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Let's Fight Like Gentlemen

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"Keep it classy!"

Fezzik: We face each other as God intended. Sportsmanlike. No tricks, no weapons, skill against skill alone.
Man in Black: You mean, you'll put down your rock and I'll put down my sword, and we'll try and kill each other like civilized people?

So, let's look at what the situation has turned into: The Hero stands across the battlefield from the opponent, be it in the form of a Big Bad, Arch-Enemy, Lancer, Evil Counterpart, a Gentleman Thief, Rival (with or without a heel turn), you name it. It is abundantly clear from the story arc building up to this climactic battle that neither side will rest until the other is face down in a puddle of their own humiliation. Chances are they will pull out all the stops, and resort to some of the dirtiest and most underhanded tactics conceivable, right?


See, both parties understand that there are certain rules, unwritten or otherwise, that dictate how a battle can be waged, and they plan to see that they are upheld. Sure, this is an intense rivalry that must be settled once and for all. Possibly the fate of the world hangs in the balance, but there's no reason why we can't be civil about it! We're not barbarians (and said barbarians who circumvent the rules get beaten/dressed down by both the hero and his opponent; literal barbarians often follow this trope themselves)! Ultimately, it could be because the villain wants to maintain an air of dignity even in defeat, or maybe he just wants to show The Hero that he can beat him at his own game. It could also be that the two parties simply want to see it done right, so that there can be no squabbling about what could have been (even the playing field and settle this once and for all). Or they might be looking ahead to future battles, feeling that if they declare that there are no limits, then the other side will escalate as well next time, making this a matter of self-preservation.

Formally staged battles, like Combat by Champion, Duel to the Death, or Gladiator Games, may require it; you may lose if you cheat. Throwing Down the Gauntlet is usually a requirement with this Trope, but not always vice-versa. A formal, or at least culturally-recognized, Code of Honour in any adventure setting will virtually always include this trope.

There is some overlap with The Only One Allowed to Defeat You and Opponent Instruction. A villain who sees The Hero as a Worthy Opponent might invoke this Trope as well. One of the standard codes by which Cultured Badasses operate. Contrast with the Combat Pragmatist, who only fights by the rules when it's to his benefit to do so. See also Firearms Are Cowardly which may be invoked to keep the fight clean and fair. Has overlap with Combat Aestheticist.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Most professional assassins wish to usurp the City Hunter at the top of the assassin food chain. So when such professional assassins do run into him, there is an agreement on how the fight will start, and an agreement on how the fight will end, either by death for the loser, or the loser permanently leaving town and having his/her reputation permanently stained (which apparently is far worse in the assassin world).
  • Dragon Ball:
    • One-sided example: in Goku's fight with Piccolo Jr., Goku takes pains to avoid touching the ground outside the ring of the Tenkaichi Budokai and refuses to let his friends help him, so that he can be declared the winner after the fight is over. Piccolo, of course, couldn't care less about the tournament rules and just wants Goku dead.
    • Dragon Ball Z: The entire point of the Cell Games is this; Cell intends to destroy the world unless he can be beaten in a tournament, fair and square. He gives Goku and the Z-Fighters ten days to prepare, and even sets boundaries, just like in the Tenkaichi Budokai, such as the possibility of losing by ring-out. Ultimately subverted; Cell chooses to destroy the ring after a while because he doesn't want his fight with Goku to be ended by something so trivial and discards the rules altogether the very minute he realizes he's losing.
    • Dragon Ball GT: Nuova Shenron is a Noble Demon who will only fight fairly, refusing unfair advantages and to stoop to desperate tactics no matter the situation. This contrasts him with his brother Eis, a Dirty Coward who will resort to every dirty trick in the book to win.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, when Goku Black and Future Zamasu gang up on him, Goku complains that fights are supposed to be one on one, but they don't care and keep attacking him. In the Tournament of Power, which is a battle royale type fight, Gohan says their team has to work together to overwhelm their opponents, but Goku again says that he wants fights to be one on one.
  • Fate/Apocrypha:
    • Rider of Red, aka Achilles, has a Noble Phantasm called Diatrekhōn Astēr Lonkhē: Spear-tip of the Star Traversing the Skies, that can uphold a completely fair one-on-one fight. To do this, he temporarily sacrifices his spear to create a "Duel Field" - a Pocket Dimension overlaid on top of the normal world, where luck and divine blessings do not exist (including Achilles' own invulnerability), all weapons are disabled except for those which the combatants agree they can use, and Time Stands Still so nobody can interfere with the outcome. However, the Duel Field only works if the opponent agrees to it, meaning Achilles can't force someone into a "fair fight" under conditions biased towards himself. He explains that he developed this ability in life so that he could have a fair duel against Hector, who had at first refused to fight him because of his invulnerability. Achilles uses the Duel Field against Cheiron, his mentor and the Archer of Black, who happily agrees to a pankration fight without any weapons. Achilles wins and kills Cheiron, but as the Duel Field shuts off, the dying Cheiron can't help but play a little dirty, loosing an arrow at Achilles' heel and shutting off his invulnerability.
    • Lancer of Red, aka Karna, and Sieg agree to face each other one on one and at full power. When Karna attempts his ultimate attack, Vasavi Shakti, which Sieg knows he cannot block and will surely kill him, Sieg's Servant Rider of Black, aka Astolfo, interferes and blocks it, allowing Sieg to strike Karna down. Afterwards, Sieg tells the dying Karna that he is ashamed to win that way as they had promised to fight one on one. Karna tells him there is no dishonor and it is still his victory, as they had agreed to fight at full power, and his Servant Astolfo is rightfully part of Sieg's power.
  • Girls und Panzer: This is the defining trait of Kay from the Sanders team. She believes that Tankery is a sport, not a war, and as such everyone should play fair. Her personal creed states "Your tank will cry if you are a bad person!"
    • Darjeeling of St. Gloriana Women's Academy also believes highly in fair play, and promises not to use any underhand tactics in her battle with Ōarai.
  • Gundam:
    • In Mobile Fighter G Gundam, the rules specifically state that all fights should be one-on-one. In the third episode, Domon stops a match between France and Cuba's fighters from starting; when the French fighter chews him out for breaking the rules, Domon calmly takes out the Cuban fighter with a single attack and then remarks that the fight hadn't formally started so it wasn't a violation.
      • Done a bit more fairly a few episodes later. Sai Saici is pursued by a Back from the Dead fighter who was accidentally killed while fighting his grandfather. He and Domon figure out that the dead fighter just wants to see his original battle through to the end, and Sai obliges while Domon looks on. After Sai wins, the DG Cells bring him back as a mindless monster, at which point Domon steps in, saying that since the fight was over and the dead fighter had been laid to rest, it was no longer a tournament fight (and since it relates to the Devil Gundam, it's officially his business, plus as a martial artist he's offended by how the DG Cells are corrupting the dead man's fighting spirit).
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
      • Wufei first fights Treize in a Sword Fight, although he could've just as easily used his Gundam to destroy Treize's ship. Treize easily beats him, then allows him to leave. Wufei suffers a Heroic BSoD for a couple of episodes after this.
      • A few episodes later, Zechs fakes destroying the Wing Gundam, rebuilds it in secret, AND tracks Heero down (protecting him from OZ hit squads at the same time), all for a fair fight. Even moreso, he has his mechanics undo the repairs to his Humongous Mecha's left arm precisely because it was damaged in the fight that OZ interrupted and he wanted to re-create the exact circumstances of that fight. Heero partially subverts this trope by refusing to use the rebuilt Wing, insisting that Zechs' charity would cloud his feelings and make him hold back, defeating the purpose of a "fair fight"
      • During the final battle, Treize and Wufei have a rematch, this time in their mobile suits. They fight only using their melee weapons (Treize's beam saber and Wufei's beam trident), essentially negating the superiority of Wufei's Altron Gundam over Treize's Tallgeese II. This time Wufei wins but is devastated by the suspicion that Treize let him win. It is known that Treize's plan to create a world without war required his own death, but it's ambiguous whether he actually threw the fight or if he just went up against Wufei because he was an opponent skilled enough to kill him.
    • Gundam Build Fighters Try: When Wilfred Kijima first fights Sekai, he observes that the latter's Build Burning Gundam fights using martial arts rather than weapons and remarks "Then let's fight on equal terms", discarding his Transient Gundam's spear and engaging Sekai using nothing but bare-handed fighting techniques.
  • In High School D×D, Sairaorg Bael will fight the protagonist's team in a Rating Game only if they're at full power; lifting the ban of their Power Limiter in their match.
  • Invoked by minor villain Youka in Hoshin Engi: when Hiko Ko is about to attack him barehanded, Youka stops him, claiming that only savages fight unarmed, and instead challenges him to a sword fight, offering him one of his many swords as a weapon. Said sword, Hito, is a Yokai Sennin sword meant to hypnotize Hiko with visions of his family before turning on him.
  • Happens from time to time in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, as both heroes and villains are martial artists and if they agree to rules they will respect them. Two occasions are particularly notable:
    • During the Ragnarok arc, Takeda, being a former professional boxer, challenges Kenichi to a match with rules based on boxing (he draws a ring with chalk on the floor, has a stopwatch to keep count of the ten three-minute rounds, and victory is decided by knock out or a TKO from going down three times in a round. Also, Kenichi will be able to use all his limbs to strike because he's an amateur martial artist while Takeda will only use his right fist because he's a former pro boxer and because he can't actually use his injured left arm). And Takeda, in spite of being a gang member, actually means it: when he knocks Kenichi down twice in the first round he just starts the counting, and even when Kenichi gains the upper hand he refuses to use his legs for anything but movement, with his only bit of pragmatism being attacking the moment the second round started while Kenichi was still engrossed in the tale he had been telling during the pause. On his part, Kenichi doesn't inflict him a knock-out hit because the stopwatch had just rung the end of the first round, though he takes full advantage of his ability to use kicks.
    • During the final battle, the unarmed group of Yami and their students in YOMI turn on their armed counterpart because they respect this ideal of fighting and the armed groups don't.
  • In a Lupin III second season episode, "Kooky Kabuki", Goemon attempts to murder Lupin as initiation into the Kabuki gang. Lupin escapes, Goemon admits his failure to the new gang and they tell him to get lost. Reappearing to the betrayed Lupin, Goemon demonstrates his shame by asking Arsene to be his second for seppuku. Lupin refuses and challenges his partner to a good old fashioned fist fight to even things. Jigen and Fujiko back out...and when they're finished, both boys look resoundedly a clobbered mess, but with good feelings restored.
  • Maken-ki!: At Tenbi Academy, fighting outside of duels is strictly prohibited and punished by members of the student council. All challenges are issued and conducted formally, including an official to see that the match is fought fairly. It begins once both sides have agreed to the terms, with the loser having to comply with the winner's demands. However, challenges can be declined.
  • In Samurai Harem: Asu no Yoichi, Yoichi will often gladly fight those who challenge him to a fight, and will often fight with whatever their opponent is using. So if it's a fistfight, he won't use his sword. However, if they fight him for less than pure motives, such as being paid to defeat him, then he pulls a Warrior Poet moment on them and then does a Curb-Stomp Battle on them.
  • Sword Art Online: During his final showdown with Kirito, Kayaba willingly lowers himself to the level of the players and forfeits all of his admin privileges, wanting to fight Kirito fairly.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: The Otherworlder Shogou Taguchi derides Geld as a "coward" for wearing armor and demands him to drop his sword and shield to fight him hand-to-hand. Geld replies that his logic makes no sense since they're in the middle of a life-or-death battle and that there's nothing dishonorable about coming from an advantageous position against your enemy. If anything, it shows how seriously you treat them as a threat. Of course, Shogou was never actually interested in a fair fight, he just wanted to see if he could trick the "pig" into dropping his gear. Eventually, however, Geld does drop his gear to fight with his bare hands after Shogou's cowardness and jerkassery leads to butchering his allies for a powerup which pisses Geld off, showing firsthand he didn't need it to deliver a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to his now-begging opponent.
  • Every Yu-Gi-Oh! antagonist fits the bill in one form or another, since the Millennium Puzzle cannot be taken from Yugi without first defeating him in a children's card game. The inability to use physical force does not stop them from blatantly cheating, however. Pegasus is the most prominent example of this.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, Yusuke and Chu eventually agree to settle their fight with a specific kind of knife fighting, forgetting entirely about the rules of the Dark Tournament itself (i.e., by actually having rules).

