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Interesting Situation Duel

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A man with a frying pan versus a horse with a shortsword. Rest assured, It Makes Sense in Context.

"You should know that this is the strangest thing I have ever done!"
Flynn Rider, Tangled, describing the picture to the right

This is a fight that is made interesting by a special location and/or unusual circumstances. Both parties try to use these to their advantage and it looks cool too, so it's a visual and tactical plus for the Spectacle.

The opponent's unusual strengths, weaknesses, or abilities can also make a fight special. May involve Dangerous Terrain. May involve odd or Improvised Weapons on one or both sides.

Subtropes of the interesting situation duel include:


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Baki the Grappler:
    • The fight between Dorian and Suedou takes place in the moving cars of an active rollercoaster. Not only does the fight take place tens of meters above the ground, but the cars keep going in loopty-loops too. Suedou is terrified at first but briefly manages to find his footing by adopting a special karate stance. Up until Dorian knocks them both off the rollercoaster.
    • Sikorsky and Jack's fight ends up with both of them barging into a phone booth and just wailing on each other in the very tight space where they can barely even fit.
    • During Oliva and Che Guevara's fight they agree to hold both ends of a handkerchief, and whoever lets go of his end will be considered the loser. Throughout the fight they keep one-upping each other by holding the handkerchief with increasingly looser grips, to the point where they just let it hang across their open hand.
  • In Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto Akizuki and Kanna fight also by night, in a labyrinth of slightly translucent paper walls, that is illuminated by candelabras. Akizuki has a sword and Kanna has guns
  • In Berserk, Serpico lures Guts into a couple fights like this since their first sword duel only convinced him that he can't afford to fight fair against such a superhuman opponent. During the Conviction arc he confronts Guts on a narrow path on the side of a cliff that disadvantages Guts as much as possible: the sun is shining in Guts' eye, the precarious footing and lack of space are bad for Guts with his large build and heavy equipment, and since his right hand is pressed against the cliff wall he has no room to draw or swing his hulking sword. Later, in the port city of Vritannis, Serpico challenges Guts in a hall full of tightly-spaced stone pillars which similarly prevent Guts from taking full advantage of his sword's reach or power. In each case Serpico's light weapon and focus on agility give him the advantage at first, but Guts turns it around by relying on his amazing strength and reflexes and using his weapons in creative ways to work around the obstacles.
  • Bleach has these quite frequently. A notable example is Ichigo's internal world, which is a skyscraper turned sideways. It's generally the location of his battles with his Enemy Within.
  • Starting around the Hallelujah Land Arc in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, most of the fights have some gimmick or situation our heroes must contend with. From Fighting on bungie cords to brawling on giant robots on an ice rink, they get pretty crazy, but par the course for this show.
  • The Castle of Cagliostro has the climactic fight in the clocktower. Hero and villain running around, on, and into gears. A sword versus a wrench.
  • Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z get special mentions for consistently demolishing the arenas they fight in, whether it be an actual ring or an entire planet. Special mention goes to the fight between Goku and Tien in Dragon Ball where Tien destroys the ring and the match becomes a fight to see who can stay in the air longer without touching the ground, since falling outside of the ring is an instant loss.
  • In the manga of Full Metal Panic!, at one point Sousuke is captured and forced to fight an enemy mook. The twist? Sosuke is using a basic infantry Arm Slave while his opponent is using a production version of Sousuke's Arbalest. Sousuke manages to win by collapsing a large temple on top of both of them, knowing that the stronger hydraulics on his AS would allow him to dig his way out of the rubble while the Arbalest remained trapped.
  • Gamaran:
    • When reaching Unabara after the Juren Village training arc, Zenmaru has to fight two 47th Corps members of the Muhou Ryuu on a suspended bridge: one of them is an agile melee fighters using Wolverine Claws, the other stands on the bridge's supporting pillar and throws chakrams from afar. Furthermore, Zenmaru must win without using his Sadanaga, as part of his training.
    • In the first series, the battle against Arimaru takes place on a special sandy arena, a battle which inconvenience the heroes because of the sand, but not Arimaru herself, who enjoys the Home Field Advantage.
    • In the third duel of the third round of the Strongest in the Land tournament in Shura, since Gama is in a hurry to have the wounded Zenmaru healed by doctors, the Shogun forces him to fight his sword instructor Yagira Kyoyasai in a duel in which both their swords are coated in deadly poison.
  • Characters in Hunter × Hunter tend to have complicated, rule-based powers, which can cause some rather tense situations that would otherwise be mundane:
    • Though neither character has any powers, an entire chapter is dedicated to a battle of wits between Zepile auctioning an artifact and someone trying to buy it for cheap, with Zepile arguing that the artifact is real and the buyer arguing that it's counterfeit. Both sides go into great detail about how the artifact was made, the civilization that made it, and techniques counterfeiters have used in the past and how they can be identified. Zepile loses the duel, the buyer managing to snag an authentic artifact for a reduced price, though protagonist Gon learns some new techniques for deceiving opponents in the process.
    • In the Chimera Ant arc, the battle between Ikalgo and Welfin takes a security room. Between Welfin's Missileman, which explodes after Welfin asks a question and the target does not answer truthfully, and Ikalgo's adeptness with rifles, the battle turns into a matter of who can coax information out of the other first.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, as the title suggests, has many bizarre fight scenes.
    • Battle Tendency:
      • Joseph's Training from Hell was meant to end with him dueling his Hamon instructor inside a pit of spike, having to continuously use Hamon to push himself off the tip of the spikes so his feet don't get pierced. Before this can happen, the villain Esidisi (who has a Healing Factor that lets him stand on the spikes without taking any real damage) kills the instructor and Joseph ends up fighting him instead.
      • Joseph's duel with Wamuu has them both fighting while racing on chariots pulled by vampire horses. On every lap of the race, new weapons are offered to them, with whoever's in first place obviously getting to choose which weapon they want: at one point, Joseph thinks he's clever because his cheating let him take the lead early on and pick a giant sledgehammer as his weapon, only to realize that Wamuu, who has Super-Strength, can simply grab the pillar the weapons are placed on and wield that.
    • Starting in Part 3 with the introduction of Stands, most fights qualify because of the unique abilities of each participant. To list just one example from Steel Ball Run, a pair of characters have a gunfight in a saloon with a man who can endlessly duplicate himself, while also attempting to spend a large quantity of money to avoid being turned into trees.
  • One Piece had a few both canon and filler. Enies Lobby arc had Luffy fighting Lucci as the whole island was getting bombed to kindom come. Thriller Bark's final battle was fought with a time limit of the sun about to come up and vaporize those who didn't have a shadow. (Long story). The 4th movie had Luffy fighting the antagonist on a sinking ship with a cyclone bearing down on them. And the 6th movie was all over this with all sorts of bizarre challenges for the Straw Hats.
  • Ranma ˝:
    • The Water Citadel is a hollowed-out mountain filled with high-pressure water, which bursts freely from strategically-placed traps such as logs, boulders, and so on. The primary antagonist of the arc, Pantyhose Taro uses Akane as bait to lure Ranma and the others to this mountain. Once there, not only do they have to battle their enemy, but also stay dry as much as possible—for Ranma's Jusenkyo-cursed team, a random splash would turn them into weaker, or helpless, forms, but it would turn Taro himself into a gigantic, massively powerful minotaur chimera.
    • Jusenkyo itself is an unusual battlefield. A "training ground" consisting of hundreds of deep springs, with long stalks of bamboo jutting out for martial artists to stand on... and one false move would send one plunging down into a haunted pond, cursed to become whatever creature first drowned there. Yet despite because of this, Ranma and Genma train here in a flashback.
  • The arenas for the ring battles in Reborn! (2004) were set up special for the fight: slowly flooding for the rain battle, Hot lamps and cables for the sun battle, etc.
  • In the third Rebuild of Evangelion movie, Asuka gets to fight the remote-controlled EVA 09 on the outside of a flying spaceship in a vortex of floating pieces of rock (courtesy of Fourth Impact being in process), which involved lots of jumping from rock to rock and entering a freaky-looking Super Mode in mid-jump.
  • A recurring trope in Ushio and Tora for them to end in interesting situations. Trains, planes, motorcycles...
    • Used as a Training from Hell by Satoru to train Ushio: he has to perform an almost Single-Stroke Battle against a samurai skeleton while both are standing on the inclined thread of silk from a gigantic spider, which prevents any risk of falling but also forces Ushio to stand his ground.

    Comic Books 
  • Howard the Duck subverted this when he is confronted by a costumed villain who wants to fight Howard on a tightrope over a waterfall. For his part, Howard simply refuses to cooperate and the villain's resulting tantrum causes him to fall.
  • Hunter's Hellcats: In Our Fighting Forces #115, a desert sheik forces Hunter and a German captain to Duel to the Death for control of a strategically important oasis. Hunter and his opponent start the duel buried up to their waists in the sand, with their swords placed between. They have to start the duel by digging themselves free and grabbing a sword.
  • Wallace in Sin City had an intense car chase/gunfight while on a Mushroom Samba. We saw things from his perspective, making it one of the strangest sequences in the series.
  • The climatic fights in KnightsEnd bounces from location to location. Bruce and Jean-Paul's first fight starts on the rooftop of a criminal's condo, which is soon showered with bullets when the criminal's helicopter attacks. They're then dragged through the air when Jean-Paul's grappling hook catches and damages the helicopter, both men trying to force the other to let go of the line. Soon, the helicopter crashes on a bridge and the two tussle on a maintenance bridge, where Bruce tosses Jean-Paul into the river below. When Nightwing battles Jean-Paul, the two fall into the river and conclude their battle on a passing casino riverboat.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Adventures of Tintin (2011): Sir Francis Haddock and Red Rackham have a Sword Fight while trying to light/extinguish a Powder Trail. At the climax of the movie, Captain Haddock and Sakharine duel with docking cranes!
  • Frozen II sees Elsa battle a nokk (Norse water spirit) on a stormy sea with big waves.
  • Kung Fu Panda had the Furious Five fight Tai Lung on a thin rope bridge. When the animators complained that they didn't know how to animate that kind of action sequence, the directors took it as a good sign because it meant that kind of action had never been done before in animation. So, the crew persevered and one of the wildest fights in the wuxia genre was created.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 has the fight between Po and the Wolf Boss on top of a moving rickshaw.
  • Pictured above, in Tangled, has Flynn Rider wield a frying pan against Maximus, a horse who's wielding a shortsword. Even better? They both put up a darn good fight, despite the frying pan being the heavy, unwieldy, cast-iron type, and Maximus holding the sword in his mouth.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Adventures of Quentin Durward had the eponymous hero and the villain battle it out in a church tower. Not so interesting? They were swinging from and traveling up and down on the ropes used to ring the bells. The dramatic soundtrack even cuts off right at this fight in order to let the bells be heard better.
  • Against All Flags: When Hawke fights a duel against Roc's sailing master, the sailing master chooses boarding pikes as the weapons; leading to surprisingly brutal fight with long, hooked weapons. Not the typical duel one expects in a Errol Flynn movie.
  • The old kung-fu film Ambush had an extensive Sword Fight between the hero and the main villain, which starts off from inside an abandoned temple, then the courtyard, and into the gear room of a nearby windmill, culminating in both fighters dueling each other... while clinging on the windmill's still-moving blades.
  • The Bodyguard From Beijing starring Jet Li and Collin Chou has a rather awkward final fight between the two; in a kitchen where a gas tank has sprung a leak, both men ends up ditching their guns and fights hand-to-hand... and in between trading punches, must regularly rinse their faces at a nearby running tap or suffocate. Fight, rinse, and repeat ad nauseum.
  • In Army of Darkness, Ash fights Deadites in a pit of thigh-deep filthy water surrounded by Spikes of Doom as The Walls Are Closing In.
  • The plot of Bangkok Knockout is essentially setting up interesting situations for fights, including fighting while hanging off the side of a cage, fighting through a sheet of falling water, and fighting underneath a moving semi-truck.
  • Constantly used in Jackie Chan films (and probably many martial artists) and Jackie Chan Adventures. Anything from a room filled with weapons, a construction site, a cliff, or a flying house.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has a bunch of these, but the best is the fight that takes place on top of a bamboo forest - i.e. standing on giant, flexible stems of bamboo.
  • In Drunken Master II, there's a fight in a steel mill, but more to the spirit of this trope is a battle at the beginning where a good chunk of it takes place under a train and then a train station platform with lots of narrow wooden pillars that help and hinder both fighters.
  • The climax of Equilibrium features a gun duel. It's awesome by virtue of the range being two feet; the combatants fire at each other with pistols while simultaneously trying to hit the other's gun away.
  • The Fast and the Furious got utterly ridiculous with this in their later movies: Trying to outrun the villain's dragon and mooks through a collapsing mine (fourth movie), a chase through Rio towing the villains gigantic safe with crooked cops after the heroes (fifth movie), a fight against a tank on a highway and later in and around a plane trying to take off (sixth movie), one of the heroes fights a mook on a trailer careening out of control and about to go over a cliff and later the heroes having to outrun a military drone (seventh) and a chase taken place in Russia, above frozen water, against a nuclear sub the villain has hacked! (eighth).
  • The Four Musketeers had a duel on a frozen pond, with all sorts of slippery fun.
  • Gangs of New York has Bill the Butcher and Amsterdam Vallon fighting their climactic duel while New York is being bombarded by cannon fire during the New York Draft Riots of 1863. The final stretch of their fight takes place in the midst of the intense dust the cannon fire has kicked up, visibility reduced to a handful of meters.
  • The fight in the gear room in Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
  • In The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Legolas duels Bolg on a toppled stone tower serving as an impromptu bridge, which is crumbling away by the second. Thorin and Azog have their final battle on a frozen body of water.
  • In Inception, if a dreamer experiences G-forces in the real world, they experience altered gravity in the dream. So the van flipping over on the upper dream level translates to Arthur fighting thugs on the walls and ceiling of a corridor.
