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Opponent Instruction

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Well, if you insist...
Iroh: What are you doing?
Criminal: I'm mugging you.
Iroh: With that stance?
Criminal: Huh? What are you talking about? Just give me your money, old man!
Iroh: With a poor stance, you are unbalanced and can be easily knocked over.
[Iroh knocks over the criminal, then lets him get up and shows him a proper stance]
Iroh: With a solid stance, you are a much more serious threat. Much better!

We live in a dangerous world. People get into conflicts all the time. Sometimes these are even fights. Sometimes they're a Curb-Stomp Battle.

And then you have the opponent who gives helpful tips in the middle of the fight. This could be a particularly grating insult if the opponent has decided they pose so little a threat that they can afford to give pointers. Or it could be that they're a Stealth Mentor, trying to improve someone's technique. Or maybe they're just doing it for laughs because they're bored.

If the villain does this to mock the hero, it stands a heavy chance of coming back to bite them in the backside, with the hero potentially referring to the instruction in an Ironic Echo.

This is not, however, behavior that is limited to villains. Heroes can do it as well. Nor does the fight have to be a physical fight—it can also be verbal or even between romantic rivals. Friendly sparring matches, especially with a mentor, however don't count. It has to be a fight with actual stakes.

Can overlap with Not With the Safety On, You Won't and You Fight Like a Cow. It's also a form of Casual Danger Dialogue. If the opponent takes the advice and manages to win, then the advisor has been Hoist by Their Own Petard. One specific variant is Explaining Your Power to the Enemy, and can easily overlap with Saying Too Much. Combat Compliment is often the opposite of this, but a character may compliment their opponent, while critiquing their fighting ("You're pretty good, but you shouldn't leave your left side so open").

Compare with Counter-Productive Warning, Friendly Enemy and Friendly Rivalry. Contrast with Do Wrong, Right, where they aren't necessarily opponents, and it's usually a more comedic setup.


