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Shifting Situation Duel

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It is important to establish the location of a fight scene to the audience in order for them to understand what's happening. But some fights won't always stay in the same place.

A Shifting Situation Duel is when at least two characters are fighting across different settings, requiring them to constantly adapt and take advantage of their new surroundings. The combatants may be actively traveling to these locations, or perhaps the environment is changing itself due to supernatural interference. Fights like these will usually have the combatants dodging all sorts of hazards forming around them, and using said hazards to attack their opponent.

Normally, fights such as these are played at a much faster pace than more grounded ones. They are often considered to be a highlight of whichever work they appear in, because the frequent setting shifts guarantee the fight will always stay fresh and exciting throughout each phase.

Subtrope of Interesting Situation Duel. Compare to Seamless Scenery and Nonsequitur Environment, which can overlap in visual mediums. Also Compare Shapeshifter Showdown, where two antagonists fight a duel while constantly changing their bodies into different shapes.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Naruto: Kaguya, during the final battle against her, repeatedly uses her reality warping powers to transport herself and her opponents across different dimensions, including the interior of an active volcano, a frozen wasteland, a vast desert and a planet with massive gravity force.
  • Official 6v6 league battles in Pok√©mon: The Series will often have a field change when three of one trainer's Pokemon have been knocked out.

    Films — Animation 
  • As reality collapses around the two in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles Morales and the Kingpin are forced to traverse randomly appearing buildings, trains, and bridges, while fighting each other at the same time.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dreamscape: The final dream battle between Alex and Tommy Ray in the President's nightmare starts in a subway train traveling through a nuclear wasteland. Tommy Ray pulls a switch and the train accelerates into an underground tunnel. He then fills the train with mutant/zombie passengers who try to grab Alex and the President. After Alex and the President escape the train car, Tommy Ray attacks them with martial arts powers. Alex and the President escape again into a wrecked subway station, where they are pursued by wolves with Red Eyes, Take Warning Glowing Eyes. They enter into a cave system, where they must fight Tommy Ray to the death in his snake man form.
  • Jumper: Towards the film's climax, Griffin plans to bomb David's apartment and kill Roland. David objects to this since his love interest Millie is in there. This results in a fight/chase sequence in which the two teleport to various locations across the world for possession of the detonator. It ends with David trapping Griffin with power lines in Chechnya.
  • Man of Steel: The final duel between Superman and General Zod is truly epic in scale, ranging from the crater left by Zod's destroyed ship, to the air, the streets (and skyscrapers) of Metropolis, a construction site, outer space, and finally a museum.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Thor: The Dark World has Thor and Malekith fighting for control of the reality stone, as the Convergance begins to form a Portal Network. This leads to the two battling across different realms.
    • Doctor Strange has several of these fights happening throughout the movie, given how the characters have reality-bending powers, but the most notable one occurs when Strange and Mordo are being chased around New York by Kaecilius and his henchmen while within the Mirror Dimension. As they're trapped there, they must dodge and run through the scenery as it changes constantly around them, until the Ancient One steps in to join the fight.
  • The Matrix Revolutions: After Smith succeeds in assimilating everyone plugged into the Matrix (including the Oracle, becoming equal to Neo in power), he and Neo fight on a city street in pouring rain... Then up into the air... Then inside an abandoned building... Then into the sky above the city... And then a pit created by Smith smashing Neo into the ground.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: The battle for Davy Jones' chest starts with Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and James Norrington sword-fighting on the beach, before heading to the inside, and on the roof of an abandoned church, then on a broken windmill as the three try to keep their balance, and then ending back on the beach.
  • Revenge of the Sith: The culminating duel between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi starts in a temple on a volcanic planet. Said temple begins to collapse throughout the fight, as the two are forced to transverse through the crumbling building. The two of them then swing their sabers at each other while climbing a tower, before landing on levitating platforms where the fight continues. The battle ends after Obi-wan uses some approaching high ground to his advantage.

  • In Equal Rites, the world's most powerful Witch, Granny Weatherwax, and the world's most powerful Wizard, Arch-Chancellor Cutangle, fight a magical duel which involves continually shape-shifting into creatures and things, each trying to get the definitive winning edge on the other. The battle expends so much magic that it threatens to open a doorway to the Dungeon Dimensions, and just for a while it is being fought in two worlds simultaneously.