    Comic Books 
  • The gangs in 20 Fists abide by three rules for their brawls: no killing, no cops, and each crew starts with five people. There's also an unspoken rule banning weapons.
  • Batman:
    • In Batman: Year One, Captain Gordon, armed with a handgun, faces Detective Flass, who is unarmed. Before fighting Flass, Gordon not only holsters his gun, but he also tosses a baseball bat to Flass. It still goes as you'd expect.
    • In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman sits in the Batmobile, his weapons aimed at the Mutant leader. Goaded by the Mutant leader's taunts, Batman exits the Batmobile to fight him hand-to-hand. This proves to be a very bad idea.
  • One of the brothers Arbatov attempts to get Nikolai Dante to do this with a Glove Slap. Nikolai responds with a Groin Attack.
  • Rather gruesomely averted in an issue of The Punisher, where a mob boss is about to beat a disloyal underling to death with a baseball bat... while said underling is tied to a chair.
    Underling: Why not untie me, and make it a fair fight?
    Boss: Because then I might lose. [starts going to work with the bat]
  • In Marvel Versus DC, Wonder Woman manages to lift Thor's hammer, meaning she now has his power in addition to her own. (Meaning the power of two gods combined.) When the time comes for her bout with Storm via cosmic decree, she realizes the unfair advantage she has — and throws the hammer away, deciding to fight without it. (And ironically, because the outcome of each bout was determined by poll, she loses.)
  • Legally protected in Tex Willer, to the point the Professional Killer Ruby Scott was able to get away with multiple kills by challenging his opponents to duel and being just that better than them - and being smart enough to follow the rules to the letter rather than the spirit, as he uses a "swivel" holster that allows him to fire before drawing his gun, and is smart enough to try and set the rules in his favor. Notably, he's the only man to ever defeat Tex in a duel thanks to his swivel holster, but fails to kill him, and ultimately loses the rematch, because his final opponent noticed and turned against him the attempt at getting him to fight with the sun in the eyes.
    • When Tex wants to beat some informations out of a captured crooks he first unties them, as he refuses to beat a defenseless man. Since Tex is quite strong, it always ends with a beat-up crook, usually spilling his guts about what Tex wants to know, at times after Tex knocked them out and then woke them up to continue the "duel".
  • Subverted in Alan Ford: the villain Satanassik (a former Nazi with an interest in fencing) corners Bob Rock in his mansion and throws him a rapier to defend himself. When Bob points out that he can't wield it, he retorts that he wouldn't have given him a sword in the first place.

