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Lancer vs. Dragon

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They may not be The Hero or the Big Bad, but that doesn't stop them from throwing fists when the time comes.

This trope happens when The Lancer and The Dragon of a story face off against each other in a direct fight. Since they're not the focus of the story it can happen almost any time, although if it occurs during the climax, expect to see their fight interspersed with the main showdown between the hero and villain. Also, since both characters lack the superior Plot Armor of protagonist and antagonist, their duel can be more suspenseful since neither is guaranteed to survive. It often occurs as a part of The Rest Shall Pass scenario, especially in cases when it happens several times until only the hero remains. In such instances, it is almost guaranteed the Lancer and the Dragon will be the last ones left behind before the hero confronts the big bad.

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Contrast with It's Personal with The Dragon where the hero is the one who is fighting the Dragon.

Compare The Chick versus The Dark Chick variant (Designated Girl Fight).


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon Frontier: Koji is the Lancer and Duskmon is the Dragon to Cherubimon. The two fight twice before Koji discovers Duskmon is his twin brother Koichi who is brainwashed by Cherubimon and teams up with Takuya to free him from Cherubimon's control.
  • Doraemon: Nobita and The Space Heroes: Despite his insistence to be the Big Good, Doraemon spends most of the film playing second fiddle to the actual main protagonist, Nobita, filling in the lancer position, and the climax have him battling Ikaros' dragon, Hyde in a frenetic chase sequence. Interestingly, both the lancer and dragon in this film are Leader Wannabes, which seems to be intentional.
  • Dragon Ball changed up the Lancer several times, in order:
    • Yamcha was the first Lancer and faced Tien who was the Crane Hermit's original Dragon.
    • After Tien's Heel–Face Turn, he became the new Lancer and faced the Demon King Piccolo's Dragon Tambourine.
    • Since the Android saga, Vegeta has been Goku's Lancer. His first battle in this arc was against Android 19, Doctor Gero's most loyal creation.
    • The Resurrection F arc in Dragon Ball Super had Vegeta kill Ginyu in Tagoma's body.
    • The movies did this a bit more, Piccolo fought Salza in 5, Vegeta destroyed Android 15 in 7.
  • One Piece: Zoro is often pitted against the first mate of enemy crews, particularly in the first half of the series. The most egregious examples being Cabaji in the Orange Town arc, Hatchen in Arlong Park arc, Mr. 1/Daz Bonez in the Alabasta arc, Ohm in the Skypeia arc, and Kaku during the Enies Lobby. All generally considered the second most dangerous of their groups.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • During the Battle City arc, Joey duels Odion, Marik's right-hand man, who is posing as him during the tournament. Joey is able to progress thanks to being the first to get up after Ra strikes the field but fails to win his duel against Marik himself.
    • During the Virtual World arc, Kaiba duels Lector of the Big Five who serves as the dragon to Noah. Kaiba's duel with Noah is something of an inversion as Noah is serving as the dragon to Gozaburo; Yugi defeats Noah after the latter defeats Kaiba whereas Kaiba goes on to defeat Gozaburo after the latter reveals himself as the true Big Bad.
    • Inverted in the Kaiba Corp Grand Prix arc. The Arc Villain Zigfried duels Joey and Kaiba at different points, defeating the former and losing to the latter. His Dragon and little brother Leon duels Yugi in the arc's climax and is beaten.

