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"I was thinking that if you're still alive when I get back from work tonight... maybe we could go out to dinner or something?"

Most stories build up the romance between love interests in between the bits of action, when the characters in question can set their troubles aside long enough to focus on one another. Some stories, however, either don't care enough to separate the romance from the action, or simply don't want to. Typically played for comedic effect, though occasionally done in a dramatic manner, this is when the lovebirds in question will continue to flirt and romance one another even while the bullets whiz past them. More specifically, this trope is characterized by both the presence of a danger to the protagonists/love interests, and the protagonists' ambivalence to the danger's presence while focusing on their romantic relationship.

Depending on the circumstance, this can be used to serve a variety of purposes. Quite frequently, this can be employed to show, in a dramatic fashion, how much the characters care for one another by declaring their love or by sharing a Big Damn Kiss during the height of a climactic battle. Equally as common, Flirting Under Fire is used for comedic effect by having the characters flirt and be cute with one another during a tense moment of action. The comedic application of this trope can also be used between two villainous lovers, often to illustrate their evilness by taking pleasure in death and destruction.

This serves as a case of Truth in Television, since the adrenaline rush brought on by imminent danger could enhance romantic desire, and although it strains credulity to see two characters lock in a kiss during a firefight, it can happen.

Compare "Glad to Be Alive" Sex, as well as Coitus Uninterruptus, where the lovers aren't aware of a disturbance until they've already begun romancing one another. Sister Trope to Casual Danger Dialog, where characters crack jokes and one-liners under similar circumstances.

Examples of Flirting Under Fire include:


Comics

  • In Gotlib's comics, action heroes do this all the time, passionately kissing the Bond Girl while shooting a bad guy (without looking) and delivering an Offhand Backhand to another.
  • Robin (Tim Drake) and Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) from the Batman comics. In one issue, Stephanie kisses Tim and then pins him to the floor ("Isn't this romantic?" "...Not really"), while armed kidnappers stands outside the door, waiting to crash the door down.

Films -- Animation

  • During a battle in Disney's Robin Hood, Robin Hood proposes to Marion, and they start making plans for the honeymoon and starting a family.

Films -- Live Action

  • During the battle aboard the Flying Dutchman in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Elizabeth and Will ask Barbossa to marry them in the middle of all the fighting, and even share a kiss.
  • Lucky Number Slevin. Slevin and Lindsey build up most of their romance in this manner. Despite the fact that Slevin is on the hit list of two warring gangs, he and Lindsey find time to flirt, go to dinner (where Slevin is able to shadow a man he has been told to kill), and spend a night together.
  • Employed dramatically in Captain America: The First Avenger, where Steve and Peggy share a kiss in the hangar while trying to catch the Red Skull's plane, and again when they talk about going dancing while Cap attempts to safely crash-land the plane in the Atlantic.
    • Especially painful because towards the end of that conversation, it's quickly becoming obvious that Cap's not coming back.
  • In Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Austin and Felicity have a tender moment... while standing in a laughably pathetic Death Trap.
    • In Goldmember, Austin's father flirts with Foxxy Cleopatra while tied to a slow-moving machine that threatens to melt off his genitals. But his nonchalance is probably due to the number of times he's gotten out of similar situations, easily.
  • Serenity: As the Reavers are trying to kick in the door to where the crew is holed up, Simon gives a short If We Survive This speech, and finally propositions Kaylee. Naturally, Kaylee wants to be sure she understands Simon's polite circumlocutions.

 Kaylee: [astonished] You mean to say...sex?

Simon: [deadpan] I mean to say.

Kaylee: To hell with this. [cocks gun] I'm gonna live!

  • Robin Hood (2010 film): Marion and Robin have their Big Damn Kiss in the water between the French warships as Marion bleeds from a wound and the fighting rages on around them.
  • In the first Speed film, the protagonists Jack Traven and Annie Porter constantly flirt, with Annie often saying, "Relationships based on traumatic events always end up failing." At the end of the film, Jack repeats the line and Annie replies, "We'll have to base ours on sex, then." He obligingly responds, "Whatever you say, ma'am."

Literature

  • This is how Ron and Hermione get together in Harry Potter.

Live Action Television

  • In a late episode of Get Smart, Max and 99 are caught in death-trap with no apparent means of escape. Thinking they are about to die, Max realizes that he's in love with 99 and declares that if they could get out he'd marry her. She immediately thinks of a way to escape and they get married a few episodes later.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Day of the Moon", the Doctor and River trade flirtatious quips while Amy Pond is held prisoner feet away, and the Silence trying to manipulate the 69 Apollo moon shot. Amy ends up snapping them out of it with a barbed remark.
  • Chuck has this with Chuck and Sarah, to a lesser extent when their relationship is still just a cover and more frequently once they finally get together. Notably, Chuck and Sarah's first major quarrel as a couple is aired out while foiling a bank robbery, (actually part of a gambit by Alexei Volkoff to gain access to Chuck's father's files on him). Later, while performing a bank robbery as part of a mission, the two lightheartedly discuss their impending wedding plans, made even funnier with occasional asides to threaten the bank patrons and guards. Being Chuck, these moments are usually played both for laughs and seriously at the same time.
  • Farscape frequently makes use of this trope with Crichton and Aeryn. Even before becoming a couple the two, particularly John, would make flirtatious comments during fights. Taken Up to Eleven in the Peacekeeper Wars, where not only are the two married by Stark during the apocalyptic Scarran attack on the planet they're defending, but Aeryn is in the process of giving birth.

Manga and Anime

  • Ranma ½: People accuse Ranma and Akane of doing this. Usually, they're just bickering with an extra large dose of Belligerent Sexual Tension. The comments keep coming, however.

  Ryoga: How dare he flirt in the middle of a fight!

Video Games

  • In Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots, Johnny admits his crush to Meryl while they're both in the middle of battle, and he even asks her to marry him. Meryl of course comments on his impeccable sense of timing and refuses...and then asks him to marry her instead. Then they share a good kissing in the middle of their assailants' line of fire.
  • In both Mass Effect games, the climax of any romance Shepard has developed will occur on the ride towards the final battle, knowing full well that they're heading into the shit. This is taken Up to Eleven in Mass Effect 2 when Shepard and co. are knowingly warping towards a suicide mission.

Western Animation

  • In the 3-part Fairly Oddparents episode, Timmy flirts with Trixie and kisses her as they're about to be sucked into a black hole.
  • Kim Possible and Ron get flirty under attack, especially once they are an Official Couple.
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