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Cheaters Never Prosper
"cheatin' only gets ya so far"
The Sniper, Team Fortress 2

If a character or a team ever cheats in any sort of contest, they will end up coming last. In most cases, their cheating ways will explode spectacularly, and their illegal tactics often end up causing ruin for the cheater.

Even if the cheaters don't fail by their own fault, the honest competitors will beat them anyway, though it may be a close call. The message here is that while the cheaters put all their energy into cheating, the honest players spent time getting good at the game in order to come out on top without having to resort to dirty tricks.

It is extremely rare for the cheaters to win, but be subsequently stripped of their medals after being found cheating. In almost all cases, they end up losing the race regardless, and the fact that they are then revealed as cheaters just adds insult to injury. Otherwise, where's the drama?

Can't Get Away with Nuthin' is a more generic case, covering misbehavior in general. Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat is the special case where the cheater would have been more successful if he'd put his time and effort into honest competition instead. When a video game enforces this trope on the player, it's No Fair Cheating.

Examples:

Anime, Manga and Manhwa
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • First and second series anime along with the manga as well.
      • Jonouchi/Joey has a habit of dueling cheaters, such as Mai (perfume that enables her to predict her next draw by scent) and Bandit Keith (cards in his bracelets) in the Duelist Kingdom arc, and Esper/Espa (had his brothers spy on his opponents), Haga/Weevil (sabotaged his deck) in Battle City, and Ooka/Johnson (used the technology of the virtual world to manipulate his coin tosses and dice rolls) in the Virtual Nightmare Arc (and he used to be a lawyer, no less). Predictably, they all lost to him.
      • Also, there's the matter of Pegasus, whose Millenium Eye and ridiculously over-powered cards definitely grant him an advantage, but the cards are arguably not cheating as, well, he invented the game and he says so.
      • Earlier on, Dark Yugi spends his time making sure that people who cheat against him never prosper are subject to horrible Mind Rape for the rest of their lives.
      • Most Rare Hunters that Yugi dueled in Battle City cheated too. Seeker used counterfeit Exodia cards that were also marked with ink that only he could see using special contact lenses. Mask of Light and Mask of Darkness (Lumis and Umbra) had microphones hidden under their hoods, letting them communicate with each other in a way that Yugi and Kaiba clearly couldn't. In both cases, the Rare Hunters lost.
      • Pandora/Arkana was a more blatant cheater: he trimmed the edges of an important card (Dark Magician) so that it landed on top of his deck when Yugi cut it; additionally, in the manga he boasted - to himself - that as a stage magician, he knew over one-hundred ways to cheat at cards. Yugi was on to him, however; after using Card Destruction to ruin his plan (for the moment) he told Pandora that it was clear to him that someone who would risk damaging his cards by "shotgun shuffling" would probably stoop to a trick like that too.
      • When Marik had Joey Brainwashed and Crazy and had him duel Yugi, he added cards to Joey's deck that were on the ban list like "Raigeki". Joey still broke free and ended the duel in a draw.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX
      • Exactly how much Saiou/Satorius was cheating in was debatable. (It was clear that the Light of Ruin was helping him a little, made more obvious when the thing took complete control of him in the Final Battle.) However, he blatantly cheated in the fourth season, planting a card called Arcana Force 0 - The Fool in Judai/Jaden's deck before the duel, and much like Weevil, using a Spell Card to force him to summon it. Once he had done that, he was able to use its presence in combination with other cards that let him forgo the coin tosses on his luck-based cards, and was able to safely use some of the most dangerous ones, like Tour of Doom and Sowing of the Fool. Unfortunately for him, Judai found a weakness in this strategy, managed to destroy the Fool, and when Saiou had to depend purely on luck for those cards, it proved outright terrible.
      • In the manga version of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Judai's first opponent, a teacher applicant named Ryuga, is cheating by using a device that prevents his opponents from using spell cards. Judai is put in a tight spot when he's unable to use fusion, but he manages to turn it around without even finding out what his opponent was doing. (Ryuga is never seen after that story; many fans assume he was fired, especially since losing to Judai meant he failed to fulfill the conditions needed to be recognized as an official professor of the school.)
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds
      • There was Clark Smith, the member of Yliaster who murdered Sherry LeBlanc's parents (although Sherry does admit that he didn't do it himself, but simply "allowed" it to happen). When Yusei confronts him, he challenges Yusei to a Concentration Duel, a special duel with house rules with elements of the game Concentration. It's rigged; the cards are all spread out face-down on the table, and Clark knows what his are due to marks on them that only he can read due to his special glasses. Yusei realizes he's cheating and wins anyway, and Clark pays dearly after he tries to kill Yusei and Sherry, something that defies the orders of his masters - they erase him from existence, literally.
      • Another example was Team Catastrophe. Originally three down-on-their luck losers from Satellite, the Three Emperors of Yliaster gave them two Dark Cards that they thought would help them win the WRGP and catapult them to stardom. However, the first of these two cards was Hook the Hidden Knight, a card that housed the spirit of a demon that let them defeat Team Unicorn by sabotaging their D-Wheels, causing their opponents to crash and injuring them. Team Catastrophe didn't fare as well against Team 5Ds; after Crow defeated their first duelist and destroyed Hook the Hidden Knight, their leader Nicholas went up against Jack, and used the second Dark Card, a far more potent one that he could not control. Nicholas barely escaped with his life, and in the end, he and his two teammates were bigger losers than they were before.
