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As time goes by, the line between TV and film becomes more and more opaque; television storytelling has become more mature, and with that so too have style as well as production values. One of the areas in which television has increasingly caught up to film is the realm of action sequences. All of this progress seemingly came to a head in 2015, as we saw an incredible surge in the number of impeccable action sequences hit the airwaves. From the fantastical to the darkly gritty, fight scenes ruled all in 2015.
With that in mind, we have taken it upon ourselves to compile a list of the ten best fight scenes from 2015. These scenes have been selected and ranked based on the quality of their production, as well as the emotional and dramatic effect they had over their respective shows. Starting with great (No. 10) and descending to outright perfection (No. 1) checkout the list we put together and give us your input: what was the best TV fight scene of 2015?
10.Supergirl- Supergirl vs. ReactronDC comics continues to stake its claim on the television landscape in a way that Marvel simply hasn’t been able to compete with at this point – at least outside of Netflix. Supergirl represents one of the DC’s latest ventures into the small screen world, and the Melissa Benoist-fronted CBS series is thus far up to a – wait for it – super start. Of all the battles Kara (Benoist) has been through thus far, arguably the best of the year has been her skirmish with Reactron (Chris Browning), an irradiated villain who harbors resentment against Kal-El.
Properly bringing Kryptonians to the small screen can prove challenging for TV networks. By their very nature, they are incredibly effects-driven, and require immense coordination on the part of the cast and crew. Supergirl’s battle with Reactron showcases just how far filmmaking techniques have come in the way powers as grand as Kara’s can be shown on screen. In terms of in-universe ramifications, the fight also proves to be one of the definitive moments in which Kara realizes she does not have to live in the shadow of the Man of Steel, but can in fact become her own woman and hero.
9. The Walking Dead – The Wolves Attack AlexandriaAfter numerous teases and minor glimpses, The Wolves finally made themselves known to the Alexandria Safe Zone in a major way. While Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl (Norman Reedus), and the rest of the colony’s heavy hitters were away dealing with a massive walker horde miles away, many of the arguably less capable Alexandria residents had to fight for their lives and fend off the vicious attackers. Playing out over the entire episode, the assault’s best moments revolve around Carol (Melissa McBride) and her resourcefulness in making sure that The Wolves never get their hands on Alexandria’s extensive arsenal of firearms.
The attack of The Wolves is important because it exemplifies the core message in The Walking Dead: The walkers have never been the primary antagonists on The Walking Dead. The show’s primary concern is what becomes of people and how they turn on each other when society crumbles. Arguably no other action sequence in the history of the show has exemplified this theme more than the attack of The Wolves. Unlike The Governor, or Joe and the Claimers, The Wolves have an almost zealot-like mentality, and rely on brutal weapons like knives or machetes.
8. Game of Thrones - White Walker InvasionThe most recent season of Game of Thrones received acclaim for the White Walker invasion, which takes place in the episode titled “Hardhome.” During the episode, Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) convinces thousands of Wildlings to stand with him when the White Walkers descend on Hardhome. It’s a battle scene many fans consider not only to be one of the best of the year, but one of the best the show has ever produced.
Snow once again proves himself to be the most noble protagonist of the series as he stands his ground in the face of annihilation. The episode ends with all of the death being for nothing as the White Walker King merely resurrects Snow’s dead allies as White Walkers themselves. This sequence makes the list because of the way in which it strikes a balance between exhilarating and horrifying. The otherworldly nature of the White Walkers – especially the children – is perfectly executed, giving them a haunting, insurmountable feeling.
7. The Flash - Arrow/Firestorm/Flash vs. Reverse-FlashFor months Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) trained and worked with Harrison Well who (spoiler alert) turned out to be none other than the Reverse-Flash (Tom Cavanagh) who murdered his mother, and (another spoiler alert) was not Harrison Wells at all, but actually Eobard Thawne. The first season of The Flash is jam packed full of twists and turns, but once Barry finds out the true nature of the Reverse-Flash, you can bet things go from 0 to 100 real quick (pun wholeheartedly intended). Squaring off with his sworn enemy outside of ST.A.R. Labs, Barry enlists the help of Ronnie Raymond AKA Firestorm (Robbie Amell), and Oliver Queen AKA The Arrow (Stephen Amell) to take him down.
Each of the fledgling heroes brings their own specific set of skills to this melee, and the result of their collective effort is the ultimate apprehension of the man who killed Nora Allen. It’s the sort of scene that proves heroes from The CW’s Arrowverse can interact without the need for a dedicated crossover episode. More importantly, however, this scene provides some of the greatest emotional catharsis The Flash or Arrow has ever brought to the small screen as Barry fulfills his lifelong dream of taking down the man in the yellow suit.
6. Archer - Archer vs. Conway SternWhen Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) are tasked with extracting a CIA agent from Buenos Aires, they find themselves more than a little shocked when they learn their target is none other than Conway Stern. While Lana wants to act like a professional, Archer wants nothing more than sweet revenge for the time Conway literally stabbed him in the back during Season 1. Before they can even make contact with Stern, Archer kicks open his hotel room door and goes on one of his characteristic rampages while Lana fixes herself some tea and waits for the dust to settle.
Aside from being the only animated sequence on this list, the fight between Archer and Conway stands out because of what it does for the FX spy series. For starters, it highlights just how far the Archer’s animation has come since the series first premiered in 2009 – going from quick punches and slaps all the way to this brutal, full-fledged brawl. It’s also noteworthy because it represents the culmination of six years worth of resentment. Archer has never taken continuity incredibly seriously, so to see the series bring back one of its earliest villains in the form of Conway – and to have his previous actions mean something to this episode – marked a huge moment for longtime fans of the FX cartoon.
