Follow TV Tropes


The Thunderdome

Go To
Two men enter, one man leaves.

"Listen all! This is the truth of it. Fighting leads to killing, and killing gets to warring. And that was damn near the death of us all. Look at us now! Busted up, and everyone talking about hard rain! But we've learned, by the dust of them all... Bartertown's learned. Now, when men get to fighting it happens here! And it finishes here! Two men enter, one man leaves.
(crowd chants "Two men enter, one man leaves" until he motions for silence)
Right now, I've got two men, two men with a gut full of fear. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls... dyin' time's here."
Dr. Dealgood, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome

Any place that is dedicated to competition of some sort, usually involving fighting. Often the setting of the Inevitable Tournament. Sometimes, the structure itself becomes the focus of a town or location. Heck, it can even be the main focus of the culture and economy of said town.

See also Blood Sport, Gladiator Games, Tournament Arc.


    open/close all folders 
  • There's one of these in an ad for Kaplan Learning Centers (paraphrased):
    Female announcer (in a swing for some reason): Behold...Algebra! And Science and Geography! (we see Anthropomorphic Personifications of them, built like brick shithouses) Who will take up their challenge?!
    (enter three unassuming junior high school kids)
    First: I will.
    Second: Me too.
    Third: So will I.
  • Early labels for Mike's Hard Lemonade used to feature the text, "We can't tell you what goes into Mike's Hard Lemonade but let's just say this...ten lemons come in, only three come out."

    Anime & Manga  
  • The junk planet in Astro Boy had one with a special energy ceiling to keep robots from escaping.
  • There's at least one fighting arena in shows like Dragon Ball Z.
  • One Piece has the Corrida Colosseum on Dressrosa Island. The place regularly holds gladiator tournaments with big prizes each time.
  • At the beginning of Saint Seiya the heroes are drawn together to the "Galactic Tournament".

    Comic Books 

    Film — Animated 
  • Big Hero 6 begins with Hiro taking part in a robo-fight. The emcee even announces, "Two bots enter, only one bot leaves!"

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In the Deltora Quest series (and its subsequent Animated Adaptation) there is the town of Rithmere known for its annual gladiator tournaments called the Rithmere Games and Championships.
  • Gaming Areas A and B from Dream Park sometimes become this when they're hired out to the U.S. military for training scenarios and war games. The Crystal Maze is a permanent example, being purpose-built as a facility for teams of Gamers to challenge each other.
  • The titular event in The Hunger Games has arenas that are designed and built years in advance to be used one time and one time only. Afterwards they become tourist destinations.

    Live Action TV 
  • BattleBots had the Battlebox, where all of the robot-fighting took place. It was outfitted with various hazards like spike-strips on the walls, sawblades that popped out of the floor, and hammers that were operated by a member of each robot's pit-crew. It was also heavily armored so that it would be ludicrously hard for a breach to occur, keeping all of the violence confined to the Battlebox.
  • The SyFy miniseries Dune gives the Harkonnen a gladiatoral arena.
  • Iron Chef and Iron Chef America had Kitchen Stadium.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: "Oh, can't we just get beyond Thunderdome?"
  • Robot Wars also has its own specialized arena.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Solaris City arenas of BattleTech were originally battlemech testing grounds owned by manufacturers who would stage fights to win the support of Star League politicians, but soon opened up for public viewing and betting, which was followed up by private competitors and entering themselves in the fights. Solaris 7 is now famous for its battlemech gladiatorial combat that is broadcast throughout the Inner Sphere. Solaris appears in multiple MechWarrior adaptations.
  • In the Basic Dungeons & Dragons Known World setting, the Empire of Thyatis (which was based on the Byzantine Empire) had coliseums with gladiatorial combat.

  • This trope is referenced in the Heathers song "Beautiful":
Veronica: Welcome to my school, this ain't no high school... This is the Thunderdome.

  • LEGO:
    • BIONICLE: The Coliseum in Metru Nui, various arenas in Bara Magna, most notably the Arena Magna in the city of Atero.
    • Slizer: the arena situated at the north pole where the 7 sections of the planet meet. Judging by the promo mini-comics, the Slizers compete to throw disks into a floating ring in the middle that also houses some sort of Energy Being.