    Fan Works 
  • In A Growing Affection, Naruto and Hinata's grandfather Hyouta fight an impromptu duel. Naruto is in his uniform with all his equipment, while Hyouta is in casual kimono. Rather than delay the duel so Hyouta can get his equipment, he asks Naruto to agree to fight without his weapons. Naruto agrees. ultimately subverted, in that Hyouta has two holdout kunai, which he uses. Hyouta justifies it in that Naruto agreed not to use weapons, but he did not.
  • In Cadet Scrap, Sophie lays out the rules before the private and illegal bare-knuckle boxing match she sets up against Kate, which are really just modified collegiate boxing rules adapted for a training mat rather than a ring.
  • Lost to Dust: When Yang Xiao Long runs out of bullets, Beowulf puts his weapons away and says they'll settle this with fists.
  • John Dason in Pokéumans has this very policy to fight fair and be respectful. Then again, his Sizeshifter powers do up-end events a little.
  • In Titans and the Lost Boy, the super hero team is threatened with a nuke if they don't agree to attempt a dangerous challenge. Nabiki later reveals she was bluffing and she could never do that for three reasons. 1) She's not a psychopath. 2) It wouldn't be as fun, and 3) Every Superhero, Nation, and Super VILLAIN on the planet would be out for their blood cause that sort of thing cannot be overlooked. And since this would definitely result in a massive crackdown on the villain population, they would be out for blood in vengeance.
  • White Sheep (RWBY): In a blatant act of hypocrisy, Adam Taurus is a Combat Pragmatist until Jaune summons a giant Grimm dragon. Adam asks him to put aside his tricks and fight fairly, but Jaune is in the middle of an Unstoppable Rage, so he ignores Adam and just orders the dragon to not only eat Adam but all of Adam's men. Adam runs away, tries to take a hostage, and gets eaten with little fanfare.
  • Vow of Nudity: Played straight with Serris and Faelar's Duel to the Death. Serris even agrees to use a weapon he isn't proficient in and fight in broad daylight (despite being a drow.) But after Faelar wins and kills him, his followup duel with Haara quickly shows she's far less interested in playing fair.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Subverted in Back to the Future Part III in Marty's showdown with "Mad Dog" Tannen. Marty discards his gun, saying he "thought we could settle this like men". Tannen laughs and just shoots him. Of course, Marty was counting on him doing that, and was wearing armour.
  • In Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, Sever (Lucy Liu) faces Ross (Ray Park), each armed with automatic weapons. They slowly approach each other, then start tossing their weapons to the ground, so they can knife fight, and then eventually fight hand-to-hand.
  • When confronted by Bart at the end of Blazing Saddles, villain Hedley Lamarr claims to be unarmed. Bart puts aside his gun for a fistfight. Hedley was lying. Hedley ends up getting shot anyway.
  • Subverted in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, when Butch fights Harvey Logan. Avoiding this sort of outcome is why smart villains will sometimes follow this trope out of prudent self-interest:
    Butch: No, no, not yet. Not until me and Harvey get the rules straightened out.
    Harvey: Rules? In a knife fight? No rules!
    [Butch immediately kicks Harvey in the groin]
    Butch: Well, if there ain't going to be any rules, let's get the fight started. Someone count 1, 2, 3, go.
    Sundance: [very fast] 1-2-3-go!
    [Butch knocks Harvey out]
  • Played with in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Cap puts aside his shield to fight a French-Algerian mercenary in hand-to-hand when he taunts Cap by saying "I thought you were more than just a shield." He's still a Super-Soldier against a Badass Normal, but the intent is clear.
  • Subverted in Captain Marvel, when in a Call-Back to a scene near the beginning, Yon-Rogg tries to get Carol Danvers to fight him hand-to-hand without using her powers to prove herself. She just blasts him and declares that she doesn't need to prove herself to him.
  • Happens due to the Setting Update of Coriolanus (2011). After running into each other during a battle, Coriolanus and Aufidius put down their assault rifles so as to duel each other with knives, replacing the swordfighting of the original play.
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Koba throws aside his rifle to take on Caesar, after the latter taunts him about it. Justified given that he can see Caesar is still weak, and the ape society's emphasis on their leader having physical strength. However, Koba quickly picks up a wound that makes him vulnerable.
  • There's a moment in Demolition Man where the villain — Simon Phoenix — kicks the asses of a half-dozen milquetoast future cops of the San Angeles police, taking time to show off various tricks he knows. Late into the fight, one of the ones who comes closest to doing anything only gets that far because Simon turns it into a boxing match and still psyches him out by throwing his hands open as if to get him to stop.
  • Subverted in A Fish Called Wanda, when Otto implies that Archie is not manly enough to face him without a gun. Archie puts down his gun, declaring "I used to box for Oxford!" "I used to kill people for the CIA," Otto replies, picking up the gun and threatening Archie with it.
  • Subverted in The Forbidden Kingdom, when the Jade Warlord challenges the Monkey King to a fair fight without his magic powers or the Monkey King's magic staff. However, the minute he puts aside his staff, the Warlord uses his magic to turn him into a statue.
  • Furious 7: Dom corners Deckard Shaw and threatens him with a shotgun, but puts it away and challenges him to a street fight.
  • The Grey: When Ottway is surrounded by a pack of wolves, the Alpha calls the pack off and nonverbally challenges him to one-on-one combat. The Alpha even waits for him to finish building a shrine to his fallen comrades and prepare his weapons before attacking.
  • All fights between immortals in Highlander are governed by certain rules. They must be one-on-one and may not take place on holy ground. Then there's the villain in Highlander: Endgame breaks the first rule and just kills a bunch of immortals while they're tied up and sends his immortal Mooks to prepare a target for him. He then kills the mooks while they're unarmed at a dinner table. The spin-off television series sees it a time or two as well, like the one who teamed up with a mortal who shot the immortals first.
  • In one memorable scene from Hitman, Agent 47 gets into a gunfight with 3 other assassins in a subway station. But after a call to "die with dignity", all the assassins drop their guns, pull out two swords secretly hidden on their backs, and proceed to have a swordfight.
  • John Wayne films:
    • The Spoilers (1942): John Wayne plays Roy Glennister, who turns up Just in Time to stop the villain from forcing himself on the Damsel in Distress. The villain points out that he doesn't have his gun on him, so Roy says they'll have to settle matters the old fashioned way, and a truly epic fistfight ensues.
    • The Quiet Man has John Wayne as Sean Thornton returning to Oireland, as The Atoner for killing a man during a boxing match. There, he meets, courts and marries Fiery Redhead Mary Kate Danaher, sister of the Boisterous Bruiser Will Danaher. A tiff over Kate's dowry leads to a mano a mano standoff of Danaher versus Thornton. Before beginning the slugfest, Danaher makes a show of declaring "Marquis of Queensbury rules." Thornton does the same, and is nearly blindsided by the first blow. Thereafter, Thornton adopts "Marquis of Queensbury" as an impromptu Battle Cry while denting Danaher's face with his knuckles.
  • Kate. Kijima turns up with a gang of Yakuza mooks to kill Renji, but offers him the chance to become the new oyabun by challenging him to fight one-on-one with katana. Renji puts down his gun and accepts the challenge but mocks his pretension, saying they are thugs, not samurai. Samurai or not, Kijima defeats him with a Single-Stroke Battle, then cuts off his head.
  • Subverted with Vernita Green in the first part of Kill Bill. At first, it seems she's offering the Bride a duel on equal terms. However, the offer is only a ruse to catch her enemy off-guard so she can use a gun concealed in a cereal box. Unfortunately for her, the Bride was quick enough to throw her knife and kill her before she could use it.
  • The Legend of Frenchie King: before their fight, Louise shows Maria, who's carrying a rifle, that she doesn't have guns on her. Maria silently agrees to a physical brawl and throws away her rifle.
  • Man of Steel: Colonel Hardy fires everything he has at Faora-Ul to no avail. When he runs out of bullets, he draws a knife, determined to go down fighting. Faora draws her own blade. It's still no contest, but is done as a sign of respect.
    Faora: A good death is its own reward.
  • The Mask of Zorro: Captain Love pulls a gun on Zorro, but then throws it away and faces him in a sword fight.
  • The Patriot (2000): General Cornwallis upholds this method of conducting war to the highest degree. His subordinate, Col. Tavington... not so much.
  • Patton: The titular general talks about how he wishes he could settle the North Africa campaign with a duel against Rommel, just the two of them in tanks like two knights jousting. Of course, Patton then goes on to be a Combat Pragmatist in every fight.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: Subverted. In their first swordfight, Will Turner calls out Captain Jack's throwing dirt in his face as cheating, to which Jack simply replies, "pirate". When Will brings it up again after the two men have allied, Jack essentially says that always expecting a fair fight is an easy way to get killed.
  • Predator: The titular creature has Dutch cornered and at its mercy. Since Dutch proved himself to be a Worthy Opponent, the Predator removes his mask, discards its gear, and faces Dutch in hand-to-hand combat.
  • The Princess Bride has two of these. Fezzik is one, as indicated in the page quote, and while the Man in Black does note he's still at a disadvantage in hand-to-hand combat, Fezzik reminds him he can kill him with a rock faster than he can close the distance with his sword and it's only the fact he didn't want to that the Man in Black didn't get splattered by the first rock in the first place. The other is Inigo Montoya, who, although just waiting for the Man in Black to finish climbing the Cliffs of Insanity so he can duel him to the death, very pleasantly assists him in reaching the top and allows his opponent to get his breath back and remove some rocks from his boots before undertaking the fight. He even provides background exposition about why he's in the villain industry while he waits. And hands his sword to the Man in Black so that he can marvel at the craftsmanship, leaving himself completely defenseless. The Man in Black compliments him, then gives the sword back. And on top of that, they compliment and discuss each other's sword-fighting techniques while they're fighting. This, presumably, is why the Man in Black makes a point of sparing both of their lives ("I would as soon destroy a stained-glass window as an artist of your talent!"), while Vizzini, who plays dirty, gets no such mercy.
  • The Raid Redemption uses this to underscore the Blood Knight tendencies of Mad Dog, getting the drop on Sgt. Jaka with a gun and then immediately casting it aside in favour of hand-to-hand combat, explaining that he finds guns too impersonal, "like ordering fucking takeout"..
  • In Rush Hour, Carter is captured by Triad members at a restaurant, and Tucker tells Sang "OK, put the gun down, fight like a man." Carter then gets beaten up. At the climax, Carter has Sang at gunpoint, and Sang pulls the trope back on him. Averted in that when both Carter and Sang throw away their guns, they both pull out their hidden guns, except Carter is able to kill Sang.
  • Subverted in Safe (2012) when Luke and Alex finally find themselves face to face. Alex has a gun to Mei's head, but after a brief conversation both men put down their guns and square off, ready to settle this the old-fashioned way... and then Mei picks up one of the discarded guns and shoots Alex in the leg, after which Luke swiftly finishes him off.
  • A Defied Trope twice in Serenity. In one scene, the Operative points out that he has come alone and unarmed in order to show that he's serious about settling something with peaceful negotiation. Mal—being Mal—plugs him in the chest, though the Operative swiftly turns the tables by showing that not only did he wear body armor but he's also an expert in hand-to-hand and swiftly takes down the unsuspecting Mal. Near the end of the film, the Operative returns the favor by shooting Mal without warning, causing Mal to yell, "You shot me in the back!"
  • In Seventh Son (2015), Radu transforms into a dragon to attack Gregory. After Gregory accuses him of lacking honor, Radu returns to human form and even tosses Gregory a weapon. After a hard fight, Gregory kills him and comments, "You should have stayed a dragon."
  • SHAZAM! (2019): Billy (as Shazam) urges the two convenience store robbers to not use guns and fight like real men after addressing them as gentlemen.
  • In the middle of a fight scene in S.W.A.T. (2003), Officer Street disarms the villain, holding him at gunpoint. (Although the magazine has been removed from the gun, there's still a bullet in the chamber.) Instead of arresting him (or shooting him), Street ejects the bullet from the chamber, drops the gun, and continues fighting hand-to-hand.
  • In The Terror of Tiny Town, After Buck shoots Haines' gun out of his hands, Haines tells him to get it over with and shoot him. Buck instead says he'll even the odds and throws away his own gun. A drawn-out fistfight follows.
  • Spoofed in the 1986 action-comedy Tough Guys. Two aging ex-cons find themselves confronted by gangbangers.
    Harry: Now wait a minute, this ain't a fair fight.
    Archie: There's six of you; only two of us.
    Harry: And you've got knives, and we've got nothing.
    Gang leader: But that's how we win.
    Archie: You know when we lived in this neighborhood, there were rules to streetfighting.
    Gang leader: Rules? What kind of rules?
    Archie: Well for one thing, you couldn't do this! [groin attack] Or this! [eye scream] Or this! [right cross with a fistful of quarters] Now does everyone understand the rules? [other gangbangers flee]
  • In Lethal Weapon, after everything is pretty much finished, Riggs gives Joshua the opportunity to face him in a one-on-one martial arts fight rather than just let the army of cops arrest him.
  • The climax of War God, after Guan Yu has killed two of the three Martian villains with his iconic Green Dragon Saber. The third Martian drops his (useless) laser weapon and challenged Guan Yu to a fistfight, and Guan Yu obliged by planting the Green Dragon Saber to the ground - cue an epic kung-fu duel between a Chinese war deity and a Martian (!!!).
  • Way of the Dragon features a famous fight scene between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris, where the two allow a moment to stretch and warm up. They also allow each other a moment to get up when they are knocked prone — this is justified because certain fighting styles purposely use sitting as a defensive tactic, as most techniques force an attacker to overextend to reach them. When Lee wins, he respectfully lays his opponent's gi over his dead body.

  • Lone Wolf: In Book 19, Wolf's Bane, after a long cat-and-mouse game, when Lone Wolf finally catches up to his Evil Knockoff Wolf's Bane, the villain challenges him to an honorable duel using only two rapiers he has prepared. He allows Lone Wolf to inspect both rapiers to confirm that neither of them have been sabotaged or enchanted. If the player tries to refuse, Wolf's Bane will accuse Lone Wolf of cowardice and the duel will begin regardless. Of course, when Wolf's Bane is about to lose, he cheats by summoning a monster called a Doom-blight to attack the hero, but Alyss interferes and saves him.