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  • BoBoiBoy: The hero Papa Zola and his Arch-Enemy the Sleep Monster are both sucked out of a Fictional Video Game and into the real world. When the Sleep Monster traps everyone in his Dream World, Gopal challenges the Sleep Monster to a game of checkers in exchange for their freedom per the advice of Papa Zola from his show, but Papa Zola doesn't know how to play checkers. 5 minutes later, the Sleep Monster has told Papa Zola how to play, but it is unfortunately for naught as Papa assumes that having his own pieces eliminated first makes him the winner.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: During the fight between Ichigo and Kenpachi Zaraki, Zaraki, true to his Blood Knight nature, is thrilled when Ichigo manages to cut him, and starts instructing him to keep his spiritual pressure sharp. He even starts telling Ichigo how his powers work, interestingly enough hoping to give Ichigo more of an edge, because Zaraki is enjoying himself for the first time in ages, and wants to draw out the fight.
  • Chihayafuru: When Misuzawa is squaring off against Fujisaki, Makoto tries to engage in smack talk. Tsutomu counters by saying that Makoto shouldn't blow on his bangs when he's frustrated, as it's an obvious tell. Makoto is left speechless at that.
  • The Demon Girl Next Door: Momo Chiyoda, Magical Girl, is attacked at school by Yuko Yoshida, aka Shadow Mistress Yuko, aka Shamiko. Shamiko's attacks are ineffectual against a girl who can stop a dump truck with one hand. Momo takes her aside and tells her she'll hurt herself if she punches with her thumbs tucked in, and advices her to pivot to put her whole weight into a punch. The overall effect is that Shamiko's punch does have more power to it, but she just bruises herself against Momo's hide. Momo decides to start a daily regimen of strength training for her erstwhile foe.
  • In Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, and its adaptation in Dragon Ball Super, it was noted that Beerus was doing this to Goku during their fight, challenging him with progressively more difficult attacks and giving him hints on how to deal with them, in order to have a more challenging fight.
    • Later in Super during the Universe 6 tournament arc, Vegeta helps his opponent Cabba understand how to turn Super Saiyan since the technique was completely foreign to Universe 6 Saiyans and Vegeta felt a connection to Cabba. Being Vegeta, the instruction is still rather dickish (delivering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to Cabba and threatening to destroy the Universe 6 Saiyans), but Cabba appreciates it nonetheless.
  • Expecting to Fall into Ruin, I Aim to Become a Blacksmith: While the protagonist Kururi is bathing in his estate’s private hot springs alone, ten Stupid Crooks enter to assassinate him. Since the assassins are actually from four separate organizations and they’re all in black, Kururi ends up helping them figure out which group they each belong to after they lose track. And then he warns them that the walkway is slippery because it’s made of marble before one slips on it and falls unconscious. Needless to say, Kururi survives.
  • Hunter × Hunter: While capturing them in relation to the death of her friend, Machi still chides Gon for unnecessary movements in a fight, and Killua for impaling her chest instead of her neck if he'd really wanted to kill her.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen: During their fight in the midst of the Sister School Goodwill Event, Todo coaches Itadori on how to synchronize his Cursed Energy with his physical blows.
  • Naruto: Has a few examples of this trope during the Fourth Shinobi World War arc, courtesy of several revived shinobi who really aren't fans of being forcibly turned into undead slaves and made to fight their own comrades.
    • Zabuza directly tells Kakashi to take him and Haku out, as they're no longer humans, starting to put Kakashi's mind at ease with the fight.
    • Chiyu explains how Hanzo's salamanders' poison works and how to combat it to the Surprise Attack division, much to Hanzo's chagrin.
    • Hanzo himself did this to Mifune when they clashed in the past, explaining how his poison and antidote work and even about his Achilles' Heel and why he has to wear a mask. However, this was admittedly after defeating Mifune in combat. But it eventually gives Mifune the knowledge, and poison resistance, to fight the revived shinobi in the modern era.
    • The second Mizukage tries to explain how his illusion technique works to a platoon of shinobi mooks and gets frustrated when none of them really get it. Later subverted when he fights Gaara however, where he chooses not to give any more hints so the younger Kage has to prove his worth on his own, especially since later opponents in the war won't be so helpful.
  • One-Punch Man: The extremely powerful villain Sea King, during his fight with the hero Puri-Puri Prisoner, taunts him about how he has barely felt any of the hero's punches and gives him advice on how "every punch must be delivered with the intent to kill". Later, during a fight with an alien monster, Puri-Puri Prisoner recalls that advice and acts on it.
    • A rare example of the weaker fighter doing this to the stronger one occurs during the fight between Saitama and Cosmic Fear Mode Garou, where the latter teaches the former his technique for time travel.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
  • In the first season of Slayers, Zelgadis attacks Shabranigdo with lava. Shabranigdo tells him that his effort wasn't bad but should be used a different way, which Shabranigdo then demonstrates by creating Lava Monsters.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne: Van is trying to take Escaflowne and head back to his kingdom of Fanel. But Allen stops him, pulling a Go Through Me. After Van's initial attack, Allen chastises him, saying "You don't charge aggressively enough!", echoing the same instruction Balgus had given him earlier.

    Fan Works 
  • Vow of Nudity: After witnessing her comrade duel and die to a snow elf nobleman, Haara challenges him to another duel with the same weapons, exotic polearms called latajangs. The nobleman snidely points out that she's holding hers upside-down. (Her improficiency turns out to be part of her plan to manipulate him into agreeing, so she could ignore her held weapon and kick him into submission.)
  • With This Ring: Justified when Paul is dueling Lantern Ragnar, with the stakes being Paul's rings vs Ragnar accepting a junior position in the Orange Lantern Corps. Paul criticises Ragnar's use of melee weapons ("Fight me like a Lantern"), offers to let him use Paul's personal lantern to recharge his ring if needed, and then proceeds to take off his own rings, announcing that he's going to take Ragnar's ring and beat him with that — which he does. Naturally, it's all about helping Ragnar to be a better recruit.
    Paul: You're a warrior. I'm a philosopher. You know your desires. I know desire. There is a great deal more to the orange light than screaming and leaping. You know your desires. I know desire.