      • Then there was Takasu, the warden of the facility. In his duel with Yusei, he had them both wear Shock Collars designed to shock a duelist when he lost Life Points; his was purposely not working. He also used a security camera to look at Yusei's hand during the whole duel; however, this backfired on him badly when another inmate hacked the facility's system to turn his Shock Collar on, and then killed the power so that he briefly couldn't use the camera, causing him to make a mistake. (In general, the reason for Takasu's downfall was that he abused the inmates so much, they were all more than willing to help Yusei bring him down.)
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL:
      • The first cheaters in this series were Rikuo and Kaio (called Scorch and Chills in the dub) the original holders of Number 61: Volcasaurus and Number 19: Freezadon, respectively. As if cheating via deck stacking wasn't bad enough, they planned to rob a rare card from a museum and frame Shark for it. (Fortunately, the two weren't convincing cheaters anyway.)
      • Tron and his four henchman all cheated in some way, and in each case, they were ultimately beaten.
      • V had an incredibly broken monster on his field that was hidden from view, and didn't let Kite see it last second.
      • III stole Yuma's "Kattobing" and killed Astral deleting both from Yuma's memories, severely diminishing his dueling skills. Astral got better.
      • IV tricked Shark into peeking in his deck to get him disqualified, and led Shark into a Magma field where his monsters were at a disadvantage.
      • Tron himself used powerful magic to cheat, using his crest's power to eliminate any trap cards caught in his way during the Duel Carnival ride. (In his defense, exactly how much this qualifies as cheating is debatable, as Droite was the one who placed most of them deliberately to stop him.)
      • Then there was Mr. Heartland, who didn't even try to hide the fact that he blatantly rigged the duels between his henchmen, the Fearsome Five, and the heroes. Heartland used a device that let Semimaru, Kurage and Mosquito Ninja all start their duels by taking half their opponents life points and adding it to theirs, just because he could. On top of that, Kurage and Mosquito Ninja handicap their opponents with poison and hallucinations respectively, while Semimaru simply discards a Battle Royal rule he doesn't like (not that he takes advantage of discarding that rule...) Nonetheless, they all lost, proving that they were poor duelists who couldn't win even when they didn't care if the heroes knew they were cheating.
  • Team Rocket in Pokémon. There is also a story where there is a Pokemon competition that both Jessie and James enter seperately. Jessie cheats while James is determined to play fair. As is typical of this trope, Jessie loses while James is actually the winner, which goes to show that even someone from Team Rocket can win if he doesn't act like a criminal.
    • Actually a pretty consistent theme in the show. Compare how well Team Rocket tends to do when they play by the rules rather than cheat.
    • They're often shown to actually be competent in battles and contests, and have just as close if not closer with their Pokemon as Ash and his friends. They're just not very evil.
  • Taken to a beautiful extreme by Ninin Ga Shinobuden, which has Onsokumaru attempting to cheat at baseball by causing the ball to multiply itself. It backfires in a spectacular fashion when Miyabi summons a bunch of floating hands to catch every ball, getting Onsokumaru out 108 times, winning the next four games by default in the process.
  • Inverted by Naruto and the first portion of the Chuunin Exam. The first portion is a written test far too difficult for the level of the examinees, who are expelled with their teammates if caught cheating too many times. These details are clues to the true nature of the test: The examinees are supposed to cheat, but not actually get caught, as what's actually being tested is the ninjas' ability to gain information. Ibiki is somewhat amused that Naruto himself passed without even answering any questions.
  • In Minami-ke, Kana challenges Fujioka to see who can get better grades. Despite repeatedly cheating and rewriting her scores, she still always falls behind by a few points.
  • Inverted in episodes 24 and 25 of Yumeiro Pâtissičre, when Miya Koshiro ("The Heiress")'s team defeats Team Ichigo in the Cake Grand Prix semi-finals by having one of its members spy on Ichigo in order to steal Team Ichigo's recipe. To add injury to insult, said spy went so far as to make the room hotter, thus ruining the chocolate Team Ichigo was making. To add further to the humiliation, Team Ichigo lost by only ONE point.
  • Averted in Monster, where Tenma and Gillen come in second and first in their class, respectively, after cheating on a major test.
  • Averted in Akagi. One of the marks of Akagi's brilliance is his ability to cheat really well.
  • Waver Velvet is the only Master in Fate/Zero who doesn't cheat at some point through the Fourth Holy Grail War. He doesn't win, but he makes it through the war alive, and is the only one of the surviving Masters who is better off at the end of the war than he was at the start.
  • In Future GPX Cyber Formula SAGA, the Aoi team gets disqualified from CF for one year after they cheated in the Japan Grand Prix by doping (also happened in other races), kidnapping Hayato the night before the race and trying to kill him by Nagumo taking control of Al-zard computer system in the race.
  • Risho and his manager of YuYu Hakusho trapped two of the five protagonist team members before their match in the Dark Tournament; the protagonists were already at a disadvantage by being forced to fight two teams in one day. Kuwabara was already nearly dead, so Yusuke and Kurama were left to split five consecutive matches between the two of them. Before Yusuke begins the last fight against Risho himself, the manager bribes the judges to get Yusuke off on a technicality. Both of them get whats coming to them when Kuwabara gets in the ring despite his injuries and defeats Risho, while up in the booth Toguro easily murders the manager, because he felt the man was disgusting, although he reasons (correctly) that if Yusuke's team is worth his time, they should be able to overcome their predicament.
  • In Girls und Panzer, Alice's attempt to cheat by intercepting Oarai's radio communications during their match backfires when Oarai uses the tactic to lead her into a trap, and when her commander Kay, upon finding out, decides to attack with only half her forces to keep things fair.
  • Zigazzed in No Game No Life; most enemies attempt to cheat Shiro and Sora. They usually lose because Shiro and Sora can cheat a lot better. On the other hand, the siblings never cheat if their enemies don't cheat either and Jibril doesn't cheat ever, no discussion. That said, attempting to cheat Jibril equals a suicide declaration.