  • Used repeatedly in The Chronicles of Narnia series. King Miraz in Prince Caspian, for example, is goaded into a duel by his treacherous underlings despite being in a position where his army should be victorious without effort. He fights High King Peter and for all his faults, certainly doesn't lack for courage nor does he attempt to cheat in the duel.
  • Invoked but invariably defied in the Discworld novels; a certain nobleman known only as the Marquis of Fantailler got into multiple fights in his youth, mostly because his parents named him "the Marquis of Fantailler". He then created a set of rules intended to be a guideline to this sort of behavior (cynically noted in series as "rules governing where people weren't supposed to hit him", with the implication that he was a rubbish fighter who invariably lost). As Combat Pragmatism is the norm in the Disc's cities, these rules are openly dismissed as rubbish by anyone who seriously understands fighting, and many people trying to fight by them have instead ended up being seriously beaten or even killed when their opponent refused to play by Fantailler's rules. Only one person in the series has not lost embarrassingly when using these rules — Otto von Schriek, who, being a vampire, has enough Super-Strength and Super-Speed that it's no hindrance to him. Even Carrot loses fights when he sticks to Marquis of Fantailler.
    • Subverted quite brilliantly in one fight. When Vimes asks an angry blacksmith if he wants to fight by the rules, the blacksmith scoffs at him. Vimes responds by rapidly taking him down with dirty fighting moves.
  • Seen quite a bit in the canon BattleTech universe, where settling disputes with fights between relatively few men and women in their Humongous Mecha is quite common and individual notions of the rules of engagement can shape entire battles. An excellent example may be the final fight in the novel Ideal War (which, despite the name, has up to then dealt mostly with dirty guerrilla warfare and its dehumanizing effects on people): The defenders are positioned in the capital city and it would take a lot of effort and collateral damage to root them out. Faced with that prospect in the pre-battle negotiations, their commanding officer instead decides to do the honorable thing and face their attackers (a unit actually created to embody the ideals of chivalry and commanded by the planetary ruler's liege lord to boot) out in the open to settle things once and for all.
    • This mostly depends on the houses or clans that are fighting and how much they hate each other. Most battles take the form of duels because battlemechs are expensive, even more expensive and in fact nearly irreplaceable are FTL capable drop ships. In the end it just works better most of the time to have a smaller battle and agree to abide by the outcome, it leaves your force intact to come back later, and you resources intact to be taken back if/when you return. Notable exceptions are the destruction of smoke jaguar, which was an all-out war of annihilation, and the battle of tukayyid which itself was basically a duel on a much grander scale.
    • Generally subverted in the Mercenaries series of games; not surprisingly, the concept of fighting for money does not lend itself well to gentlemanly ways. The subversion rarely lasts for long, however, since at a certain point in the game the main character always ends up picking a side and fighting for them out of a variety of morally noble reasons. There are exceptions here too, though, in 4, you are faced with turning back a Clan invasion, and are given the choice of either engaging in an "honorable" duel, or "dishonorably" attacking the Clanners at night.
    • Usually subverted in the video game as well: since you're commanding a mercenary company, you're not terribly concerned with things like "rules and propriety" beyond the satisfaction of getting a pay day. In fact, a common mission involves a single heavily-armed Mech wandering around and being a nuisance, which everyone knows is a trap, and your company being hired to spring the trap. Sure enough, it results in reinforcements showing up to ambush you. In every single storyline campaign, whenever someone says that they intend to fight honorably, it's a trap and you can count on them calling in reinforcements.
  • Sparhawk and Martel's final duel in The Sapphire Rose takes this form. As both men are knights, and old former friends who have literally waited about a decade to face each other in combat, they fight in the honorable fashion, and allow each other a short breather when they grow tired, talking and assessing each other's styles while they rest before returning to trying to kill each other. For extra points, Martel suspects he's going to lose anyway, and knows he's going to die several attacks before the final blow falls because of his mastery of swordplay.
  • Sons of Dorn: Jean-Robur is warned that the enemy do not fight properly. In his first battle, he quickly learns to play Combat Pragmatist.
  • In Matt Farrer's "After Desh'ea" (in the Horus Heresy book Tales of Heresy), Angron is spitting with fury because the War Hounds will not fight him properly, giving him their names and all the rituals of the Gladiator Games.
  • The code duello in Honor Harrington, enforced by the fact that the line judges shoot you if you cheat. This happens to Pavel Young in his fight against Honor. After trying to avoid being challenged by her (he saw the Curb-Stomp Battle she gave the professional in his employ), he's stuck meeting her on the field. He tries to shoot early, and gets blown away. Not that he had a prayer in the first place. A Karmic Death if ever there was one.
  • Exile's Honor: Alberich's very first assignment as the new Weaponsmaster Second is to bout with two Heraldic students who have been getting years of training from "masters of the sword" who teach this style exclusively (the current Weaponsmaster is too arthritic to demonstrate why fancy court dueling doesn't work when fighting bandits). The only thing keeping the bout (against both of them at once) out of Curb-Stomp Battle territory is that while Alberich is a pure Combat Pragmatist, he's not a bully and deliberately goes easy on the boys, only driving them to the brink of exhaustion.
    • It's also made clear, both in this duology and other books he appears in, that he teaches most of his students, if not quite "fancy court" fighting, a style suitable for dueling. This is for entirely pragmatic reasons: he has a limited time to teach his students (who have a wide variety of life experiences and aptitudes for combat) to survive a fight, and most of those students are more likely to be acting as police stopping brawls or intervening in feuds between technically friendly civilians or leading soldiers on a battlefield than fighting violent criminals in back alleys or assailed by professional assassins. So his base lesson plan consists of making sure people look like they've been trained and can fight using techniques onlookers would consider "fair enough", with how to recognize and handle more "dirty" moves if there's time. He'll expand or substitute for people who either have the ability and inclination to learn more than that, or people who absolutely do need to survive out of uniform or against assassins.
  • In the book The White Company by Arthur Conan Doyle, a novel that takes place during the Hundred Years War, one of the main characters, an old cavalier by the name of Sir Nigel Loring, is constantly challenging people to honorable duels simply for honor's sake. Even in the war he holds no malice for the enemy and regards combat as a chance to further himself.
  • The wizarding world (and the supernatural world at large) has codified rules for dueling in The Dresden Files, mirroring code duello. This comes up twice, first when Harry is challenged to a duel by Count Ortega of the vampire Red Court. Ortega is all but winning when he reveals that he's cheating, and will kill everyone that's with Harry watching the duel, which gives Harry the heroic resolve to start winning, prompting Ortega to freak the hell out and cheat much more overtly. The second happens when Harry gets royally pissed at a couple of scheming White Court vampires, and demands a duel as redress. He mostly gives a good account, but as soon as he starts winning, they cheat. It doesn't help that duels are to the death, either by design (using lethal weapons) or by result (demanding death as the outcome for a loss) giving the losing side little reason not to cheat if they don't want to die. And it turns out that there are very few beings, even nigh-immortal beings, that aren't afraid of death.
  • In Inheritance, the final book of The Inheritance Cycle, after Eragon reaches the stronghold of the Big Bad Galbatorix, he tries to goad him into fighting him in swordplay. Galbatorix refuses, then says he'll indulge his request - only to make him fight his half-brother Murtagh in swordplay instead.
  • In Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, Qordis begs Darth Bane to engage him lightsaber combat instead of just killing him, saying that there is more honor in death by combat. Bane tells him that "Honor is for the living. Dead is dead" and kills him.
  • In The Three Musketeers, and in almost all the adaptations thereof, the European gentleman's Code of Honour of The Cavalier Years is the most sacred thing in the lives of all the heroes, and for that matter of many of their opponents in the Cardinal's Guard.
  • Both honored and inverted in The Merry Adventures Of Robin Hood. When John Little dryly points out that the longbow which Robin holds has a slight advantage over his own quarterstaff, Robin immediately drops the bow, cuts his own staff, and advances to fight in the middle of the bridge. Similarly, Robin refuses to fight Will Scarlet at first, saying that his quarterstaff has an unfair advantage over Will's sword. On the other hand, Robin's sword fight with Guy of Gisbourne was "...the fiercest fight that ever Sherwood saw; for each man knew that either he or the other must die, and that no mercy was to be had in this battle."
  • Shane usually deconstructs this trope. As Marian notes, the unarmed fights that Fletcher's men provoke with Shane are "... brutal and nasty and not just fighting to see who is better at it, but mean and vicious and to win by any way, but to win." Gunfights are on the surface governed by "the Code of the West," but when Wilson shoots Ernie, Shane strips off that veneer:
    Shane: Yes. It's murder. Trick it out as self-defense or with fancy words about an even break for a fair draw and it's still murder.
    • And yet, when the climax arrives, Wilson and Shane confront each other in the classic Quick Draw duel. In a final inversion, though, Fletcher isn't quite so honorable — not that it does him any good.
  • Comes up heavily in the early chapters of Rhythm of War. The aerial battles between the Windrunner Radiants and the Heavenly Ones of the Fused have a highly ceremonious and civilized aspect to them, with individual pairs fighting one-on-one duels without interference from both sides and wounded or defeated combatants often allowed to disengage. When challenged on this by Dalinar, Kaladin defends himself by pointing out that the Heavenly Ones outnumber the Windrunners and their ability to reincarnate by sacrificing commoner singers lets them replace their losses much faster, so making combat more of a game and less lethal works to the Windrunners' favor for the moment.
  • In the First Law short story Two's Company the badass Cloud Cuckoolander Whirrun of Bligh and the equally badass and only slightly saner Javre, Lioness of Hoskopp, meet crossing a narrow bridge and, after each refuses to go back to let the other cross first, agree that there's only one way to settle this. They then each try to insist on being the one to go back to let the other cross so they can fight on solid ground. They agree that this isn't actually worth killing over, and put aside their magic swords in favour of unarmed combat. The fight itself proves inconclusive, first because they keep getting interrupted by their respective enemies, and then because they both decide all this grappling would be more fun without clothes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ash vs. Evil Dead: During the Season 2 finale, Ash proposes this to Baal, stating that if Baal can beat him without his immortality or demonic powers, then the world is his for the taking, but if Ash wins, then he has to pack up and leave Earth. Baal makes it a blood pact and the two go at it... but before long, he quickly starts cheating by breaking out such things as the Shapeshifter Guilt Trip; he even mocks Ash for actually believing he'd stick to the deal.
  • Banshee has the casino fight in the episode The Thunder Man, which begins with Hood confronting a burly security man. After they show each other their holstered guns, both men apparently realise that they don't consider this confrontation worth committing murder over — so with no further discussion they go into a fistfight, with neither man reaching for his weapon.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Spike tosses aside his pole before fighting Buffy in "School Hard". Spike isn't exactly honorable, but he's a Blood Knight who enjoys fighting for the sake of it, so taking on Buffy on equal terms was more entertaining.
    • In "Graduation Day, Part 1", Faith infects Angel with a mystical vampire-killing poison, which can only be cured by the blood of a Slayer; Buffy resolves to drag Faith to Angel to feed on, dead or alive. When she enters her apartment to find Faith lying on the bed facing away from her, the stereo blaring, Buffy, rather than sneak up and cut her throat, turns off the stereo to let Faith know she's there, either out of respect for her former comrade-in-arms or because it's easier to justify killing Faith if Buffy is fighting for her life.
    • Subverted when Buffy is up against a vampire cult obsessed with honor. Their leader brandishes a sword at Buffy and suggests they settle this honorably. After getting the drop on Buffy he says, "Well then, let's just settle it" and dunks her head in water.
  • In The City Hunter, Sang Kook and Yun Sung meet in a hospital. They move the fight to a basement, fight honorably, and don't try to pursue when Yun Sung, inevitably, wins.
  • In one of the best Dream Sequences in Gilligan's Island, Lord Admiral Gilligan refuses to fight his pirate foes unfairly and tosses them swords with a "Ho," [tosses a sword to a pirate], "Ho," [tosses a sword to a pirate], "Ho," [tosses a sword to a pirate] "Ho," [tosses his own sword in the general direction] "Oooh..."
  • Played straight in an early episode of Happy Days, where Richie decided to stand up to a bully who'd been tormenting him. It's plain to everyone that the bully is perfectly capable of kicking Richie's ass, but Fonzie (who up to this point had been protecting Richie from the bully and giving him advice on how to deal with him) makes it a point to tell the bully he'd better fight fair. What most people miss is the clear sub-context that Fonzie fully expects Richie to get beaten up badly...and he also intends to deal with the bully later in order to put a stop his crap once and for all.
  • A rather sadistic subversion occurs in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. In an episode where Trini is learning a new style of Kung-Fu, Rita tries to play with her newfound sense of honor she has been getting, creating a Mantis with the same skills. Eventually, it convinces her to fight it alone, in an even battle. This turns out to be a mistake, because the creature eventually springs an ambush with a squad of Mooks. (It even admits that it never believed in the code of honor she did to begin with.) Fortunately, the other Rangers are close by.
  • Subverted in The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nóg. One of these fights is going on when the Big Bad Maeve tosses The Dragon a sword:
    Deirdre: We agreed no weapons!
    Maeve: We also agreed no rules.
  • In MythQuest, Lancelot and Maleagant fight over Guinevere. After both of them acquire an extra weapon (Maleagant an axe and Lancelot a sword), Lancelot points out that they're both Knights of the Round Table, and they return to fighting with matched swords.
  • The Professionals. Downplayed in "Where the Jungle Ends" where the Villain of the Week is Krivas, a former mercenary colleague of Bodie who killed a woman he loved. After Bodie captures Krivas, he starts gloating about how he's going to shoot pieces off him.
    Doyle: (disgusted) Bodie, you're no better than he is!
    Bodie: (to Krevas) I don't think that's true, do you? Only one way to find out. (throws his gun to Doyle) We're not breaking the law—just bending it. (starts fighting Krevas hand-to-hand)
  • Star Trek: Picard:
    • In "Absolute Candor", Tenqem and his ruffians have Picard outnumbered (on top of the latter being obviously much older), but Tenqem passes him a sword and chooses to fight him alone. Picard trades a couple of blows before dropping his weapon, absolutely adamant that he won't participate in a Duel to the Death. Tenqem plans to kill him anyway, but he was honorable enough to give Picard the option to defend himself.
    • In "Nepenthe", Narissa persuades Elnor to sheathe his sword and to fight her unarmed when she instigates the customary Duel to the Death between a Zhat Vash and a Qowat Milat. After getting kicked in the face so hard that she falls down, she cheats by grabbing her knife and throwing it into Hugh's throat, distracting Elnor long enough to attempt to shoot him with her disruptor.
  • Supernatural: When Dick Roman (a shapeshifting Leviathan) realizes an Invisible Monster is attacking him (Bobby as a ghost), he calls on Bobby to "show yourself; let's do this like real monsters!"

