial game. While aforementioned comrade is more familiar with this sort of thing, and therefore able to relax and enjoy the show as something only tangentally related to actual combat, Cathan can't get over how obviously fake and unrealistic the swordfighting is, and in fact does something of a mental running commentary of all the ways the combatants could take advantage of each others' mistakes if it was an actual fight.
- The page quote ironically has C. S. Lewis decry this trope on stage, but in the next few sentences of Prince Caspian he creates his own system of silly strikes which look no more like historical swordsmanship than this trope. Additionally, there is a difference between styles developed for rapiers and their kin and those for swords from the Middle Ages when used against armored warriors.
- A variation occurs early in Perry Rhodan, of all places. The protagonist and the newly-introduced Atlan (who's still trying to find a way off an Earth that most of the galaxy believes destroyed at the time) end up crossing swords in a museum. They're not actively trying to outright kill each other, but Atlan demonstrates the difference between a twentieth century astronaut who may be a decent modern sports fencer on the side and an immortal Arkonide who's spent millennia on Earth and actually knows how to use a historical broadsword properly quickly enough. (This exact duel is revisited later in the series when an impostor unknowingly reveals himself by getting the weapons used in it wrong.)
- Mostly averted in The Belgariad and The Elenium with a very few exceptions, where any kind of bladeplay is usually quick, brutal, and to-the point. While combat styles and techniques are discussed, most of the time the characters are doing any kind of sword or knife fighting, they simply kill their victims outright.
- Discussed in No Good Deed.... Elsabeth's fighting style is efficient and economical in movement, and her thought processes exhibit great disdain for swordsmen who prefer the flashier techniques of the tournament fighters. During a fight at the beginning of the book, Elsabeth makes rather quick work of an adversary precisely because his more elaborate style allows her to use quick and direct attacks to get through his defenses faster than he can counter her. She's equally disparaging of masters who teach such a style.
- The Star Wars X-Wing novel Starfighters of Adumar mostly takes place on a planet ruled by a society that feels the need to essentially Flynn everything, from dueling with blastswords to starfighter combat. Whenever a character who refuses to play by the rules (either a local who hates the formal styles or the off-world protagonists who were never trained to be so theatrical) enters a fight, it's over in seconds.
- Averted in Emilio Salgari's novels (not so much in the movies adapting them). While not a fencer, Salgari was very good at researching information and including it in the novels, and the bladed fights (be they the swordfights of the Black Corsair saga and the Pirates of Bermuda series or the knife fights and more exotic fights prevailing in the Sandokan saga) are extremely short, include little to no parries, if at knife length include grappling, and tend to end with someone stabbed in the chest or the guts.
- The Black Corsair is stated to be an immensely skilled swordfighter, and even has a secret technique. What this secret technique consist into doing? Tricking the other guy into overextending with a stab while he dodges and stabs him in the chest.
- Sandokan provides one of the greatest example ever. When most characters fight a tiger with a knife, they wrestle and stab it. Sandokan simply waited the beast to jump and jumped under it while keeping the knife high, disemboweling the poor tiger. Represented perfectly in the movie version.
- Invoked in-universe in Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt Adventures novel Dragon. Pitt is forced into a duel with a Japanese man who fancies himself a samurai trained in the use of the katana who expects to gut Pitt like a fish in one or two moves. Pitt, a trained fencer, picks a European sword and starts Flynning to defend himself, throwing off his opponent's technique.
- The Stormlight Archive: Discussed. Dalinar scoffs at the idea of swordfights as romanticized dances, calling them "wrestling with weapons." The fight scenes bear this out; everyone does everything they can to survive, which often involves tackling your opponent and then stabbing them while they're confused. However, fights with Shardblades can be like a dance, with circling and testing and parrying. Justified because Shardblades are indestructible and impossibly lightweight. But even with Shardblades, dances like that are rare. Notably, only two of the ten Shardblade fighting styles teach parrying, and even they don't use it often.
