Fate Stay/Night’s core premise is the Holy Grail War- a battle between Seven Servants and their masters. Each Servant is a hero from history, all of them the likes of Hercules, Miyamoto Musashi, Billy the Kid, etc.
Each battle in Fate Stay/Night is one for the history books, but these would be the eight if one had to pick.
[This article contains spoilers for the Fate Stay/Night anime and manga and reflects the writer’s personal views. Some of the embeds contain depictions of canon-typical violence. Discretion is advised.]
Fate Stay/Night's 8 Memorable Battles
8) Archer vs. Lancer
Let's kick this list off with the first fight in Fate/Stay Night. This fight is awe-inspiring, with spot-on action sequences between the mysterious red Bowman and the blue-clad spearman. Archer, despite his name, fights using twin swords, while Lancer darts around with his blood-red spear.
Though the fight gets interrupted, come round 2, the audience sees that Lancer was holding back the first time.
Make no mistake, this fight is one of the best, and the only reason it's number 8 is that it’s the start of good things to come.
7) Saber and Archer Vs Berserker
The third fight in Fate Stay/Night takes place right after Shirou finds his resolve to fight in the war. Saber and Archer in an importune team-up vs. the grey, hulking Berserker in Unlimited Blade Works is the most visually impressive and showcases the power of all three fighters.
The fight by Ufotable is dizzying, and everyone from here on out knows just how insane a Servant fight can be.
Saber with her near peerless swordplay and use of the environment, Archer’s arrows (and somehow getting further and further away and still hitting the bullseye every time), and Berserker tanking all of it.
It just goes to show that from here on out, the fights between Servants are going to get a little messy.
6) Shirou Vs. Rin
One of the few human vs. human fights in Fate Stay/Night. Shirou had just finished his school day after leaving Saber at home, with Rin being adorably stunned at his actions. When the day ends, she waits for him and shows him why a Magus is something to be feared.
It was all Shirou could do throughout the fight to stay alive while Rin held back. But Shirou is a stubborn guy and usually finds a way to survive even in the most challenging conditions. Though the fight got interrupted, it’s interesting to see how this would play out.
5) Archer Vs. Berserker
Taking place on the Fate Route, the lone, nameless Bowman has to fend off the fearsome hero of Greece, Hercules. Though this fight wasn’t animated in the original Fate Stay/Night VN, the 2006 anime shows the battle in full. Archer isn’t fighting at full power, but he manages to stall Berserker long enough for Rin, Saber, and Shirou to get away.
What’s more impressive is that only the strongest attacks can hurt berserker, and if he gets killed by one, he can come back to life 11 times, and Archer managed to kill him six times over. Even more impressively, if something had killed Berserker, he would become immune to it; this means that Archer managed to kill him six different ways, six different times.
4) Lancer vs. True Assassin
Lancer rarely gets to show off his power in total, but when the time comes, Lancer is one of the most dangerous servants in the war. Taking on True Assassin in Heaven’s Feel route of Fate Stay/Night, Lancer’s fight with the skull-clad assassin took him all over the city and had him on the offensive the entire time.
Despite this, Lancer only loses due to the nature of Assassin’s Noble Phantasm, which allows him to steal an opponent's heart and crush it in his hands. It has some support from the Shadow, a creature that eats on Prana/mana, which is something that Servants are entirely made of. If not for those factors, then odds are, Lancer would have won.
3) Archer vs. Shirou
This fight has less to do with the spectacle and more with Fate Stay/Night's story. Emiya vs. the Red Bowman drops the mother of all bombs on the young man in this battle of fate. Archer isn’t some hero from the past but the future version of Shirou Emiya. Archer is here to do two things, break Shirou’s spirit, kill him so a time paradox can occur, and remove himself from existence.
More than a battle of skills, this is a battle of ideals, with Shirou’s youthful idealism against Archer’s broken cynicism. The two clashes and the future of Emiya are to be decided.
2) Shirou vs. Gilgamesh
The final battle in the Unlimited Blade Works of Fate Stay/Night is the strongest Servant fighting the weakest Master, but this wanna-be Hero of Justice has a trick up his sleeve. Using his Reality Marble, the titular Unlimited Blade Works, Shirou can counter Gilgamesh’s Gate of Babylon, as his weapons can match and even exceed the firing of the Gate.
What makes this fight so interesting is that this is the culmination of Shirou’s journey throughout the grail war, going from a naïve boy who’s in over his head to a man who has faced his future self and came out more than before, making him earn his fate.
What makes this fight so amazing is that despite being outgunned and probably outmanned due to being a mere human, Shirou manages to eke out a win due to clever thinking, and being less prideful then the king of heroes.
1) Rider vs Saber Alter
The last big fight of the Fate Stay/Night series by Ufotable, its Rider going up against Saber Alter. Corrupted by the shadow of the Holy Grail, Saber has turned into her pale counterpart, Saber Alter. Saber Alter, or Salter as the fans have come to dub her, is stronger than she’s ever been.
A near unlimited supply of Prana means she can fire her Noble Phantasm like no one’s business, and has near instant healing. She’s basically become Wolverine if he traded his claws for hand held rapid fire cannon.
Going up against her is Rider, the Gorgon Medusa, and while she’s no longer held back by Shinji, it's clear that even a single mis-step means instant death.
The cavern they’re fighting in becomes shattered and broken by the sheer volume of Salter’s attacks, with rocks being turned into molten slag.
Rider can only earn a victory due to some outside assistance from Shirou, and her own Noble Phantasm, Bellerophon, which summons the winged horse Pegasus.
Even then, it’s a close fight, and the only reason Saber Alter bites it is because Shirou is the one who lands the finishing blow, setting the scene for the finale of Fate.