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Traintop Battle

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M: What happened?
Eve: They're on the train, ma'am.
M: What do you mean, on the train?
Eve: I mean they're on top of a train!
M: Well, get after them, for God's sake!

A staple of Westerns, but still seen in plenty of action films and series, the Traintop Battle is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Often the result of an aborted Train Escape.

A train has plenty of advantages for an action scene: it's fairly enclosed, without people able to go too far either way for fear of falling off, it has plenty of opportunity for tunnels and overhead lines for your Look Behind You moments, it doesn't need much explanation, the high speed acts as wind to let characters billow dramatically. In short, it turns an Action Movie into a Fighting Game. There's really no other way to justify Boss-Arena Idiocy, and it's pretty much ensured that somebody's going to suffer that most dramatic of defeats; a short drop followed by a sudden stop.

If hero and villain are trying to get to a location in time, it means the hero can be thrown off, and "lose" without dying. Or a villain may be forced out of the action, only to return later.

It's also close enough to "normal" people to show the look on their faces as the ceiling collapses, or when someone breaks in through the windows.

A similar effect can be achieved by riding on a truck. Subway trains rarely have the room on top for a good battle, but are still seen occasionally.

May feature the Cool Train, but doesn't have to. May be the result of a Train Job and could in theory be apt for a Thriller on the Express but in practise they prefer to keep to the tense atmosphere.

A subtrope of Interesting Situation Duel. If the battle happens atop a moving gondola rather than a train, then it's a Cable-Car Action Sequence. In videogames this often happens during a Locomotive Level.

Note that if the track is electrified with overhead wires, climbing on the train roof usually results in immediate electrocution. So fights involving those trains tend to be fought inside the train cars. The voltage used on electrification systems is high enough to cause an electric arc from the wire to the hapless victim, and it does happen in Real Life. Still...


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Baccano! has a massive three-way one featuring Chane, Ladd, and Claire, plus another featuring Jacuzzi and the Lemures' leader Goose.
  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo has a fight against "the Number-One Train Fighter" that eventually jumped the tracks and smashed through an amusement park.
  • In A Certain Magical Index New Testament Volume 8, Touma ends up fighting Freyja on a moving train. It leads to scenes like Freyja using her Summon Magic while the train is passing through a tunnel and not caring when Touma knocks her minions into the walls or ceiling. Eventually, Index and Mikoto jump on the train to help Touma out, and the three eventually convince her to surrender peacefully.
  • Cowboy Bebop':
    • "Mushroom Samba" features a three-way battle on a train between Ed and Ein trying to apprehend Domino, Shaft trying to kill Domino, and Domino trying to escape both parties. The battle comes to a stop when the train does, thanks to a cow standing on the track.
      Ein: Thanks!
      Cow: Oh, it's no problem!
    • Spike's first battle with Vincent in Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door occurs in one.
  • The sixth episode of The Daughter of Twenty Faces features a train fight between Chiko and Angie during a snowstorm.
  • In a filler scene of Dragon Ball Z, Vegeta and #18 fly towards a highway where they land on top of several trucks and continue to brawl.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist. With the sheer amount of train-time in that thing, it had to happen some time. "Some time" was, in this case, pretty early in.
    • There's also Ed and Alphonse's fight with the terrorist Bald early on (though the chapter is cut from Brotherhood).
    • Kimblee and Scar once fight on a train.
    • The first level of the PS2 game is based on this part of the series with combat both inside and on top of the train.
  • The fight that eventually led to Pissard's death in Futari wa Pretty Cure moved to several locations, one of them being the roof of a train.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: The first battle between Kenichi and Natsu Tanimoto (when the latter reveals himself as Hermit) leads them both to end up having to fight on top of a moving bus. Kenichi himself wonders how he ended up that way.
  • The first mission in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S involved a battle that started inside a train and ended on top of it.
  • In Maiden Rose, after Klaus and Azusa jump on top of a train Azusa asks why they will be going in through the last car and fighting their way to the engine room rather then running across the top straight there. Klaus lampshades the impracticality of this trope, mentioning their footsteps would give away their location and they'd just be target practice.
  • The first episode of My-Otome 0~S.ifr~ has this as part of the main action.
  • One Piece:
    • Franky and Nero fight on top of a train in one episode.
    • The later fight between Zoro and T-Bone deserves honorable mention for taking place directly in front of the moving train.
  • Panty of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt battled the speed demon in the episode "Death Race 2010." For a time, the speed demon merged with a tractor-trailer, which compelled Panty to stand on the trailer's roof and shoot the cab with assorted mortal firearms, which had minimal effect. Stocking, standing atop the hood of her vehicle See-Through, used her Absurdly Sharp Blade to slice through the entire demonic tractor-trailer.
  • An episode of the Pokémon the Series: Black & White anime had Meowth pretend to reform and join the main characters, saying that Team Rocket fired him for messing up one of their evil plans, but it is then revealed that he joined them as part of a trap set up inside one of Team Rocket's trains, and that Meowth was never fired at all. A battle between Ash, Pikachu, and Co. and the Subway bosses Emmet and Ingo and Meowth, Jessie, James, and an elite Team Rocket member follows shortly afterward, and ends with the elite Team Rocket member carrying off the Team Rocket trio with his helicopter.
  • Episode 5 of Princess Principal has an extended one between the team and Assassins.
  • A Filler episode of Rurouni Kenshin has the Kenshin-gumi ride a train to go sightseeing to Yokohama, but bandits take it over. Kenshin gets knocked overboard, then finds himself a horse.
  • In Sakura Wars the Animation, Seijuro Kamiyama, Lancelot and Elise thwart the the white-haired demon's attempt to kidnap Klara M. Ruzhkova and White Cape on the top of a train car in Europe.
  • This happened a few times on Sorieke! Anpanman. Whenever SL Man is paired up with Naganegiman, Hamburger Kid, or Yakisobapanman, they'll fight against Baikinman on top of the train cars. This also happened in a few of the film shorts.
  • In Soul Eater, Death the Kid gets into a three way battle with one of the various Mizune rat witches and a fat fisherman assassin while on a train that's zooming through the desert.
  • Tekkonkinkreet Features a fight with Black and White against the Aliens move to the top of an elevated train.
  • In a manga-only arc of Ushio and Tora, the titular heroes are riding a train in the underground tunnel connecting Hokkaido to Honshu and have to fight back Kyoura the evil monk and the monstrous Youkai Mountain Fish, who attaches himself to the train to snack on the humans inside. To cap it all, not only the monster is super persistent and Nigh-Invulnerable, but they have to kill it before they leave the tunnel, because exposing the Mountain Fish to sunlight will result in a 200-meters wide explosion tha would kill everyone and cause the tunnel to collapse.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The "Waking the Dragons" filler arc has two such examples.
    • "Yami" / the Pharoah. Weevil Underwood. Traintop card dueling. Seriousness. This is the one that ends with Weevil pissing Yami off so much that he keeps attacking even after Weevil's life points hit zero. It just wasn't his day.
    • And then topped by Kaiba (oddly enough) when he and Alister battle on top of a private jet. Even Lampshaded for its ridiculousness.
      Joey: So you dueled this guy on top of a moving plane?
      Kaiba: Maybe I did. Don't you geeks have someone else to annoy?