- Swordfights in The Wheel of Time tend to follow the format of "swordform X meets swordform Y". This is at least partially justified via Noodle Incident, as the names of the forms are poetic but unspecific (The Courtier Taps His Fan, Lightning of Three Prongs, Water Flows Downhill), allowing author Robert Jordan to mix-and-match them and just let the reader's imagination do the rest.
- Deliberately invoked in The Brotherhood Of The Black Flag: as the novel was a tribute to the swashbuckler movies of the 1930s and 1940s, the author deliberately wrote the fight scenes to resemble the ones from said movies, instead of aiming for gritty, realistic combat.
- Any documentary that displays mass battles — particularly those made by the History Channel. The two four-episode-each Barbarians series, Rome: Rise and Fall of an Empire and those like it/made by the same studio/group tragically suffer from this heavily. Any and all other historical inaccuracies aside, just watch the big battle scenes. Stuntmen in differing suits of armor dance about each other while visibly, readily just clashing their swords against one another's. What makes this particularly egregious is the fact that in most, if not every shot, an overwhelming majority of the soldiers clashing blades are all HOLDING SHIELDS... and not ONE of them seems to even think of raising it to block an attack. Even more egregious in those episodes of above series' that focus on Ancient Rome and its legions, who relied heavily on their shields, and only used their swords for stabbing; even in the early days of the Republic, pre-empire period, a Roman soldier would've looked at you as if you had two heads if you suggested using your sword to parry, block, or even do anything but stab and occasionally slash as need be, when he was trained to defend with his shield.
- Almost always averted in Angel, but in the season 3 episode "Billy", the title character teaches Cordelia to use a sword, and all he's describing is this trope. Although this is also a possible subversion/aversion, since his idea is to teach her to stall until he can get there to rescue her.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a great sword fight between Buffy and Angel where they shuffle back and forth alternating their blows from up and down.
- The horribly botched Flynning that was Hugh Beringar fighting in the TV series Cadfael.
- Doctor Who:
- A fencing scene in "The Sea Devils": after the Master disarms the Doctor, and has him pinned in a corner ready to deliver the killing blow, the Doctor escapes by kicking the Master back.
- Played with in "The Androids of Tara". The Fourth Doctor ends up in a duel with "electro-swords". At first he seems incompetent with the blade, merely parrying blows. However, it quickly becomes clear that this is a ruse, as he unleashes more and more skill until finally besting his opponent with ease.
- "The King's Demons" features a very Flynnian swordfight between the Fifth Doctor and the Master.
- Every swordfight in the 7th Doctor serial "Battlefield". Unfortunately. (In part because they'd rehearsed with a different kind of sword to the ones they got on location.)
- "The Christmas Invasion" contains a particularly bad case of flynning between the Tenth Doctor and the leader of the Sycorax. Most notable is a moment when the Doctor charges the Sycorax leader with an overhead strike. In any realistic fight, the Doctor would've ended up with a sword through one of his hearts.
- "Robot of Sherwood" dials it up to 11 when The Doctor has a flynning-filled dual with Robin Hood. Robin with a sword, the Doctor with a spoon!
- In a possible nod to this trope, the Doctor mentions having learned from Cyrano de Bergerac, Richard the Lionheart, and Errol Flynn himself, who "had the most enormous... ego." A certain amount of Fridge Brilliance also sets in when one realizes that unlike most examples of this trope, the Doctor is a Technical Pacifist who rarely uses swords at all.
- In Frasier, Niles Crane challenges his wife's fencing teacher to a duel after learning - erroneously - that the German fencing master has been having an affair with Maris. The arena is the living room of Niles and Maris' gothic mansion, packed with antique fittings and furniture. Sure enough, much comic Flynning ensues, taken Up to Eleven.
- Justified in the finale of the Evil Green Ranger series of episodes Green With Evil on Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Jason has to destroy Tommy's sword in order to break Rita's spell and consequently spends much of their duel attacking Tommy's sword. Tommy's Flynning, however, is completely unjustified.
- Mal's duel with Atherton in the Firefly episode "Shindig". Justified in that Atherton is quite skilled and is playing with Mal, knowing he can kill him at any time, while Mal is clueless, and thinks he's doing surprisingly well for his first ever Sword Fight. When Atherton actually goes for blood it takes no more than a stroke or two.
- Helen of Troy 2003 had several egregious examples, such removing one's helmet midfight, not blocking with one's shield and leaving oneself wide open, and deciding to throw one's spear from a missable distance after one's opponent has already thrown theirs at you and missed.
- In Highlander: The Series, this is done almost every episode. This is partly due to Rule of Cool, and partly because many of the guest stars had never before picked up a sword in their lives, so they had to rely upon Adrian Paul and the stunt coordinator to make the fights look exciting. In one commentary bit, it's mentioned that there's an easy way to tell whether the actors in a particular episode are any good with a sword: if the fight scene has a lot of cuts and changes in angle, it's done to disguise the weakness in an actor's form or to switch more capable stunt doubles in. If there are long periods without a cut or change in camera angle, then it means the actors for that fight were good enough to avoid all that.
- Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize that for Immortals swordplay is very different, because they can't just stab a vital place to finish it. They need a good, heavy, unimpeded swing which can only be done after you've tired your opponent out or disarmed them. That reasoning only works for really powerful Immortals, the younger ones can be incapacitated by the same blow that would work for a human. However since very few of the Immortals seen in the show are less than a century old most of them have built up that tolerance for pain.
- Played with in How I Met Your Mother: when Ted and Marshall got into a heavy argument while holding swords (long story), they start Flynning, but as their sword play gets more elaborate as they try fancy and ridiculous moves, the argument dissolves into "Dude, how awesome is this?"
- iCarly: The absolutely horrible attempt at fencing during the episode iFence.
- Though Kamen Rider 555 — being a Kamen Rider series — has its share of Flynning, it's notably subverted during a fencing duel between main character Takumi (minimum experience with swordplay) and rival Masato (president of the university fencing club). Takumi's offense consists of wildly aggressive Flynning which is expertly parried by Masato, who retaliates with a single, point-winning riposte. This happens three times in a row.
- Averted in Legend of the Seeker — the first time Richard fights Darken Rahl, for instance, it really looks as though each of them is trying his utmost to kill the other.
- Mostly averted in Merlin. Duels sometimes include this, but most often they just go for the kill and sword fights are over quickly. Even the Arthur vs. Mordred swordfight of legend takes all of ten seconds. Arthur parries, hesitates to catch his breath, and Mordred runs him through. One behind-the-scenes clip of the choreographed sword fight rehearsals has the director saying "You have to believe you're going for the parts of the body." "The Sorcerer's Shadow" has a subversion: a pseudo-ninja in a tournament begins the "spinning blades" style of combat as he impressively advances towards Arthur... who stretches out a hand and knocks him on his back, winning the round in moments.
- Once Upon a Time:
- Oddly averted; the broadsword fights are pretty realistic. The Prince seems to truly be trying to hit his enemy whether using fits, elbows, or simply gutting them like a fish. This being a semi-family friendly show not much is shown when he does the latter and in a fight where he seems to be slicing up bad guys there's hardly ever any blood.
- It's pretty obvious that Captain Hook is Flynning on purpose in his fight with Emma in season two. He is, after all, a pirate with over three hundred years experience, and it is only the second time Emma has ever tried to use a sword in a fight. Judging by his taunts and absurdly embellished movements, he never had any intention of killing her — it's even arguable that he let her knock him out because he already knew he had another way to make it to Storybrooke and his intended vengeance.
- Primeval has an episode where Danny get into a sword-fight with a medieval knight. (Pipe versus Sword) Danny doesn't actually want to hurt the guy, but since the knight thinks that he's in hell and Danny's a demon, he'd probably be trying a bit harder to kill.
- Any Robin Hood series, except the British Robin of Sherwood, from the late 1980s/early 1990s.