Comic Books
  • Generally played with in the Astérix comics. The Roman team (which includes Asterix) at the Games is humiliated by the various Greek cities, and because they're so useless the Greeks come up with a special Roman-only event. The Roman competitors take this extremely seriously, so Asterix induces them all to take a dose of the magic potion, which constitutes a drug offence. In the race the next day, Asterix, the only competitor not to cheat, comes a distant last, but the Romans are exposed and Asterix is declared the winner. He then gives away the laurel wreath to one of the Roman competitors, who gets all the credit back in Rome and is promoted as a result.

Fan Fic
  • In My Little Unicorn, Dusk Shine drugs Celesto's water during a tournament to determine who will guard Celestia. He gets caught and stripped of his rank, and banished.

Film
  • In The Blind Side, a defensive lineman on the Opposing Sports Team deliberately kicks Michael when he's down and after the play has already ended, and the referee not only ignores the kick, but penalizes the Wingate Crusaders when Coach Cotton complains. This triggers Coach Cotton's Papa Wolf moment, which motivates Michael to lead the Miracle Rally.
  • At least one of the opposing teams in Remember the Titans gets a big leg up from blatantly racist referees. The Titans, of course, go undefeated. Of course, in this case it's justified because one of the Titans' coaches threatened to expose the refs' rigging of the game to the press if they didn't start calling the game fairly, so the refs backed down.
  • There was a movie in the 1980s (whose title escapes me) involving a bicycle race where the bad guy and his conspirators went to egregious lengths to impede the hero (barricading the road with trash bags, switching road signs). In an interesting variation, the bad guy did come in first with the hero in second, but the crowd cheers the hero as the winner, due to the rival's blatant cheating.
    • Breaking Away. I know this because I live in the area where the race takes place.
    • Actually, no, the "good guys" win the big race at the end of Breaking Away. The Italians cheat during an earlier race, knocking the hero off his bike, but the unnamed '80s movie is something different.
    • There was a "Mcgee and me" where that happened.
  • Zigzagged with Sebulba, Anakin's pod racing rival from The Phantom Menace, at least according to a few Expanded Universe sources. He clearly cheated to win; his racer's design violated many rules and was often equipped with weapons that he could use to disable or destroy his opponents' racers. However, losing to Anakin clearly did not teach him a lesson or keep him down for long. When Anakin put his racer up for sale, Sebulba was the one who bought it (through an intermediary, of course, because he knew that Anakin would never deal with him) made a few improvements, and continued his cheating ways; all he could say when he learned that Anakin had left Tattoine was "good riddance". Eventually, however, this trope may still apply, as his underhanded tactics did lead to him upsetting someone he shouldn't have, with unfortunate - and lethal - results.
  • Goal 2 both subverts this trope and plays it straight. In the first minute of the Champions League Final, a (fictional) Arsenal player dives to win a penalty, the subversion being that he scores the one he dived to win, but then, with his team 2 goals ahead with less than five minutes left, his team mate wins a penalty fairly and he misses. Cue Miracle Rally from Real Madrid.
  • Spelled out word-for-word in the final shot of Speed Racer.
  • James Bond examples:
    • In Goldfinger, Bond uncovers Goldfinger's attempts at cheating during games of gin rummy and golf, making him lose.
    • Similarly, in Octopussy, Bond subtly reveals Kamal Khan's attempts at cheating in backgammon, beating him with his own loaded dice.
    • In A View to a Kill, during a horse race, Zorin uses remote-controlled obstacles to trip up Bond's horse, then has thugs jump onto the track and attack Bond. Bond fights them off and still pulls ahead. However, when Bond decides he's had enough and abandons the race, Zorin declares himself the winner.
  • In the Disney Channel Original Movie Hounded, Jay Martin is a smart kid who prepares a presentation to apply for a scholarship. His main competitor is the school headmaster's lazy son Ronny (played by Shia LaBeouf). After the headmaster confiscates Jay's presentation notes, he tells his son to use the notes as a reference and come up with a better speech. Ronny, being lazy, copies Jay's speech word-for-word and presents it ahead of Jay. Jay doesn't do his speech, as it would sound as if he's the cheater. It seems as if the trope is averted in that Ronny gets the scholarship. However, by the end of the film, the truth is out, and Ronny is shipped off to military school (under the command of Drill Sergeant Nasty, Jay's brother), while his dad is demoted to secretary. Jay ends up getting his scholarship after all.
  • In The Swan Princess, Bromley cheats twice, first playing chess with Derek and again during the training session with the musicians, and he still loses both times.