    Comic Books 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Lost Adventures has "Combustion Man on a Train" where Aang fights "scary big explosion guy", while a little girl and all the other passengers learn to meditate as the train gets destroyed around them.
  • Batman:
  • In The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #5, Indy has a battle with Arnold Smith, an American Nazi, atop a train bound for Salisbury after Smith has stolen the Ancient Artifact that is the MacGuffin of the story.
  • In Nightwing, Dick Grayson takes Tim Drake to train his balance by practicing standing on one leg blindfolded on a train while they chat. They're ambushed by gangsters and fight them off while still atop the train. Dick only removes his blindfold when Tim's slow to answer a question to find his "brother" glaring at him as he works his way back to the front of the car.
  • Robyn Hood: I Love NY: Robyn's final showdown with Alina Rose takes place atop a subway train.
  • The Twilight Avenger: In #3, the protagonist gets involved in a traintop battle with a gang of hypnotised hobos. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • The Ultimates: Captain America and Herr Kleiser had one back in WWII, in a train that transported parts for the superweapon that the Chitauri were building for the Nazis. Captain America blew the train up.
  • A significant chunk of Vendetta in Gotham is taken up by Judge Dredd fighting Batman on top of a train to prevent him from being killed by the Ventriloquist's bomb plot.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • In one Golden Age story the cover depicted the titular heroine fighting Nazis on the exterior of a train passenger car. In the comic itself the confrontation with the Nazi spy takes place inside the train.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Diana fights a bulletproof alien disguised as Billy the Kid atop a high speed train he's trying to rob. The disguise, and target of his attack, are essentially due to him finding it hilarious.

    Fan Works 
  • Embers (Vathara) contains a Traintop battle in Ba Sing Se between Zuko and Shirong vs Azula and Ty Lee.
  • Friendship Is Magical Girls has Pinkie's fight with Bellosto in Loyalty 6. It starts inside the train car, but quickly gets taken up top once both take on their battle modes.
  • The majority of the second chapter of Marionettes takes place on a train, so naturally one of these results. They mention the combatants being buffeted by the wind and doing their best to hold on. Ironically, it's not between Trixie and the two Stallions in Black chasing her, but with what seems to be Lightning Dust, with Rainbow Dash showing up midway through to help Trixie.