    Films — Animated 
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games: When Twilight Sparkle is having trouble with the archery section of the competition, her opponent Applejack — paragon of honesty that she is — takes the time to help the former out.
  • The Jungle Book (1967): When Baloo first encounters Mowgli, the man cub is in no mood to talk and keeps pushing him away, eventually trying to fight him off. Baloo looks at the small boy trying to punch a big bear with his tiny fists and decides to teach him how to fight. The two start bonding over the lesson and become fast friends.
    Baloo: Tsk, tsk, tsk. Pitiful. Hey, kid. You need help. And ol' Baloo's gonna learn you to fight like a bear.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • "Crocodile" Dundee: Mick Dundee helpfully demonstrates the difference between a knife and a knife to someone trying to mug him.
  • Die Hard:
    • The first Die Hard film had a scene where one of Hans' terrorists was shooting at John McLane through a table and offered him a helpful tip in what he probably thought was going to be a Pre-Mortem One-Liner. Unfortunately for him, John wasn't averse to taking good advice when he heard it.
      Terrorist: The next time you have a chance to kill someone, don't hesitate.
      John: [shoots multiple times through the table] Thanks for the advice.
    • In Die Hard with a Vengeance, Simon Gruber helpfully points out to Zeus that you have to take the safety off the gun before you can shoot someone. He even helpfully demonstrates.
  • A 1992 film, Gladiator, starring Cuba Gooding Jr., about boxing, has the film's Big Bad, a corrupt trainer, give some helpful hints to a fighter. "Make them think you're strong when you're weak." "Make them think you're weak when you're strong." and "Top of the head; hardest part of the body." These are all given an Ironic Echo when the fighter he gave this advice to uses it to thrash him in the ring.
  • In Happy Gilmore during the tour championship, Shooter McGavin shows Happy how to properly putt, which had been a major weakness for him throughout the film.
    Happy: Ooh, Happy learned how to putt! Uh-oh!
  • In Knight and Day, June is understandably pissed off that Roy drugged her and then dressed her in a bikini while she was knocked out, obviously without her consent, so she goes to clock him and he instinctively dodges. He apologizes and she goes after him again, and when she does, he realizes she's actually got a very decent hook and jab and starts instructing her on how to fight him. It ends up being a minor plot point after they struggle and he teaches her how to get out of a backward arm lock.
  • Mortal Kombat: The Movie: During their fight, Kitana (representing Outworld) gives helpful tips to Liu Kang (representing Earthrealm). This prompts Shang Tsung to stop the fight and express his disappointment towards Kitana.
  • In Secondhand Lions, Hub McCann takes a switchblade off of a teenage hooligan that was trying to stab him, critiques his technique, offers pointers, then gives the knife back to the kid. The teenager takes his advice and still gets whupped..
  • There is a subversion in Snow White & the Huntsman. Originally, the Huntsman tracks Snow White in the enchanted forest to drag her back into the clutches of Ravenna, the Evil Queen, but the Queen's idiot brother Finn reveals that they lied to him and so the Huntsman reneges on the deal and they escape back into the forest. Snow White brandishes a dagger at him since she doesn't trust him, but she's of course an innocent princess who has no idea how to use it, so the Huntsman instructs her on how to protect herself with it.
  • Spaceballs has hero Lonestar trying to perform "The Vulcan Neck Pinch" on a guard. The guard gives him helpful pointers.
    Guard: No, no, no, stupid. You've got it much too high. It's down here, where the shoulder meets the neck!
    Lonestar: Like this? [grabs where the guard indicated]
    Guard: Yeah! [drops like a pile of bricks]
  • Star Trek Into Darkness: The Kelvin Timeline version of Khan plays with this two different ways: first by acting as a consultant to Starfleet in upgrading its military capabilities against the Klingons, and then by revealing to Kirk Admiral Marcus' true intentions, all while playing his own game with neither Kirk, Marcus, nor the Klingons in mind.
  • Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: The first duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader happens in Cloud City's carbon-freezing chamber. As the two combatants cross blades, Vader counsels Luke: "You have controlled your fear. Now, release your anger. Only your hatred can destroy me." This proves sound advice, as the next film, Return of the Jedi demonstrates what happens when Luke goes berserker mode on Vader. Of course, making Luke draw upon his anger and hatred is also part of Vader's plan to turn Luke to the Dark Side.
    • Later Expanded Universe works indicate that encouraging opponents to use The Dark Side is a standard technique for Sith Lords. While it is indeed powerful, the anger tends to make inexperienced users sloppy and easier to defeat; however, if they can actually use it well, then they're much more worthy of a We Can Rule Together offer.
  • Twins (1988) has Julius Benedict (Arnold Schwarzenegger) telling the Klane Brothers, and the Assassin Webester, the rules for a Crisis Situation while fighting them. The rules, as he lays them out:
    Julius Benedict: Rule 1.: Negotiate first, attack last.
    Rule 2.: If you are going to bluff, you must be prepared to have your bluff called.
    Rule 3.: Duck.