Literature
  • In Unseen Academicals, the titular Academicals play a game of football against Ankh-Morpork United, which includes Andy Shank and his thuggish friends. Said thugs proceed to cripple the Academicals' best player, while a supporter poisons the Librarian, who is playing goalkeeper. This backfires spectacularly on them when the replacement players ( Mr. Nutt and Trev Likely) manage to win by playing by the rules (in a manner of speaking). The bad guys also failed to take into account that even if they won the match, they would have made enemies of both the wizards and the Patrician. With enemies like that they would have most definitely not prospered for long. The Librarian alone is likely to break a lot of bones belonging to the people who messed with his bananas. This is lampshaded by one of the professional players on the AU team who would have been more than happy to play a clean professional game and beaten the amateur Academicals through skill alone.
  • Icarus, a chariot driver in Detectives in Togas. He manages to push his opponent Ben Gor from his chariot - but the horses keep running well without their driver, and without his weight, they're much faster.

Live-Action TV
  • Subverted by Married... with Children when Al Bundy uses a mistakenly issued senior citizens discount card to get into, and eventually win, the senior Olympics, beating out an honest competitor who had refused to do the very thing Al was in the process. Lampshaded at episode's end with the narration "I bet you thought Al was going to let the old guy win. Well then you haven't been paying attention these past years."
  • The Brady Bunch: The fifth-season episode "Quarterback Sneak" deals with the ethics of cheating and thwarting cheaters. Here, Greg, quarterback of the Westdale High football team, suspects that Marcia's new boyfriend, Jerry Rogers (the quarterback from rival Fairview High), is out to steal his team's playbook as his team is struggling to find a way to beat Westdale at the latter's homecoming. After a failed attempt to swipe the playbook during his first visit to the Bradys, Jerry invites himself over again and succeeds in the theft. Greg — instead of reporting to his coach the first theft attempt (especially since Bobby had seen Jerry try to steal the playbook, and thus would have been a reliable witness) — had prepared by creating a phony playbook. The boys laugh about how they've "put one over Jerry," but Mike overhears the boys' revelry and brings them down to earth by saying what he's done was just as dishonest and was unfair to the Fairview players and coaches who were playing by the rules. Eventually, the Fairview High coach finds out about Jerry's theft and kicks him off the team; it is not known what, if anything, happens to Greg ... although he is able to lead Westdale to a 20-7 victory.
  • Game shows have had more than their share, but one lesser known example comes from the 1980-1981 NBC game show Las Vegas Gambit, a Q&A-type game married to blackjack hosted by Wink Martindale. In an episode that pitted male-female teams of people previously strangers to each other, Martindale asks the question, "From what direction does the east wind blow — east to west or west to east?" The team answers, "West to east," which Martindale momentarily doesn't hear, and asks the team to repeat their answer. Perhaps realizing they gave a wrong answer, they try to change it to "east to west," but the off-stage judge — having heard the original response — signals to Martindale, who immediately snaps at them to repeat their first answer ... which they sheepishly do. To date, it is one of the only times Martindale has been upset (albeit briefly), and even that incident was quickly forgotten. The episode in question, by the way, originally aired in the summer of 1981, and was rerun on November 27 of that year ... the show's last broadcast day. (Incidentally, that airing is far better known for Martindale appearing — during the show's final act — in a box, announcing that the show had been canceled and that The Regis Philbin Show would take over the following Monday.)
  • In a Growing Pains episode, Mike prepared cheat notes on the soles of his shoes for an important test. However when doing the test, Mike found that he was able to do the test honestly since he legitimately knew the answers. However, Mike's notes are discovered at the end and the teacher logically assumes he used them to cheat and it takes the rest of the episode for Mike to convince his parents and teacher of the truth. Both to allow him to prove that he knows the material and for his parents and teacher to drive home the point that preparing to cheat is wrong in itself, Mike retakes the test, on top of the desks, barefoot and his underwear to make sure he is using no unauthorized materials.
    • In another episode, this philosophy is seriously subverted. Ben has the opportunity to cheat on a test, but does not; he ends up getting a bad grade, and is scolded by his parents. His friends do cheat, get excellent grades, and are rewarded by their parents. Ben's father is forced to concede that, in reality, cheaters prosper and win very often (saying that "in some cases, they even win the White House", an obvious reference to Watergate), although he does say that being honest can be far more rewarding in the long run.
  • Zigzagged in Cheers. When a crook tries to cheat Sam and his customers in rigged poker games, the Con Artist Harry the Hat agrees to help them because, in his own words, "I don't like the idea of someone else plucking my pigeons." While the crook cheats, Harry manages to win because, well Harry is a better cheater.
  • In the Community pilot, Jeff asks Professor Duncan for every answer to every test he is due to write at Greendale, only to have that anvil dropped on his head.
  • In an episode of MacGyver, a race car driver tries to use an illegal Nitro Boost, which causes him to lose control of his car and spin out on the shoulder.
  • In a Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide episode which deals with tests. Missy constantly keeps copying off of Moze's paper despite efforts to block her from looking. Eventually Moze comes up with the idea to just put the wrong answers on her test and take a failing grade to get her to stop. When Missy complains to Moze about it and announces she can always find someone else to cheat off of. The teacher who had given the tests happens to walk by and overhear her. Missy is taken to the principal's office and her name stripped from the honor roll board.
  • Used repeatedly throughout the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation franchise, always ending with the cheater (or the cheated) becoming the Victim of the Week (be it because the objective of using the cheat was to kill the other guy, they pissed off someone enough to drive them to murder with the cheat, an opportunist third party with vested interests rigs the cheat so it is fatal, or the cheater (or cheated) are Too Dumb to Live and trigger the cheat just right).

Professional Wrestling
  • 50% of the time, if a Heel attempts a cheating tactic, they will immediately lose.
    • Rush at John Cena with a steel chair or similar object, and he will duck under you and hit you with the Attitude Adjustment anyway.
    • One time, Road Warrior Animal slapped on brass knuckles and tried to punch Chris Benoit, but Chris caught his punch and locked him in the Crippler Crossface for victory.

Video Games
  • Shadi Smith in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. He tries to cheat Phoenix in a game of Poker, but it doesn't work and ends up losing, he then hits the dealer that helped him cheat but screwed up and is then killed while Phoenix is calling the police.
  • Averted in Assassin's Creed II: Ezio (and the player) win the Carnivale games fair and square, even with the minions of his latest target cheating. However, at the awards ceremony, the prize is given to another minion, to the obvious displeasure of the spectators, and making it necessary to steal the prize away from the cheater (if it makes you feel better, he gets his in the next memory segment).
    • Ezio does technically cheat first, in an earlier event. When the goal is to charm various women in the crowd into giving you tokens they're carrying, Ezio instead pickpockets said tokens en masse. It's possible this is Gameplay and Story Segregation caused by the limits of the engine, and it certainly doesn't compare to sending thugs with knives into a boxing match.
  • In the Wii version of Punch-Out!!, you can pull this on Aran Ryan by using a 3-Star Punch on after blocking his headbutt or a Star Punch during his illegal Last Ditch Move where he swings a horseshoe on a rope. He will NOT get back up from this, and you will win.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Rawk Hawk would clearly be considered a heel wrestler if he was a real one. The underhanded tactics he uses to try to keep his title turn out badly for him; Mario makes his way to the arena despite being locked out.
    • The first opponents, a team of a few Goombas, attack Mario while Grubba is explaining the rules, but they're so weak that they take hardly any effort to defeat two chapters ago, much less now. The Iron Cleft Twins attack after a match.

Web Comic
  • Subverted in Tower of God, where the "Hide And Seek" test was actually about to teams competing in doing a task better than the others, without even coming in contact. Since the the test was only a point gathering test serving to qualify the best for the last test, people started going out of their way to beat their own teammates to the point of injuring them to incapacitate them. While Koon lead to his team to sure victory but in the end helped Quant to make them lose anyway, just to help his friends on the opposing team, Parakewl and Mauchi tried to make everybody sacrifice themselves for them and even took hostages, while Ho tried to eliminate Baam and Androssi gathered her fellow Fishermen in one point and attacked them. The end result was that Mauchi failed while Parakewl passed, Androssi was the best Fisherman but Hong Chunhwa also managed to pass, Ho died and Koon succeeded. Success was not determined by the degree of rule-abiding, but by skill of bending the rules, strength and sheer luck.

Web Original
  • Dr.Hax makes sure that Chuckle's cheating is rewarded with a CRT moniter to the head.
  • One of the most constant elements of Homestar Runner, and one of the few nods to his original role as the villain to Homestar's hero is that Strong Bad always cheats and always loses. Even in "Kick-A-Ball", where he tries to play fair, he loses because he'd previously cheated by altering the rulebook, meaning that Homestar's "cheating" to win was actually allowed.
  • Snopes has a number of these:
    • One story tells of a group of students who take some time to play before going to school and show up late as a result. They tell their teacher that they had to fix a flat tire. The teacher tells them they missed a test that morning and gives them a make-up test. The question worth the most points (or the first question in some versions): "Which tire?"
    • Another story tells of a student who stopped by the professor's office to find him missing. He then stole a copy of the next exam. The teacher found out the exam had been stolen, but not by whom. So, he cut half an inch off of the other exams and the cheater was discovered as the one with an exam half an inch too long.
    • Another story simultaneously subverts and plays this trope straight. A music student is required to write a symphony as a final exam and finds an assignment turned in by a previous student (sometimes the professor himself). The student then copies the symphony, but reverses it. He turns in the assignment, then gets it back with a failing grade and the message "Why did you turn in Beethoven's Fourth?" (The subversion applies to the previous student who did the same thing and apparently got away with it.)
  • Achievement Hunter has had a few instances of this happening.
    • One episode of Let's Play Minecraft had Caleb caught stealing fish out of Gavin and Ray's buckets. It's notable in that he hasn't been in the series except for one instance since then.
    • One episode of Let's Play Grand Theft Auto IV, "Cops 'n Crooks Part 3" had Gavin's flagrant diving piss off Ray and Michael so much they throw him off of Team Lads for a few weeks.