    Films — Animation 
  • There is a Traintop Battle in Arthur and the War of the Two Worlds... atop a toy train. But since the belligerents, Arthur and Darkos, are 3 mm high, it works just the same.
  • Big Top Scooby-Doo! climaxes in a fight between Scooby and Shaggy and the villain atop the circus train.
  • The Sponge Bob Square Pants Movie parodies this in a scene where SpongeBob and Patrick get attacked by Dennis, the Psycho for Hire who has been sent after them, while riding David Hasselhoff through the waves. The ensuing fight scene takes place on top of Hasselhoff's legs, and is complete with dramatic jumps from one leg to the other. Dennis is eventually defeated when he hits his head on an overhanging catamaran.
  • Happens in Toy Story 3, between Woody and Mr. and Ms. Potato Head in the Fake Action Prologue.
  • The second Wallace & Gromit film, The Wrong Trousers, in theme with its parodies and pastiches of various film tropes in a mundane setting, sees Feathers McGraw trying to get away in the locomotive while Wallace and Gromit are in hot pursuit... only it's a model train and the chase takes place entirely within their house. The size of their living room is exaggerated to a ridiculous degree to make the scene work, and at one point Gromit has to grab a box of spare track and lays it down in front of the moving train to avoid derailing it. Wallace is an ordinarily-sized human and can only fit on the train by balancing on one foot (the Techno-Trousers helped a little there) while being a small penguin Feathers is able to fit rather comfortably in the locomotive's tender.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the film version of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the Final Battle between Lincoln and the movie's Big Bad, Adam, occurs atop a train carrying silver ammunition to the soldiers at Gettysburg. At least, that's what Lincoln wants Adam to think...
  • A shootout in the middle of The Anonymous Heroes has both titular heroes atop a moving locomotive firing shots at pursuing enemy soldiers, and then fighting soldiers who managed to board the train from up close.
  • The Charles Bronson movie Breakheart Pass has a couple, set in an 1800's Wild West setting. Supposedly, he did his own stunts.
  • The climax of John Woo's Broken Arrow features a damn spectacular one at the end.
  • In Casablanca Express, most of the violence occurs inside the train, but there is one train-top fistfight.
  • In The Cassandra Crossing, this has been expected and rendered impossible by placing guards with submachine guns on the car roofs, not far below a 15,000V overhead catenary.
  • The bulk of the Final Battle in Dark Phoenix happens both inside and outside a train, with the D'Bari attacking the armored train with the prisoner X-Men and Magneto inside.
  • As the jetliner carrying despot Generalissimo Esperanza and his rogue CIA cronies builds up speed for take-off in Die Hard 2, the hero John McClane and the dragon Major Grant grapple atop the aircraft's left wing. Grant gets toppled into one jet engine's intake, killing him. The fight also let McClane catch sight of the fuel dump valve on the wing's leading edge.
  • Emperor of the North climaxes with one very brutal train-fight between a determined hobo and a sadistic conductor.
  • One of the earliest examples in Buster Keaton's The General.
  • In Marx Brothers film, Go West (of which Buster Keaton also made a version).
  • Happens in The Good, The Bad, The Weird, as a result of two Train Jobs happening simultaneously.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has Indy getting chased along a line of circus train cars. One word: Rhinoceros.
  • James Bond gets to do this a fair bit:
    • Octopussy: Bond and Gobinda have a fight atop Octopussy's circus train.
    • Skyfall: A particularly elaborate one between Bond and Patrice that ends up trashing much of the train occurs during The Teaser.
  • In The Legend of Tarzan, Tarzan and the tribesmen make a Vine Swing down on to the top of the moving slave train, where they dispose of the guards on top of the train.
  • The Legend of Zorro has one where even the damn horse ends up getting involved!
  • More than one in The Lone Ranger. Notably, they all end in train wrecks.
  • Mad Max:
    • The climax of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome involves Aunty and the inhabitants of Bartertown chasing down a train controlled by Pig Killer and with Max and the children aboard.
    • The Final Battle in Mad Max: Fury Road involves Max and the Vuvalini fending off and fighting mooks aboard the War Rig, and eventually, fighting Rictus near the end of the battle.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Ant-Man, befitting with the size-changing gimmick, part of Ant-Man's battle against Yellowjacket is a toy traintop battle, atop a Bachmann model of Thomas & Friends, no less.
    • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America and Ultron battle on top of a moving semi.
    • The title character in Captain Marvel fights a Skrull on top of a moving LA Metro Rail Blue line train.
    • In Spider-Man: No Way Home, a battle between Spider-Man and Doctor Strange ends up on a train top, where Strange pulls the fight into the Mirror Dimension where he can distort reality including duplicating the train and making it fly!
  • The Matrix Reloaded has a fight on top of a semi truck, with many similar stylings.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series:
    • The finale of Mission: Impossible is a fight atop a train. This is at least partially Subverted: They do have a Traintop Battle, but it's on the high-speed TGV. They can barely move because of the enormous wind resistance.
    • The N64 game adaptation also has a traintop chase with The Mole.
    • Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One: In the trailer Ethan grapples with a foe atop a train once more, each fighting over the same knife.
  • In the remake of Narrow Margin, set mostly on a train, Gene Hackman's character and the witness he's protecting are confronted on the roof by a woman he met earlier, who turns out to be a Professional Killer.
    Gene: "You know what I like about you? You're tall." (train enters a tunnel)
  • The film version of Priest has the Final Battle between the Priest and Black Hat take place on top of, and briefly inside, the train carrying the vampire invasion army to the human cities.
  • Jackie Chan did this in a number of movies, including Shanghai Noon, which has a fight that goes through several different cars, including an open lumber car with tree trunks. Rollage Ensues.
  • The climax of the film version of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution.
  • George and Reace have a fight atop the train in Silver Streak. George wins and kills Reace but is then knocked off the train by an overhead signal.
  • The climax of Speed features a fight on top of an out-of-control subway train that ends with the immortal line "Yeah? Well I'm taller."
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • Spider-Man 2 sees Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus duke it out on a speeding Chicago 'L' train attempting to pass for a New York Subway train, with the fight primarily taking place on the roof, but also on the side of the train, trailing behind the train, and briefly inside the train.
    • Spider-Man 3 takes it to another level with Black Spidey and Sandman dishing it out in the subway, with each of them smashing each other into the trains, particularly Spidey sawing off half of Sandman's face by pressing it against a passing train.
  • The opening scene of Sullivan's Travels is two men fighting on a train to their mutual death. This turns out to be a movie within a movie where the men symbolize Capital and Labor in a heavy handed allegory that no one wants to make. They really want to finance Ants in your pants of 1940
  • The climax of the Jackie Chan / Michelle Yeoh vehicle, Supercop have the duo fighting the Big Bad and a few Elite Mooks on top of a moving train.
  • Parodied (with knobs on) in Top Secret!. The bad guy fails to duck for a low bridge, and shatters it — but he's unharmed!
  • Torque features a motorcycle chase on top of a train. And then inside the train.
  • Wild Wild West. Jim West battles a Native American henchman of Dr. Loveless on top of a train.
  • A bullet train in The Wolverine, to make it that much crazier. Logan and the Yakuza have their work cut out just holding on and are almost flattened by the wind resistance, to say nothing of the low-hanging arches that fly by regularly.