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • Bayonetta:
    • The last boss fight with Jeanne starts on a tower, then on a soaring missile, and finally on the wall of a building.
    • The final battle against Jubileus starts and ends in outer space, though the goddess uses her powers to transport Bayonetta and herself to a Lethal Lava Land, an icy field and the center of a tornado during certain stages of the fight.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: Zant transports himself and Link to the Forest Temple, the Goron Mines, the Lakebed Temple, the Snowpeak Ruins and finally Hyrule Field throughout his boss battle. He uses different attacks in each area, forcing the player to adopt different strategies accordingly.
  • Super Mario Galaxy: During their final battle, Bowser and Mario repeatedly hop across planetoids. The first one has spikes, which Bowser tries to avoid by taking on a rock form; the second one has Stretch Plants that Mario must use to damage Bowser, and the third one is a glass planetoid with a molten core, which is the same planet Bowser was fought on in the previous two fights.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Delfino Plaza, Rainbow Road and Skyloft are "touring stages", meaning the fighters are transported across different locations from the eponymous areas, each with different platform layouts that the player must adapt to.
    • The Mushroom Kingdom U stage transitions between a grassy field, a mountain setting, a cloud world and a tower due to Kamek casting a spell on the arena.
    • The Paper Mario stage takes place in a pop-up book, with each page offering a different arena. The three locations are a windmill, a ship, and a floating castle.
    • The Pokemon Stadium stage periodically shifts to different platform configurations with a different theme (fire, water, ground etc.).
    • Big Blue has the characters fight on the cars of an F-Zero race, meaning a car being used as a platform might suddenly drop away.
    • Ultimate added Stage Morph as an option for the game to switch between two stages of choice periodically.

    Web Animation 
  • Animator vs. Animation: The final battle between The Chosen One and The Dark Lord has a sequence where the two fly through portals that lead to different websites. Throughout the scene, the stickmen use each site's assets to their advantage.
  • Red vs. Blue: For Donut and O'Malley's fight at the end of Season 16, Donut begins armed with a godly hammer, and O'Malley begins with a gun that shoots time portals. They end up dueling across time and space, going from a World War I aerial dogfight, to Blood Gulch, to the moon, to a wrestling ring, and finally atop a skyscraper.
  • In RWBY, General Ironwood duels Watts in Amity Colosseum, though Watts has brought a set of special rings that allows him to control the different biomes. This leads to Ironwood being forced to chase Watts across floating platforms with constantly shifting gravity and eventually in the middle of free fall.

    Web Videos 
  • Marble Hornets: The final fight between Tim and Alex takes place in the abandoned hospital where Jay was least at first. As they fight and chase each other around, they keep getting teleported to different places, making the battle all the more complicated and confusing.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy:
    • In "Internal Affairs", Peter and Ernie start fighting in the streets of Quahog, but are transported to the world of Back to the Future by one of Stewie's inventions. Back in present time, their brawl resumes in a genetic research facility, which explodes and sends them to a rocket that takes off to outer space. Finally, the rocket crash lands on an oil rig, where Peter emerges victorious.
    • In "Simpsons Guy", Peter and Homer's fist fight takes place across numerous iconic The Simpsons locations, including Otto's bus, Burns' power plant, Kang and Kodos' spaceship and finally Springfield Gorge.
  • Ninjago: In the penultimate episode of season 5, Lloyd and Morro clash over the Realm Crystal, with the object's power opening portals to other worlds, sending them to multiple dimensions as they fight over it.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: The final battle between Spider-man and Venom starts in the streets before entering a school courtyard. There's a short sequence with the two chasing each other on a news helicopter before they enter a school. Then there's a short Free-Fall Fight sequence down the school stairwell, and then they enter the gymnasium, where venom throws an entire set of bleachers at Spider-man. Finally the battle concludes in the boys changing room.


Video Example(s):


Adora vs. Catra

Because reality is being destroyed by the portal, the setting of the battle between Catra and Adora keeps changing.

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Example of:

Main / ShiftingSituationDuel

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