  • Every Indiana Jones movie has at least one: the flying wing fight in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the rock crusher fight in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the tank fight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and the sword fight on two moving jeeps in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
  • Ip Man Film Series:
    • The second film has Ip Man being challenged by other martial arts masters while on a round table surrounded by poles. One of the spectators complains that they used to use knives instead of poles.
    • The third film has Ip Man and his wife being attacked by a Thai kickboxer while in an elevator with Ip protecting his wife. They later continue to fight while going down a flight of stairs.
  • James Bond:
    • Octopussy has the climatic fight between Bond and Khan on Khan's private plane - on the outside of the fuselage.
    • The Living Daylights has a really epic fistfight between James Bond and Necros while both of them are hanging out the back of a cargo plane in mid-flight. And this time a time bomb is about to go off...
    • Done again in Die Another Day. Only this time, the plane flies through a solar-powered laser beam and starts to fall apart. And speaking of laser beams, there was another such duel earlier against The Dragon; Bond and Mr. Kil fight to the death inside a room full of out-of-control laser beams and must dodge the deadly beams while they're in the middle of trying to kill each other.
  • Lethal Weapon had quite a few. 1st climaxes right in front of Murtaugh's house with cops already surrounding the place and Riggs fighting the dragon on the front lawn. 2nd movie took place in a cargo yard, 3rd had the final battle in housing development under construction which is soon set on fire and Riggs having to fight the villain driving a bulldozer at him. In the 4th a car chase escalated with Riggs pulling one of the goons into a model house in transport with the driver utterly unaware of any of this.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Thor: The Dark World, the climactic battle takes place in Greenwich, England, under siege by a convergence of portals, continuously throwing heroes and villains alike through different earthbound locations and other worlds at a moment's notice.
    • Doctor Strange takes inspiration from Inception. Subjective gravity in an Escheresque cityscape that is constantly branching and folding in on itself, a fight between astral forms that loosely interact with the physical world around the unconscious body of one of the participants, and a battle on a city block that is in the process of exploding...backwards in time.
    • In Ant-Man and the Wasp, the final fight pits two size-shifting heroes versus one intangible villain, with everyone using their powers to dodge or phase through attacks, while everyone is driving through San Francisco and fighting over a small item.
  • The final duel between D'Artagnan and Febre in The Musketeer takes place in a warehouse stacked to the ceiling with shelves of big wine barrels. There are also lots of ladders, with the two fighters leaping from one to another, walking them across the floor, swinging through space clinging to them, and finally, incredibly, balancing one on a center beam and using it as a seesaw for their final showdown.
  • In The One, Jet Li fights his ending battle with Jet Li in a labyrinthine factory with pipes, catwalks, and volatile machinery. Near the end, Jet Li kicks Jet Li into a running machine that starts raining sparks everywhere, leading to a variation on a Battle in the Rain scene where they fight in slow-motion as sparks fall amongst them. Or rather, the sparks are the slow-mo ones, while the Jet Lis are fighting at normal speed.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
  • The clifftop duel in The Princess Bride.
    • In the original book, Inigo trained heavily for these to ensure he was Crazy-Prepared for the duel with the man who killed his father.
  • In The Ramrodder, the braves force Tuwana and Lucy to fight each other with knives, stripped to the waists and bound to the other by a length twine tied to their wrists: meaning neither can get more than an arm's length from the other.
  • Sahara (2005) features a battle on top of a solar array that was in the process of aligning towards the hero. This is the same type of system that also serves as a death ray against birds.
  • Scaramouche has a swordfight in a theater, fought on the backs of the seats. They started by dueling along the rims of the balconies and finished on the stage.
  • The climax of Shotgun (1955) features Hardin and Thompson fighting a duel on horseback using shotguns, with each of them having only one shot.
  • Star Trek Beyond has a battle with Mecha Mooks inside the Enterprise while it's being torn apart by a swarm of Breaching Pods, exchanging phaser fire with pursuers while sliding down the Enterprise's saucer section, and Kirk's final battle with the Big Bad in the variable-gravity center of a Space Base.
  • The Star Wars series has several of them, usually involving a Bottomless Pit or Multi-Stage Battle:
    • The three-way duel in The Phantom Menace in the power station of the palace on Naboo. The two Jedi chase Darth Maul on the catwalks spanning several levels of the building, get momentarily trapped in a Laser Hallway, they are separated before they can resume. Obi-Wan is Forced to Watch as his master fights Maul alone and is killed by him, leaving Obi-Wan to fight Maul alone.
    • The Battle in the Rain between Obi-Wan and Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones on Kamino, where the two of them fight on a landing platform above the ocean at night.
    • The final duel in Revenge of the Sith between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader ranges from a factory to a module that collapses from lava. And on moving hover pads floating just over the lava. And next to the lava. The planet they are on, Mustafar, is full of the stuff. To say nothing about the (lack of) intense heat. But hey, they're Jedi.
    • In that same movie, Yoda vs. Palpatine in the Galactic Senate building. They fight on the pods lining the walls and even throw them at each other with the Force.
    • The cat-and-mouse duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader on Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back, which starts in the carbon-freezing chamber, moves to the lower levels and then a walkway above the reactor core.
  • The climax of Terror in a Texas Town is a Showdown at High Noon between Johnny armed with sixshooter, and Hanson armed with a harpoon.
  • Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines features a duel based on the Real Life balloon duel mentioned below.
    "Choose your weapon."
    "Balloons. ...And blunderbusses!"
  • The climactic, several dimension spanning Sword Fight in Waxwork II: Lost in Time.