  • Fitting of its Western influence, The Alloy of Law includes a gunfight atop a moving train, which continues despite the protagonist being thrown off the top (he uses magic to save himself).
  • Happens in Kenneth Oppel's novel The Boundless.
  • Alistair MacLean's Breakheart Pass is set around an American train in Injun Country in the late 1800's. It has a couple. For that matter, the same author has a top-of-the-gondola fight in Where Eagles Dare.
  • The climax of The Dresden Files: Death Masks took place on top of a train, and the fights were pretty damn badass for a book. Dresden, a mob boss (equipped with commando gear and an assault rifle), and two Knights of the Cross (one of whom is carrying an AK in addition to his holy sword) chase and then land on the train in the mob boss's helicopter, which happens to be, on Dresden's request, playing "Ride of the Valkyries." All of that to stop a group of demons from unleashing an apocalyptic plague. Just as awesome as it sounds.
  • The bullet train version also occurs when The Executioner visits Japan in The Invisible Assassins. It's no less dangerous for Mack Bolan in the 1980's than it is for Wolverine in the 2010's, even if the trains were slightly slower then.
  • In "The Man Who Got Off the Ghost Train", Richard has to battle the Gecko and its human revenants on the outside of the Scotch Streak to prevent from uncoupling the carriages and causing a wreck.
  • In The Other Side of Dawn, Ellie jumps onto a goods train from a bridge and ends up fighting an enemy soldier atop the train and inside one of the carriages.
  • Parodied in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Raising Steam. A fantasy world where a bright inventor discovers what steampower can be harnessed to. Of course there has to be a traintop battle. The narrative dictates it.
  • The Sherlock Holmes tribute novel The Seven-Percent Solution features a train-top Sword Fight between Holmes and the villain.
  • The Warhammer 40,000: Eisenhorn trilogy features a traintop sword-fight between Eisenhorn and the mercenary captain Clansire Etrik. However, the train is not moving at the time, which is probably a good thing since it is noted as being able to make a trans-continental crossing in a day. It is, however, coated with ice and in the middle of a blizzard, so that may even things out.
  • The Wolf's Hour by Robert R. McCammon has the protagonist forced to fight his way from one end to the other of a train in Nazi Germany that has been rebuilt as a rolling death trap while the Egomaniac Hunter stalks him from behind.
  • Young Sherlock Holmes: In Red Leech, Ives confronts Holmes on top of the train. Holmes manages to win the confrontation with the aid of a sling, that sends Ives off the side as the train is going over a bridge.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Deadpool: Sauron Multiball depicts Deadpool facing off against Sauron on top of a train.
  • One of the missions in Zen Studios' Wild West Rampage, a Zen Pinball table, takes you to a multi-stage mini-playfield built inside a moving train, in which you help the bounty huntress Cindy get through all the train cars to thwart a big robbery aboard.

    Tabletop Games 

  • In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Albus and Scorpius try to sneak out of the Hogwarts Express. On the train's roof, they have a surprise encounter with the Trolley Witch, who tries to stop them using explosive pumpkin pies.

