This trope is Exactly What It Says on the Tin
. Two or more people wish to either court/woo or outright marry another, but perhaps the target of their affections isn't sure who to choose, or perhaps the suitors discover their rivalry and decide to compete to see who will drop out of the running (whether with or without the knowledge or approval of the maiden).
This trope only applies if one suitor challenges at least one other suitor to the contest. If the contest is imposed by a third party, such as by the maiden's father or by the maiden herself, then the example belongs in Engagement Challenge
Despite the name, this trope applies equally to both males competing for the affections of a female and females competing for the affections of a male. It also applies to same-sex relationships. The trope name was chosen only because it's the most well known version of the trope.
Related to Engagement Challenge
and can be a Secret Test of Character
, or not so secret test of character.
Can lead to Murder the Hypotenuse
if one of the suitors doesn't accept the contest or doesn't like the outcome.
- In ElfQuest, Rayek challenges Cutter to The Trial of Head, Hand and Heart with the winner of all three trials having the unchallenged right to "woo" Leetah.
- More than one episode of The Goodies spoofed the trope by having "an anonymous Queen" offer the hand in marriage of her eldest son to whoever accomplished some great task.
- In Declare, Philby and Hale play a poker game for Elena. Their first game on Mount Ararat is interrupted, but their second one in Moscow leaves Hale the winner. Philby wins the immortality elixir, but it doesn't bring him happiness the way being with Elena brought it to Hale.
- Arcanum's backstory has a duel between Garrick Stout and Adkin Chambers over who had the right to court Lady Druella. Stout won, but dishonorably gouged out Chamber's eyes after the latter had admitted defeat, causing Druella to hate him and refuse his advances.
- AdventureQuest Worlds has the King's Tournament for the 2013 Heroes' Heart Day event. The winner of the tournament becomes Swordhaven's War General and wins the right to court Princess Brittany, the oldest of the Princesses of Swordhaven. Your character fights in the place of Lord Brentan, probably the most suitable candidate for both major conditions, after he is treacherously struck down by Sir Roderick of Grimreaver, who seeks to win the Tournament at any cost in order to seize the throne of Swordhaven from King Alteon.
- All-Star Superman turns this into an almost three-way when Superman has to compete against the time-travelling duo of Atlas and Samson in a contest of feats for Lois' hand after she flirts with them. They eventually settle this with a double arm-wrestling contest.
- The Mickey Mouse cartoon Mickey's Rival Returns has his rival Mortimer Mouse challenge him to one-on-one beach volleyball for the right to date Minnie. Surprisingly, Mortimer wins. He blows his chance, natch.
- In the Daffy Duck short Muscle Tussle, Daffy's girlfriend is wooed by a beach strongman; Daffy tries to prove he is the other guy's better but fails.