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File:Interesting Situation Duel 2747.jpg

A man with frying pan versus a horse with shortsword. Perfectly normal.

"You should know that this is the strangest thing I've ever done!"
Flynn Rider, Tangled, describing the picture to the right

This is a fight that is made interesting by a special location and/or unusual circumstances. Both parties try to use these to their advantage and it looks cool too, so it's a visual and tactical plus for the Spectacle.

The opponent's unusual strengths, weaknesses, or abilities can also make a fight special. May involve Dangerous Terrain. May involve odd or Improvised Weapons on one or both sides.

Subtropes of the Interesting Situation Duel include:

Examples of Interesting Situation Duel include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto Akizuki and Kanna fight also by night, in a labyrinth of slightly translucent paper walls, that is illuminated by candelabras. Akizuki has a sword and Kanna has guns.
  • In Ranma ½, the Water Citadel is a hollowed-out mountain filled with high-pressure water, which bursts freely from strategically-placed traps such as logs, boulders, and so on. The primary antagonist of the arc, Pantyhose Taro uses Akane as bait to lure Ranma and the others to this mountain. Once there, not only do they have to battle their enemy, but also stay dry as much as possible--for Ranma's Jusenkyo-cursed team, a random splash would turn them into weaker, or helpless, forms, but it would turn Taro himself into a gigantic, massively powerful minotaur chimera.
    • Jusenkyo itself is an unusual battlefield. A "training ground" consisting of hundreds of deep springs, with long stalks of bamboo jutting out for martial artists to stand on... and one false move would send one plunging down into a haunted pond, cursed to become whatever creature first drowned there. Yet despite because of this, Ranma and Genma train here in a flashback.
  • The arenas for the ring battles in Katekyo Hitman Reborn were set up special for the fight: slowly flooding for the rain battle, Hot lamps and cables for the sun battle, etc.
  • One Piece had a few both canon an filler. Enies Lobby arc had Luffy fighting Lucci as the whole island was getting bombed to kindom come. Thriller Bark final battle was fought with a time limit of the sun about to come up and vaporize those who didn't have a shadow. (Long story). The 4th movie had Luffy fighting the antagonist on a sinking ship with a cyclone bearing down on them. And the 6th movie was all over this with all sorts of bizzare challenges for the Straw Hats.
  • Dragon Ball and Dragonball Z get special mentions for consistantly demolishing the arenas they fight in, whether it be an actual ring or an entire planet. Special mention goes to the fight between Goku and Tien in Dragonball where Tien destroys the ring and the match becomes a fight to see who can stay in the air longer without touching the ground, since falling outside of the ring is an instant loss.
  • Lupin III: The Castleof Cagliostro has the climactic fight in the clocktower.
  • Bleach has these quite frequently. A notable example is Ichigo's internal world, which is a skyscraper turned sideways. It's generally the location of his battles with his Enemy Within.

Comic Book

  • It might be more difficult to find a comic book battle that didn't invoke this trope.
  • Wallace in Sin City had an intense car chase/gun fight while on a Mushroom Samba. We saw things from his perspective, making it one of the strangest sequences in the series.