    Video Games 
  • The boss battle with Xi-Tiger in Alien Soldier.
  • Armored Core for Answer features a fusion of this and the Battleship Raid trope with the Arms Fort Great Wall, GA America's ultimate AF. Your objective is to get inside it and blow it sky-high. I don't think anyone's been dumb enough to attack it's outside other than to get into the damn thing.
  • Stage 2 and 5 of another Data East game, Bad Dudes. Respectively, on trucks and a train.
  • The second stage of Balacera Brothers is a battle on a subway train where you (and a friend on two-player) fend off hordes and hordes of skeletons and monsters trying to get aboard. It culminates with you facing the stage boss (a green-skinned cockatrice) which repeatedly tries swatting you off the train to your death.
  • Banjo-Tooie has a fight in the train's boiler. Old King Coal (a Grubby Boiler Monarch who's not the jolly old soul Kazooie thought he was) won't let you use his train until after you beat him into submission.
  • While drastically different games, both versions of Batman: Return of the Joker for both the NES and Game Boy feature stages where Batman fights on top of a train.
  • The SNES adaptation of Batman Returns has one courtesy of the Red Circus Triangle who make use of their circus train to spirit away Gotham's first-borns with Batman intercepting it and making them go on his ride.
  • In the prologue of Bayonetta 2, the first half of the fight against Belief takes place on top of a speeding train.
  • Beyond: Two Souls, Jodie when escaping the police because she's a wanted CIA. And you know, has Aiden.
  • One of the stages in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift has the fighters standing atop a speeding monorail.
  • The third map of Blood took place on a Cabal-owned train, which ends up crashing into a carnival when Caleb blows up the engine.
  • In chapter 6 of BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, the Duel Boss battle between Catie and Tyalie takes place at night atop a moving train.
  • The Sega shooter Confidential Mission 2nd stage is set on a train which not surprisingly forces the heroes on top of the train in few occasions
  • Contra:
    • Shattered Soldier has a level that involves chasing a train down on motorcycles, attacking the weaponized caboose, and heading to the engine. At which point a mecha attacks the train, leaving the player to wonder why our One-Hit-Point Wonder heroes had to bother.
    • Before that was Contra: Hard Corps. The boss was a Humongous Mecha that pushes the train to a halt and climbs onto it, which was the inspiration for the boss in Shattered Soldier
    • Hard Corps: Uprising likewise has one taking place on an underground railway, with another set of tracks running along the ceiling as well and cars being destroyed left and right either by having either track end prematurely, taking too much damage from enemy fire, or being used as projectiles by yet another Humongous Mecha running along the tracks. And that's before you get to the actual boss, which takes place in a vertical tunnel with both trains now moving straight up and subject to be destroyed entirely by the boss's huge laser. Thankfully there's a neverending supply of train cars, which proceed to roll in from offscreen and attach themself to any of the remaining ones whenever one is destroyed.
  • An action-adventure game for the first Playstation, Covert Ops Nuclear Dawn (known also as Chase the Express), has a few of these due to taking place onboard a high-speed train-The Blue Harvest. Three boss battles included. The first boss fight has you shooting a bosses' Mooks and jumping over to his freight train to finish him off. After you jump to the other train, The Blue Harvest speeds ahead, leaving you behind. After you kill the boss, you have to line up the freight train with the Blue Harvest and jump back to it before the freight train hits a disused bridge.
  • Just after the first chapter in Dark Cloud 2, you have to throw bombs at a car with two mooks in it firing a machine gun at the train. Fail and the game ends from the train derailing.
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns: The Mole Train boss fight. Donkey and Diddy have to intercept the minecarts that are being used by the Mole Miners to transport the stolen bananas to the Tiki tribe. Once they defeat all Miners in one particular chain of wagons, they proceed to chase the next one and repeat the process until reaching the King Mook Mole Miner Max and defeat him to win the battle.
  • The fourth stage of Super Double Dragon is a truck-top battle, which may be a Shout-Out to the second level of Bad Dudes.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Buu's Fury features one during a segment where Goten and Trunks are searching for the dragon balls. One of the passengers aboard said train has it, but the problem is it's also being held up by bandits, forcing the kids to fight them off.
  • Dusty Revenge have the second half of "Mid-day Ride", where Dusty must fight off cats, weasels, and mongoose bandits on top of a speeding train.
  • Stage 2 of Einhänder involves a battle against a series of armored trains.
  • In ESP Ra.De., Stage 4 takes place in a subway tunnel where enemies will either attack on top of train cars or are trains.
  • Every other level of Data East's Express Raider is a traintop Beat 'em Up.
  • Terry Bogard's stage in Fatal Fury 2, Special, Garou: Mark of the Wolves and Capcom Vs SNK 1 is on top of a train.
  • Final Fantasy VII
    • The original game had a series of battles on top of a train.
    • Crisis Core: The opening cutscene involves Zack jumping from a helicopter onto the roof of a speeding train and fighting off attackers.
  • Final Fantasy VIII doesn't have an actual battle, but it has a (kinda) traintop stealth mission.
  • Final Fantasy XV In one trailer, it has Noctis and gang face off against several soldiers, and Noctis performs a Warp Strike to catch the helicoptor nearby.
  • Friday Night Funkin': During Week 4, you sing against Girlfriend's mother, Mommy Mearest, atop a limo driven by one of her demon henchmen. Despite the battle taking place on a busy highway, there aren't any signs, tunnels or other hazards to dodge... though this was planned during development, as there are unused sprites of Mearest's backup dancers getting blown away.
  • The entire final act of Gears of War takes place on a train, with the members of Delta Squad fighting their way to the front car to activate a superweapon.
  • Luis in Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony jumps aboard an El Train in order to steal one of the cars. He has to shoot his way past half of the LCPD to reach the front.
  • The fourth stage of Gunfighter: The Legend of Jesse James have Jesse swapping lead with Carson's thugs on top of a speeding train.
  • Dynamix game Heart Of China has a battle atop the Orient Express. He's armed with a sword. You're armed with a piece of metal you ripped off the train. Don't forget to duck when the tunnels show up (the only way you know to duck is that he ducks first; he's facing the direction the train is moving).
  • inFAMOUS has a mission where Cole has to rescue a bunch of hostages on a train. Unusually, Cole himself provides the train's motion, powering it with his electrokinesis to move it somewhere safe while zapping enemies from the top.
  • In Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], you can actually fight some Dream Eaters onboard a Solar Sailer in The Grid. Like in the film, the sailer takes on the appearance of a freight train with the cargo, not present in the game fortunately, being deactivated programs being shipped to be rectified.