Western Animation
  • Every single episode of Wacky Races. Dick Dastardly has the best car in the show, and if he'd just race honestly, he'd win every time. (Granted, almost everybody in that show cheats to some extent, but it's mostly just to make their own journeys easier. Dastardly is the only character that tries to deliberately impede the others).
    • Not quite: there was one occasion when the Ant Hill Mob, disguised as the Seven Dwarves (don't ask), gave Dastardly fake directions which caused him to be trapped in a mud pit for the rest of the episode. However, they did give Penelope Pitstop correct directions earlier...
      • Not exactly. Clyde made up the directions randomly in the hope that she'd end up far away from the finish line. Still more dignified than what happened to Dastardly though.
      • Ironically the one time he did win a race through straight out racing (despite trying to cheat earlier), he was disqualified because he stretched out the the cone of his race car to reach the finish line. Despite you know every other racer having similar devices on their cars. Apparently its alright to use them during the race except the last leg of it. That or they're just really biased against Dastardly.
      • Considering they allowed Peter Perfect to get away with winning a race by pulling off the exact same cheat, it's likely just the latter.
      • Even more ironically, Dick Dastardly almost won a race through legitimate means (shouting as he did so, "I'm going to win this race fair and square even if I have to cheat to do it!") but stopped short of the finish line because Muttley wanted his autograph. The debut episode had him stop to pose when the narrator exclaimed the race would end in a photo finish.
  • Also every episode of Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics. The Rottens cheated in absolutely every event, and almost always came in last. However, this is one of the few shows in which while the results were subsequently discounted due to the team's cheating, several of their tricks during were accepted as not actually being against the rules, and indeed were able to come in first place at the end of the episode, albeit very rarely.
    • There's one 'pity win' episode were the Rottens get away with every single trick they pull.
    • In one episode, an attempt to cheat didn't help them win, but it did get them a bonus to their score for accidentally breaking a world record.
    • Other characters occasionally get called on doing questionable things, but they tend to be less outright cheating and more trying to bend the rules and failing.
  • Spike the bulldog in several Droopy Dog cartoons. Whenever the two are on a competition, he tries to sabotage Droopy, but as Droopy is Born Lucky, they end up backfiring on Spike, or even actually helping Droopy win. One cartoon has Spike tricking Droop into signing a document stating that he cheated, thus disqualifying him and making Spike the winner; but, Spike got his in the end: the prize was a kiss from the Queen of Sports - who was hideously ugly.
    Spike: Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim!-*Tree or wooden pole falls on him rather than Droopy*-ber.
  • Used as the moral in a "Sonic Sez" segment.
  • The Fairly Oddparents used this trope twice: in "Hex Games" (Vicky cheats at skateboarding) and "Fairly Oddlympics" (the Anti-Fairies and the Pixies cheat at everything). "The Big Bash" is an aversion: Remy cheats, but ties with Timmy, but the real winner was Cupid, as not only did he cheat everyone out of rule free wishes, but the "Scavenger Hunt" turns out to be his shopping.
    • The chapter book Scout's Honor provides another contest between Timmy and Remy, with the latter cheating using his money. It's thanks to Cosmo and Wanda exposing Remy's cheating that Timmy wins the bet.
  • The bullies at the end of Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown use some really nasty tricks (even life-threatening to the Peanuts gang), but at the end can't reach the finish line due to their raft sinking.
  • In one episode of Totally Spies!, Jerry angrily says this straight out to a villain who used robotic implants on figure skaters to make them stronger and faster: "When will you learn that cheaters only cheat themselves?"
  • Mertle from Lilo & Stitch: The Series does this constantly through every contest she and Lilo are in and actually manages to get away with it in some cases. In a dog show contest, she sabotaged Stitch's water by placing caffeine in it (if you saw the movie you know what it does to Stitch} and ended up winning the contest. But conceded the trophy because the duo helped rescue her dog (actually an experiment) from Gantu. Another case was that she used an experiment against Lilo (not that Lilo didn't use it first) during a fund raiser and once again won, but she overbinged on the prize (a supply of sno cones) making it a case of Not Worth It. The trope is play straight during a quiz contest between their two families, Mertle uses one of her friends to feed her the answers through a earpiece. Lilo finds out halfway though the contest and uses the experiment at the time to incapacitate Mertle's helper. Come next round Mertle's on her own and promptly loses.
