Ninja: Nah, you're thinking of samurai. Ninja kill silently from the darkness.
Not every character fights like the Knight in Shining Armor. Dirty fighting is a staple of many genres. Its regular appearance can mark a work as more serious, 'gritty' and realistic (not to mention Darker and Edgier, or even worse, Bloodier and Gorier).
There are lots of ways to work more 'resourceful' combatants into scenes and stories, but the key to good dirty fighting is twofold: a willingness on the part of the fighters to use whatever is available to them in combat, and a willingness to use psychological tricks in order to gain the upper hand. Inventive tactics and an ability to improvise are naturally assets. The best examples of series taking this approach to heart will see characters play possum, play head games, and play hardball as soon as things get close. Anything goes in a real fight, after all.
That the contents within are Truth in Television goes without saying.
- Aerosol Flamethrower
- Booze Flamethrower
- Bulletproof Human Shield - using an enemy (or a friend or Innocent Bystander, for really nasty bad guys) as cover against another enemy
- Buried in a Pile of Corpses - Using one or more dead bodies to hide yourself so you can attack
- By the Hair
- Combat Pragmatist
- Confusion Fu
- Conveniently Timed Distraction
- Decoy Getaway
- Deliberately Jumping the Gun
- Defensive Feint Trap
- Exploited Immunity
- Faking the Dead
- Go Fetch
- Go for the Eye - the eye gouge is a favored tactic of the more lethal dirty fighter.
- Go Look at the Distraction
- Gradual Grinder
- Groin Attack
- Hammerspace Hair - When used to hide sharp objects, especially common in Real Life.
- A Handful for an Eye - the time-honored trick of giving your foe an amateur optometry checkup with some nearby dirt or sand.
- Hey, Catch!
- "Hey, You!" Haymaker
- I Am Not Left-Handed
- Improvised Weapon
- In the Back
- I Surrender, Suckers
- Kick Them While They Are Down
- Look Behind You
- Man Bites Man
- Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught
- Poison Is Evil
- Screw the Rules, They Broke Them First! (when a victim of dirty play retaliates this way)
- Standard Female Grab Area
- Talk to the Fist - smacking (or shooting) somebody mid-speech.
- Many of The Thirty-Six Stratagems qualify.
- Throwing the Distraction
- Trap Master
- Trash Talk
- Unnecessary Roughness
- We Need a Distraction and all subtropes
- Weighted Gloves