  • Kingdom Hearts II: The Solar Sailer battle in Space Paranoids, though the sailer looks more like a flat boat than a train. And unlike the one in The Grid, it's an actual battle with a weight limit.
  • The Last Express, which is set entirely on board a train, could hardly escape a scene like this.
  • The Legend of Tian-ding has the titular character fighting enemies atop a train heading towards Taipei. In a few areas he can actually use passing eagles to perform a Stepping Stones in the Sky.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks features a train-top battle as part of the final boss fight.
  • Low G Man has this in the first hidden level, Cyber Express.
  • In Marvel Super Heroes, Psylocke's stage is on top of a moving train through what looks like Hong Kong (or a Chinatown somewhere else, maybe even Madripoor, the game doesn't state where).
  • In McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure for the Sega Genesis, you fight the Ringmaster Wolf, who earlier captured your friend, Birdie the Early Bird, in the middle of the second world. After the battle, the train crashes into a set of buffers and you and he both fall. Birdie catches you to return the favor for saving her, while the Ringmaster Wolf continues falling until he lands into a pile of boxes.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man Zero had a stage where the second portion was on and in a train and the boss was inside the engine.
    • Mega Man Zero 2 had an entire stage that was a train, with the boss pulling up on another train at the end and the battle involving both of you jumping between the trains.
    • Mega Man Zero 4's intro stage took place on fast-moving trucks.
    • Slash Beast / Slash Beastleo in Mega Man X4. Most of the stage is set on moving railway cars, save for a small area over damaged track. The battle itself takes place in a large, low, flat moving railcar.
    • Averted in Mega Man X5 with Crescent Grizzly. The first half of the stage is in a convoy of trucks, mimicking the Military Train stage in X4. By the time you get to the battle, however, you're in a room similar to a rock quarry.
    • Mega Man X8 has a stage consisting of several small battles in sub-areas of sorts. The last of these is this, not counting the Optional Boss before the actual stage boss battle.
    • Buckfire in Mega Man ZX Advent starts out as a fight on top of the train, but Buckfire likes to use his Meteor Move to destroy the footing, resulting in him and Grey/Ashe duking it out inside the train once the ceiling is wrecked beyond any hope of standing on it.
    • Charge Man in Mega Man 5 beat them all to the punch, and even resembles a steam locomotive himself for added fun.
    • The first boss battle of Mega Man ZX Advent starts out on top of a train car, then falls inside it as the boss slowly demolishes the roof.
    • In Mega Man Legends, Mega has to fight two out of three of the Goldfish Poop Gangs on top of one train while shooting across at another train outfitted with bombs, turret guns, lasers, and missiles.
  • At least two of the Metal Slug games have fights on moving trains, including trains as bosses or subbosses.
  • Happens during the mid-game climax of Metro: Last Light where Artyom leaps aboard a moving train full of enemy soldiers and slaughters his way to the front to rescue the baby Dark One. Downplayed with several other points in the game - since it's set in the Moscow Metro system, gunfights can take place in stationary subway cars that have been repurposed as living quarters.
  • In Musashi Samurai Legend, there's an entire part of a level in which you stand on a train and fend off robots, including some that are in another train behind you!
  • Ninja Combat has a stage atop a subway train going through a tunnel where you fight off enemy ninjas and mooks.
  • In Ninja Gaiden II for the NES, Ryu is in a hurry to get to the Lahja mountains. His solution: climb onto the top of a train and fend off the enemies that attack him as he makes his way to the locomotive.
  • Paper Mario:
  • PAYDAY 2 has two train-related heists. The one from the Armored Transport DLC is more of a simple Train Job, the train in question being robbed while stopped at a station, but the second version falls neatly within this trope. It's Day 2 of the Biker Heist, in which you fight on top of a moving train to get to the loot, which is located at the front of the train. Even the helicopter pilot, Bile, knows what they're doing is badass, and opts to play Ride of the Valkyries on the helicopter radio in the intro of the heist. Bile even goes one step further and acts all cowboy in the intro too, and sometimes points out that what they're about to do looks like it's belongs in a western movie.
    Bile: Yeeehawww!
    Bile: All right cowboys, I'm dropping you off here!
    Bile: Wow, looks like something out of a western movie!
  • The third stage of the PSX and PC versions of Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue takes place on top of the Supertrain. This is actually rather convenient as it allows you to knock the (few) enemies off of it to win much faster.
  • The Megadrive version of Psycho Pinball's Wild West table had this for its bonus game.
  • The videogame adaptation of Quantum of Solace includes a flashback level set during the unremarkable train ride to the eponymous Casino Royale. It now includes a traintop gunfight.
  • In a similar example, in Ranma ˝ Hard Battle for the Super NES, Shampoo's stage is on top of a moving train.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal had a fight atop a hover train with Giant Klunk. The first game featured a short train top battle, as well. In the same city, in fact.
  • The Revenge of Shinobi: Level 6 takes place on top of a train. It's famous for being the level where Spider-Man and Batman were bosses in the original edition.
  • This happens in The Saboteur, in which Sean has to rescue a defecting scientist from a Nazi train before the train reaches the bridge that Sean has rigged to blow. There are also hijackable turrets every couple of cars that can be fired at any Nazi installations the train happens to pass.
  • The Secret World has one of these in the mission "The Last Train To Cairo," in which the player has to stop an Atenist freight train and retrieve the dirty bomb they're transporting. It features several fights on top of railcars, a number of segments that require the player to shimmy along the side of the train to bypass impassable obstacles, a tunnel section that involves dodging overhead lights and beams, and a final boss fight that concludes with the player kicking the Arc Villain off the train.
  • Shadow Hearts 1 opens up with one of these.
  • One of the bosses in Stage 6 of Sin and Punishment: Star Successor takes place on top of a train. To damage the boss you have to knock the trains back and make sure they hit it. Also, try not to stay in the air for too long or you'll be blown off.
  • The end of the second chapter of Shining Force III ends with a large battle on top of a moving train that is heading towards a broken bridge. Oddly no matter how long you take, or even if you quit the battle and go do some shopping from one of the passengers underneath, the train won't reach the bridge until you finish the fight; and then it's just in time.
  • Skies of Arcadia has a train battle level, both inside and out. Eventually, Vyse and co. are tracked down by Implacable Man Galcian, and have to head toward the front of the train while he chases after them...very...slowly.