  • In Beware of Chicken, Tigu is more powerful than nearly all of her opponents in the Dueling Peaks Tournament, and just enjoys fighting, so she starts giving her opponents advice to improve their techniques and give her more of a challenge. She initially draws the ire of a senior sect member who sees her apparently toying with his junior and thinks she's deliberately insulting their sect, but after the junior confirms that she's actually giving good advice, he's bemused and lets it go.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: After Bellatrix kills his beloved godfather Sirius, Harry in his fury attempts to use the Cruciatus Curse on her but fails. Bellatrix tells him that in order to use an Unforgivable Curse, he has to really mean it; that is, righteous anger isn't strong enough to fuel the curse, because he has to feel a sadistic urge to make his target suffer. Later, in Deathly Hallows, Harry successfully uses the Cruciatus Curse on Amycus Carrow for trying to curse Professor McGonagall and comments, "I see what Bellatrix meant. You need to really mean it."
    • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: When Harry is fighting Snape near the end of the book, after blocking a verbally spoken spell from Harry, Snape says "Blocked again and again and again until you learn to keep your mouth shut and your mind closed, Potter!" This is referencing the lessons in non-verbal spellcasting from earlier in the book, and also the failed Occlumency lessons Harry had with Snape in the previous book.
  • Horus Heresy: Iacton Qruze in Vengeful Spirit chides his traitor brethren in one chapter, before brutally exploiting their over-confident swordsmanship. The last two seem to take his advice... only for him to shoot them in the head.
    Iacton Qruze: And if your opponent has a gun when all you have is a sword, you're going to die.
  • Spellslinger Series: In the final confrontation between Kellen and his father, K'heops gives Kellen dueling advice as the two fight. As Kellen points out, it's a bit late for K'heops to be giving him fatherly wisdom.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In the X-Wing Series novel "The Bacta War" Corran Horn is accosted by a Stormtrooper at Thyferra's main spaceport. Corran gets out his lightsaber, which was disguised as a spanner tool and hits the trooper with the hilt. Completely unaffected by the blow, the trooper tells Corran that a spanner would work better if Corran had hit him with the heavy end of the tool.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow: Malcolm Merlyn is being held at gunpoint by Thea, who has recently found out that she's his daughter. While she's pointing the gun at him, he helpfully points out that the safety is on. Unusually for this trope, she does eventually shoot him... but he's wearing a Kevlar vest. And he's actually pleased that she shot him, because when his son Tommy had him at gunpoint the previous season he had been unable to pull the trigger.
  • Leverage has Eliot Spencer do this from time to time.
    • An early example is when he and Hardison are confronted by armed gang members while looking for information about who attacked a local priest. While ostensibly talking to Hardison, Elliot delivers a clear message to the gang leader about gun usage.
      Eliot: They have a specific range of efficacy. Most people make one mistake. They get too close.
  • Scrubs: When J.D. feels overshadowed by Nick, he fantasizes about strangling him, while acknowledging that Nick is so nice and helpful that in the Imagine Spot, Nick is instructing J.D. on how to choke him better.
  • In Stargirl (2020), Injustice Society member Sportsmaster relishes a good fight. When sent out to kill Stargirl's stepfather, Pat Dugan, who Sportsmaster had rather taken a liking to, the villain had no qualms about actually carrying out his mission, but he gave Pat a chance to fight back and even gave him pointers on how to properly throw a punch.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:

  • Cyrano de Bergerac, in a non-combat example, schools a man on the fine art of Smack Talk.
    Cyrano: Ah no! young blade! That was a trifle short! You might have said at least a hundred things by varying the tone.

