A Mexican standoff is most precisely a confrontation among three opponents. The tactics for such a confrontation are substantially different than for a duel, where the first to shoot has the advantage. In a confrontation among three mutually hostile participants, the first to shoot is at a tactical disadvantage. If opponent A shoots opponent B, then while so occupied, opponent C can shoot A, thus winning the conflict. Since it is the second opponent to shoot that has the advantage, no one wants to go first.
Popular use 
In popular usage, the Mexican standoff is sometimes used to refer to confrontations with only two opponents when neither side has an advantage in conceding property or by attacking first. Discussions of the Soviet Union – United States nuclear confrontation during the Cold War frequently used the term, specifically in reference to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The key element that makes such situations Mexican standoffs is the very close equality in power among all involved. The inability for any one party to advance their position safely is a condition common to any standoff; in a Mexican standoff, there is additionally no safe way for any party to withdraw from their position, making the standoff effectively permanent.
In financial circles, the Mexican standoff is typically used to connote a situation where one side wants something, a concession of some sort, and is offering nothing of value. When the other side sees no value in agreeing to any changes, they refuse to negotiate. Although both sides may benefit from the change, neither side can agree to adequate compensation for agreeing to the change, and nothing is accomplished.
This expression came into usage during the last decade of the 19th century; the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary makes an unattributed claim that the term is of Australian origin. Other sources claim the reference is to the Mexican American War or post-war Mexican bandits in the 19th century.
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Some examples used in movies include:
- Spaghetti Westerns (notably the iconic denouement of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly but has also been used elsewhere)
- B-movies (various)
- The Matrix Revolutions (2003, The Wachowskis)
- Cypher (2002 action film)
- Mr. & Mrs. Smith
- Saving Private Ryan, Munich (Steven Spielberg)
- City on Fire (Ringo Lam)
- Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds and Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino)
- True Romance, Enemy of the State (Tony Scott)
- Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone)
- The Killer, Hard Boiled, Face/Off, Mission Impossible II, Paycheck, Broken Arrow, (John Woo)
- The Rock, Transformers, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, (Michael Bay)
- Pirates of the Caribbean (movies)
- Lethal Weapon 4 (Richard Donner)
- Trespass, (Joel Schumacher)
- Shanghai Noon
- Shaun of the Dead
- Kaante (2002 Bollywood action film)
- Casa de Mi Padre (2011, Will Ferrell)
The ending of the video game Call of Juarez: The Cartel features the protagonists engaging in a mexican stand-off. This then leaves the player(s) to decide whether or not to kill their teammates.
In the 2010 video game Red Dead Redemption, almost every multiplayer match begins with a Mexican standoff to determine which player or team gets an early advantage.
See also 
- "Mexican standoff", The Word Detective, retrieved 2013-03-21
|Look up mexican standoff in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|