  • The first stage of Slaps and Beans ends with Terence and Bud fighting mooks on top of a moving train. However it's a Fake-Out Opening - after defeating the boss, the director yells "CUT!" revealing the entire first stage to be a movie set, the train is actually stationary and the skies in the background are painted screens.
  • The second mission in Soldier of Fortune, complete with Bilingual Bonus (the train is in Africa; the guards speak Swahili).
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic Heroes there is an entire act with a railway system. Mostly you just "grind" down the rails, but a tunnel area has you doing exactly this trope, fighting off minor enemies on the train that try to push you off.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble's Sunset Park Act 3 takes place on a train, with the boss apparently being the engine.
  • The N64 Spider-Man game features a level where Spidey has to hold off hordes of lizard men while atop a subway car.
  • The Spider-Man 2 video game tie in recreates the battle with Doc Ock on the train.
  • Spider-Man vs. the Kingpin has several levels where Spidey fights on top of a subway car. The boss fight with the Vulture occurs at the end of one.
  • In Spinmaster, the second half of Stage 1 takes place atop a jet plane taking off.
  • The video game Ur-Example is probably the first stage of Hudson Soft's Stop The Express. The second stage goes inside the train.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe apparently has trainlike vehicles that allow for this, just going really fast.
  • Guile's stage in the console versions of Street Fighter Alpha 3 is set on a military train - Which gets fired at at certain points.
  • Sunset Riders, essentially a side-scrolling Wild West shoot-em-up, has the requisite moving train level. Depending on the version, it can either take place on top of the train where you shoot both at enemies coming in from the sides as well as the ones poking up from the windows below and where not jumping over the quickly-approaching girders in time means instant smashy death or riding alongside of one, where you need to jump over logs dropped from a wagon so your horse doesn't trip over them and cause you to die in a similar way
  • Late in Super Pokémon Eevee Edition, the game's eighth chapter ends with the player battling rival Silver atop a moving train
  • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U: In the 3DS version, the Spirit Tracks stage pits the Smash fights this way. While it is one of the constantly moving and changing stages featured in Smash Bros., the fighters do battle on the Spirit Train from the game the stage is based on and it's constantly changing train cars that it pulls throughout the fight.
  • Two back-to-back levels of Syphon Filter 2 have you racing to the front of a train to stop it before it reaches a blown-out bridge. You fail to stop it, but jump onto a chopper stolen by Lian just before it falls through.
  • The third level of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for the Game Boy takes place on top of a series of moving trucks.
  • The final battle against Karai in the SNES version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters takes place on top of a commuter train.
  • The 1800s level of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time was set on a moving train of flatbeds. Other than Foot Soldiers riding up on horses and boarding, it could have been a ground level and not changed the essence of the gameplay.
  • The second stage of Time Crisis 2 has this where you fight along not one but two speeding trains (the first the the passenger compartment and the second alongside an adjacent train). After fighting off the mooks you deal with the boss who takes you on with a gun turret, swings a missile around at you (no, really) and lastly tries to take you down with a gatling gun while holding onto a helicopter before you blow him up. Likewise in TC3, the end of the second area has you fighting atop a speeding train. The difference here is at the end of the stage, the bridge is blow out from underneath, resulting in the heroes being forced to climb their way up from the still attached dangling compartments.
  • TimeSplitters Future Perfect in the Bond parody level. The second part is on a train. After you apply the emergency brakes, the camera PoV cuts between the train and your partner's girlfriend, making it look like she's about to be run over. As the train grinds to a halt, the camera pans out... showing several dozen feet of track between her and the train.
  • In an inversion of The Problem with Licensed Games, the Tiny Toons game for the NES (The one with the Amusement park setting) has Hampton Pig on top of a Train Ride, having to fight several enemies, avoid getting stranded on disengaged cars, and fight Arnold the Pit Bull.
    • The SNES game also has a battle taking place on a train, except it's Buster Bunny doing the fighting in this case. It even uses the above-mentioned Standard Snippet as background music in one part.
  • Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation has one of these. With ninjas.
  • The final mission of Total Overdose is along the top of an old steam locomotive.
  • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has two entire chapters take place in a moving train. Nathan Drake works his way to the front one car at a time, alternating between gunfights and crawling along the sides of the cars while dodging passing signal lights — and then a helicopter gunship shows up and starts blowing cars off the train behind him. Nathan lampshades and complains about how the mooks continue to attack him and don't seem to notice the helicopter about to kill them all.
  • Both Unreal Tournament and Unreal Tournament 2004 have Assault maps with this sort of premise, though the 2004 map isn't so much "trains" as "gigantic trucks". Falling off is possible, and leads to instant death.
  • Vandal Hearts also has a train battle level. The villains start releasing the back cars (very slowly) after a while, so any of your characters that are lagging behind may find themselves ejected from the battle prematurely.
  • Stage 7-1 in Vice: Project Doom.
  • Wario Land:
    • In Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, there are two levels in Parsley Woods taking place in/on a train. Falling onto the rails while the train is in motion is instant death.
    • There are also levels like this in Wario Land: Shake It!, Wreck Train and Derailed Express. You've got both fighting across the top of the train and making your way through the carriages though.
  • The battle against Janus and crew in the Prologue of Wild ARMs 3.
  • The Armored Train level in Wild Guns.
  • The Grimrail Depot in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor involves sneaking aboard the eponymous Cool Train, defeating the crew, and rigging it to derail in a highly explosive manner. The first half of the train is enclosed, but starting with the second boss, it opens up into a series of flatbed artillery cars for the remainder of the instance.
  • Yokai Hunter Shintaro have a stage called Doomed Train that inevitably leads to the top of said train, with you fighting skeletons and flying Yōkai left and right. Leading to a fight with the stage's boss, a Sōgenbi who tries using fireballs to knock you off the train to your death.
  • In Yoshi's Crafted World, "Gator Train Attacks!" features a battle against the titular Gator Train, which rides on rails parallel to Yoshi's.