    • And another case where Lilo and she bet their prized possessions in a ball game (Lilo her Elvis records, Mertle her dolls). Lilo thought it was going to be a baseball like they had done at the start of the episode. But Mertle, upon seeing an experiment that would give her an advantage, changed it to a basketball game and had Gantu brought in as a ringer. Ironically she wound up losing thanks to Pleakly who played a similar sport on his planet and was a natural. The look on Mertle's face when she's forced to hold up her end of the bet is pretty satisfying, especially considering she was a major Jerk Ass in this Ep.
  • In an episode of South Park, Cartman pretends to be mentally handicapped in order to enter the Special Olympics; unfortunately for him, he's not actually athletic and comes in dead last.
    • In the same episode, Jimmy uses steroids to win and then because of what Cartman does he gives up his medal (given to him by a group of steroid-abusing athletes). He then gives a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about why people who use steroids are terrible people, while Barry Bonds grins in the background.
  • In the Tom Slick short in George of the Jungle, every of Tom's lead opponent (mostly Baron Otto Matic) cheat in every way to win the race and always fail.
  • Subverted in spades by Mr. Burns in The Simpsons episode "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield". He boasted an undefeated record in golf for decades (except one time when he lost on purpose to Richard Nixon) but only because Mr. Smithers was cheating by planting balls for him on the green - without telling Burns. When they're finally caught when he plays Homer, Homer is anxious to tell everyone, but Smithers convinces him to keep quiet about it, promising that Burns will recommend Marge for the Springfield Country Club if he does; Burn thus gets away scott free. And ironically, even though Burns apparently kept that promise, as the club voted to accept Marge, she decided against joining.
  • Subverted in Avatar: The Last Airbender where Toph, Sokka and Aang spend an episode cheating fire-nation folk out of their money with such varied methods as cheating a cheater in three card monty to a full on flopsy scheme. They end up in trouble, but only because they indirectly become famous. They never give back any of the ill gotten goods either.
    • Though played straight because earlier in the episode there's a man playing the "three cups with something in one of them" game, and he picks Toph because she's blind. It's revealed that the reason no one's been able to win is because he was either flipping the object under the cup into his sleeve and sticking another in a different cup than what they'd be watching or leaving all three empty. Toph, who is an earth-bender who has learned to sense vibrations, detects the sleight of hand and puts one of the rocks back under the cup without him even knowing, cheating the guy.
    • In the The Legend of Korra "And the Winner Is...", Tahno and the Wolf-bats resort to cheating to beat the protagonists in a pro-bending tournament. Thanks to the fact that he bribed the referee, they're declared the winners. The stadium is promptly attacked by the local Well-Intentioned Extremist, who kicks their butts, removes their powers and takes the time to call them out for cheating during his radio broadcast.
  • In the "Fall Weather Friends" episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Applejack and Rainbow Dash get so competitive with each other, they attempt to cheat one another during a race. In the end, they both come in last. However, in this case, it's justified as they were cheating each other so much they didn't notice everyone else had gotten ahead of them.
  • The "Monster Mashionals part 2" season 2 finale of "Monster High" has Nefara De Nile break out the De Nile family idols to cheat against younger sister Cleo and her Fear Squad. This has her OWN team turn against Nefara, and to add insult to injury, video of Nefara cheating is shown on a jumbo-tron. In a final Laser-Guided Karma action, Nefara's stripped of her past awards as well.
  • Outright exaggerated in the WordGirl episode "Two Brains' Quartet." Dr. Two Brains doesn't even try to win legitimately despite multiple protests from his henchmen that they could probably win and cheating is likely to backfire. They end up disqualified, but the henchmen plead to perform anyway, and their song is amazing — the mayor outright states that they probably would have won if they hadn't already been disqualified for cheating.
  • An Al Brodax Popeye cartoon had Popeye and Brutus in a race. Brutus cheats in a snowy mountainous area backfires, with Popeye shouting "cheaters never win" to him. It echoes and causes an avalanche on top of the two, with Brutus calling out "You and your corny sayings!," which causes another echo and avalanche.
  • Bianca from Beverly Hills Teens. Several of her successful attempts to sabotage Larke during a competition are actually seen by the judges as an original touch deserving a first place.
  • Sam in the Total Drama All Stars episode "Food Fright", he wins the challenge for his team, but then in the elimination ceremony, it's revealed that he was caught smuggling pancakes out of fear of going to Boney Island a second time and that he was starving, thereby not only losing the challenge for his team, but also gets himself flushed.