    Comic Books 
  • Star Wars (Marvel 2015): During the "Hope Dies" arc, this happens between Darth Vader, the Emperor's cruel right hand, and Han Solo, Luke Skywalker's roguish comrade. After the Rebel fleet got caught up in a trap, with all of their X-Wings trapped on their cruisers unable to lift off, it's up to Han in the Millennium Falcon to confront Vader's TIE fighter on a solitary Old-School Dogfight.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The final shootout of A Better Tomorrow 2 have Ken, the lancer to Ho, facing off the unnamed Battle Butler of the Big Bad, Ko Ying-Pui who is the closest the movie have to a dragon. Both of them equally lethal with a gun, having shot each other several times, they end up settling their confrontation with a one-vs-one duel - sliding a loaded gun towards each other, grab and pull the trigger. The lancer wins by shooting the dragon's throat.
  • Bulletproof Monk: While Kar and the Monk with No Name take on the Nazi Big Bad Strucker, Jade aka Bad Girl faces off against his granddaughter and second-in-command Nina.
  • Deadpool:
    • At the end of Deadpool (2016), the titular hero has a fight against the Big Bad Ajax, while his allies Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead take care of Ajax's Dragon Angel Dust.
    • In Deadpool 2, Colossus, Negasonic, and Yukio fight Juggernaut while Deadpool tries to stop Russell from killing the Headmaster.
  • Dragonball Evolution: During the climactic battle, Bulma takes on Mai. Mai emerges victorious but is defeated by Yamcha, the other lancer of the group.
  • Dredd: Anderson is the secondary protagonist of the movie and she defeats one of Ma-Ma's Co-Dragons, Kaye, in a psychic duel. Kaye later meets his demise when he tries to fire Anderson's Lawgiver, which promptly blows his arm off in a very messy way.
  • The Expendables 2: When the Expendables take on the Sangs in the airport shootout at the end, inevitably the team's Lancer, Lee, is assigned to take on the Sangs' Dragon, Hector, leading to their one-on-one showdown.
  • The Fellowship of the Ring: Though Aragorn isn't the main hero and Lurtz isn't the main villain, their intense fight is the climax of the film.
  • The final shootout of The Game Changer have the lancer, Zi-Hao, on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge for the hero and his deceased best friend, Fang-Jie, in the mansion belonging to the Hidden Villain, Boss Tang. After taking down legions and legions of mooks, Zi-Hao then duels Boss Tang's personal bodyguard and the film's main dragon, Owen, in a lengthy duel involving blades since both men have spent all their bullets, with the lancer fatally stabbing the dragon.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): During the final battle, Godzilla fights King Ghidorah, while Mothra (the only kaiju ally of Godzilla) fights Rodan (Ghidorah's main henchman).
  • Hard Boiled ends it's iconic long-take hospital shootout with the hero, Tequila, and the lancer, Alan, being ambushed by the villain Johnny Wong's dragon, Mad Dog just as the heroes received news from a recovered walkie-talkie that the baby's incubation room has been breached, at which point Alan and Mad Dog continues their fight while Tequila made his way to the incubation center to evacuate the children. This particular shootout eventually ends with the lancer and dragon staring down each other in a one-on-one Mexican Standoff in a hospital waiting room... with a dozen innocent bystanders caught right in the middle, at which point Mad Dog deliberately postpones the duel so the civilians can leave.
  • Zig-zagged in the Jet Li film, Hitman (1998). Li, the protagonist, starts off with battling the main villain's unnamed second-in-command, an expert assassin only known as the Tall Guy, whilst Chan (Simon Yam's lancer) fights Eiji himself. Halfway through, both Li and Chan swaps enemies, so Chan executes the Tall Guy while Li ends up killing Eiji
  • James Bond:
  • The Killer ends its infamous Church shootout with Ah Jong, the hero, pursuing main villain Wong Hoi who had Jenny at gunpoint, as Jong's lancer Li Ying takes on Wong's dragon Paul. After swapping some lead, the lancer emerged victorious in time to interrupt a standoff between Ah Jong and Wong Hoi by holding Paul's head at gunpoint, only for Wong to pull a You Have Failed Me by shooting Paul over his failure.
  • The Lion King (2019): During the climactic battle, Shenzi and Nala single each other out as not only is the former Scar's Dragon with Nala serving as Simba's Lancer, but both have been wanting to have this fight for years.
    Shenzi: Now this is a meal I have waited my whole life for.
    Nala: I've been waiting too. And I'm not a cub anymore!
  • Mad Max: Fury Road is an interesting case. The film starts focusing on Max, before it shifts to making Furiosa the protagonist, which brings this trope into play when Max battles Prince Rictus Erectus at the climax.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • Mercenaries from Hong Kong flips this trope around. The hero, Luo, has his best friend Sing serving as his lancer, while the youngest of the mercenary crew Curry is the Tag Along Kid. Then it's revealed that Sing is working for the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing villainess, He Ying, and actually an Evil Former Friend to Luo. Said villainess had her own balding main henchman who serves as the film's initial dragon, and as the entire crew starts dying until only Luo, Sing, and Curry remain, Curry gets promoted to lancer position with the final confrontation having Luo fighting his ex-friend, Sing, while Curry gets to face the first bald dragon.