- Sharpe: Done in Sharpe's Honour where Sharpe is duped into a duel with a Spanish fencing master after Sharpe had been falsely accused of sleeping with his wife as part of a French plot. After playing by the real rules of fencing, Sharpe then switches to the rules of real combat (none) and quickly overtakes his genteel opponent. Ironically, actual fencers were very dirty fighters indeed.
- Most of the swordfighting in the TV miniseries Shogun was Flynning. It's especially obvious when they show a scene of someone cutting someone else's head off, they'll zoom in to show just the sword wielder, and the trajectory of his blade will be no where near where the other man's neck was.
- In an episode of Slings & Arrows, Geoffrey Tenant burst into a party wielding swords demanding a duel with his rival. Both being classically-trained Shakespearean actors, they naturally Flynn.
- Spartacus: Blood and Sand plays it straight in the first season - with lots of stylised and elaborate movements in the gladiators' fights. But then subverts it in the second season - when the gladiators have to rescue someone from the mines and discover that their fighting style is not practical in such a confined space.
- Studio C parodies this in "Fencing: Slow-mo Replay" where there's a modern fencing match that is over in two seconds, but when you watch the slow-mo replay, it becomes an epic battle in a banquet hall including a Damsel in Distress, Excuse Me While I Multitask, slicing candles in half, and spinning, all of which are lampshaded.
- Black Rose shows two men doing this on the DMD when the ball hits the pop bumpers.
- Also done in Pirates of the Caribbean during the "Sword Fight" mode.
- The Match Sequence for Hook shows two hands with swords fighting each other.
- One of the modes in the "Skulduggery" table of Full Tilt! Pinball is a pirate swordfight.
- Crops up on occasion in Wrestling, where the wrestlers will do this, usually with steel chairs or shinai ("kendo sticks"). Professional Wrestling in general could be considered a form of Flynning, but with amateur wrestling and martial arts instead of swords.
- Pro wrestling itself has specific weapon spot known as an Ogelthorpe special that often involves flynning with strange implements.
- Any sword fight that has rules to prevent injury or that is scored as a competition is a downplayed version of flynning almost by definition; the only question—and it is a controversial question—is to what degree it does or doesn't simulate a real sword fight. Obviously, even students training for real combat cannot learn or practice under the same conditions as an actual bloody fight, or else they would get maimed or killed before they even attained proficiency. You have to watch their practice and make sure they aren't trying to kill each other, that they learn to respect the blade and aren't doing things like eye-gouging and biting. In that sense, the first defense against injury is voluntary restraint and control. Blunt and foiled swords were the first compromise in equipment to improve safety, and already this creates a huge difference in how the fencers will behave in sparring, because they will be a heck of a lot more cautious and less prone to being Leeroy Jenkins if they know their opponent's sword can wound them. Then you introduce things like masks and padded armor, which almost inevitably lead to more reckless tactics since the fear of injury is lessened—although the Peltzman effect can ironically lead to more injury when the fighters learn to rely on the armor instead of self-control and start hitting each other as hard as they can. Add rules against grappling, right-of-way, designated target areas, and before you know it it's a slippery slope.