  • Ben Snow: Realising the difficulties of bringing the murderer to trial in "Frontier Street", Ben agrees to meet him in a showdown in the main street: with Ben only having one live round in his revolver, and not knowing which chamber it is in.
  • In A Brother's Price, there's a fight on board of a steamship that is slowly approaching a waterfall, with the steering wheel destroyed, so that, whoever wins, has a chance to die anyway in the fall.
  • In A Confusion of Princes, Khemri's duel with Atalin takes place in a simulation of a snowy mountaintop.
  • In the first Gormenghast book, Flay and Swelter have it out nightly on an attic that is a Cobweb Jungle and is slowly flooding from a thunderstorm taking place at the same time. Flay is thin like a stick, Swelter fat like a pig.
  • Pick a Matthew Reilly book. Any Matthew Reilly book. ...okay, we'll make it interesting and not count the fights that take place on a moving car/truck/train/boat/airplane, which narrows it down from the hundreds to the dozens. Of note is:
    • Hand-to-hand fighting in a multi-level pitch-black ice station that's full of hydrofluorocarbons.
      • The fluorocarbons mean any gunfire will blow the place sky high. The ranged weapons are crossbows and grappling hooks.
    • Fighting in the water while being attacked by killer whales (or sharks, 'cause that's also happened).
    • Fighting on an aircraft carrier while it's being attacked by a badass stealth plane/exploding from the inside out, Death Star style.
  • In the book Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures, a fencing master has a garden built specifically to accommodate these kinds of duels.
  • During the climactic fight between Drizzt and Artemis Entreri inside of Cryshal-Tirith in The Silent Blade, Jarlaxle uses his power over Crenishinibon to create a room filled with staircases, platforms, and obstacles specifically so that the fight would be more interesting to watch since strategy and cunning would be more likely to come into play.
  • In Snow Crash there's a fight with some interesting conditions during the waning days of World War II. An American prisoner of war (Hiro's father) in Japan is caught during an escape attempt by a one-legged Japanese lieutenant with a samurai sword. However, they're just outside Nagasaki, and as the lieutenant is about to execute the American, the atomic bomb drops. The American shields his eyes; the lieutenant isn't so lucky.
    Hiro: It was a half-blind, one-legged samurai with a katana versus a big strong healthy man with his arms tied behind his back. A pretty interesting fight. A pretty fair one. My father won.
  • During the finale of Toll the Hounds, book eight of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, Iskaral Pust and Kruppe duke it out in a side street on the backs of their war mules. At walking pace. Their backups are a flock of dung-flinging flying monkeys and a spider-shapeshifter.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Taiwanese Cop Show Black And White TW has a weaponless fight in a moving tram where both opponents (and all the passengers) are high. The scenes alternate between normal and the twisted, wobbly perspective of the fighters.
  • The third season premiere of Continuum features a five-person brawl in a stairwell. At one point one of the combatants grabs her opponent by the neck and just jumps down a flight of stairs. She lands on her feet; her opponent lands on his head.
  • The Dempsey and Makepeace episode "Cry God for Harry" mainly takes place at the country home of Makepeace's aristocratic father. In their big fight, Dempsey and the bad guy make use of the multitude of midieval weaponry and shields hanging on the walls throughout the house, changing weapons when theirs are either damaged or dropped. When Makepeace and the bad guy's girlfriend join the fight, they also make use of those weapons.
  • Doctor Who: In "Robot of Sherwood", the Twelfth Doctor duels Robin Hood with a spoon... and kicks the outlaw's ass. Robin really shouldn't have cut a button off the Doctor's coat.
  • Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain features a duel which takes place: while sledding down a mountain during an avalanche, upside-down inside a construction scaffold, and while hanging from the remains of an inevitably-demolished rope bridge.
  • Horatio Hornblower:
    • "Loyalty" had a young Irish midshipman fighting The Mole, Captain Hammond, on a beach amidst a pitched battle between British and French Republican forces. The Mole wins the fight handily, but the midshipman escapes to fight another day.
    • In the same battle, Styles ends up catching up with the other mole, who had him framed for negligence aboard the Hotspur, and uses his belt to whip his opponent repeatedly amidst the fighting. Said mole bites him in the leg and flees.
  • Into the Badlands: The fight choreographers for the series liked to stage fight scenes with characters balanced on top of things - walls, cars, scaffolding, staircase railings, stacked-up furniture, the tops of chimneys.
  • Kamen Rider Kuuga featured a motorcycle duel between the hero (the titular Kuuga) and his Evil Counterpart Monster of the Week, with each trying to unseat the other using their bikes alone.
  • The Terror: Blanky gets trapped on the ship’s deck with the monster. He has to climb the ice-slippery rigging in the dark, leaping from one mast to another while the beast tries to climb up after him. For bonus points, this happens in the middle of a blizzard and the monster is pale white in color, meaning the cannon crew trying to aid Blanky has no idea where to shoot.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Gimmick Matches in Professional Wrestling, some of which change the fighting area itself or outright move it outside the traditional wrestling ring. One of the best examples would be WWE's now-retired Hardcore Championship, which was to be on the line 24/7, meaning it could be defended anywhere at any time, as long as an official WWE referee was there to count the pin.
  • The "changing the ring" variation is mostly associated with Mexican Lucha Libre, with Triple A's six-sided ring being the first instance of a major promotion getting in on the act. Lucha Libre Extrema Aerea (EAW) shows are instantly recognizable for the "exclusively patented" two-tier rings.
  • The Rock Concert vs John Cena Rap

