This trope generally arises in situations where The Hero and the Big Bad (or some other substitute boss villain) are staring each other down, ready to engage in mortal combat. The Big Bad challenges the Hero to a duel, but then instead of said fight being one-on-one, as the viewer and the Hero might expect, the villain promptly yells for his... GUARDS!
May result in the invocation of Big Damn Heroes if the good guy is in too deep. Conversely, should the hero do better than expected, the villain may realize that he needs reinforcements and act accordingly. At any rate, the use of this trope can demonstrate that the villain is sufficiently smart to know not to fight the hero one-on-one when he can bring in his minions to support him (and dishonorable and pragmatic enough to use absolutely everything he has at his disposal to win).
Can overlap with Bait-and-Switch Boss in video games; however, more often, the Flunky Boss fights alongside his Mooks or at least remains present to observe the fight. May even cross-pollinate with Summon Bigger Fish if the hero seriously outclasses the villain and/or the Mooks are sufficiently powerful in their own right.
The villain may be disappointed if the fight is subject to Conservation of Ninjutsu and/or Mook Chivalry, or if he's dealing with an Invincible Hero. This is the antitrope of Leave Him to Me!. Contrast The Pawns Go First, where the villain is willing to fight alone, but only after their minions are defeated separately.
- During the battle between Yoruichi and Sui Feng, the latter unleashes all the members of her special assassination corps on Yoruichi. Who proceeds to beat them all senseless in the blink of an eye.
- When Yhwach invades the Soul King's realm, he's attacked by the elite guardians. However, every single time one of them tries to attack him directly, Yhwach reveals that there is an unseen minion still protecting him.
- In One Piece, Sanji has a duel against his Archnemesis Dad Vinsmoke Judge. The minute Sanji starts to make ground, Judge calls his Mooks to act a Human Shield, even going as far as to stab through one to strike.
- Udon Comics' Street Fighter Legends has Karin pull this one on Sakura.
- Ultimate Marvel
- Ultimate Spider-Man: Fisk is not interested in fighting Spider-Man. He has a party going on. Let Electro deal with him.
- The Ultimates: When the Colonel realizes he's outmatched against Cap, he signals for a swarm of Schizoid Man clones to pull Cap off him and hold him down to be executed. Fortunately the Hulk is able to prevent this.
- Occurs during the Dragon Ball Z Abridged: The Christmas Tree of Might. Turles, the weekly villain of the piece, attempts to overwhelm Goku with all five of his supporting minions. It doesn't end well for the minions.
- A rare heroic version happens in Davion & Davion (Deceased): Minoru Kurita hopes to salvage an invasion rapidly going south by defeating John Davion in one-on-one combat. John obliges him just far enough to lure him out into a battle, where he promptly ambushes him with about thirty ninety-five-ton Assault tanks.
- In Infinity Train: Seeker of Crocus: Ai states the trope namer when confronted with Paul London and Easter, but instead of screaming "Guards" he instead calls out his Earth Golem @Ignister.
- Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights: The Trope Namer, though it is actually Played for Laughs. After an exchange of Glove Slaps, the sheriff makes the speech (shown at the top of the page), kicking off the fight scene.
- Invoked in Army of Darkness when Ash first confronts his evil doppleganger in the final battle. Evil Ash first sics his nearby minions on him... whom Ash disposes of handily.
- Neo's first fight with Agent Smith in The Matrix Reloaded plays a subversion of this, as Agent Smith makes numerous copies of himself rather than calling for subordinates.
- Grievous tries this when Obi-Wan tracks him down in Revenge of the Sith. When it doesn't work, he defaults to Leave Him to Me!.
- In Kill Bill Volume One, O-Ren Ishii seems ready to take on the Bride in single combat, but then has her personal army, the Crazy 88, soften her up first.
- Inverted in the film version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, where after Harry reveals himself to then-headmaster Snape, the Order of the Phoenix are the ones barging in en masse when Harry seems set to face down Snape alone.
- The Avengers has Black Widow visiting Bruce Banner with assurances it's only the two of them. Then he starts Suddenly Shouting because he "wanted to see what she'd do." (What she does is immediately point a handgun at him.) Once it's clear he's not turning into an enormous green rage-monster, she tells the veritable SWAT team outside that they can stand down.
Bruce Banner: "Just you and me", huh?
[Widow is visibly mortified]
- In the James Bond film GoldenEye, General Ourumov kills Defense Minister Dimitri Mishkin after he accuses Ourumov of being responsible for the attack on Severnaya and theft of the Goldeneye key. Ourumov invokes this trope as he openly states his plan to cover up the murder.
Ourumov: Defense Minister Dimitri Miskin, murdered by British agent James Bond... himself shot, while trying to escape. GUARDS!
