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File:Dueling hackers 6317.png

Dueling hackers, combining the excitement of people typing with the thrill of network protocol loopholes being exploited.

One hacker is trying to hack into a system, while the other is busily trying to keep him out. Expect the hackers to consider each other to be a Worthy Opponent. Often mixed with an attempt to back-trace the invading Hacker's source, depicted much like phone backtracing usually is.

Almost no one thinks to simply unplug the target computer from the network because apparently Everything Is Online, always.

Examples of Dueling Hackers include:

Anime & Manga

  • Mahou Sensei Negima: Chisame versus Chachamaru in the festival arc.
  • In Gakuen Heaven of all things the vice-presidents of the student council and the treasury are constantly trying to hack each other and keep the other out.
  • Ghost in the Shell has a few examples.
  • Happens in Cannon God Exaxxion as both sides run a propaganda war against each other.
  • In Demon Hunters: Dead Camper Lake, two Cyborg Dueling Hackers complete with ominously named programs with skull icons, while sitting face to face at the same table. Eventually, the losing cyborg shrugs, picks up his laptop and clubs his enemy to death.
  • A slowed down and scaled up version: The .hack plot-lines for the Twilight manga and anime involve a group of hackers breaking down an MMORPG while the game's programmers try and counter the slow infection.
  • Hanaukyo Maid Tai. In episode 8 the Jihiyou family hacks into the MEMOL supercomputer to steal information (and possibly activate the mansion's Self-Destruct Mechanism). Grace manages to defeat them.
  • It's not really made that much of, but this happens between Yatouji Satsuki and Imonoyama Nokoru in X 1999. She is trying to hack into the computers of CLAMP Campus and he is trying to keep her out. Given that Satsuki is a technopath working in tandem with a supercomputer, the fact that Nokoru actually manages to make it combat instead of a Curb Stomp Battle is pretty impressive.
  • Happens often enough in Dennou Coil, since realspace and cyberspace are linked. A particularly heated one happens between Isako and Fumie early on.
  • While it wasn't precisely done by hackers (mostly) the Digimon Adventure movie with Diablomon featured a fight between the titular villain and the hero 'mons... IN CYBERSPACE.

Comic Books

  • Oracle and Calculator faced each other online several times in Birds of Prey. Typically, it was to get the other's location so they could send superhuman agents to arrest/kill each other.


  • Johnny Mnemonic.
  • Part of the climax of Hackers.
    • Also the scene where Dade tries to take over the TV studio. In reality, it's two robot arms trading a videotape. In Hollywood it's two titans meeting on the battlefield, if the kung fu clips interspersed with the robot arms and neat visual effects surrounding Dade's head are supposed to mean anything.
  • James Bond, Goldeneye. Has a world map where you can see how the tracing back of the hacker works (in Hollywood!).
    • The backtracing map is trivial to implement (traceroute, GeoIP, Google Maps, whatever takes your fancy), its just that fancy Viewer Friendly Interfaces tend to get in the way of most useful network administration or abusing activities.
    • Also, Boris kills time by hacking into Western computers and taunting his opponents as they try to thwart him.
      • He even thinks of unplugging his computer in the end, when he gets hacked back. He doesn't just pull the cable out though, but rips out whole racks of gear and throws them on the floor.
  • In Demon Hunters: Dead Camper Lake, two Cyborg Dueling Hackers, complete with ominously named programs with skull icons, while sitting face to face at the same table. Eventually, the losing cyborg shrugs, picks up his laptop and clubs his enemy to death.
  • Resident Evil. In the first movie Kaplan has a hacking duel with the Red Queen AI to bypass her defenses.
  • The Core treated Rat's interaction with security systems this way, as though he were dueling with the security programmer. After breaking into DESTINI and shutting it down, "Your kung fu is not strong."


  • In The Hunger Games, Beetee occasionally attempts to hack the Capitol's television network in order to display the rebel's propaganda shorts.

Live Action TV

  • On Alias Marshall (the resident Omnidisciplinary Nerd) was in a hacking duel at least once, as someone tried to break into SD6's system.
  • Smallville, as Chloe tries to keep hackers out of Watchtower.
  • Hardison on Leverage got into one of these in "The Two Live Crew Job". Bonus points for the fact that the antagonist is played by Wil Wheaton.

 Hardison: Chaos. I heard you were in jail. Guess I was wrong.

Chaos: Alec Hardison. I heard you sucked. Guess I was right.

  • On Criminal Minds, this was the set-up for a sort of online Meet Cute between Penelope Garcia and her soon-to-be-boyfriend, Kevin Lynch, with Garcia as the hacker.
    • It also happened once when Garcia lost and was out of commission all day while she ripped apart her computer (physically) to get it running again.
  • Used quite often in NCIS, predominantly with Abby and/or McGee pi against any villain of the week who has a modicum of techno savvy who is trying to hack them. Brilliantly subverted in one episode where Gibbs, who is notoriously bad with technology and especially computers, does, in fact, simply pull the plug when the aforementioned brainy duo are being overwhelmed by a particularly skilled hacker.
    • In fairness, the reason they can't typically do that is because they need that computer online to do whatever they were doing on it in the first place. Especially since it's frequently time-sensitive.
      • Subverted when Gibbs unplugs the computer just as McGee and Abby are about to lose the computer.
  • Kyle and Jessi do this in a second-season episode of Kyle XY.
  • A legendary duel occurs early in Season 7 of Twenty Four between Chloe and Janis.
  • During the Chairman arc of Walker, Texas Ranger, at one point the hacker working for the Big Bad and the one on Walker's team (who have some prior history between them) get into a duel while trying to crash Walker's plane and trying to save it respectively.
  • In "Chuck Versus the Hack-Off", Chuck has to participate in the episode's titular "hack-off" (a competition where hackers have to outduel their competition) in order to get some dirt on the villain of the week.
  • In various episodes of Arrow felicity duels with her father and ex-boyfriend.

Tabletop Games

  • Can happen in Cyberpunk games when a hacker tries to break into a computer system guarded by defending programmers. For example, in Shadowrun adventures whenever a decker tries to penetrate a system protected by defense deckers.

Video Games

  • According to emails in Deus Ex Human Revolution, Pritchard aka "Nucl3arsnake" got into one of these with Arie van Bruggen aka "Windmill". Pritchard managed to hold his own and would have won if Windmill hadn't discovered Sarif's hidden backdoor access.


Real Life

  • The Cuckoo's Egg is a first-hand account of real-life Dot Combat from 1986. Clifford Stoll was asked by his supervisor to find the cause of a $0.75 billing anomaly in the accounts; over ten months, he followed the trail from that, to a hacker who was breaching American military networks looking for information on the Nuclear and SDI programs and selling what he stole to the KGB.
    • This story is notable for being the first properly documented case of computer hacking due to the fact that Cliff Stoll was an astronomer properly trained in documentation and with the sense of curiosity of a scientist as opposed to a computer person whose response was merely to lock out the user and forget about it(as was generally the case).
  • Hackers from Taiwan and China have had actual hacking feuds going on. After all, why not try to hack your countries most likely enemy and get sympathy from your neighbors, rather then making them mad.
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