5. The Leftovers - Kevin Fights In The Realm Of The UndeadThe Leftovers has proven itself time and time again as one of the most surreal dramas currently airing on TV. Over the course of the HBO series’ second season this idea has only become more and more apparent. The recent episode “International Assassin” finds protagonist Kevin (Justin Theroux) immersed in the realm of the undead after seemingly being killed off following consumption of some nasty poison. In this realm, he finds himself in the shoes of an international assassin (as the title suggests), and as one could expect he engages in a pretty amazing fight sequence early on in the episode.
We know this is HBO and all, but for a TV fight scene it’s pretty damn gritty. All of the blows Kevin receives and dishes out carry a very noticeable weight typically reserved for the Craig era Bond films or the Bourne movies. As the two men slam each other into walls and desperately beat each other to a pulp, we as the audience cannot help but feel a palpable sense of pain and exhaustion. The overall episode did provided audiences with an immense level of character development for the character of Kevin, but we just can't forget the high quality of this brawl either.
4. Ash vs Evil Dead - Ash vs. Trailer Park DeaditeIt wasn’t until Ash vs. Evil Dead premiered that we all collectively realized just how much we needed more Deadite carnage in our lives. After spending so much time running and hiding from his fate as the world’s most biggest badass, the evil stored within the Necronomicon finally catches up to Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) at his trailer in rural Michigan during the show’s pilot episode “El Jefe.” Cornered and seemingly without any other options, Ash accepts his fate – as well as his boomstick and chainsaw – and once again returns to the only thing he was ever really good at: dismembering the undead.
Ash vs. Evil Dead’s pilot episode was directed by the franchise’s creator Sam Raimi, and his influence is plain to see. The sequence in which Deadites attack Ash at his trailer showcases numerous innovative yet low-budget techniques (such as strapping the camera to the barrel of Ash’s shotgun) that harken back to the style of the original Evil Dead films. Bruce Campbell also brings his A-game to the scene, gleefully throwing himself into every punch, kick, and stunt as if he were a man 30 years younger. Basically, hail to the king because the king is back.
3. Arrow - Team Arrow Rescues Andy DiggleSeason 4 of Arrow has proven itself to be a definite improvement over the mediocrity that characterized last year’s arc. One particular area that has seen immense growth is the quality of the show’s action – which severely dipped after Season 2. The 2015 episode titled “Brotherhood” sees Team Arrow taking on Damien Darhk’s (Neal McDonough) H.I.V.E and attempting to capture John Diggle’s long-lost brother Andy. The battle is lengthy, ferocious, and gives each member of Team Arrow a chance to showcase their specific skillset, from Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy) newfound skill with a police baton, to Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) marksmanship, and even the strength of Ray Palmer’s (Brandon Routh) A.T.O.M suit.
Arrow has come a long way since it first premiered in 2012. Back then it really was nothing more than a dark and gritty tale of a street-level vigilante going against the corrupt one-percent of his city. Over time the show has increasingly incorporated elements from the DC lore, and made Team Arrow more and more into true superheroes with each passing season. This sequence gives every member of the team a chance to shine – which proved doubly important for Laurel who often gets short changed as Black Canary – and gives the action room to breath by not relying on too many quick cuts. It shows a group of well-trained individuals fighting tooth and nail to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, and coming out unscathed on the other side. The entire episode features some truly great action – proving stunt coordinator James Bamford should direct more in the future – but this scene stands out as the coup de grâce.
2. Banshee - Nola vs. BurtonIf Banshee’s place on this list seems odd to you, it’s probably because you don’t even watch the severely underrated series; it's a show that has completely flown under the radar but deserves your attention as well as your respect. Despite the Cinemax series' limited exposure, the Season 3 fight between Nola and Burton proves that Banshee is more than worth your time. The episode “A Fixer of Sorts” sees the series bring one of the truly greatest TV fight scenes of the year – if not ever – come to fruition. Nola (Odette Annable) stages an attack on Proctor’s (Ulrich Thomsen) mansion, and comes across Burton (Matthew Rauch). The two engage in a vicious battle with fists, knives, and various parts of a nearby car until only one is left standing – well, sitting that is.
One of the more over-the-top entries on this list, there was no way we couldn’t include the melee between Nola and Burton. The fight is long, brutal, and downright gruesome. Although it doesn’t actually take place over the course of a single take, the production team takes special care to strategically use editing to mask the cuts. As a result, we get a fight scene that firmly keeps the action and the actors front and center, without any reliance on overly shaky camera or quick cuts to hide the filmmaking magic. The fight also expertly utilizes flashbacks to convey the mentality of both fighters involved in the skirmish.
1. Daredevil - Hallway FightWhile Season 1 of Marvel’s Daredevil is pretty much airtight from start to finish, the Netflix series’ second episode – titled “Cut Man” – was the one that proved the show wasn’t messing around. After spending an entire night hunting Russian mobsters, and getting his ass handed to him in the process, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) finally tracks the gangsters to where they have taken a kidnapped little boy. Slowly making his way through the building where the boy is being held, Matt gathers his energy for one last charge and leaps into action, tearing through the Russians, and rescuing the scared child from a fate arguably worse than death.
What makes this fight scene so good is the way it communicates Murdock's exhaustion and pain. Through one single take the camera follows the blind hero as he takes just as much damage as he inflicts, and never cuts to give the audience a reprieve from the action. By the time the scene comes to an end, Daredevil and the bad guys find themselves panting and leaning against the walls of the building just to stay upright. This isn’t Thor or Captain America, this is just an average (albeit well-trained) man trying to do the right thing. After all of the violence and chaos, the scene ends with a clearly drained Matt taking off his mask to tenderly reassure the scared boy that he’s here to help, hammering home the underlying pathos of the action-heavy sequence.
Which Was The Best Fight Sequence Of 2015?