Created By: DannyVElAcme on November 16, 2010 Last Edited By: DannyVElAcme on November 28, 2010

Headbutting Heroes

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Can't we all just get along?

Bob and Alice are heroes. Bonafide heroes. They beat the bad guys, they save the world, they help old ladies across the street, the whole nine yards. Whether they're recognized as such or not by the world at large is irrelevant, they're heroes, period.

They also hate each other's guts, perhaps even worse than they do their enemies.

Headbutting Heroes refers to when two heroes thoroughly hate each other, or when one hero hates another hero(it doesn't have to be mutual). This is not the same as the animosity that can form between, say, a Lancer and his superior, since, while they may have animosity against each other, the Lancer deep down respects the Hero and will defer to his leadership. It's also different from Let's You and Him Fight, since the heroes have not been misled to face each other. They really want to duke it out every time they meet, or at the very least they are obviously disagreeable and might try to discredit each other in front of other heroes. They just cannot get along, no matter how others might try to get them to keep it civil.

There need not be actual violence involved in the feud, though. As said before, they might try to discredit each other, or have verbal spats. If there is a threat, they will face that threat, but this will practically never lead to them getting along. In fact, their animosity might even become a hindrance to the situation at hand, and they might get called on it by other heroes sick and tired of their bickering.

The reasons for such animosity are various, but they are rarely very deep. Truly worthwhile reasons for disagreement are also usually reasons they could mediate if they actually sat down and talked it out. However, part of what makes this trope is that the two heroes, deep down, don't NEED an excuse to fight. They just hate each other, and while they might have such a thing as a GOOD reason to fight, it's pretty much secondary to the hatred that has formed between them. Their reasons for disagreement could disappear, they could both grow more mature and understanding, and they'd STILL hate each other.

Examples of reasons for these characters hatred for each other might include:
  • Racism: While this may seem like a reason that makes either or both of the heroes seem VERY non-heroic, it might also be a reason so ingrained in them from their upbringing that it's actually kind of tragic. For example, a Kree hero and a Skrull hero might be two guys who are admired and respected by the her community at large, but they will NEVER get along because their cultures practically revolve around hating the other one's race.
  • Personality Clash: The heroes don't like each other because their personalities or philosophies just clash too harshly. Perhaps a Martial Pacifist is disgusted by an Anti Hero's more bloodthirsty approach. Perhaps a Lawful Good / Lawful Neutral character is driven nuts by a Chaotic Good / Chaotic Neutral's more, um, chaotic approach. Perhaps The Stoic is irritated by the Boisterous Bruiser's tendency to boast.
  • Never Living It Down: One of the heroes did something in the past or failed in some way that has tainted them in the eyes of others, but while most heroes give him the benefit of the doubt or believe the hero has proven his worth, the rival just. will. not. let. it. go.
  • Pride: The heroes see each other as a rival to be bested, and any action by the other hero is seen as a challenge or insult. Definitely the most petty reason AND the most permanent one. With any other reason, it might be marginally justifiable for there to be a rivalry between the heroes. Pride is petty.

Quite obviously, anti-heroes are VERY prone to this type of relationship with full-fledged heroes. It's almost a pre-requisite of being an anti-hero that a full-fledge hero will hate your guts. Heroic sociopaths are also prone to this, for obvious reasons. Also, be aware, there is NO SUCH THING A FOE YAY where this trope is concerned. Do not read into the dynamic between the characters as unconscious flirting, they fucking hate each other, period.

Subtrope of Hanging Separately. Compare to Teeth-Clenched Teamwork, where, while hating each other, the heroes are willing to set aside their difference for the sake of doing what's right.

  • Batman has a tendency to rub many other heroes the wrong way, with some of them actually going hostile on him. Superman, is not one of them(which can surprise people, considering how opposite they are portrayed usually), but Hal Jordan and especially Guy Gardner are. Harvey Bullock is sometimes portrayed this way towards him too, but he eventually gets better.
  • And speaking of Guy Gardner, he REALLY has an ability to rub people wrong. Countless people have manifested the desire to beat the shit out of him. Batman actually did.
  • The Hulk REALLY has this in spades. He has loads of characters he'll never get along with. Amongst them, Thor is the one whom he has the biggest rivalry with. The Juggernaut, Wolverine and Ben Grimm are also common rivals. And speaking of Wolverine...
  • ...Well, Wolverine can't go a week without running into a hero who wants to beat him up. If said hero is a government agent or came from the Weapon X program, even more so.
  • In crossovers, Tetsuya Tsurugi and Ryoma Nagare are often going at each other's throats.
  • The Punisher. For obvious reasons.
  • Namor has this with pretty much THE ENTIRE Marvel Universe.
  • Rorschach is considered a lunatic and subversive by the authorities, and most heroes don't want anything to do with him. Laurie Jupiter, specifically, can't stand him at all. The Comedian gets this a lot, too.
  • Pretty much every hero that has crossed paths with Lobo will not hesitate in duking it out with him.
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • November 16, 2010
  • November 16, 2010
    Teeth Clenched Teamwork refers to heroes that dislike each other, but will set aside their differences work together against a common foe. The guys to which the trope, as I've written it, applies NEVER get along, and might actually completely forget about fighting the bad guys to duke it out.

    Let me illustrate: Wolverine and Cyclops have Teeth Clenched Teamwork. Hulk and Thor are Headbutting Heroes. While Wolverine and Cyclops have disagreements, they will always work together on a mission and risk their lives to save one another. Hulk and Thor would rather the other one not exist.
  • November 17, 2010
    Rorschach and everyone else.
  • November 17, 2010
  • November 17, 2010
    This isn't so much Lets You And Him Fight, this is closer to Vitriolic Best Buds, except they're NOT buds.

    Anyway... Ichigo and Ishida from Bleach. Dear GODS, Ichigo and Ishida.
  • November 18, 2010
  • November 18, 2010
    @Seiryu: would have Compare and contrast Lets You And Him Fight been more clear?
  • November 20, 2010
    in the Marvel/DC After Hours series Wolverine has a violent grudge against Superman due to the fact that he "stole the X-Men's director. (Bryan Singer left the X-Men movie franchise to direct Superman Returns)
  • November 26, 2010
    Shameless self-bump.
  • November 26, 2010
    The image is fun. ;-)

    However you ought to make it clear in your description that this and Teeth Clenched Teamwork are both sister tropes because they are both subtropes of Hanging Separately. It just makes more sense that way.... I think.

    • Hanging Separately -- heroes dislike each other ---->
      • Teeth Clenched Teamwork -- heroes dislike each other but try to work together
      • This trope -- heroes dislike each other and don't even try to work together

    Otherwise the subtle trope distinctions become just too confusing. Although your list is helpful and might make the basis for a Canonical List Of Subtle Trope Distinctions.
  • November 26, 2010
    @berr: thanks for the tips, I just cleaned up the trope and added your suggestions, I think it's a more concise and less confusing entry now :-) I'm planning on launching tomorrow(Saturday November 27), I hope I get a few more hits before I do.

    As for the image, yeah, those two are the first guys that popped into mind when I thought up the concept. I mean, other than their first adventure as the Avengers, have Thor and Hulk EVER been in each other's vicinity without coming to blows?
  • November 27, 2010
    Yeah. I actually thought the list you had in there of the difference between the various tropes was cool and might be snipped out and put somewhere like Canonical List Of Subtle Trope Distinctions because it was very informative, but I guess it didn't need to be in the article itself so that's OK.