  • In her Star Wars medley, Lindsey Stirling as Leia, Peter Hollens as a Jedi, and Josh a Darth Vader costume all draw lightsabers but then politely gesture that the others go first, obeying rules of etiquette even when hoping to attack one another.
  • No Bullets Fly by Sabaton. Which is about the Charlie Brown and Frans Stigler incident, in which a heavily damaged B-17 stumbled upon an enemy. However, the enemy in question (Frans Stigler) saw that the ship was too damaged to fight, and promptly not only didn't fire but led the ship to safety. Quote the chorus:
    Fly, fighting fair!
    It's the code, of the air!
    Brothers, Heroes, Foes

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Even if you steal another man's love interest, wreck his material possessions, try to kill him, or light him on fire, the only proper retribution is to get the offender in that very ring and pin his shoulders to the mat for a three-count. Accept when it's not always that way: sometimes you have to make him bleed or say "I Quit" instead.
    • And really, it's subverted half the time. The Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho feud, round two, with both men doing all kinds of bodily harm to each other in a high-profile Unsanctioned Match. An especially gratifying subversion came in that match when Jericho had Michaels in the Walls of Jericho, his signature submission hold. Michaels fought for the ropes and finally grabbed them, which in a normal wrestling match would mean that Jericho would have to break the hold. Usually, even in hardcore matches where people smash each other up with weapon after weapon and disqualification isn't even a possibility, the wrestlers still abide by rope breaks for some infuriating reason. However, here... Jericho just didn't release the hold. That is, until Michaels grabbed a fire extinguisher from under the ring and decked him with it.
    • Because the way the kayfabe rulebook is set up a ref can't count a pin or accept a submission when a guy is holding the ropes. So the match can't end. Promotions with more lax booking will sometimes forget this, as Michaels himself once lost via submission to Ted Dibiase Jr and Cody Rhodes performing a two on one submission on him using the ring post, but even AAA, one of the laxest promotions booking wise, once stripped Taya Valkyrie of the Reina De Reinas for using an illegal hold to win the belt from Ayako Hamada, even though the match was No DQ.
    • More often than not, it is subverted with the idea that the two rivals will fight again, this time in a match where their method of subversion will be fully legal. For example, two wrestlers who fight to a double count-out will then fight in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
    • Bizarrely played straight in the Triple H vs. Randy Orton match at WrestleMania XXV; Orton's a sadistic heel who would seize any advantage; Trips has been known to carry around a sledgehammer. Orton spent several months prior to the match systematically destroying the McMahon family (of which Triple H is a member), and Orton hates his opponent with a passion (and routinely uses cheap shots and outright cheating to gain an edge). Both of them fight more or less fairly. While Triple H would have lost the title if he was disqualified, Orton had no such restriction.
  • Of course the organization that takes this the furthest is CMLL, the longest operating wrestling company in the world which also happens to have a strict stance against gimmick matches. Besides regular tag team action(except there is less emphasis on tags in Mexico), a gimmick that does not actually violate this trope. The once a year cage match is about as far away as they get, other than the even rarer "Super Libre", where the participants agree to throw out all rules.
  • While not a promotion in the traditional sense, this was a distinguishing feature of the wrestling matches shown on the UK television program World Of Sport, which had a much lower tolerance for many things other territories were starting to relax on. As a result, most matches ended up being technical grappling displays between "blue eyes".
  • To varying degrees, All Japan Pro Wrestling, New Japan and everyone else on the island who rejected FMW's anything goes approach.
  • Special Events has a private gym set aside specifically for wrestlers to settle grudges without distractions, however PGWA commissioner Susan Green insisted even there professionalism and sportsmanship are musts.
  • Taking a page from FMW's book there were W*ING, IWA Japan, Big Japan, and, eventually, ECW, where the word "disqualification" was practically unheard of. Mick Foley was unpopular in ECW invoking this trope and insisting on sticking to traditional wrestling rules. Even more so for trying to get Tommy Dreamer to leave ECW for the cleaner style of WCW.
  • Among ECW's alumni, The King Of Old School Steve Corino took the stance that Hardcore Wrestling was bad, almost as bad as hardcore music.
  • Ring of Honor takes this even further than most pro wrestling organizations, at least in the Northern USA, for a long time having a code of honor put in place where a wrestler could become a Persona Non Grata for causing a disqualification. Even when the code was overturned, it was still common to see hands shook before and after matches. However, when a feud becomes so bitter and hate-filled that traditional matches are out of the question, ROH books the feuding wrestlers in a no-disqualification match they call a "Fight Without Honor", where it's basically "do whatever you want, the ref is only there to count the pin or check for submissions". An example is El Generico vs. Kevin Steen at Final Battle 2010 - both men disrespected each other right off the bat by spitting in each other's faces, and it only went downhill from there.
  • To illustrate the contrast between the two, Drew Gulak campaigning for a similar gentlemanly honor code in CZW got him booed out of the building. With the exception of the "Best Of The Best" tournament, pin fall, submission, keep it clean is generally seen as the breaks in between the garbage, and even then, they usually are not kept clean.
  • Jervis Cottonbelly of Chikara has this attitude, always trying his best to follow the rules and asking only of his opponents that they do the same. It takes a lot for "the world sweetest man" to fight in an ungentlemanly manner.
  • EVOLVE, started out anyway, as a promotion against Pro Wrestling cliches where nothing that wouldn't be allowed in an honest combat sport would be allowed during their matches. There was one exception to this rule, an "End Of Evolution" match, which was to EVOLVE what a "Fight Without Honor" was to ROH.
  • The Scottish Insane Championship Wrestling spinoff "Fierce Females" has Nikki Storm, who has an "Anti Hardcore" gimmick. As a face no less.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A strange example of this Trope is the death knights of Krynn from the Dragonlance setting, former Knights of Solamnia who were cursed by the gods with undead form for unforgivable crimes such as treason or murder. Despite being Always Chaotic Evil undead abominations, they remember the code they held as Knights of Solamnia, and still fight honorably. They never attack by ambush, or before a foe can ready his weapon.
  • BattleTech:
    • The Clans code of honor, "zellbrigen", lays down the rules for their Asskicking Leads to Leadership duels and for war as a whole. Clanner commanders on both sides "bid" on forces, trying to win the engagement with the minimum amount of war assets required. In combat, Clan pilots verbally acknowledge a target and engage them one-on-one, (generally) avoid melee combat in their BattleMechs, and do not use area-of-effect weapons or artillery. Breaking these rules turns the battle into a "melee" free-for-all, which among the Clans, is grounds for the rule-breaker to potentially lose their rank (but typically only if they lose or don't have someone they can pin the blame on). The Inner Sphere, being out of the loop for 300 years and were busy trying to slaughter each other for most of that time, exploited these rules for as long as they could until the Clanners wised up.
    • The Northwind Highlanders mercenaries were known for this: taking prisoners rather than killing their opponents, avoiding shooting retreating foes, and doing what they could to avoid unnecessary casualties.
    • The Knights of the Inner Sphere was a group founded to promote the idea of chivalry and valor on the battlefield, and they did a decent job of it. Unfortunately, during the Word of Blake Jihad they were the victims of a nerve gas attack since the Word of Blake fought dirty.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Subverted once upon a time. The Avatar of Khaine attempted to challenge the Swarmlord synapse creature to a duel on Craftworld Iyanden. The Swarmlord promptly sicced a dozen Carnifexes on it.
    • Most of the time, played straight in the Challenge mechanic. During the close-combat phase of the game, a Character (usually any significant soldier beyond the rank and file) can challenge a character from the enemy's army, locking the two in combat where no other units can interfere.