- In Blade II, Reinhardt confronts Blade after spending most of the film in an uneasy Enemy Mine situation. With the situation over, they now have no reason to play nice and can kill each other. The villain sends in a team of mooks instead.
- Played entirely straight in Machete Kills when the Big Bad's New Era Speech is interrupted by our heroes. "Well ladies and gents I had hoped to have an uninhibited evening, but now it seems, uhhh...GUARDS!" (flees as guards enter and start shooting)
- A variation in Death Race. When Jensen Ames makes it clear to Warden Hennessy that he's worked out that she was responsible for him being framed for his wife's murder, she dismisses her guards to their surprise for a Just Between You and Me conversation. However she's shown to be gripping a Sawn-Off Shotgun on a swivel beneath her desk in case Jensen attacks her.
- During the climax of Black Panther (2018), Killmonger invokes this when T'Challa turns up alive and points out that their duel for the throne of Wakanda isn't over yet. The one-on-one duel for the throne does happen eventually, but only after the two of them get separated from the general melee.
- In Die Hard, after John exposes Hans' attempted fake accent innocent bystander ploy, he has him at gunpoint (after handing Hans an empty gun), but Hans has already called in his mooks and Dragon to come to his aid.
- In the Corum series, Corum meets Prince Gaynor the Damned for a showdown, and it goes like this:
Corum: Will you fight me alone, Prince Gaynor?
Gaynor: Why should I? It is long since I subscribed to your ideas of chivalry, Prince Corum.
Corum: If you cannot be slain, why not fight me personally?
Gaynor: Because I would not waste time. Warriors!
- Averted in Use of Weapons. A Properly Paranoid dictator has his own bedchamber under surveillance, with a verbal codeword to alert his guards. Unfortunately the assassin who turns up in the middle of the night has access to superior alien technology, so he's already taken care of the cameras, deactivated the microphones and unloaded the hidden pistol.
- Also averted in one of the Lensman series, as the protagonist (who also has access to superior technology) has killed all the guards on the way in.
- The Stormlight Archive: Eshonai, the Parshendi general and Shardbearer, quite conspicuously only fights enemy Shardbearers with heavy support. This is because she is the last Parshendi Shardbearer, and is more interested in the survival of her people than a "good fight."
- Game of Thrones has a heroic example, where Robb Stark refuses the cornered and outnumbered Jamie Lannister's offer to settle the rest of their battle through Combat by Champion, and has his men overwhelm and capture Jamie. The point being not that Robb is a coward, but that he's pragmatic enough to pass up a chance at glory for the much safer bet at winning.
Robb: If we do it your way, Kingslayer, you'd win. We're not doing it your way.
- In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, Captain Marvelous challenges his Rival Turned Evil Basco to a one-on-one fight. When Marvelous shows up, Basco uses his Marionette Master powers to summon five Sixth Rangers. Luckily, the other four Gokaiger were just passing through...
- Star Trek: The Original Series. In "Errand of Mercy", Kirk captures the Klingon commander, only to find that Big Brother Is Watching You — the commander's own office is under surveillance in case of treason, so the guards are already on their way.
- Doctor Who. In "The Snowmen", Dr. Simeon quietly rings for his men while the Doctor is rambling on as usual. The Doctor does an Offhand Backhand locking of the door with his sonic screwdriver. By the time they get the door open, the Doctor has done a Stealth Hi/Bye.
- Summed up in The New Legends Of Monkey, when Monkey King confronts the head demon who has taken over the Jade Palace. The demon calls in some guards, and...
Monkey: Fight me yourself!
Demon: Why? I've worked very hard to have guards.
- Arrow. In "Lone Gunman" a Corrupt Corporate Executive tries this, only to be informed by the Hood that he's already knocked out all his guards.
- Daredevil (2015)
- In "Seven Minutes In Heaven" when Daredevil grabs Hirochi, he says there are more guards outside. Daredevil just smirks, saying none of them are conscious. However it turns out Nobu, who came very close to defeating Daredevil last year, is guarding their most valuable asset downstairs.
- In ".380", Daredevil threatens to break the legs of the guards coming to help Madame Gao. She sends a girl to order them to leave once he makes it clear he's there to talk rather than fight. Gao however doesn't need any help to take on Daredevil, as he later finds out.
- Subverted in Star Trek: Picard. Seven of Nine has some final words with Bjayzl before killing her, but knows that Bjayzl is stalling and knows to the second when her security will arrive, so their conversation only lasts for as long as Seven is confident they won't be interrupted. Once Seven knows she's out of time, she kills Bjayzl on the spot.
