One way to show just how nerdy some characters are is to have them idly debating who would win in a hypothetical fight between two fictional characters. The debate can be made even more pointless and absurd if the characters are non-violent or not even owned by the same company.
It can also be a debate about things other than characters, such as Enterprise vs. Star Destroyer, Borg Cube vs. Death Star
etc. The key element is pretty much discussing Cool vs. Awesome
A subtrope to Seinfeldian Conversation
(most of time, because in some cases the hypothetical case can involve characters that really exist within in the work's universe).
Compare Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny
, that's when it actually happens instead of being conversed.
Anime and Manga
- Parodied in the Diogenes Club story "The Gypsies In The Wood", where Uncle Sat's Faerie stories have an insanely complicated class structure as an essential part of the text, leading to kids have similar arguments about orders of precedence.
- Animorphs had Jake and Marco arguing over Batman vs Spiderman, the point of contention being whether or not Spiderman's webbing would slide off Batman's body armor.
- Apart from the combatants being real-life people, this trope is the entire point of Deadliest Warrior.
- The Big Bang Theory:
- My Name Is Earl. Episode Robbed a Stoner Blind: In the closing discussion, Randy and Earl philosophize who would win in a fight:
Randy: Hey Earl.
Earl: Yeah, Randy.
Earl: I don't really think they'd fight; they're both pretty peaceful.
Randy: What if they had to, like in that head-chopping-off movie where there could be only one?
: Okay. What about Muppets or He Man
Earl: Just He-Man, or He-Man and his friends?
Randy: Just He-Man.
Randy: That's who I had.
- In the Saturday Night Live recurring sketch "The Superfans" the guys sit around discussing who would win things, with the answer always being "Da Bears!" (Or if it's basketball, "Da Bulls!") Or complete non-sequitors like Mike Ditka vs a hurricane.
- Happens a few times on Corner Gas. Davis debates with a few people about who would win if Star Wars fought Star Trek. Also, Hank apparently has these type of debates with himself inside his head, such as who would win if a werewolf fought Wanda.
- One episode in the second season of Game of Thrones has two redshirts having a humorous debate regarding who is the best knight in the realm, and their discussion is a Fandom Nod to debates that A Song of Ice and Fire fans have had.
- This is a Running Gag on The Finder. The hangout for the main characters has a chalkboard specifically for hypothetical debates.
- There is a small running gag on NCIS about the rest of the team talking about who would win in a fight-resident Memetic Badass Jethro Gibbs and such crazy proposals as The Terminator and Batman... and Memetic Badass that he is, the rest of the team puts the odds on Gibbs.
- The song "Hot Girl in the Comic Shop" by Tripod devolves into an debate about who would win a fight between Spider-Man and the Hulk.
- A staple question in Yahoo Answers "Comics & Animation" section.
- ScrewAttack has Death Battle, a web series involving one-on-one matchups against characters all over the realm of fiction.
- Mass Effect:
- As part of the idle banter between your squadmates, Wrex is fond of asking them who they think would win if they took on Commander Shepard in a fight.
- In the Mass Effect 3 DLC "Citadel", your squadmates argue over who of their two Krogan members would win in a fight: Wrex, a thousand years-old battlemaster, or Grunt, a genetically engineered perfect warrior.
- Brothers in Arms - Allen, Garnett and Leggett have a Superman versus Batman argument.
- In 8-Bit Theater, Black Mage and Red Mage argue on who would win between Batman and Doom, and between Bullseye and Green Arrow.
- The Simpsons:
- In one episode Bart asks Milo, the owner of a new comic book shop in town, who would win: The Thang or the Mulk. Milo asks Bart what he thinks. Bart is impressed that a comic shop owner would encourage discussion rather than pontificating.
- In another episode a group of nerds are tying up the phone line (ah the joys of dial-up) because some guy thinks Captain Picard is better than Captain Kirk and naturally this just won't stand.
- In Doug's 1st Movie, two cops debate who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman.
- In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Jaime and Paco discuss who would win in a fight between Superman and Batman, if Batman didn't have Kryptonite.
: Trick question! Batman always
- Parodied in Family Guy.
Peter: Lois, Parker Lewis can't lose. Don't even try and make him lose 'cause it's just going to be that much more embarrassing for you when you realize that he can't lose.
Chris: Would he win in a fight with Batman?
Peter: Well, Chris, think about what you're saying; Parker Lewis Can't lose. Heretofore, Batman can suck on that.
- Adventure Time: 'Theoretical fightonomics' is taught in a worm college Finn and Jake visit. Werewolf Queen always wins, apparently.
- Invoked and double subverted in Regular Show "Replaced". Mordecai and Rigby try to prevent their replacements from finishing their work by having them debate who would win in a fight between a two-headed dinosaur and a robotic Bigfoot. They both agreed that a robotic Bigfoot would win. Then Mordecai gets into a debate with them on why a two-headed dinosaur would win. It still didn't stop them from working.
- Venture Brothers: Henchmen 21 and 24 debate who would win in a fist fight between Lizzie Bourden and Anne Frank.
- In an example suspiciously similar to the Stand by Me example above, author Thomas Harris said two guys were arguing on his website over who would win, Hannibal Lecter or Mighty Mouse, and one guy said Lecter because Mighty Mouse wasn't real.