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition recommends this to make the game more interesting. A duel in yet another 30-foot-square stone room? Boring. A duel on a rock arch over a river of lava? Now you're talking!
  • FATE books are prone to suggesting that big fights should be in an area with some exploitable Aspects. The Atomic Robo RPG core, for example, mentions that adding some Bubbling Vats of Chemicals can turn a mundane fistfight into "that fight with the hydrochloric acid flood", for example. Even if the area is kind of dull, a few clever Create Advantage actions can spice it right up; if you're fighting in a forest, set it On Fire for all kinds of comedy!
  • Genius: The Transgression recommends that venues for fight scenes should be, a: falling, b: on fire, or c: falling while on fire.
  • The Environment deck in Sentinels of the Multiverse introduces various complications related to the setting of the battle, which may help or hinder either or both sides. For example, a battle in Megalopolis risks traffic jams, police involvement and/or the monorail being knocked off its tracks; the noirish Rook City leaves you more likely to encounter chemical spills, the local criminal element or stone gargoyles falling off its crumbling buildings, and the Final Wasteland can leave you talking about That Time Baron Blade Got Eaten By Chupacabras.

  • The central concept of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Grand Duke, or, The Statutory Duel. Under the law of Pfennig-Halbpfennig
    By this ingenious law
    When any two shall quarrel
    They may not fight with falchions bright,
    Which seemed to him immoral.
    But each a card shall draw,
    And he who draws the lowest
    Or, so 'tis said, is henceforth dead,
    In fact, a legal ghost.