- Titans (2018). Subverted when, after capturing the Nuclear Family, Dick Greyson goes to have a word with their boss Dr Adamson. Adamson's response is to activate the Big Red Button that remote kills the entire Nuclear Family and inform Greyson that guards are coming to kill them both. He even counts down the seconds before they come bursting in.
- Magic: The Gathering: In Judgment, Ambassador Laquatus pulls this on Kamahl, shouting a challenge in order to lure the barbarian into an ambush.
- Villains in the game Badass have access to a Nasty Flava that is explicitly called this, which allows them to summon mooks against any Badass facing them.
- Warhammer 40,000: When a Tyranid Hive Fleet attacked Craftworld Iyanden, the Avatar of Khaine challenged the Swarmlord to single combat. Utterly uninterested in the notion of personal glory and honor, the synapse beast promptly sicced a dozen nearby Carnifexes on the Avatar.
- A Very Potter Senior Year
Harry: It's just you and me Voldemort.
Voldemort: Actually it's just you and me, AND MY GIANT SNAKE!
- In Batman: Arkham City, when Batman seems to have Joker on the ropes:
Joker: Please! Stop! I can't take anymore! You win, ya beat me! ... Hang on, did I say "me"? I meant me and these guys!
- Borderlands2, Torgue's DLC: Piston "Not A Cheater" brings a T-Rex mecha to the final duel of the Torgue Tournament. Almost everyone in the audience calls him a cheater once the mech blows up.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess does this wordlessly before the mounted combat sequence against King Bulblin. The King stands alone on a hill and beckons Link to join him in what appears to be single combat. When Link moves in to attack, King Bulblin blows a horn, summoning hordes of mooks to join him in the fight.
- World of Warcraft: In the Culling of Stratholme instance, Arthas faces down Mal'ganis, proclaiming the fight will be "Just between you and me." Which usually leads the five people who have been shepherding Arthas through the entire instance and doing the lion's share of the fighting to go "Hey!"
- This is particularly absurd because Mal'ganis will spend the entire fight not only ignoring Arthas and attacking the tank, but if the tank's doing their job, actually facing in the opposite direction from Arthas so that the rest of the party doesn't get blasted with his Carrion Swarm spell.
- Warlord Parjesh in the Eye of Azshara instance in Legion quotes the trope namer word-for-word.
- Also from Legion, Varian Wrynn's death at the hands of Gul'dan and the demonic army he was leading. Varian actually kills a decent number of them, but is impaled from behind right before he can attack Gul'Dan.
- An interesting inversion can occur in Fallout: New Vegas. You can challenge the Big Bad to a climactic duel, and he'll tell his flunkies to step off, so that he may fight you in honorable combat. Your party members, however, will happily stick around and participate in the fight.
- Knights of the Old Republic has a somewhat lengthy set of sidequests that involve killing off the three leaders of the Genoharadan, a shadowy organization that influenced the galaxy through assassination, among other things. After killing the leaders, the man who gave you the quests, Hulas, reveals that he was the fourth leader and that he used you to consolidate his power by killing his rivals. If you don't take kindly to being used like that, you can challenge him to a duel, for which he insists you come alone. Hulas brings two lackeys with him, but you can bring your party members. Hulas actually expects you to not play by the rules, expressing surprise if you show up alone, and saying "I hoped you'd be gullible, but clearly you're not" if you bring your friends.
- In Kingdom of Loathing, each of the class nemeses will send their lackeys/bodyguards after you when you gain access to their respective inner sanctums on the Volcanic Island before you get to fight said nemesis. However, only Somerset Lopez, Dread Mariachi, nemesis of Accordion Thieves, gives the line nearly word-for-word. Your character is not amused.
Somerset Lopez: Hola, gringo. I had anticipated that my defenses would not keep you out for very long.
Player Character: This is it, Lopez. It's time to settle this once and for all.
Somerset Lopez: Sí, the great rivalry between the Accordion Thief and the Mariachi. After so many years, it has come down to you and me, eh?
Player Character: Damn straight! [readying weapon]
Somerset Lopez: You and me and my bodyguards. Bodyguards! Kill [him/her].
[several extremely burly mariachis step out from behind the statues, grinning and cracking their knuckles]
Player Character: Lopez, you are such a dick.
- Either Defied or Played Straight in Dishonored, depending on the player's Chaos rating. In High Chaos, the battle with Daud will have a band of assassins helping him out. In Low Chaos, however, when his assassins attack the player, he immediately uses Bend Time and calls them off, allowing the player to take him on mano a mano.