    Video Games 
  • In the lore of Battleborn, the LLC have this in the form of the Galactic Holo-Arena. Any sentient being, robot or otherwise, is invited to participate in one-on-one combat in the Galactic Grand Championship which is broadcast live across the fleet (and to other subscribing faction stations) from this central Holo-Arena arcship. This is where the legendary El Dragón made a name for himself, as a human fighting all-robotic challengers. If anyone were to place bets and sell a pay-per-view live feed for the end of the universe – it’d likely happen right here.
  • In the Borderlands series: Mad Moxxi's Underdome from the second DLC for the first game, Borderlands, where Vault Hunters kill waves after waves of enemies while a crowd cheers, with many rewards to get. Initially just a glorified arena game mode unrelated to the story until it's mentioned again in Borderlands 2: Mordecai won the big prize in the Underdome and later Handsome Jack destroyed the entire place.
  • Conqueror's Blade: Season XIII: Colosseum introduced a special game mode themed after Roman gladiator fights and set in a replica of the Flavian Amphitheater, or Colosseum.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion had an arena as well, in which the player could either participate or simply watch and bet. Many of the achievements in the Xbox 360 version were focuses around climbing the Arena quest tree.
  • The Crucible in Fable.
  • The Hole in Fallout 3: The Pitt, a probable reference to Mad Max's Thunderdome.
  • Fallout 4 has the Combat Zone, a Raider fight club set in the former Orpheum Theatre. Furthermore, the Wasteland Workshop DLC allows the player to construct their own Thunderdomes and host gladiatorial fights between settlers and/or wasteland creatures.
  • Hollow Knight has the Colosseum of Fools.
  • The Spargus Arena in Jak 3: Wastelander.
  • The Colosseum also appears in Kingdom Hearts.
  • Mad Max (2015) has a Thunderdome appear as the grand finale to Max's entry into Gastown's races. While never referred to by name, the arena's dome shape, as well as the crowd's chant of "Two men enter, one man leaves!", invoke the original Thunderdome.
  • Several of Marathon's multiplayer maps are arenas, and one of them, in fact, the most popular, is actually called "Thunderdome."
  • MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries features the Solaris Arenas, which are a variety of different enclosed environments on Solaris VII dedicated for battlemech gladiatorial combat - each arena is as large as a small city, and are totally enclosed by walls a quarter mile tall. Mechwarrior Living Legends also features Solaris-sponsored arenas on other worlds, such as a combat arena on a large comet; additionally, all the arenas are lit up by spectacular fireworks displays. In both games, Duncan Fisher narrates the action.
  • The Glitz Pit in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
  • Oddly, in Persona 3 FES, there was an area like this. You used it to battle it out among your party members to decide whether to go back to the past or go to the present.
  • Pokémon Stadium and the numerous colosseums in Pokémon Colosseum, Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, and elsewhere in the Pokémon franchise.
  • Surviving the Aftermath has brawl pits as a fairly cheap entertainment feature, and the much bigger and more entertaining Stormdome upgrade. Unfortunately the steel roof attracts lightning during magnetic storms, causing settlement-devastating fires.
  • Wild ARMs 4 had a town where the main attraction was the Arena.
  • This has been a staple of World of Warcraft since the Burning Crusade expansion. Generally, there is a quest chain at each place where you gain progressively better and better rewards and fight tougher and tougher enemies, leading up to a final challenge, which usually rewards a rare-quality itemnote :
    • With the Cataclysm update, the formerly decorative "Thunderdrome" in Gadgetzan received a quest chain of this type.
    • The one that started it all was the Ring of Blood in Nagrand, introduced in Burning Crusade.
    • Wrath of the Lich King introduced the Amphitheater of Anguish, a continuation of the Ring of Blood. Horde players could also find a similar quest chain in Conquest Hold in Grizzly Hills.
    • In addition to the Thunderdrome above, the Cataclysm continuation of the tradition was the Crucible of Carnage, located in the Twilight Highlands.
    • Mists of Pandaria continued with the Arena of Annihilation. To fix the issues with past incarnations where players would get stuck at various points of the chain or not get the next quest, it was made into a scenario, which is a pre-determined group of players who all progress at the same rate. Mists also introduced the Brawler's Guild, a single-player PvE feature located in Stormwind (for the Alliance) and Orgrimmar (for the Horde).

    Web Animation 
  • Dreamscape: The Savage Colosseum, which is notably where Soya and Vladmare fought in the first episode.

  • Tower of God: Many of the testing areas in the various different floors, including the Wineglass, the Crown Game Room, the Hide And Seek arena and the 20th floor … dormitory?

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers parodies this with the "Freezer Dome," aka the walk-in fridge, with ice on the floor. The kids (and Linda) use this for a game they invented called "ice pushing."
  • Futurama had a stadium where Fry and Zoidberg duked it out.
  • Referenced by name in Rick and Morty, when Rick admonishes a group of wastelanders about a rather conspicuous wrought-iron rebar dome in their settlement.
    Rick: "Hey, you guys ever use that Thunderdome or did ya just put it up for decoration?"

    Real Life 
  • Cage fighting
  • The Colosseum of Rome
  • The Thunderdome, St. Petersburg, Florida, from 1993-1996. Originally built as the Florida Suncoast Dome for the purpose of luring a Major League Baseball team, it was renamed when it hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL) and Storm (Arena Football). When those teams left for the brand-new Ice Palace, the Thunderdome was renovated to prepare for the MLB expansion Devil Rays, and renamed Tropicana Field.
  • Calder Park Thunderdome in Melbourne, Australia, a raceway completed in 1987.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Battledome


Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves!

Max may have won the Gastown race, but he must overcome one final opponent to claim his prize.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheThunderdome

Media sources: