Created By: StevenT on August 13, 2012 Last Edited By: willthiswork on March 26, 2013
Troped

Hypothetical Fight Debate

When nerds debate who would win in a fight between two fictional characters.

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Trope

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.


Examples:

Anime and Manga

Film
  • In Stand by Me the boys discuss whether Mighty Mouse could beat up Superman.
    Teddy: Mighty Mouse is a cartoon. Superman is a real guy.
  • The Other Guys has a really quite hilarious scene where the two protagonists debate over a fight between a tuna and a lion.

Literature
  • 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.

Live-Action TV
  • 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.
    Randy: Who do you think would win in a fight -- Muppets or Sesame Street?
    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?
    Earl: Muppets.
    Randy: Okay. Muppets or Fraggles?
    Earl: Muppets.
    Randy: Okay. What about Muppets or He Man?
    Earl: Just He-Man, or He-Man and his friends?
    Randy: Just He-Man.
    Earl: Muppets.
    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.

Music
  • 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.

Other Sites
  • 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.

Video Games
  • 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.

Web Comics
  • In 8-Bit Theater, Black Mage and Red Mage argue on who would win between Batman and Doom, and between Bullseye and Green Arrow.

Western Animation
  • 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.
    Jaime: Trick question! Batman always has Kryptonite!
  • 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.

Real Life
  • 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.
Community Feedback Replies: 51
  • August 14, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • In an episode of The Simpsons 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.
    • A staple question in Yahoo Answers "Comics & Animation" section.
  • August 14, 2012
    MrRuano
    Screw Attack has Death Battle, a web series involving one-on-one matchups against characters all over the realm of fiction.
  • August 14, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Randy asks this at the end of a My Name Is Earl episode, I'll look for more info.
  • August 14, 2012
    Astaroth
    • Apart from the combatants being real-life people, this trope is the entire point of Deadliest Warrior.

    • In 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.
  • August 14, 2012
    Xtifr
    I'm pretty sure there's examples in Big Bang Theory as well. I'll see if I can track some down.
  • August 14, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
  • August 14, 2012
    nielas
    Wouldn't this be a Cavemen Vs Astronauts Debate?
  • August 14, 2012
    Shrikesnest
    Indeed, Cavemen Vs Astronauts Debate or Ultimate Showdown Of Ultimate Destiny when it actually happens instead of being conversed.
  • August 14, 2012
    KTera
    Cavemen Vs Astronauts Debate can be this, but that trope is more about a debate getting out of hand than what the debate was about in the first place.
  • August 14, 2012
    randomsurfer
    @Xfir: There's a scene in The Big Bang Theory where the guys discuss the bravest person in the Marvel Universe.
  • August 15, 2012
    Koveras
  • August 15, 2012
    DaibhidC
    • In Stand By Me the boys discuss whether Mighty Mouse could beat up Superman.
      Teddy: Mighty Mouse is a cartoon. Superman is a real guy.

    • 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.
      Jaime: Trick question! Batman always has Kryptonite!

    • 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.
  • August 15, 2012
    morenohijazo
    OK, I've found the My Name Is Earl example I mentioned earlier.

    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.

    Randy: Who do you think would win in a fight -- Muppets or Sesame Street?

    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?

    Earl: Muppets.

    Randy: Okay. Muppets or Fraggles?

    Earl: Muppets.

    Randy: Okay. What about Muppets or He Man?

    Earl: Just He-Man, or He-Man and his friends?

    Randy: Just He-Man.

    Earl: Muppets.

    Randy: That's who I had.

  • August 15, 2012
    chicagomel
    Animorphs had Jake and Marco arguing over...I want to say Spider-Man vs Batman once, but I'm not positive.
  • August 15, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • 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.
  • August 16, 2012
    Alvin
    In a Real Life?? example suspiciously similar to the Stand By Me example above, author Thomas Harris said two guys were arguing on his websiteover who would win, Hannibal Lecter or Mighty Mouse, and one guy said Lecter because Mighty Mouse wasn't real.
  • August 16, 2012
    TheNinth
    This really is Cavemen Vs Astronauts Debate, because that also covers when the argument gets out of hand.

    From the description: But not this time. No, this time the argument becomes truly heated. Voices are raised. Curses are spit out. Friends are insulted. Furniture is thrown across the room in fury. No one involved is willing to back down until they convince the others that they are right right RIGHT, DAMMIT!!
  • August 16, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Then we need to make a TRS thread about that trope name, as it seems too specific, and seems as though it should have far more wicks and inbounds than it does.
  • August 16, 2012
    Duncan
    ^ The "argument getting out of hand" is not this trope, I think it was established earlier.

    • 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.
  • August 16, 2012
    TheNinth
    Misread "that trope" as "this trope". I still say they're the same thing.
  • August 16, 2012
    zarpaulus
    In a couple of their rare moments of something approaching civility Black Mage and Red Mage of Eight Bit Theater discussed hypothetical fights between Batman and Dr. Doom, and Green Arrow and Bullseye.
  • August 16, 2012
    Shrikesnest
    Nonono. Tropes Are Flexible. We don't need two separate tropes for "Two characters discuss which powerful fictional characters would win in a fight," and "two characters discuss which powerful fictional characters would win in a fight and it gets out of hand." If the description of Cavemen Vs Astronauts Debate needs to be fixed to be a bit more broad, we can do that. If we need to gather more examples for it, hey, great. If it needs to be renamed to be less ignored or obscure, fine. Take it to TRS. But don't just make an incredibly similar trope with a very minor differentiation that serves exactly the same purpose in storytelling.
  • August 16, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ I agree. There has to be a solid distinct line, and there doesn't seem to be that much.
  • August 17, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Reading both the description and the examples, it seems like Cavemen Vs Astronauts Debate is just "a trivial discussion gets out of hand". The fight part seems to be optional (read the description again, it's not mentioned even once), and honestly, I don't think anyone would have thought it was part of the trope if it wasn't by the horrible title. It definitely needs to go to the TRS. Transform it to a trope about "a trivial discussion gets out of hand" and give it a better title (the former title could be a redirect for this YKTTW), and finish this YKTTW to create a trope about the fight thing.
  • August 17, 2012
    legendofhugh
    The Other Guys has a really quite hilarious scene where the two protagonists debate over a fight between a tuna and a lion.
  • August 17, 2012
    spideydude
    • 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.
  • August 26, 2012
    captainsandwich
    you mean "Theoretical Fightonomics"? (thats what it is called in Adventure Time).
  • August 26, 2012
    captainsandwich
    can't it be an argument about 2 real world (or at least In Verse) people/organizations fighting
  • August 26, 2012
    Jordan
    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.
  • August 28, 2012
    Medinoc
    In Eight Bit Theater, Black Mage and Red Mage argue on who would win between Batman and Doom, and between Bullseye and Green Arrow.
  • August 29, 2012
    Jallen
  • August 29, 2012
    foxley
    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.
  • November 28, 2012
    Skoinks
    I added a Brothers in Arms entry, but for some reason it keeps it as "Brothersin Arms". Can someone who knows how all of this works try to fix it, please? I'm really new to this :(
  • November 29, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Fixed.

    Anyway, I can't open a TRS entry for the tropw Cavemen Vs Astronauts Debate. The Trope Repair Shop is full.
  • November 30, 2012
    notShemp
    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.
  • December 1, 2012
    lakingsif
    In The Big Bang Theory the guys start to debate whether the White Witch or Billy the Kid would win a fight in a card game, and are persuaded to buy the cards to find out, telling themselves off for doing so.
  • March 22, 2013
    Chabal2
    The Animorphs one was indeed Batman vs Spiderman, the point of contention being whether or not Spiderman's webbing would slide off Batman's body armor.
  • March 22, 2013
    reub2000
    • This is a Running Gag on The Finder. The hangout for the main characters has a chalkboard specifically for hypothetical debates.
  • March 23, 2013
    Arivne
    This should be expanded to include hypothetical combat between things other than characters, such as Enterprise vs. Star Destroyer, Borg Cube vs. Death Star etc.
  • March 23, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    This web forum is all about these kinds of debates.
  • March 23, 2013
    VPhantom
    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.
  • March 24, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    On this Trope (and Cavemen Vs Astronauts Debate), the key element is pretty much discussing Cool Vs Awesome.

    As another example, I think, 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.
  • March 25, 2013
    Koveras
    • 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.

    And Just Launch It Already.
  • March 25, 2013
    Arivne
    This could be launched under the title Who Would Win, as long as you delete the redirect that sends that name to Ultimate Showdown Of Ultimate Destiny.
  • March 25, 2013
    Koveras
    Hypothetical Fight Debate is a good title.
  • March 25, 2013
    willthiswork
    • Venture Brothers: Henchmen 21 and 24 debate who would win in a fist fight between Lizzie Bourden and Anne Frank.

  • March 25, 2013
    reub2000
    Would this image from The Finder work as the page image? [1]
  • March 25, 2013
    StarSword
    I don't think Spacebattles.com (the Other Sites example that's just a weblink) counts. A similar site, Star Destroyer Dot Net, is listed as Ultimate Showdown Of Ultimate Destiny since the matchups are part of the work and therefore technically In Universe.
  • March 25, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Cavemen Vs Astronauts Debate should be mentioned in the description at the very least. Curb misuse before it happens.
  • March 26, 2013
    morenohijazo
    As the OP has vanished, I'll launch it myself soon, unless someone disagrees or does it first.

    I also think that a TRS thread should be opened.

    ^^ Ok, deleted.

    ^ I think that trope should be renamed (perhaps Seinfeldian Confrontation), and make Cavemen Vs Astronauts Debate a redirect to this one. Cavemen is getting a lot of misuse from people who thinks it's this trope.

    And what about Who Would Win? To what it should redirect? What do you think?
  • March 26, 2013
    VPhantom
    I vote for Who Would Win to be a redirect for this one; it fits way better to it than to Ultimate Showdown Of Ultimate Destiny.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=xzb8encu96fd839qxtyaqf4s&trope=HypotheticalFightDebate