- In Saints Row 2, Maero, leader of the Brotherhood of Stilwater, summons the protagonist, as leader of the Third Street Saints, to an abandoned stadium for a final battle once most of his gang has been wiped out. The protagonist remarks that they're surprised he was brave enough to come alone...but Maero reminds them that he never said he would. Cue what's left of his crew joining in, with him driving a monster truck and them SUVs, while you're fighting on foot.
- A lower-key version early on in Gotcha Force, before the battle against the Death Force really swings into gear. Local bully Nekobe challenges Kou to a one-on-one fight with their respective Gotcha Borgs. However, after Nekobe's first borg loses roughly half of its health, his lackey Kitsune comes in to turn the fight into a Dual Boss. It's clear from the dialogue that Nekobe had set up the two-on-one in the first place, but wasn't counting on Kou getting the upper hand.
- In the finale of the Haven campaign in Heroes of Might and Magic IV, The Hero Lord Lysander agrees to a duel with the usurper Sir Worton for the fate of the kingdom... except Worton promptly violates the agreement by ambushing Lysander with a large pack of bandits. Thankfully, at this point in the game, Lysander is a One-Man Army and has no problem dispatching them.
- During the Mikado infiltration mission in Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, the party is arrested and their gear stolen. Luckily for the team, Nanashi can summon demons without his phone. Only Azrael stands between them and their gear, but when things go badly for him, he summons an army of angels. Nanashi can't fight both Azrael and the army at the same time, turning into a Hopeless Boss Fight... until Hallelujah levels the playing field by wiping out the army with a single spell.
- Final Fantasy XIV has a variation. The Heavensward Dark Knight quests (level 50-60) revolve around a young girl, Rielle, being hunted by a contingent of Ishgardian knights under the command of her mother Countess Ystride. For the level 60 quest, she finally corners you, your job tutor Sidurgu, and Rielle, demanding a "trial by combat". The Ishgard justice system is a firm believe in Right Makes Might, and such a trial* normally consists of the accused party facing off against an equal number of petitioners before an audience of witnesses; victory earns an acquittal, defeat means your death sentence is already served. Ystride instead summons your trio of accused to the middle of western Coerthas, well out of sight of any settlements, and sics her entire contingent on you before facing you herself. When you emerge victorious, Sidurgu shows his Character Development by offering her mercy if she ceases her crusade, but Ystride declares her intent to hunt Rielle to the ends of the earth, making it clear that her "trial by combat" is an insult to due process and Ishgardian justice both.
- Final Fantasy II: When the player's party reaches the Emperor's throne room aboard the Cyclone, they must fight through several waves of the Emperor's royal guards before he will deign to fight them himself. And even then, he doesn't take the party on alone: he's backed up by two more royal guards and a wood golem.
- In the final fight of Desperados III, John Cooper, the main protagonist, prepares for a climatic duel with Frank, the Big Bad. The moment they face off each other, a group of guards arrive and encircle them. The task of the rest of the team is to sneak in undetected and prepare for a move that takes down all the guards at once. The area also has some mooks who can be killed beforehand, but if you are being detected at any time, it's game over.
- Vermintide II: The Chaos Lord Bödvarr Ribspreader makes a big show of bragging that he'll single-handedly kill all of the heroes in the Arena, but starts calling for backup as soon as they put a dent in his health.
Kerillian: Like a rat, he talks brave but hides behind minions.
- If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device: When Karamazov tries to enter the palace, Descius stands in his way and summons palace guards to aid him, although Karamazov's weaponized throne proves more than a match for all of them. Later, Kitten does the same with Custodes, with much more success.
- Goblins: Done pre-emptively when Thaco challenges the Goblinslayer to single combat on top of a statue in full view of the entire town.
Goblinslayer: You three bowmen will accompany me.
Guard: Sir, it could be a trap.
Goblinslayer: That's imposs—
Goblinslayer: You six bowmen will accompany me.
- Knights of the Old Coding: Just you, me ...and my army of ninjas!
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "The Crossroads of Destiny", Iroh and Zuko nearly escape Azula and the Dai Li, but Zuko decides he's Tired of Running and challenges Azula to settle things with an Agni Kai (duel). Azula, having no reason at the moment to bother with a duel with nothing to gain, simply refused and let the Dai Li overwhelm him. Zuko's caught off guard enough that the Dai Li capture him before he can get a hit in.
- Ben 10: Omniverse had an episode where Ben tries to defy Emperor Milleus in a duel, only for Milleus to summon his guards for help. Unfortunately for him, Ben being an One-Man Army, that doesn't really end up helping him.
- The Legend of Korra: Korra challenges Big Bad Amon to a duel at midnight in "A Voice in the Night". He brings a whole platoon of chi-blockers along with him and defeats her handily, but smugly monologues about how finishing her off this early into his plans would turn her into a martyr, so he just knocks her out.