  • The mill fight from the first Pirates of the Caribbean and perhaps the fight in the grotto at the end, with the tactical use of mortality and immortality.
    • The sequel has a fight on top of a waterwheel that takes this to absurd levels.
    • And the third film has a battle between two ships during a storm, on a friggin' huge whirlpool! With the crew of both ships dueling on each ship at the same time. With a sword fight taking place on top of one of the cross beams of one of the ships. And the Captain of one ship performing a wedding while swordfighting.
    • In the fourth, Jack fights Angelica, who's dressed up exactly like him in a tavern's storage-room full of barrels, rafters, and trapdoors. Later, he fights several Spanish soldiers in a palm tree grove at night, when he's armed with a coconut on the end of a rope. And wins!
  • For that matter, if you're watching an old school Swashbuckling Pirate movie you can virtually guarantee that at some point the hero will end up fencing his opponent back and forth along the yardarm or down the bowsprit.
  • The final duel in Star Wars Revenge of the Sith between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker Darth Vader ranges from a factory to a module that collapses from lava. And on moving hover pads floating just over the lava. And next to the lava. The planet they are on, Mustafar, is full of the stuff. To say nothing about the (lack of) intense heat. But hey, they're Jedi.
    • Said duel is probably a Call Forward to the lightsaber duel in The Empire Strikes Back in Cloud City. Notably, both of them have scenes that take place on a narrow catwalk above a rather perilous drop, and in both of them the loser gets at least one of his limbs amputated.
  • Constantly used in Jackie Chan films (and probably many martial artists) and Jackie Chan Adventures. Anything from a room filled with weapons, a construction site, a cliff, or a flying house.
  • In Inception, if a dreamer experiences G-forces in the real world, they experience altered gravity in the dream. So the van flipping over on the upper dream level translates to Arthur fighting thugs on the walls and ceiling of a corridor.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has a bunch of these, but the best is the fight that takes place on top of a bamboo forest - i.e. standing on giant, flexible stems of bamboo.
  • The Living Daylights has a really epic fistfight between James Bond and Necros while both of them are hanging out the back of a cargo plane. In mid-flight. And a time bomb is about to go off...
    • Done again in Die Another Day. Only this time, the plane flies through a solar-powered laser beam and starts to fall apart. And speaking of laser beams, there was another Interesting Situation Duel earlier against The Dragon; Bond and Mr. Kil fight to the death inside a room full of out-of-control laser beams and must dodge the deadly beams while they're in the middle of trying to kill each other.
  • The clifftop duel in The Princess Bride.
    • In the original book, Inigo trained heavily for these to ensure he was Crazy Prepared for the duel with the man who killed his father.
  • Every Indiana Jones movie has at least one: the flying wing fight in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the rock crusher fight in Temple of Doom, the tank fight in The Last Crusade, and the sword fight on two moving jeeps in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. All are awesome.
  • Scaramouche has a swordfight in a theater, fought on the backs of the seats. They started by dueling along the rims of the balconies and finished on the stage.
  • The Adventures of Quentin Durward had the eponymous hero and the villain battle it out in a church tower. Not so interesting? They were swinging from and travelling up and down on the ropes used to ring the bells. The dramatic soundtrack even cuts off right at this fight in order to let the bells be heard better.
  • In Legend of the Drunken Master, there's a fight in a steel mill, but more to the spirit of this trope is a battle in the beginning where a good chunk of it takes place under a house (or something), with lots of narrow wooden pillars that help and hinder both fighters.
  • Gangs of New York has Bill the Butcher and Amsterdam Vallon fighting their climactic duel while New York is being bombarded by cannon fire during the New York Draft Riots of 1863. The final stretch of their fight takes place in the midst of the intense dust the cannon fire has kicked up, visibility reduced to a handful of metres.
  • The fight in the gear room in Hellboy II.
  • In Tangled, Flynn--with a frying pan--duels a horse who has a sword.

 "You should know this is the strangest thing I've ever done!"

  • In Army of Darkness, Ash fights Deadites in a pit of thigh-deep filthy water surrounded by Spikes of Doom as the walls are closing in.
  • The climax of Equilibrium features a gun duel. It's awesome by virtue of the range being two feet; the combatants fire at each other with pistols while simultaneously trying to hit the other's gun away.
  • The Four Musketeers had a duel on a frozen pond, with all sorts of slippery fun.
  • Kung Fu Panda had the Furious Five fight Tai Lung on a thin rope bridge. When the animators complained that they didn't know how to animate that kind of action sequence, the directors took it as a good sign because it meant that kind of action have never been done before in animation. So, the crew persevered and one of the wildest fights in the Wuxia genre was created.
  • The climactic, several dimension spanning Sword Fight in Waxwork II Lost in Time.


  • In the first Gormenghast book, Flay and Swelter have it out nightly on an attic that is a Cobweb Jungle and is slowly flooding from a thunderstorm taking place at the same time. Flay is thin like a stock, Swelter fat like a pig.
  • In the book Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures, a fencing master has a garden built specifically to accommodate these kinds of duels.
  • Pick a Matthew Reilly book. Any Matthew Reilly book. ...okay, we'll make it interesting and not count the fights that take place on a moving car/truck/train/boat/airplane, which narrows it down from the hundreds to the dozens. Of note is:
    • Hand-to-hand fighting in a multi-level pitch-black ice station that's full of hydroflurocarbons.
      • The fluorocarbons mean any gunfire will blow the place sky high. The ranged weapons are crossbows and grappling hooks.
    • Fighting in the water while being attacked by killer whales (or sharks, 'cause that's also happened).
    • Fighting on an aircraft carrier while it's being attacked by a badass stealth plane/exploding from the inside out, Death Star style.

Live-Action TV

  • The Taiwanese Cop Show Black And White has a weaponless fight in a moving tram where both opponents (and all the passengers) are high. The scenes alternate between normal and the twisted, wobbly perspective of the fighters.
  • Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain features a duel which takes place: while sledding down a mountain during an avalanche, upside-down inside a construction scaffold, and while hanging from the remaints of an inevitably-demolished rope bridge.

Professional Wrestling

Tabletop RPGs

  • During the climactic fight between Drizzt and Artemis Entreri inside of Cryshal-Tirith in The Silent Blade, Jarlaxle uses his power over Crenishinibon to create a room filled with staircases, platforms, and obstacles specifically so that the fight would be more interesting to watch, since strategy and cunning would be more likely to come into play.
  • Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 edition recommends this to make the game more interesting. A duel in yet another 30-foot-square stone room? Boring. A duel on a rock arch over a river of lava? Now you're talking!


  • The central conceit of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Grand Duke, or, The Statutory Duel". Under the law of Pfennig-Halbpfennig

 By this ingenious law

When any two shall quarrel

They may not fight with falchions bright,

Which seemed to him immoral.