    Video Games 
  • Bug Fables: Astotheles prevents you from using items during his fight in order to make the battle square. And if you think you're smart by stunning him with a status effect, he'll break through it and destroy your items anyway.
  • In L.A. Noire, Jack Kelso gets surrounded by three mobsters. Both he and they carry guns. But then he asks them to settle it using Good Old Fisticuffs, to which they happily oblige. He still loses, however.
  • Dudley (pictured above), from the Street Fighter games, is the Trope Namer. A Scary Black Man at first glance, Dudley is a boxer of average stature, but comes from a very wealthy background and is both a scholar and a gentleman. The classically trained fighter often says to his opponent, "Let's fight like gentlemen!" before the round begins.
    • Dudley seems to have been created as a contrast to the Combat Pragmatist Balrog (Boxer), who, as an Expy of Mike Tyson, uses some decidedly unsporting moves in the course of a fight, including headbutting, foot-stomping, and plain old sucker-punching people. This coming from a (disgraced) career heavyweight boxer. To no one's surprise, they're each other's Rival Battle in Super Street Fighter IV.
  • Rubicante from Final Fantasy IV fits this trope. Edge's parents were turned into monsters and unleashed on him (and the party), which almost causes Edge to Heroic BSoD on everyone. He cuts into a This Is Unforgivable! tirade, which Rubicante wholeheartedly agrees with (he had nothing to do with mutating Edge's parents). He then heals your party back to full HP and MP before engaging them in combat. Not to mention that if you cast Fire on him which he absorbs, he responds by repaying the favor and casting Raise on your party. And he heals your party AGAIN before you face all four Elemental Archfiends inside the Giant of Babil.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II, there are at least two situations (the Handmaidens on Telos and the Mandalorian Battle Circle on Dxun) where you have duels against one or more opponents with severe restrictions placed on what you can use.
  • Final Fantasy V: To quote Gilgamesh, "And now, we will fight like men. And ladies. And ladies who dress like men."
  • This happens in Super Mario RPG. Halfway during the boss battle with Jonathan Jones (and after you wiped out the four Pirate Mooks he took into battle with him), you have to fight him one-on-one (as Mario). Unless you kill Jones before his last flunky. The Duel Boss bit only triggers if Jones has no mooks left. Also, if Mario is KOed before Johnny uses his "Get Tough" move, the one-on-one fight won't trigger either.
  • Subverted in Deus Ex, by either you or Gunther Hermann. When you encounter him, provided you performed the right actions earlier, you can kill him instantly by saying his killphrase. If you don't...
    JC Denton: I know you hate being a tool for a bunch of bureaucrats as much as I did. How 'bout we make a gentlemen's agreement?
    Gunther: I am the top agent at UNATCO. It is different now. Mr. Simons said if I defeat you I can have any upgrades I want. THAT is a gentlemen's agreement.
  • Meta Knight of the Kirby franchise fits the mold. In most games in which he appears as a boss, Meta Knight will provide Kirby with a sword and will wait patiently until Kirby picks it up (barring Revenge of the Meta Knight, which took place under time constraint, and even then he waits a good while). It is difficult to tell if he is a gentleman antagonist/anti-hero or just a Stealth Mentor in the games, though. His anime incarnation is more openly a mentor.
    • Also, there's one instance where King Dedede is this. In Revenge of the King, he gives Kirby a hammer before fighting him as Masked Dedede.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Major Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 3 insists on fighting honorably. This doesn't stop Snake and the nearby Ocelot soldiers from pulling out a variety of dirty tricks to shift the advantage to either side, much to the Major's annoyance. Ocelot also calls others on their crap if they start bending the rules (like he did to Volgin).
    • Gray Fox tries this in Metal Gear Solid. If Snake puts his guns away, the Ninja will throw his Katana away.
      Gray Fox: Good! Now we can fight as warriors! Hand-to-hand: it is the basis of all combat. Only a fool would trust his life to a weapon!
    • Liquid does this at the end of both the first and fourth games, carrying Snake to the top of a high place for a final fistfight on both occasions.
  • Pokémon of all things subverts this trope viciously up until the Big Bad (Team Galactic Leader Cyrus) of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl and Platinum, who gives you a Master Ball just because you beat him.
    • He's actually giving the Master Ball to you because he thinks it's useless, as it would act as a Restraining Bolt/Power Limiter on the Olympus Mons whose power he wants (he decides to use the Red Chain instead), and this isn't even his final confrontation with you.
    • Team Rocket cheats like no other, and they still usually lose. You'll get ambushed in the games by several Mooks in a row. Heck, the entire Elite Four is basically an endurance contest of five consecutive battles. You can heal in between battles - however, you have to use your own limited items to heal outside of (and during) battles, and you can't buy any PP-restoring items (although you can grow Leppa Berries before taking the challenge).
    • Played straight in Pokémon Black and White with N, who gladly heals you after you fought the cover legendary. Then he challenges you himself. Normally, it's a third party that heals you for plot events.
    • Wikstrom of the Kalos Elite Four is themed after a Knight in Shining Armor and promises a fair and honorable match when you battle him.
    • A recurring example throughout the series is that the antagonists only ever settle conflicts via pokemon battle, with the main exception (Ghetsis in Black/White attempting to sic his pokemon on you to preempt a battle entirely) being unexpected for that reason. Additionally, antagonists helpfully back down after a battle, which at least makes sense as they're effectively defenseless without their pokemon. Why the various criminals don't simply carry weapons of some kind is rarely mentioned in the series, but has been explained on occasion.
  • Battalion Wars 2 justifies the inaccuracy of Anglo Anti-Air vet missiles against ground troops with this explanation; aware of the tremendous power of their weapons, they deliberately disable auto-lock when up against ground troops so the enemy will at least have a sporting chance. This is probably a reference to the fact that in the first game, AA vets were potent Game Breakers that devastated units in the air and on the ground alike. Other nations' AA units are inaccurate against ground troops for various other reasons — for instance, Tundran Anti-Air missiles use a dated tracking system.
  • In the city of Denerim in Dragon Age: Origins, you run into a knight who demands a duel with you out of revenge and honor. He's heard that the Grey Wardens (whose order you are one of the last of) betrayed the king and led to his brother getting killed in battle (this is, of course, untrue). If you meet up with him at the dueling site, he will have three companions with him (as do you, but you are much more powerful than them). Surprisingly, he actually stays true to his word and fights your main character one-on-one unless you refuse to. In that case, they will all fight and most likely lose miserably. When you kill the knight in a proper duel, his comrades will just walk quietly away and mourn his passing.
  • In the final boss fight in Assassin's Creed II, Ezio lays down his weapons and proposes a fight without weapons or tricks, to which the final boss agrees. Worth mentioning that the final boss fight is with the freakin' Pope!
    • At one point in AC2 Ezio participates in a brawling tournament during Carnevale, Venice, only for one of the later assassination targets to bribe the host into allowing multiple guards into the pit together and with weapons. Fortunately, the player is not penalized for drawing and wielding his own weapons.
      • It's possible to disarm each guard and beat them to a pulp with your fists (but not kill them). Bad. Ass.
    • Averted in Brotherhood's final boss fight, as for all of Cesare Borgia's boasting, he's periodically reinforced by guards who he never bothers to order away.
    • Before the fight with Robert de Sable, Richard the Lionheart makes it seem as if it will be a duel between Altaïr and de Sable. Then the fight starts, and you are facing de Sable with about a dozen other Templars. Luckily, Mook Chivalry is in full effect here.
    • In Assassin's Creed III, Haytham is lured and trapped belowdecks by one of the ship's mates, who threatens him with a sword. Haytham (the player character) notes that it would be unfair for him not to have a sword of his own, so the mate tosses him one, which Haytham uses to kill him.
  • The player can be this in Karateka if he remembers not to approach every opponent in his fighting stance. You can even have the player character and his opponents bow to each other before fighting.
    • Also true in the ending. Don't approach your girlfriend in a fighting stance: you won't win.
  • Team Fortress 2 had unused sounds finally added in the Engineer Update. These include melee dares.
    Spy: Let's settle this like gentlemen!
    • Ironically, The Spy is the least likely to fight like a gentleman. Back Stabs and disguise kits and cloak watches and fake deaths and whatnot.
      • These sounds finally found a use with the dueling 'minigame', which is anything but honorable.
    • It's generally accepted among the community that when an enemy comes at you with a melee weapon, it's good sportsmanship to draw yours as well. Doesn't mean there aren't a lot of Combat Pragmatists out there, though.
  • Cho'Gath's legendary Gentleman Cho skin from League of Legends quotes the trope name word-for-word.
    • He subverts this however since he is a tank and his whole role is to look like a juicy target for a stupid enemy to try to pick off and get curb stomped by his team in hiding. You also have to keep in mind that Cho is an Eldritch Abomination who can easily stun lock you while he chomps on you, literally. Needless to say, trying to invoke this trope on Cho is a terrible idea.
    • Many players dislike ganks (ambushes), saying that "You won't fight me 1v1" or something similar. However, these players tend to be using champions who excel at 1v1 combat, so only the Too Dumb to Live players take up their offer.
  • This is the reason everyone fights with danmaku in Touhou Project, even those characters who supposedly have abilities that would be able to end the fight in an instant. When they stop following these rules, however..
  • In one of the later missions of Hitman: Blood Money, 47 encounters rival assassin Maynard John while on an assignment. John has been looking forward to this for some time, and because he wants to prove himself superior, challenges 47 to a one-on-one gunfight in a soundproof room — no sneak attacks, traps, or tricks. He even leaves guns on a table in the room for 47 to use.
    • Similarly, 47's final battle with Mark Parchezzi III is, at Parchezzi's insistence, a duel. Parchezzi had the perfect opportunity to kill 47 with a bomb earlier but just used it as a distraction so he could go up to the roof and await 47's arrival.
  • Played straight in Red Dead Redemption during the last mission in Mexico. After angering Marstonby by killing Luisa the Mook Lieutenant suggests that they settle things this way.
    "Okay, but we fight like men. Not like dogs."
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • The series is usually good about the concept of a "fair fight" (as far as gameplay is concerned, anyway) except where the Endurance Matches are concerned. In the original game, the player had to go through three of these, fighting two opponents per match (one after the other) per round without replenishing his/her life bar. The third one occurred right before the Boss Battle with Goro (but your life bar did replenish before that, fortunately). This was taken even further in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 where some Endurance Matches required you to fight three opponents, and the optional Shao Kahn's Lost Treasures lets the player select the Mega Endurance Kombat where you have to fight all five of the game's Hidden Characters: Noob Saibot, Classic Sub-Zero, Human Smoke, Ermac, and Mileena.
    • The Story Mode of 9 defies the Trope both in gameplay and story in some places; there are quite a few instances where two enemies "gang up" on the hero who is the focus of the chapter. (This is like Tag mode, except you don't get a partner.) The worst part is, Smoke and Johnny Cage, two guys who are supposed to be heroes did this to Kitana in her chapter and to Jade in hers.
  • The Joker boss fight in Batman: Arkham City starts off like this... and then the Joker calls in a bunch of Mooks. And Mr Abromovich. And, finally, a Titan henchman!
  • In The Awakened Fate Ultimatum, Hien Inugami isn't interested in dirty tricks or dishonorable combat. He doesn't want to fight anyone he doesn't feel is worthy of facing him. Furthermore, when Phyllis temporarily paralyzes both Shin and Jupiel with a neurotoxin, he drives her and the rest of the devils away, then leaves the Amy Magic Refinery for the angels to do as they please, promising to engage Shin again when they actually have a chance to fight properly.
  • Dark Souls: A not-insignificant portion of the fandom invokes this when it comes to PvP fights. Many players just want a fair, one-on-one duel against another player, rather than an all-out anything-goes slaughter-fest. Each of the games provides ways to ensure a fair duel, but even discounting those, some Invaders will wait to attack their target until said target is free of distractions and fully healed up, and will look down on trying to heal mid-fight. This is taken so far that some players set up "Fight Clubs", where multiple players will be summoned/invade, with a "ring" made of prism stones, and then a series of one-on-one duels will be held, with other players spectating. It is considered extremely bad form to interrupt a Fight Club, and will result in absolutely everyone present teaming up to murder you for it.
    • For in-game examples, Sir Alonne from the Dark Souls II DLC, and the Abyss Watchers from Dark Souls III. Although the Abyss Watchers will only salute you the once.
    • Another tradition for honourable Souls PvP combat is to greet your opponent with a gesture, rather than attacking immediately. A player who begins their invasion with a courtly bow or friendly wave is likely to be there for a fair fight, as opposed to an anything-goes maulfest.
  • Punch-Out!!: After an entire career of facing opponents with questionable tactics or attire in the Wii game, the final boss and World Champion Mr. Sandman is the only boxer in the game to not resort to using weapons, dirty / illegal moves, support like Soda Popinski's health-replenishing soda, or even improper boxing attire or a national stereotype (fellow American boxer Super Macho Man got him covered there anyway). Yes, even Mac technically breaks rules: his Star Punch is debatably illegal as he's not grounded during the blow and turns his back to the opponent, and wearing a vest is definitely against the rules. During the Championship bout and the Title Defense rematch he gives you a straightforward and fair fight, and one that's more difficult than any other opponent in the game save for Secret Character Donkey Kong.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, Luxord demonstrates this when you fight him, as he takes away your party members both times so that it is you versus him. However, his fights are less battles and more games, which he is more than happy to abide by the rules of, as according to him, he cannot truly savor victory if he doesn't. Sora respects him so much that at the end of his second fight, as Luxord fades away, he and Sora both agree that they should game with each other when the fate of the world isn't hanging in the balance.
  • In Undertale, when Undyne fights you on a Neutral run, she wants to beat you fairly, so she gives you a spear to block her attacks with. If you repeatedly fail to dodge her first attack, however, she'll get increasingly frustrated until she just gives up and swarms you with one of her fastest attacks.
  • The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night: During the final boss battle, Gaul seems to have some sense of honor. After using his Magic Wand to drain Spyro's powers, leaving him with only physical attacks for the first part of the fight, he orders his mooks to stay back so he can fight Spyro one on one, and despite having a variety of magical attacks, refrains from using them until Dark Spyro manifests.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In the series' backstory, Pelinal Whitestrake was the legendary 1st Era hero of mankind/racist berserker. Believed to have been a Shezarrine, physical incarnations of the spirit of the "dead" creator god Lorkhan (known to the Imperials as "Shezarr"), Pelinal came to St. Alessia to serve as her divine champion in the war against the Ayleids. Pelinal's standard tactic was to fly into fits of Unstoppable Rage (mostly directed at the Ayleids) during which he would be stained with their blood and left so much carnage in his wake that Kyne, one of the Divines, would have to send in her rain to cleanse Ayleid forts and village before they could be used by Alessia's forces. However, when it came to the Ayleid sorcerer-kings, he would instead challenge them to a Duel to the Death. At the end of the war, he battled the Ayleid leader, Umaril the Unfeathered, in this fashion. He defeated, but could not kill, Umaril who had divine protection from the Daedric Prince Meridia.
    • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, unarmed brawls are handled this way; you can wail on the opponent with your bare fistsnote  until they run out of HP and go to their knees, and all others will just stand back. But the moment you pull out a weapon or charge up a spell, the brawl is over — it becomes a crime, and the bystanders will dogpile you for it.
  • Grimm, from Hollow Knight's titular DLC, refers to your first battle with him as a "dance" and politely bows to you at the start. You can betray his courtesy and attack him while his guard is down, although as a result he'll get pissed and "reward" your eagerness to fight with his strongest attack.
  • Crypt Man from the Mega Man (Classic) fangame Mega Man Rock Force is a Noble Demon who tries to avoid casualties, and if Mega Man isn't at full health when he encounters him, he'll throw Mega Man a life tank so that both he and Mega Man start the fight at full HP.
  • Subverted in Persona 5 by Sae Niijima. Even though she says you're going to settle things fair and square, her Palace is caused by having a warped sense of justice that requires victory at all cost so in the Battle Arena you're forced to fight two opponents at once instead of the one-on-one fight that was promised (followed by making you then fight three opponents, and then a sub-boss), and her boss fight having a roulette wheel where you need to gamble on the outcome, which is of course rigged.
    • Played more straight in Persona 5 Royal against Shadow Shido, who after having been weakened enough, he decides it's time to fight one-on-one with Joker.
  • In Chapter Two of Deltarune, Noelle joins the party, and is deeply confused the first time she's thrown into a battle. Upon realizing she's never battled before and has no idea what to do, the Virovirokun the party's fighting pauses and helps Kris explain how it works to her before resuming their attacks.
  • Invoked often in World of Warcraft but, fittingly for the setting, hardly ever followed. All three of the times that a Mak'gora, the Horde's traditional duel, has taken place someone has cheated: and once it was the supposedly "good guy". Magatha Grimtotem rigs the fight between Garrosh Hellscream and Cairne Bloodhoof, much to Garrosh's dismay. Thrall cheats in his fight with Garrosh. Then Sylvanas cheats in her duel with Saurfang, although he knew she would cheat and that was kind of the point. One of the major rules of the duel is that you can't cast spells, although you can use magically enhanced weapons. Normally, a shaman blesses each weapon: and in fact this is how Magatha rigged the Garrosh/Cairne fight. Thrall was disarmed, and then used shamanic magic to win rather than overcoming Garrosh with skill. Sylvanas gets mad halfway through, and blasts Saurfang with some kind of shadowy purple stuff. On the flip side, the Alliance talks about honor an awful lot but when it actually comes to a fight they're rarely all that concerned about getting their hands dirty. Straight up murdering unarmed Horde miners over some shiny explosive rocks? sure, why not. Just blithely bringing their war with the Horde to a new continent, without giving a second thought to how it impacted the natives? check...twice. Oh, and it's not like they only treat their enemies badly either: the Night Elves faced a genocidal terrorist, and High King Anduin Wrynn sends no help whatsoever. Ditto Stormwind's reaction to the invasion of Quel'thalas...or rather total lack thereof. Not to mention whatever Jaina Proudmoore thought she was doing by trying to invade Durotar. Oh yes, and there was also that time that both factions just decided to murder the Amani trolls for...well basically no reason actually. War crimes are disturbingly common on Azeroth, and almost nobody's hands are clean. Except for the Argent Crusade. Definitely not the Player Character though.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Ace Attorney, there's only one prosecutor who, at his debut, doesn't resort to dirty tricks or physical harm and that's Klavier Gavin from Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.
    • Someone might also include Barok van Zieks from The Great Ace Attorney, who for all his hatred towards Ryunosuke and transgressions in court, he's doing his job without pulling tricks.
      • This is played literally in the second game. Even after finding out his friend is a serial killer, Genshin Asogi accepts Klint Van Zieks's request of a duel so that he could die with still some of his pride.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Assassin politely greets all opponents and then attempts to butcher them. But he chats the whole time, and all he wants to do is have a good fight without outside interruption. If something happens that is disadvantageous to his opponent like Rider spying on Saber to see her Noble Phantasm he will stop fighting immediately and will not take advantage of outside distractions, such as Saber abandoning the fight temporarily in order to help Shirou. He's like a formal Lancer. He also takes defeat well.
    • Most of the more 'heroic' heroic spirits seem to follow some unspoken code of conduct in battle, fighting straight up, giving forewarning on use of their Noble Phantasms, and not targeting each others' masters. Saber, Lancer, Assassin, and to a lesser degree Rider and Berserker, seem to follow this (although in Berserker's case it's probably because he's too mindless to do it otherwise). Even Gilgamesh follows this trope in his own twisted way (though that's mostly due to his ego). Archer and Caster do not abide by it and tend to be distrusted and disliked by their fellow Servants as a result.