    Video Games 
  • Bayonetta has a lot of this. Standouts include two fights on pieces of buildings plummeting to the ground, multiple fights taking place inside explosions, a fight on the ocean involving you surfing on a piece of a downed aircraft (and, near the end, a whirlpool), and a battle with the rival that jumps from the top of a building to the side of a building to on a fucking MISSILE.
  • Deadly Premonition has Thomas, who at this point is thought to be the killer but is really just a minion, stand on a gear in a clock tower, and get into a gunfight with Emily, while using a hook as a means of fighting her. Did we mention Thomas is wearing a dress while shouting derogatory insults?
  • Donkey Kong Jungle Beat has, as the game progresses, a battle in the branches of trees where the only source of light comes from spectators holding torches, a battle on a log floating down a raging river, a battle on top of a plateau in the rain and a fight on top of a meteor burning up in a planet's atmosphere.
  • In Golden Sun, Isaac eventually enters the Coliseum Tournament finals, where he and his opponent are stripped of all items and have to navigate an obstacle course and attempt to reach the duel arena first, as the faster opponent will get the stronger of two weapons or armor laid in the middle, with several useful items laying in the way which require to deviate from the main path to get. Of course, he and the rest of the party can cheat him through most obstacles by sabotaging them with their Psynergy.
  • Kingdom Hearts II has a few of these, most notably in the ending battle, where Sora & co. fight Xemnas on a flying motorcycle-thing, in space, on the side of a skyscraper and in the literal manifestation of nothingness.
  • A number of the bosses from Metal Slug are this:
    • Aeshi Nero from 2/X is a giant excavator snake robot that tries to climb the pillar you're on, as your player character has to jump up the platforms to avoid it.
    • Rootmars from 3 is fought as both you and it are falling from space, where you use its body and hands as a makeshift platform.
    • Wall Crawler from 5 is a large wall-crawling robot that you fight at the side of a skyscraper. During the battle, it'll use a sonic cannon to destroy the floor under you.
    • Iron Sentinel from 6 is a giant tank/missile launcher vehicle that slides down a hill as you stand on its treads to shoot its cannon and launcher, while avoiding the huge rockets it fires out.
  • One level in Need for Speed: The Run has a vehicular equivalent. Jack and a rival race down a highway in Colorado undergoing avalanche blasting. Evading the snow and debris falling on the road is just as much a part of the race as beating your opponent.
  • The action/fighting arcade game The Outfoxies. Stages include a moving train, a boat on a stormy ocean, and a plane in mid-flight. Two other stages (an aquarium and a skyscraper) are relatively normal... until bombs start going off, altering your surroundings.
  • It's hard to imagine a battle quite as interesting as the Franzea stage in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, which mashes up the world of LocoRoco with Metal Gear. Think about that for a second.
    • Many of the stages in the game are around this level of absurdity. Highlights include Stowaways, a stage placed inside the cargo bay of a plane in flight which then blows open forcing you to battle on trucks being dragged behind a flying plane, or Dreamscape, which constructs itself from the ground up as you battle before suddenly turning into a game show, or the dojo from Parappa The Rapper which gets blown up midway through the battle by a giant mech from Killzone.
  • Nearly every level in Power Stone and its sequel is comprised of one of these.
  • Two examples from Strider 2:
    • Hiryu's fight against the Kuniang sisters in the first stage happens on top of flying aircars in the middle of Neo Hong Kong City, with everyone jumping from aircar to aircar during battle. Hiryu's armed with his usual sword, while the girls fight bare-handed.
    • Hiryu's final battle against the traitor Strider Hien is set on the back of a long, serpentine dragon/whale hybrid robot that constantly whirls and turns as they fight, all the while it ascends through a long hall with no discernible bottom.
  • Half of the stages in the Super Smash Bros. series. Special mentions go to:
    • The Poké Floats stage (Melee), in which the battle takes place on giant Pokémon floats.
    • The Brinstar Depths, in which Kraid slashes at the stage with his claws, making the entire thing spin (Melee).
    • Big Blue (Melee and Brawl), where fighters duke it out on the Falcon Flyer and F-Zero machines in mid-race.
    • The 3DS version of Mute City, where a similar concept applies, albeit with Retreaux graphics from the original F-Zero.
    • The Distant Planet, in which you can fight on top of a Bulborb while it's trying to eat you (Brawl and 3DS).
    • Orbital Gate Assault (Wii U), which takes place in the middle of a battle between the Cornerian Forces and the Aparoids, leading to the fighters having to jump from ship to ship and even on freaking missiles.
  • Half of the stages in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up as well, which even includes the moving train.
  • The Among Thieves and Drake's Deception games from the Uncharted series feature fights against Giant Mooks and bosses in all kinds of interesting situations. Like, say, on the roof of a speeding train (and later, a speeding truck) as it climbs the Himalayas. Or in the corridors of a hijacked cruise ship while it flips, floods and sinks. Or on the cargo ramp of a plane while it flies over the Rub'al Kahli Desert. Or inside that same plane while it's being torn apart by sudden depressurisation and random explosions. Or on a stone bridge in an ancient city that's slowly being consumed by a giant vortex of quicksand.
    • All situations can be neatly summed up by Nate in the second game, who is busy avoiding fire from a helicopter while battling many mooks on his way up the train.
    Nate: Don't you assholes see the helicopter?! I got enough problems.