  • Mortal Kombat: The Movie: Johnny Cage serves as the lancer and comedic foil to Liu Kang. Johnny also fights one of the last tournament matches against Goro, Shang Tsung's monstrous enforcer, and tricks him into plunging off a cliff to his death.
  • Once Upon a Time in China: Wong Fei-Hung is the film's hero with his protege Leung Foon as his lancer, where the final battle have Fei Hung facing the corrupt governor Jackson while Leung Foon battles Jackson's subordinate, the Mook Lieutenant dragon (ironically) called "Tiger". It ends with the lancer strangling the dragon with a rope.
  • The Princess Bride: Inigo Montoya mentions to Wesley that he's seeking a six-fingered man who murdered his father when Inigo was a child; they separately learn that the killer is Count Rugan, Prince Humperdinck's personal torturer. When they infiltrate the castle during Humperdinck's wedding, Inigo pursues Rugan and, following a hard-fought duel, finally kills him and avenges his father.
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves: Azeem is the lancer to Robin. He fights and kills the witch Mortianna after the Sherriff has been slain by Robin.
  • Rush Hour: Carter serves as the Lancer and comedic foil to Lee and faces the Big Bad's Dragon in the climax of each film.
    • In the first movie he faces Sang, Juntao's second-in-command. Sang at first offers to fight Carter hand-to-hand but then tries to pull a gun on him. Unfortunately for him, Carter is a faster draw.
    • The second film has Carter fighting Ricky Tan's second-in-command Hu Li. Carter is clearly outclassed and only manages to knock her out through dumb luck. Hu li tries to take out herself, Carter and Lee with a bomb in the end, the two cops barely escaping while she dies in the explosion herself.
    • After fighting off Kenji's Mooks by himself, Carter faces off with Kenji's assassin Jasmine while trying to rescue Soo Yung. Carter saves Soo Yung and knocks Jasmine into a rotating crank, killing her.
  • The Scorpion King: Balthazar initially distrusts Mathayus due to the latter being a mercenary. The two put their differences aside in the film's climactic battle against the main villain Memnon. While Mathayus deals with Memnon, Balthazar kills Prince Takmet who had betrayed the resistance and was one of Memnon's Co-Dragons.
  • Enforced example in Shanghai Grand. Madam Yiu, the dragon is a Dragon Lady working for the film's main villain, Boss Fung, and despite being introduced in the film as the hero Hui Man-Keung's main nemesis, late into the film she decides not to target Man-Keung, instead going after Man-Keung's best friend and lancer, Ding-Lik. Leading to a bedroom confrontation where the dragon had the lancer Chained to a Bed, intending to have him devoured by her pet boa constrictor, but Ding-Lik managed to turn the tables on Madam Yiu by stabbing the boa with an exposed wire, leading to the snake attacking Madam Yiu instead.
  • Stargate: While Daniel tries to heal Shau'ri aboard Ra's ship in the film's climax, Colonel O'Neil is stuck in a Brutal Brawl with Anubis, Ra's chief bodyguard.
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: Colonel Sebastian Moran is The Dragon to Moriarty and is an Evil Counterpart to Dr. Watson who is Holmes' lancer. Both fight with a cane and both are military veterans. The two have a Sniper Duel in Heilbronn which Watson wins by using a howitzer cannon. Later, Watson wounds Moran with a shot from a rifle.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Empire Strikes Back: Possibly the shortest example in cinema history; When Han Solo and Leia dock at Cloud City, his old friend Lando Calrissian reluctantly lures them into a trap orchestrated by Darth Vader himself. Han's response (and his only interaction with the Sith Lord) is to quickdraw his blaster and shoot, as Vader calmly deflects the blaster bolts with his hand and uses the Force to yank the blaster from Han's grip.
    • The Phantom Menace: The final lightsaber duel is a three-way dance between Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Darth Maul, who manages to kill Qui-Gon while Kenobi is temporarily trapped. An enraged Obi-Wan takes up his mentor's lightsaber and engages Maul one-on-one.
    • Attack of the Clones: Obi-Wan and Jango Fett (The Dragon for Count Dooku) have an extensive fight sequence both in space and on Kamino. And again is Jango’s fight with Mace Windu, this time Jango doesn’t survive that fight.
    • Revenge of the Sith: Obi-Wan fights and kills General Grievous on Utapau, and later, once Anakin turns to the Dark Side and becomes Darth Sidious's new Dragon, he and Obi-Wan also fight.
  • Special Forces: The film's climatic final battle ends with Talbot fighting against Zaman, both of them the Number Two of their respective teams. The fight culminates with Talbot impaling Zaman with an iron rod.
  • Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial has the titular Ultra fighting Belial in the climax, while Zero's new friends, Mirror Knight and Jean-Bot, fights Belial's Co-Dragons, Iaron and Darkgone, in that order.
  • Underworld: Evolution: Michael is the lover and Lancer to Selene. In the film's climax, he fights and kills William Corvinus, the brother and Dragon to the Big Bad Markus Corvinus.
  • Willow: as Willow enters Bavmorda's fortress to save Elora Danaan, his friend Madmartigan has a vicious swordfight with the Dragon, General Kael.
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    Literature 
  • Redwall: In "Lord Brocktree", the heroes persuade the hare king Bucko Bigbones to join them in their battle against the warlord Ungatt Trunn by participating in his contest. Bucko is reluctant at first (having been publicly defeated by a haremaid) but when he learns who they're after he's a lot more willing as he sees an opportunity to avenge himself on Karangool, Ungatt's Captain-in-Chief, who'd tortured Bucko in the past.