But each a card shall draw,

And he who draws the lowest

Or, so 'tis said, is henceforth dead,

In fact, a legal ghoest.


Video Games

  • Nearly every level in Power Stone and its sequel is comprised of one of these.
  • Half of the stages in the Super Smash Bros series. Special mentions go to: The pokefloats stage (Melee), Big Blue (Melee and Brawl), the Pikmin world, specifically, fighting on top of a Bulbax while it's trying to eat you (Brawl), and the boss fight with Meta Ridley (Brawl)
  • Half of the stages in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash Up as well, which even includes the moving train.
  • The action/fighting arcade game The Outfoxies. Stages include a moving train, a boat on a stormy ocean and a plane in mid-flight. Two other stages (an aquarium and a skyscraper) are relatively normal... until bombs start going off, altering your surroundings.
  • Bayonetta has a lot of this. Standouts include two fights on pieces of buildings plummeting to the ground, multiple fights taking place inside explosions, a fight on the ocean involving you surfing on a piece of a downed aircraft (and, near the end, a whirlpool), and a battle with The Rival that jumps from the top of a building to the side of a building to on a fucking MISSILE.
  • Kingdom Hearts II has a few of these, most notably in the ending battle, where Sora & co. fight Xemnas on a flying motorcycle-thing, in space, on the side of a skyscraper and in the literal manifestation of nothingness.
  • The second and third Uncharted games feature fights against GiantMooks and bosses in all kinds of interesting situations. Like, say, on the roof of a speeding train (and later, a speeding truck) as it climbs the Himalayas. Or in the corridors of a hijacked cruise ship while it flips, floods and sinks. Or on the cargo ramp of a plane while it flies over the Rub'al Kahli Desert. Or inside that same plane while it's being torn apart by sudden depressurisation and random explosions. Or on a stone bridge in an ancient city that's slowly being consumed by a giant vortex of quicksand.
  • Deadly Premonition has Thomas, who at this point is thought to be the killer but is really just a minion, stand on a gear in a clock tower, and get into a gunfight with Emily, while using a hook as a means of fighting her. Did we mention Thomas is wearing a dress while shouting derogatory insults?
  • Donkey Kong Jungle Beat has, as the game progresses, a battle in the branches of trees, one on a log floating down a river, a battle in the rain and a fight on top of meteor burning up in a planet's atmosphere.

Web Comics

  • In Juathuur, Soveshei and Rowasu duel on top of a tower, because fighting is forbidden inside the building.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, the titular Doctor fights Dracula in a mirror maze within his secret moon base. Doesn't sound particularly inspired until you're reminded that Dracula casts no reflection. Although Dracula's robot double does.

Web Original

  • Red vs. Blue: Revelation features a fight in a storage room full of teleporters and explosives in Chapter 10 and on top of a glacier rigged with explosives in Chapter 19.
  • Dead Fantasy has one of these in almost every episode. They fight on moving surfaces, swinging blocks of stone, and even while falling down the side of a building.
  • Chaka's fall term combat final in the Whateley Universe. Chaka faces a giant, a brick, and a wizard/inventor in the middle of an earthquake and a tornado. She proceeds to use the tornado as a weapon.

Western Animation

  • Fly Me to the Moon has a battle between flies inside of a computer at launch control during a space mission! (And one of the flies is fighting with burning matches!)
  • Pretty much every episode of Xiaolin Showdown. The titular showdowns, in fact, automatically make the areas they take place in more interesting than they would be otherwise.
  • The Teen Titans episode "X" has Robin fighting his Evil Counterpart, Red X, as they both make their way through an elaborate security system involving loads and loads of laser beams. Then they have a rematch in "Revved Up" where they fight each other while riding motorcycles and chasing after another supervillain who keeps throwing obstacles in their path.

Real Life

  • In Ernst von Salomon's FRAGEBOGEN, he relates an incident from his service in Oberschlesien with a student freikorps, full of characters who thought they were still back in Heidelberg or wherever. One of these introduced himself as a "stud.math". "Yes, you look like one." A moment later, another university type comes to announce that his friend was greatly insulted, and would the Herr name his weapon? So Ernst, an artillerist who did not know one end of a sword from the other, chose heavy mine throwers. (Apparently something almost, but not quite, unlike a mortar.) Amid consternation, a special court of honor convened, and ruled that all Affairs must be postponed for the duration. Of course, afterward, they could not get hold of two heavy mine throwers.
  • According to this Smithsonian article, which informs us that "[i]n 1808, two Frenchmen fought in balloons over Paris," and "thirty-five years later, two others tried to settle their differences by skulling each other with billiard balls." Incidentally, during the balloon duel, the winner killed his opponent by shooting the canopy, causing the loser's balloon to crash fatally.
  • This article describes both the balloon and billiard balls incidents, as well as a naked duel and several other strange duels.