  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, the titular Doctor fights Dracula in a mirror maze within his secret moon base. Doesn't sound particularly inspired until you're reminded that Dracula casts no reflection. Although Dracula's robot double does.
  • Goblins is very fond of these. Examples include: A fight on a platform hung by only two ropes, meaning that it could tip and send everything on it plunging to their deaths, that is ALSO swinging back and forth in another direction; a fight on top of an uprooted sacrificial totem pole that is sliding down a hill towards a cliff; a pair of fights against rock golemns with colored tags on them, where pulling one of the tags causes the tiles of that color to drop out from under your opponents; a fight in a room with a little hole in one of the walls that, when you put stuff in it, is replicated at mountainous size nearby; a fight in a corridor filled with zombies and holes that will make you never have existed if you fall into them; a fight in a room full of upside down trees that grow larger and downward when they're damaged; and many more. The author once lampshaded it in a blog post, before showing the real-life location that was going to be the site for the next one of these (it was a pretty little stream with a waterfall.).
  • In Juathuur, Soveshei and Rowasu duel on top of a tower, because fighting is forbidden inside the building.

    Web Original 
  • Dead Fantasy has one of these in almost every episode. They fight on moving surfaces, swinging blocks of stone, and even while falling down the side of a building.
  • In DEATH BATTLE!, this is subverted. During the fight between Justin Beiber and Rebecca Black, the fight moves to the top of a train, and the combatants just stare at each other for several seconds before Justin simply punches Rebecca off the train.
  • In Dream's "4 Hunters Finale Rematch" episode of Minecraft Manhunt, Sapnap and Dream chug Fire Resistance Potions and end up fighting in a lava pool, the surface of which is quickly turned to obsidian by the other Hunters. What follows is about three minutes of battle beneath the lava, with Dream trying to kill Sapnap before the potions wear off and Sapnap trying to make Dream waste enough time for the fire protection to end.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Revelation features a fight in a storage room full of teleporters and explosives in Chapter 10 and on top of a glacier rigged with explosives in Chapter 19.
    • Episode 19 of Season Ten features a fight between Tex and Carolina in zero gravity aboard a spaceship falling uncontrolled through the atmosphere of a planet.
    • Episode 18 of Season 13 shows Wash and Carolina's final showdown with Locus and Felix, most of which takes place on floating platforms. At one point, Felix and Wash fight on the same platform as Locus and Carolina... on the underside, while UPSIDE DOWN.
  • RWBY: Cinder and Raven throw everything they possess at each other when they fight in Haven Academy's underground vault. They spend part of the fight battling on the floor of the vault until the scale of their battle forces them to move locations. As they are both Maidens, much of their battle involves the use of enormous magical power which includes the ability to fly. It shakes the very ground above their heads, loosening massive stalactites that hang from the roof of the cave they're in. As the stalactites begin to fall, they jump from rock to rock. Cinder slices through stone in her attempt to reach Raven, who kicks her through several large boulders. The fight ends as the stalactite they're on slams into the vault floor, depleting both of their Auras in the process.
  • Chaka's fall term combat final in the Whateley Universe. Chaka faces a giant, a brick, and a wizard/inventor in the middle of an earthquake and a tornado. She proceeds to use the tornado as a weapon.