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped: N. Gin, the boss of the fourth warp room, is the Big Bad's most loyal minion and a tech genius. Since battling him would require knowledge of how to pilot a space ship, Coco steps up to fight in Crash's place, as she is far more intelligent than the protagonist.
  • In Jitsu Squad, this happens whenever players who use Baby O'Hara, the squad's second most prominent character, fights Dash Kobayashi, Lord Origami's chief enforcer, second-in-command and the game's main dragon.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]: Inverted. Sora is the franchise's main character, but the final boss of his campaign is Xemnas, who is The Dragon. The Lancer, Riku, fights the Big Bad and the True Final Boss in his place.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: At the end of the game in the Restored Content mod, your oldest companion Atton has a run-in with Darth Sion, Darth Traya's right-hand man. Atton is fully in the player's hands during the one-on-one duel and Atton will die if you lose, but Sion's hate fueled immortality means even a victory is only temporary.
  • Time Crisis 4 have a FPS mode where the game's lancer, William Rush, is Promoted to Playable, and his role in the game further expanded; it turns out while the heroes are fighting Wild Dog in the main storyline, Rush is dismantling a separate terrorist cell led by Wild Dog's dragon, Wild Fang, which he defeats at the conclusion of his stage.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The final episode showcases a climactic battle between Zuko, the show's deuteragonist, and Azula, his villainous sister who serves as the secondary villain of the final season. When he falls, the show's original Lancer, Katara, steps up to finish the job.
  • Beast Wars: The position of Lancer and Dragon shifts around through this series and its sequel.
    • At first it was the defected Dinobot and the sycophantic Scorponok, who are paired off at the end of the two-parter that begins the series. The two would battle again in Dark Designs.
    • After them the next Lancer is the rogue officer Depth Charge who came after the dark secret of the Maximals, Rampage who had been forced to become Megatron's next Dragon. The two of them battle several times over the season, coming to a head in the finale where the two are engulfed in a massive explosion.
    • In Beast Machines Cheetor has matured into the Lancer that confers different ideas contrasting Optimus Primal's ideals, and Waspinator has been transformed into Megatron's general Thrust who becomes his Dragon the through shear fact he is the only general left. The two have one final battle in the finale, when both are the only fighters left other then Optimus and Megatron, bookending their original battle in the first episode of Beast Wars.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Raphael is The Lancer to Leo and Xever aka Fishface is one of Shredder's two Dragons. Raph and Xever are similar in regards to their preference of violence as a first resort, and the two frequently clash over the course of the series. Their last battle occurs in the season 4 finale in which Raph nearly kills Fishface by removing his breathing apparatus.
  • X-Men: Evolution: In "The Cauldron", Magneto pits specific members of his team against the X-Men. His two Dragons, Mystique and Sabretooth, engage Xavier's two most experienced students, Storm and Wolverine, respectively.
  • Transformers: Cyberverse Slipstream is more a dragon to a dragon but in the first season operates as the Decepticons on Earth's commander while the rest of the forces arrive. She and Windblade, the Lancer to Bumblebee's Hero story of finding the Ark, engage multiple times. It finally ends when Slipstream dies while giving diplomacy a chance and Windblade was able to let their rivalry end.


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