A Truce While We Gawk

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There's a climatic battle going on all around. Suddenly, something happens and both sides turn and stand around watching in horror or surprise. They may even exchange glances, shrug, or give up fighting altogether.

The results of this trope are usually Delayed Reaction, a resumption of hostilities, or total embarrassment.

Supertrope of Battle-Halting Duel. See also Mid-Battle Tea Break. Can result in a Pass the Popcorn moment. Compare/contrast Ignored Enemy.

Note: this trope tends not to cover arguments but does cover fights of all other kinds.

Examples of A Truce While We Gawk include:

Anime and Manga

  • In So Ra No Wo To, "Amazing Grace" is all that is needed to stop the Helvetican and Roman armies from charging at each other.
  • Issei in High School DxD somehow manages to summon the freaking breast god. EVERYONE stops fighting and turns to look at him like he was going crazy.


  • In Gangs of New York when the Navy starts firing on the gangs. This time the distraction pretty much ends the conflict.
  • In Children of Men, the climactic battle grinds to a halt when the combatants hear the cry of the first child born in two decades. As soon as the child is safely away, the fighting starts again.
  • In The Naked Gun 2, Drebin is fighting an assassin in Jane's bathroom, then they notice Jane in the shower and both stop to gawk at her.
    • In the first one, the "hill of beans" speech.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest had it with the pirates pausing battle to watch the mill wheel go by with Jack chasing after it.
  • Undercover Brother. While the title character is fighting a couple of mooks, Sista Girl and White She Devil start ripping each others' clothes off and end up showering together. UB and the mooks stop fighting, sit down together and enjoy the show.
  • In the first climax of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Knives dives into the scene to attack not Gideon, but Ramona, for breaking Scott's heart. Scott and Gideon just stop to watch them fight for a few moments before resuming their own fight.
  • In the film adaptation of Indian in The Cupboard, Patrick uses the cupboard to animate several iconic pop-culture plastic figures, including a Jurassic Park T-rex and Darth Vader, before Omri can stop him. When the cupboard is opened, we see the characters engaged in combat... until they notice the comparatively giant-sized boys standing there, stop fighting, and stare. Omri quickly changes them back before anything happens.
  • In Hot Shots Part Deux, Topper is having a shootout with a Mook when they both pause and look over as the Energizer Bunny enters the battlefield. After a moment, they open fire on the Bunny, celebrate for a moment, then Topper kills the Mook,


  • In Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix this happens near the end when Ron, who is befuddled by a spell, picks up a floating brain from a tank and everyone turns to watch in horror.
  • In the scene "What A Game" of Ragtime the Braves and Giants fans suddenly stop their confrontation when something exciting happens on the baseball field. The confrontation is not yet physical, but it is implied that it is approaching physicality.
  • In Blood Rites of The Dresden Files, an entropy curse results in a vampire being killed by a frozen turkey fallen from a passing plane. The melee (between Harry, two vampires, and two of another kind of vampire) stops to stare in confused silence because, "Even by the standards of the quasi-immortal creatures of the night, that ain't something you see twice."
  • This happens during the rock fight in Stephen King's IT: all of the kids (Ragtag Bunch of Misfits and Jerk Jocks alike) stop fighting and turn to watch Victor Criss and Bill Denbrough start a dual rock-throwing Unflinching Walk towards one another. Even Henry pauses to watch.


  • In the Doctor Who story Battlefield, the King Arthur one, there's a moment in Mordred and Ancelyn's final duel where they break apart for a moment—and the Doctor walks right between them, casually tipping his hat as he passes, on his way to his own final confrontation with Morgaine. Mordred and Ancelyn stare after him for a moment before remembering that they were in the middle of fighting to the death.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Anne", Buffy's fight with the demons is interrupted by the head demon holding a knife to Lilly. He announces that their fight is lost and he'll kill Lilly to make an example. Lilly kills him instead. A beat later, the main fight resumes.
  • In Band of Brothers, when Spiers makes a suicidal run through Foy to make contact with I Company, both sides stop firing for a brief moment simply because they couldn't believe what they were seeing.

Video Games

  • In Halo: Combat Evolved, if you finish the final level on Legendary you are treated to a marine sergeant and an elite grappling over a rifle... till the Pillar of Autumns generators go up. The two fighters simply break apart and stare, before hugging each other.

Johnson: "This is it, brother. Hold me."

  • The various mutant gangs of Bulletstorm will more than happily fight each other on the occasions you meet them together, but pulling off a particularly brutal skillshot will cause them all to stop and stare at the carnage for a moment.
  • Happens to a combating Orc and Human in this Warcraft III intro... Until they're both killed by what they're gawking at.
  • Happens in the opening FMV of Pac-Man World 2. The ghosts are playing with the Golden Fruit (which they just plucked off the tree), then the fun and games turns to an argument, then horseplay...then Clyde just stands there, eyes and mouth wide with terror, as Spooky emerges from under the tree. The rest of the ghosts stop fighting and gawp, paralyzed with fear.


  • Girl Genius: Mid-combat, when the circus wagons come to life, there's a good pause where Wooster and Dupree just gawk.
    • Later Klaus makes such a proclamation that even the Castle's remote drones stop and gawk together with his crew they just fought.
  • An early Sluggy Freelance arc is titled "Game Called On Account Of Naked Chick," which starts when a fight between Torg and Bun Bun comes to an abrupt end when they stumble into a lake where Oasis is bathing.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • In an episode of Phineas and Ferb, a fight between fantasy and sci-fi enthusiasts at a Fan Convention gets momentarily derailed as they all stop and stare at Candace, who is wearing a full body Ducky Momo costume, as she awkwardly waddles and quacks her way through the middle of the melee.
  • In the "Return to New York" arc of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Baxter Stockman shows up in a Humongous Mecha during the confrontation between the turtles and Splinter, and Shredder's forces. He takes a ludicrous amount of damage, but just keeps coming back, leading to this exchange.

Leonardo: "What do we have to do to stop this guy?"
Shredder: "I have asked myself that question many times..."


Real Life

  • When a total eclipse of the sun occurred while Lyda and Media were fighting a battle in ancient times, both commanders recognized the wrath of the gods when they knew it. They signed a peace treaty, went home and never waged war against each other again. This is actually the earliest historic event that can be dated to an exact day: it was May 28, 585 B.C.
  • One source claims that in an aerial battle over Germany, a B-17 pilot attempted to bail out. His parachute got snagged in an aircraft and he was basically being dragged behind the plane. The writer recalls the entire battle coming to a stop while people stared in horror, until a fighter pilot put him out of his misery.
  • The Mount Vesuvius Eruption of March 1944. Fighting (at least on the ground) came to a halt as both sides watched the event.