    Western Animation 
  • In the spirit of wuxia, Avatar: The Last Airbender has a ton of these. Some notable examples are the duel between Aang and Jet (fought in the treetops) and the first one between Aang and Azula (fought while they are both riding in carts down the chutes of the Omashu mail delivery system).
  • Fly Me to the Moon has a battle between flies inside of a computer at launch control during a space mission! (And one of the flies is fighting with burning matches!)
  • Episode XL of Samurai Jack has Jack dueling a ninja in a shadowy tower full of crisscrossing beams, with the ninja hiding in the shadows cast by the setting sun. Jack turns the ninja's tactics back on him; as the ninja hides in the shadows, Jack turns his kimono inside-out and wraps a white cloth around his face, turning all his clothes pure white and hiding in the light.
  • The Teen Titans episode "X" has Robin fighting his Evil Counterpart, Red X, as they both make their way through an elaborate security system involving loads and loads of laser beams. Then they have a rematch in "Revved Up" where they fight each other while riding motorcycles and chasing after another supervillain who keeps throwing obstacles in their path.
  • The second part of the 3-part "More Than Meets The Eye" pilot for The Transformers features an iconic duel sequence between Optimus Prime and Megatron. The two leaders fight atop Sherman Dam as the dam's waters churn below, substituting their normal firearms with wrist-mounted Energon melee weapons - an Energon axe in Optimus' case, while Megatron wields an Energon mace/flail. The scene was sufficiently influential that modern reissues of the original toys, such as Takara's early 2000s Collection book-box reissues, and modern reinterpretations of the characters, such as the Masterpiece figures, frequently include accessories depicting these weapons.
  • Wander over Yonder episode "The Boy Wander" has a pitched battle between Wander and his arch-enemy Dr. Screwball Jones dueling banjo vs. accordion on the latter's ship for the fates of Sylvia, Haters, Peepers, and the entire planet Cluckon.
  • Pretty much every episode of Xiaolin Showdown. The titular showdowns, in fact, automatically make the areas they take place in more interesting than they would be otherwise, temporarily warping them into a distorted, far-out arena.

    Real Life 
  • In Ernst von Salomon's FRAGEBOGEN, he relates an incident from his service in Oberschlesien with a student freikorps, full of characters who thought they were still back in Heidelberg or wherever. One of these introduced himself as a "stud.math". "Yes, you look like one." A moment later, another university type comes to announce that his friend was greatly insulted, and would the Herr name his weapon? So Ernst, an artillerist who did not know one end of a sword from the other, chose heavy mine throwers. (Apparently something almost, but not quite, unlike a mortar.) Amid consternation, a special court of honor convened, and ruled that all Affairs must be postponed for the duration. Of course, afterward, they could not get hold of two heavy mine throwers.
  • This Smithsonian article informs us that "[i]n 1808, two Frenchmen fought in balloons over Paris," and "thirty-five years later, two others tried to settle their differences by skulling each other with billiard balls." Incidentally, during the balloon duel, the winner killed his opponent by shooting the canopy, causing the loser's balloon to crash fatally.
  • This article describes both the balloon and billiard balls incidents, as well as a naked duel and several other strange duels.
  • Organizers of gladiator fights back in Ancient Rome would keep things fresh by setting up specialty matches, like females vs. dwarves, groups of children vs one man, or regular gladiators who fought with completely blacked-out visors.
    • There were also full-scale naval battles at the Colosseum. They literally flooded the central arena and had ships towed in to fight.
  • Hans Talhoffer wrote his Fechtbuch in 1467, contained in which are instructions and advice for many different situations that could be classed as this trope. A good example would be a judicial combat between a man and a woman: the woman has a 4-5lb rock in a sling, the man a club the same length as her sling. Oh, and the man is standing in a hole up to his waist.
  • In China, a fight between workers from rival construction companies led to a battle using bulldozers as weapons.
  • In 2016, someone made a Facebook joke event page for a fistfight at an ACE Hardware store in the Philippines, known infamously as Suntukan sa ACE Hardware. Said fight thankfully didn't actually happen, although the store in question held a promotional event where people could pose in a mock boxing ring for photos.


Video Example(s):


Bart vs Skinner

Bart and Skinner battle across Springfield with sticks topped with each other's food allergies, set to Duel of the Fates.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / InterestingSituationDuel

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