- The Olympic sport of fencing has steadily evolved away from its origins in 19th century dueling, to the point where it can no longer be said to teach you how to properly defend yourself with a sword. While it can be a good foundation for learning historical or classical fencing later on because it teaches many important fundamentals, and saying it isn't a martial art isn't meant to deny the athleticism and skill involved, you won't learn how to avoid injury if you're just training for the Olympics. In order to make practice safer, the weapons have become much lighter and more flexible so that they no longer behave like the weapons they were originally supposed to simulate. The "flick" in foil is basically flicking your blade so that the tip curves around your opponent's parry and touches them at an angle, a move which is impossible using a real, stiff sword and which is highly controversial because some consider it cheating. A similar phenomeonon in saber is called "whip-over", and these days because of electronic scoring a sabreur can hit with the flat of the blade rather than the forward or reverse edge and it still counts. There are also various rules that in theory are supposed to ensure that the fencers use sound principles of defense and need to score clean hits that would draw blood if the swords were real, but in practice the need to score points creates perverse incentives for all kinds of behavior that would be suicidal in a real fight. Right of way is supposed to encourage fencers to attack first instead of just cowering at each other, and to make sure that the fencer being attacked has to successfully defend before launching the attack on his own (in order to avoid double-hits), but this can lead to attackers becoming reckless in a way they wouldn't be if there wasn't right of way. Electronic scoring, which we've already mentioned, was introduced in order to prevent the subjectivity of the judges from messing up a call, and in that regard it was definitely an improvement. However, this has made the distinction between square and glancing hits with the thrust weapons harder to measure, and introduces the problem of cut-out times. The cut-out time is the maximum time between hits for the scoring mechanism to register them as simultaneous, and if that time is exceeded then only the first hit to land will count. In épée this cut-out time is a mere 40 milliseconds, meaning that a second hit landing even a little outside this window would still appear to be practically simultaneous with the first, yet only the first hit would register. In 2004-5, the foil cut-out time was reduced to 350 milliseconds and saber to 120 milliseconds. The cut-out time results in a lot of double-hits and difficulty for the referees, and an unreasonable advantage for the attacker. This is a grossly oversimplified look at complex problems which are Serious Business to people in the fencing world, and they are unlikely to ever be solved to everyone's satisfaction since any attempt to correct a problem seems to create a problem of its own.
- Kendo has similarly developed into a "sporterized" version of its martial ancestor Kenjutsu. In olden times, students of the sword would spar without protective equipment using practice swords made of solid hardwood (bokuto), which often caused severe injuries such as broken bones. Naganuma Shirōzaemon Kunisato is said to have introduced the use of bamboo practice swords (shinai) and protective armor (bogu) to sword practice during the Shotoku Era (17111715), and during the 19th century this form of practice became popular throughout Japan. The form of kendo practiced before World War II could still get rough, however, as it permitted moves such as wrestling your opponent to the ground, or even removing his head (men) protector! After the War, which initially saw kendo banned along with other martial arts by the occupying authorities, it was brought back and explicitly retooled as an activity for self-cultivation rather than training for combat. Today there are only a few schools that teach the rougher pre-war kendo. In modern kendo, there are four designated target areas: cuts may be made to the wrists, head, or body, and thrusts may only be aimed at the throat. Also, because of the specific rules, the guards chudan, jodan, and seigan dominate while hasso, gedan, and waki have fallen out of use. Needless to say, grappling and wrestling on the floor are strictly prohibited.
- Academic Fencing, or the mensur, is a very curious kind of fencing practiced by student corporations in certain European universities which developed during the 19th century and is still practiced today according to strict rules. Both participants wear armor that protects the exposed parts of their body, and they wear goggles that protect the eyes and nose, but the rest of the face is fair game. The swords have large hand guards, and narrow blades with sharp edges but no point. Unlike sport fencing in which the participants can advance and retreat, participants in the mensur stand their ground at a fixed distance while they exchange cuts. They may defend themselves by parrying, but dodging is not allowed. There is no score, nor is there a winner or loser; instead the object is to prove your character by putting yourself in harm's way, and to take any cuts to your face stoically without flinching. The Dueling Scar (Schmisse) on the face was worn as a badge of honor, and many upper-class Germans and Austrians before World War II had these scars on their faces.
- The fighting style of the Dark Eldar Wyches of Warhammer 40,000 is clearly Flynning. On a side note their weapons are Awesome, but Impractical.
- Pathfinder features a style of combat called "Performance Combat" where, along with fighting your opponent, you are also trying to win over the crowd. There is even a line of feats that make this easier. but much of what can earn one Victory Points or crowd attitude could be characterized as just doing cool stuff in a fight that is being observed.
- The Complete Bard's Handbook for the second edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons offered the "Blade" kit, which was basically all about this trope — fighting not so much better than other bards (let alone proper fighters) as fighting flashier for both entertainment (in lieu of more regular bards' musical skills) and intimidation purposes.