  • Dominic Deegan has a swordsman named Arcangelo Scarlatti. He is employed as a proxy (substitute) to fight Szark Sturtz, who steps in for master swordsman Donovan Deegan. During the battle, a corrupt knight strikes Sturtz in an old and perpetually open wound, crippling him for a minute or two. Scarlatti can only look on in disgust and anger at the knight's actions.
    • It goes beyond that; Scarlatti is outright offended that they thought interfering would be necessary.
      • It's worse than that, it was a duel to first blood. Stark's wound is infernal and the ONLY way to stop the pain is for him to kill somebody. If Scarlatti lost in skill, his employer expected him to die, thus 'winning' the duel by default. After he lost the duel, Stark having been able to control his bloodlust, Scarlatti turned in evidence of his employer having plotted an assassination attempt.
    • It was also revealed that Scarlatti often challenges brash swordsmen who use their skills to bully others.
    • Scarlatti was introduced as a subversion, though. He's famous for the "Scarlatti Disarm," a technique that disarms the opponent and permanently cripples their sword hand. Not very gentlemanly at all.
  • In Dragon Mango, when Agent Vinegar formally challenges the dragon, it responds by observing that everyone else attacked him like a beast, so it killed them like beasts; for Vinegar, he tells his name Lecithin before the fight.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Dinobot from Beast Wars prefers to fight like this, even going so far as to rescue the Maximal leader he was fighting for command of the faction with after he slipped off the rock bridge they were fighting on because he felt he wouldn't have "truly" won the duel if he didn't.
    Dinobot: "I prefer to beat my opponents the old-fashioned way... Brutally!"
  • Ben 10: Alien Force: In "In Charm's Way", Charmcaster manages to drain Gwen's powers into herself. In a rematch, Gwen challenges Charmcaster to face her in a fistfight. Charmcaster refuses and tries to blast her, but Gwen reveals she knew she would do that and uses a spell to absorb the blast and regain her powers.
  • Subverted in ReBoot. Megabyte convinces Matrix to throw his gun away and "fight like a real sprite." This gets Megabyte Punched Across the Room— which leaves a dent in Megabyte's armored chest (cue Oh, Crap! expression from Megabyte)— and then tackled through a wall, at which point Megabyte pulls out his Wolverine Claws. Then AndrAIa throws her trident at the two of them for Matrix to use.
  • Played with in Storm Hawks, where the Guardians of Terra Rex live by a strict code of honor and disparage the titular team for their rougher ways. Of course, this idea then gets the Rex Guardians in trouble when they expect the bad guys to live up to this code, and hand over a powerful crystal to them...
    Rex Guardian: He gave his word! He is honor bound!
    The Dark Ace: Honor is overrated. The Cyclonian invasion force is preparing as we speak.
  • The Super Hero Squad Show: Wolverine and Reptil played a game of golf against MODOK and Abomination for a fractal. The villains lost and subverted the trope when they decided to take the fractal by force anyway and lie about it.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Fairies and Anti-Fairies warred for the right to have godchildren until they decided to use some less violent way to settle this. They eventually agreed to hold a cooking contest every thousand years with Mother Nature as the judge.
  • In the Teen Titans episode "Betrothed", Starfire challenges Blackfire for the throne of Tamaran, which Blackfire gladly accepts. Robin is about to help, but Galfore quickly tells him not to; helping either combatant in this type of fight results in her being disqualified. (And given that Starfire is Galfore's ward, he likely wanted to help even more than Robin did.) Note that while Starfire fights fair in this fight, Blackfire clearly does not, using an enchanted necklace that makes her nearly invulnerable. (Unfortunately, she makes the mistake of gloating and telling Starfire that; Starfire manages to grab hold of the necklace and crush it, then win the fight.)
  • Wimpy spells out his code of ethics in the Popeye cartoon "Duel to the Finish" when Olive's kiss on Wimpy gets Popeye riled enough to fight:
    Wimpy: Fisticuffs are beneath my dignity. Gentlemen usually duel for their ladylove.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle: Mr. Peabody helps the Marquis of Queensbury write the rules of boxing in an episode of his segment.
  • Looney Tunes: In one of Bugs' confrontations with Yosemite Sam, he originally gets him to agree to this. It doesn't take long for him to get tired of it:
    Yosemite Sam: "No more gentleman's stuff! From now on ya fights my way — dirty!"
  • Samurai Jack: In the episode "Jack vs. Aku", Aku, proposes a one-on-one duel with Jack, with two conditions: Jack can't use his sword, and Aku can't use his superpowers. Aku holds his own for a while, but when Jack has him on the ropes, he quickly cheats, snatches Jack's sword, and tries to break it, only to find himself Out-Gambitted when the sword he breaks turns out to be fake; Jack was smart enough to anticipate that Aku would eventually break the rules, and thus stashed fake swords all over the place as decoys.
  • Batman Beyond: In "Revenant", former geek Willie Watt got buff in prison and gained telekinesis. When he attempts to get revenge on his former tormentor Nelson Nash, Nelson complains it's not fair, so Willie agrees to fight him without powers. However, when Nelson gets the upper hand, Willie goes back on his word and uses telekinesis to block Nelson's punch and then send him flying.
  • Wolverine and the X-Men (2009): In "Code of Conduct", Kenuichio Harada/The Silver Samurai challenges Logan/Wolverine to a duel with katanas. With Harada's Yakuza superiors as the referees, they agree Logan can't use his Wolverine Claws and Harada can't use his The Magic Touch ability that turns anything he holds into an Absurdly Sharp Blade. When Logan gets the upper hand, Harada loses his temper and starts using his powers. His superiors quickly knock him out and disqualify him.
  • Super Chicken talks a villain he's facing into a fair fight by playing on mutual school loyalty. They're both graduates of the Technical Institute of Watchmaking (also known as Tick Tock Tech).