    Web Animation 
  • The Ballad of Cripple Kane starts out with of course, a saloon brawl, a horse chase, but it ends up on a train. Oh wait, you knew that, reading the trope and all. It's still awesome!
  • This happens in an episode of Dr. Havoc's Diary. And of course, Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    Dr. Havoc: (to Brock) Well, well, well, what do we have-(the train bumps a bit) woah! This is really fucking dangerous.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Happens with Bill and Kayla versus their Darkness counterparts in 'VRcade'.
  • RWBY:
    • In "Black", Blake and Adam battle security robots both in and on a train.
    • In "No Brakes", the heroes battle White Fang mooks and mechas on a train inside a Grimm infested underground tunnel.
    • Argus Limited begins on one of these, as the team needs to fend off plenty of Grimm attracted to their Relic of Knowledge.

    Web Original 


    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Finn and the creepy conductor have one in "Mystery Train".
  • Archer:
    • The episode "The Limited" has ISIS escorting a radical Nova Scotian separatist back across the Canadian border via train. Archer keeps talking about how it's been, like, his life-long dream to fight on top of a train. And in the show's semi-deconstructive spirit, when the time comes, he finds it's not all it's cracked up to be. Not to mention the protracted discussion about how, unless you've coordinated rescue via a helicopter or something, you're ultimately still on the train, therefore it's a kind of pointless endeavor.
      Archer: Oh my God. This is going to be aaAH SHIT! [gun gets ripped out of his hands by the wind] Aah! The dust! It's like being shot in the eyes by a... glitter gun!
    • Invoked in the episode "The Big Con", where the final event in the Agent Skills Competition is to take over a train — simulated on stage.
  • Boo Boom! The Long Way Home: The series finale takes place on top of a moving train, with Jack, Aurelia and even Christopher attacking 4 German soldiers in order to give Boo-Boom and Viola more time to unhook the carriages.
  • Carmen Sandiego: The episode "The Chasing Paper Caper" climaxes with Carmen tracking down Paper Star onto a train. During the resulting fight, she leads Paper Star onto the roof of the train, where the high-speed winds blow away all her paper weapons.
  • Danger Mouse: In "Planet of the Toilets", Danger Mouse battles Doctor Loo-cifer atop a bullet train in Japan.
  • Family Guy:
    • In one fantasy sequence, Stewie has an Imagine Spot about a fist and knife fight with someone on top of a moving 19th century train over a MacGuffin.
    • Also happens quite regularly when Peter takes on Ernie the Chicken.
  • Fillmore!: In "Next Stop: Armageddon", Fillmore chases the perp of the week across the roof of a miniature train.
  • In the G.I. Joe: Renegades episode "Homecoming, part 2", Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow fight on top of the train, while The Baroness takes out soldiers within the train.
  • In the final season of The Legend of Korra, the Krew has a battle on a moving train in order to rescue Prince Wu.
  • The end of the Looney Tunes cartoon Hare Trigger has Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam having a scuffle on top of a train.
  • Motorcity: Mike Chilton and the Burners have one against "Red" in "Like Father, Like Daughter"
  • This is how Rainbow Dash of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic first meets Little Strongheart in the episode "Over a Barrel", during a chase on top of the train that the main characters were riding.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Lampshaded in the episode "Sidetracked". Dr. Doofenshmirtz is being chased on a train by Perry and a Canadian agent when he has the idea to go to the top of the train. At which point he turns to the audience with a grin and says "You knew we were going to end up here eventually."
  • The ReBoot episode High Code features an epic train battle between Bob and the insectoid creature Lens the Reaper inside a Wild West computer game.
  • In an episode of Samurai Jack, Jack fights two bounty hunters (one a Cowboy and the other a saloon-girl Femme Fatale) on top of a train.
  • In the third episode of The Spectacular Spider-Man, Spidey fights The Lizard on top of a moving subway.
  • Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters: In "Ninja and the Ghost", Stretch and Blindstrike engage in this after Blindstrike's commander, Dr. C, discovers Stretch stalking her onto a train.


A Circus Train

The Action Prologue has Young Indy getting chased along a line of circus train cars.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

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Main / TraintopBattle

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