- Role Master, Spacemaster Privateer campaign setting. The Swashbuckling skill allows the user to perform elaborate maneuvers with his melee weapon, including flourishes and feats of weapon control (such as recovering a dropped weapon).
- The stick-fight between John Adams and John Dickinson in 1776 is quite Flynny. Especially in the film version—Daniels clearly goes for Madden's stick, which Madden has already raised over his head. The shouting, grappling, and overturned desk distracts from it, though.
- This is actually one of the reasons Macbeth is reputed to be cursed. That play requires an unusual amount of Flynning while wearing full costume on a stage that you hope the set crew has built strongly enough to take all that hopping, bouncing and slashing. Accidents happen.
- Final Fantasy:
- There is an episode in Final Fantasy IX, where a fighting scene is played on stage. Since the hero pretends to be an actor, a mini-game is presented where you have to respond with parry high to threaten high et cetera. Your performance is then rated by the audience. No matter how badly you do, you're given a chance to improve your score. Depending on your score, you're given gil, and also an item by Queen Brahne if you talk to her as Steiner later. If you can manage to impress all one hundred nobles and Queen Brahne, then she will grant a Moonstone, one of only four available in the game. This is extremely challenging, however, and not really worth it unless you're the type that has to do absolutely everything, as the Moonstone really isn't needed for much. Furthermore, in order to get a perfect score, you're pretty much required to retry, as it's only in latter tries that the more dazzling moves that are likely to truly impress the audience become available with frequency.
- In Final Fantasy XII, Balthier's sword techniques are inspired by this, as befits the suave ladies' man. Of course, most of his weapon styles are based on the most stylish rather than practical options; he practices Gun Twirling, for example, which ironically enough makes him the worst gun user in the game, as his flashy animations hamper with him slower damage output than the rest of the party using the same weapon.
- Subverted in Devil May Cry 3, after the second battle with Vergil; the twins appear to be Flynning, until one notices the copious amounts of blood on the floor, which demonstrates that their inhuman speed is actually letting them land hits.
- Parodied in the Monkey Island series with its famous insult sword fighting. The actual swordsmanship was automatically handled by the computer; the duels' outcomes were determined by the wittiness of the quips the player was able to choose.
- Surprisingly, utilized in the Wii Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest game. Whereas the previous swordsmanship title (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess) only required a small wiggle of the Wii Remote to make Link fight, Pirates actually requires the player to flail like Flynn during the fight sequences.
- Fire Emblem
- Critical hits in general involve a lot of spinning and jumping around. It gets really intense once the series hits the GBA, but even the more crudely-animated sprites from the Jugdral games have some elaborate gymnastics for critical hits.
- The most insane examples would have to be the Myrmidon and Swordmaster. They rely upon an insane amount of flashy jumps and pointless spinning. Even worse, the ones in Sacred Stones tend to be more effective than Eirika and her simple stabbing.
- In Blazing Sword, Eliwood's critical animation has him hold up his rapier specifically for Audible Sharpness, swooshes it around before stabbing, and then do a backflip.
- Sacred Stones has Eirika avert this; both Eirika's normal and critical animations are quite straightforward until she promotes (and even then she keeps it to a single spin). Her brother, on the other hand, Flynns with a spear in his critical.
- While the normal melee combat animations in World of Warcraft tend to be pretty sensible, special attack animations tend the feature unnecessary amounts of spinning around or swinging the weapon. Some races' parry animations tend to be quite flashy, too. Sometimes partially justified by the race in question, but still silly. The blood elf is gonna parry and swing her weapon around behind her back to switch to the other hand. She's an elf. Given the intentionally comic-bookish and campy style of the game this is simply part of the style.
- Inverted in most weapon-based Fighting Games. Instead, thanks to the magic of Hit Points (well, in most cases), characters tend to survive some grievous blows every round. Sword collisions, while generally possible, don't happen too often; in the cases they do, the things that happen vary from game to game, or even from instance to instance, though it's never Flynning.
- Averted in the PlayStation game Bushido Blade, which features no health bar, and in which it's perfectly possible, with the correct timing, to win a match with a single move, often a direct thrust to the face. Furthermore, if you're injured you drop to one knee and have your move list reduced to "parry" and "swing wildly". It's still possible to win a match from this position... but you don't recover for the next round. Harsh.
- Can be attempted in the Soul Series, but will usually result in having your weapons break (Soul Edge) or being blown back by the force of inertia (the Calibur games.) Though a particularly long Guard Impact chain can look rather like Flynning.
- Fate/stay night
- An example of the edge on edge part comes as an aversion and justified trope. Assassin and Saber are fighting, and Assassin always parries because his sword can't take the kind of abuse real blocking would require. Saber, on the other hand, has a magic sword and doesn't have to worry about such things, so she gets annoyed at his refusal to match her in a contest of pure power. Eventually, he does block an attack, and ends up losing the fight because it bent his sword and ruined his technique.
- Averted and played straight during the fight with Saber and Berserker, with the former being forced to dodge the latter's strikes and the latter easily blocking and parrying hers with his sword. This is not because their weapons would take damage (Saber has her aforementioned magic sword and Berserker's blade is more like a slab of rock fashioned into the rough form of a sword) but because Berserker is so ungodly strong that attempting to block instead of dodging or at least parrying would break through Saber's guard and tear a hole through her. As for Berserker, his "sword" can easily take her strikes without fear thanks to being more about crushing than slicing and he'd barely be inconvenienced by her strikes even if she broke through his guard.
- In Prince of Persia, the sword fighting animations were rotoscoped from Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone's duel in The Adventures of Robin Hood.
- In the realm of knifeplay, most First Person Shooters do it quite improperly with the back slash which will result in a quick counterattack and subsequent death.
- Speaking of knifeplay, in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots the second fight between Raiden and Vamp has the two characters sending sparks through the air as they repeatedly block and parry each other's combat knives. Of course, actually getting two knives that small to collide real life even once would be difficult even if it was choreographed, and downright impossible (not to mention stupid and pointless) in a real fight. For all their effort, they may as well have aimed for their target's body and not their weapon, since in a knife fight the only target you can hit at that distance is your opponent's hand — which is easily defended against by moving one's hand out of the way. Instead of blade-on-blade, all of the blocks and parries in a duel with short knives are done by grappling with your opponent's arms and body; if you can control his body, you control his knife, and you can stab or cut him while preventing him from doing the same to you.
- Clang is basically Neal Stephenson's attempt to develop a game that averts this trope as hard as humanly possible. The project is now defunct. However, it seemed that there is one insurmountable obstacle toward a realistic sword fighting game for the current market; any sport or martial art using a sword has immediate force feedback from pressure against your weapon. Even with a sword-hilt shaped motion controller, there is no reasonably-priced solution that would cause a player's controller to stop moving in the real world in a position analogous to the one where their avatar's sword did if a blow is parried or otherwise stopped. The player would invariably "overswing". Further seemingly insurmountable obstacles include grapples, blades binding, and making sure the television presents things to the player so the apparent height and location of an attack corresponds to where it would be if it were real given the unpredictable size and placement of the television used by each player.
- In the modern remake of Sid Meier's Pirates!, some characters in the background will do this during swordfights. The two main participants will also briefly do this when both characters go for a thrust at the same time.
- Averted by Mount & Blade. There's no real techniques for fancy parries, acrobatic slashes, or dramatic exchange of blows; every melee attack is a crude but meaningful swing or thrust, and taking a hit is a bloody business for anyone on the receiving end. Fighting usually involves forcing an enemy to overextend themselves so that you can go in for a killing blow. Blocking is mostly done with shields. Weapon blocking is possible (and will make the distinctive 'ting' sound), but messing it up will leave you staggered and vulnerable, which is not an issue when shields block (though shields can be damaged enough to be broken). The option to counter-attack using a sort of weapon-based Cross Counter instead of block is there, but this is both incredibly risky and notoriously unreliable, especially in multiplayer.
- Averted in Nidhogg. For a fencing game, there is hardly any flourish to the fencer's movements unless they try to opt for Confusion Fu. Sword-clashing just results in the screen flashing white, unless you have successfully parried the opponent's sword where you knock it out of their hands.
- The Bishop is inclined to do this in Battle Chess. It costs him big time when jumped by the King.
- The Guild: a hand-to-hand combat version at the end of season two. Wade and Zaboo get into a fight; Wade spends the entire fight showboating while doing minimal damage. Zaboo takes it like a bitch and manages to strike a firm enough friendship with Wade while being pummeled that Wade thinks Codex isn't worth the fight.
- Suburban Knights: They fight like a bunch of internet reviewers who rarely leave their chairs... oh. Luckily for them, the Mooks are just as bad. Because they are secretly just D&D nerds.
- Downplayed in the Star Wars-inspired lightsaber duel in Ryan Vs Dorkman 2. Though there is some flynning, the choreography is especially well-done and the two fighters actually seem to be trying to hit each other instead of just clanging swords. They also put some importance on showing just how dangerous the lightsabers are. One of the best moments is when one character has another's lightsaber pinned against a wall and the 2nd character grabs the other guy's head and tries to push it into the sabers. See the fight here.
- This video averts flynning alltogether.
- In Modern History Part 20, "How Accurate are Hollywood Sword Fights?", host Jason Kingsley OBE brings on fight coordinator Russell MacLeod to demonstrate and discuss with him how fight choreography works in film and television. First they play an edited fight scene where Jason acts as the hero duelling against an evil knight, and then he and Russell retread the sequence of moves showing how it follows a narrative and departs from realism in certain places in order to tell a story. At the end of the episode Jason says he's gained a new appreciation for how fight choreography is an important profession that draws on a different skill set than the kind of historical combat that Jason practices as a modern knight.
- Lampshaded in the DVD Commentary of the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "Sokka's Master", where Sifu Kisu (the show's martial art consultant) noted that "a real sword fight lasts less than 1.7 seconds", and that "it's not a pretty thing", as it would come down to finding a vital point and stabbing it. It was justified in that instance though, as it wasn't a real match but a Secret Test of Character. There also aren't that many Sword Fights in Avatar anyway.
- Family Guy: In the episode "Sibling Rivalry", Stewie and his half-brother Bertram engage in an elaborate rapier duel that serves as an Affectionate Parody of the swashbuckling movie, using the playground equipment to perform stunts.
- The Star Wars: Clone Wars miniseries is even worse with its Flynning than the Star Wars franchise's live-action outings. Anakin and Asajj Ventress spend their entire fight spastically swinging wide in each other's general direction. Even less justified than normal in that it's animated and no-one has to worry about injury. Although averted in some fights. Characters often use weapons other than their lightsabers and actually do look like they're trying to injure each other. However, they still usually inexplicably pause after each attack.
- The subsequent series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, have varying degrees of this, but an especially harsh aversion to the trope happens in the Rebels episode "Twin Suns" in Obi-Wan and Maul's finale duel, which is decided in three strikes. Supplementary material for the episode even notes that real sword fights tend to end quickly, and the speed of the battle was to show that Obi-Wan was a true Master Swordsman.
- In the Looney Tunes cartoon "The Scarlet Pumpernickel", Daffy Duck plays the Flynn-type swashbuckler. Near the end, he engages in this kind of sword duel with Sylvester the Cat, who plays a Rathbone-type villain.
Daffy: I'm the hero of this picture, and you know what happens to the villain!
Sylvester: So what's to know?
- The Steven Universe episode "Steven the Sword Fighter" opens with Steven and the Gems watching a sword-fighting movie. Pearl criticizes the flynning, going on about how it isn't anything like real sword fighting. However, when she gives Steven a demonstration of "proper" sword fighting, she and her holographic-double sparring partner also aim for each other's swords.