    Video Games 
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin has the War Room, which is explicitly stated to not follow the same rules as the rest of the game. It's not uncommon to see Anti Heroes like Forsythe himself giving Brenner advice on how to win, Penny giving advice because she's too insane to realize it's a bad idea, or Tabitha giving advice in exchange for Will agreeing to become her servant. Even The Beast swings by for a visit to give some "friendly" tactics advice on one occasion.
  • Crash Twinsanity: During the first boss battle, Dr. Cortex tells Crash how to beat him in a very not at all subtle way.
    Cortex: Here's one gift you can return!
  • Diablo 3: Diablo sends you into his Realm of Terror, but is kind enough to explain you can escape if you kill his avatar, though none have ever managed.
  • Kingdom Hearts II: Pete warns the pirates in Port Royal that Sora and co. use magic that's not from their world and that there's no telling how it might affect them. When Sora and co fight the pirates the first time, Pete repeats the warning within earshot, which Sora sarcastically thanks him for giving them a tip.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: During the first battle, if Ghirahim manages to steal Link's sword, he'll tell him that he'll never land a hit if he continues telegraphing his attacks.
  • Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story: Played with. The first tutorial battle with Bowser has him fight against Fawful's minion, Midbus, with Fawful himself unintentionally giving battle advice to Bowser by presenting them as direct warnings for Midbus to be wary of.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, after first encountering and fighting Major Ocelot, Naked Snake can't help but give the latter some pointers on his gun handling (as Ocelot is focusing far more on style than utility at this point in time), most notably recommending that Ocelot replace his automatic pistol with a revolver, seeing as it's more appropriate for Ocelot's instinctive recoil reduction technique. Amusingly, you can call Para-Medic after this, where she'll outright question why Snake is giving pointers to an enemy — and even though he doesn't have a real answer, he continues doing it anyway the next time they fight, when Ocelot gets his hands on the flashiest-looking revolver he could find and then fails to account for its lower capacity.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has this in the form of enemy chatter you can eavesdrop on while sneaking around. For example, the guards might talk about new flashlight mount for their weapons. One guard points out how it might give ones position away, and the other tells him, and by extension, the player how to use flashlights to lure guards away and to shine it in their face to blind them.
  • Rakenzarn Tales: In the optional fight with Cynthia in the Extra Scenario, Cynthia will give Mayu some tips on her posture and attack motions which will give Mayu a stat buff. In this case, it's one part that Cynthia recognizes Mayu is pretty new at actual combat and one part that she doesn't actually want to hurt her.
  • The good ending of Saints Row: The Third has "Killbane" (actually an actor in a movie you're filming) helpfully brag to The Boss that his space suit makes him completely impervious to damage... except from the conveniently-placed lava crystals scattered about the cavern.
  • Tales of Vesperia: Adecor and Boccos are two bumbling knights of the Schwann Brigade who repeatedly try to apprehend Yuri for his crimes, but are so chivalrous they are compelled to explain any new combat techniques they have, allowing Yuri to learn them.
  • Undertale: Undyne subtly explains the mechanics of Green Mode in your battle with her. You're supposed to face the bullets to block them with your spear and can escape when your heart isn't green.
    Undyne: As long as you're GREEN you CAN'T ESCAPE! Unless you learn to face danger head-on... You won't last a SECOND against ME!
    • If you refuse to block the bullets, she gets progressively angrier with you with each passing turn.
      Undyne: When I said face towards danger... I meant face towards the bullets!
      Undyne: Look. I gave you a spear to block the bullets with. Do I have to explain this any more clearly?
      Undyne: WHAT ARE YOU DOING? JUST FACE UPWARDS!!! IT'S NOT HARD! [If the protagonist does not block her attack a third time]
      Undyne: I wanted this to be a fair fight. I thought if I beat you like this... It'd truly show how strong monsters can be. BUT NOW??? I DON'T CARE! I'M NOT YOUR FREAKING KINDERGARTEN TEACHER! Unless your kindergarten teacher... DOES THIS!

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night: In the Heaven's Feel route, Shinji orders his Servant Rider to beat Shirou up while he holds Sakura hostage. While they fight, she actually whispers to Shirou about how to save Sakura, and at the first opportunity, he charges toward Shinji and punches him, effectively rescuing her.


    Web Animation 
  • DEATH BATTLE!: In "Omni-Man VS Homelander", Omni-Man deduces that Homelander has never been in a fight with someone his own size, and tells him that he needs to turn with a punch as it comes to reduce the impact. Homelander does so for the next hit, which likely would have done much more than just break his nose if he hadn't.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "The Tales of Ba Sing Se", a mugger tries to rob Iroh, who shows him the proper form, while also talking him down and encouraging him to pursue his dreams.
  • The core members of the Teen Titans have a few helpful tips for the Brotherhood of Evil in the penultimate episode.
    Cyborg: Lesson number one: Never drop me down a hole unless you make sure I stay there!
    Starfire: The lesson two: we never give up.
    Raven: Lesson three: your secret base isn't so secret.

    Real Life 
  • Virtually all battles of the American Civil War had a West Pointer in command on one side or the other. Apocryphally, during one battle a non-West Pointer held a truce to ask his West-Point-graduate opponent for advice. The answer is not recorded.
  • Roundly averted by Napoléon Bonaparte who once quipped "Never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake."


Video Example(s):



Fawful instructs his Dragon, Midbus, on avoiding Bowser's punches, doubling as a tutorial for the player on how Bowser's action commands work.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / OpponentInstruction

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