    Real Life 
  • All combat sports are filled with rules about what moves each combatant can perform and how/where/when the fight can take place. Those are the only things that keeps the fights athletic competitions rather than assaults.
    • Some Judo dojos, especially those that lean more on the traditional side rather than the agonistic one, teach and put great emphasis on controlling and somewhat easing the fall of the other practitioner on the ground rather than slamming them into the oblivion, even in a competitive setting.
    • When a capoeira fighter is clearly superior than the other one, they are supposed to show that through landing flashy techniques or dodging everything the opponents throws at them.
    • While few combat sports are as codified as boxing, there are still many tricks and techniques that are legal but seen as unsportmanlike and frowned upon.
    • Pointedly inverted with Krav Maga. Designed for real-world scenarios and not competition, "below the belt" is an irrelevant concept. If engagement is the only option, strike hard and fast at the most vulnerable points to finish the fight as quickly as possible.
  • Unlike most other sports leagues, in the National Hockey League. fighting is considered part of the game and does not result in an automatic suspension. Naturally, this means that fighting is a semi-regular occurrence, to the point where a set of unspoken rules of fighting, referred to as "The Code", developed between the players, and it is a serious no-no to break it.
    • The rules are generally as follows: both fighters have to agree to the fight (signaled by squaring off and dropping their gloves); absolutely no gloves allowed (they can cause serious damage); when the fight starts, both fighters grab the other's jersey, thus allowing punches with only one hand; only punching is allowed: no kicking (both sides are wearing sharpened blades on their feet), no pulling off the other's jersey, no going for the feet; if a fighter goes to one knee, the fight is over: if you continue past this point, you're a bully, it's an automatic game ejection, and it could actually result in a criminal assault charge.
  • In societies where duels were allowed, there were rules governing conduct. However, these tended to apply mostly to pre- and post-duel scenarios: seconds, duel locations, that kind of thing. In the Renaissance-Early Industrial West, combat with rapiers and its descendants was an inelegant, brutal affair where grapples, chokes, hidden pistols, trips, gouges, and so on were all fair. For a long time, calling someone a "good fencer" was basically calling him a ruffian and murderer. In the East, the flowery, classy duels of cinema were no more real. And most of those gun-fighting duels of the American West were pure Hollywood as well. Duels with dueling pistols were often gamed heavily as well. What we today would consider an "honorable duel" was actually fairly rare, especially before the 19th century.
  • The various Laws of war, governing the conduct of belligerent nations. The big ones are against perfidy: While Dressing as the Enemy is allowed, fighting while dressed so is not allowed. Attacking a vehicle or building bearing the Red Cross or a related symbol is not allowed, as is using such for combat purposes (storing ammo, or the like). Attacking someone bearing a white flag is disallowed, as is using it falsely. This can be problematic when fighting those who are the worst kind of combat pragmatists.
    • Or, of course, against those who simply haven't heard of those conventions, either through isolation or willful ignorance of the world at large. Or, similarly, when the world at large is ignorant of the isolated culture's norms; history is utterly rife with instances of an "exploration" or "peace keeping" or whatever force ending up engaging in a full-blown war of attrition because they didn't realize that, say, the native culture believed that drawing your weapon (not putting it away) was a sign of respect, or that insults and threats were considered "polite banter", etc.
    • The Huruslahti Lottery in the Battle of Varkaus, Finnish Civil War 1918. The Reds pretended to surrender, and while the victorious Whites advanced over the Huruslahti bay ice, the Reds opened machine gun fire. Naturally the Whites were not amused at all. The Whites then made an all-out charge, crushing the Reds. Immediately after the battle, all Reds were ordered on line on the ice, and after the Whites had killed all the Red wounded, they shot every fifth man, as "the lottery", on the line as vengeance. This illustrates why we have such rules in the first place, as one war crime is often used to justify another.
  • While chivalry was dead everywhere else in World War I, it thrived in the air, where, given callous superiors who considered each plane more valuable than the man flying it and refused to grant them parachutes on the grounds it would encourage pilots to "cowardice," a code of mutual respect arose between airmen on both sides of the war. If someone had a badly-damaged craft, or guns so jammed they couldn't fire, it was not uncommon for enemy pilots to let them go, and gunning down men on the ground who'd survived crashes was similarly frowned upon. It helped that air-to-surface combat was mostly not a thing yet, so sparing such men didn't mean dozens of ground soldiers dying for your mercy. There's a reason the famous ace Manfred von Richthofen was given a hero's funeral with full military honors by the British army when he was finally brought down.
  • North Africa in World War II has a reputation for this partly because Rommel was a Worthy Opponent and partly because the only civilians were Bedouin whom neither party nor modern readers cared about.
  • The French nobleman Maximilien Misson, who had moved to England in 1685, wrote of the English love of fighting in his 1698 Mémoires et observations faites par un voyageur en Angleterre, in which he describes how all Brits of all classes and both genders would stop everything and watch a fight take place. If a dispute arose between two men regardless of their status, they would set aside their outerwear and anything on them and take to bare-knuckle boxing. No-one else would intervene, and the moment one brandished a weapon or cane to beat the other (most likely someone NOT British, for no Englishman would think of it), the crowd would fall on the weapon-carrier for "cheating".

Alternative Title(s): Lets Fight Like Ladies


Really Polite Action

They all hold each other in the highest respect.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / LetsFightLikeGentlemen

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