Real Life
  • While we're talking football, how about The Denver Broncos, the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers cap avoidance?
    • Don't forget the SEC in College Football. There's a reason why they're known as the "Surely Everyone's Cheating" conference, aka SEC. Every single program in the SEC has been on NCAA probation for cheating, and yet have won the last seven 1A FBS National Championships. Hell, you can include the other BCS conferences in this category.
      • Don't forget U$C. Though one of their national championships got stripped when they were caught cheating, there's still the nine others they won.
      • And this is not new either - during the early '80s, the old Southwest Conference had rampant recruiting violations by every member ("if you ain't cheating, you ain't trying"), and Southern Methodist University got smacked with the "death penalty" in 1987 - sanctions so harsh the program has never recovered from them. And neither did the conference; within a decade the conference disbanded. Most of the old members are part of the Big 12 today.
  • The Seven Ballsiest Sports Cheats Ever.
    • Subverted in this list's number one loophole-abuser. Apparently there's a fine line between "cheating" and "innovation".
  • Pete Rose is one of the most famous examples. A gambling scandal labeled him permanently ineligible from Major League Baseball, disqualifying him from the Hall of Fame. As if that weren't enough, he was convicted of tax evasion, and spent five months in jail for it.
  • NASCAR:
    • Averted with Tony Stewart in the final race of the 2011 Sprint Cup season. He basically paid off other drivers through so-called "favors" to let him pass them and win the title from Carl Edwards, who was leading the season going in.
    • But played straight in September 2013 at Richmond: Clint Bowyer's spin with seven laps to go is being referred to by some as Spinnergate, as there is a sizeable contingent of fans, drivers (such as Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who was right behind Bowyer and had the best view), and quite a few commentators who believe (or at least suspect) he intentionally spun himself out in an attempt to benefit teammate Martin Truex, Jr.
      1. The in-car camera footage and team audio seems to support this, with crew chief Brian Pattie pointing out Ryan Newman taking the lead and then asking a suspicious string of questions mere seconds before Bowyer spun.
      2. Bowyer claimed it was a flat tire that sent him around, and indeed the right front was down after the spin, but the behavior of his car, as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. pointed out, was inconsistent with the normal behavior of a car with that condition (which is to go straight into the outside wall then come back down onto the track, rather than spinning onto the apron - spinning like that onto the apron is only unintentional if it is because the car's handling suddenly snaps in the turn without warning, like happened to Kyle Busch's car at Kansas in April), not to mention that the popping noise associated with a flat tire only happened after the spin.
      3. Without the spin, Newman would very likely have won the race and taken the second Wildcard over Truex. The ensuing pit stops under the resulting caution put Newman back to sixth and allowed Truex to squeak into the Wildcard on a tiebreaker. The incident also adversely affected Jeff Gordon, as without the caution, he would have squeezed Joey Logano out for 10th place due to the latter being two laps down while Gordon was running eighth. Logano took advantage of the caution to take the wave-around, and wound up improving four spots while Gordon was unable to improve his previous running position and got squeezed out of 10th (and the Chase) by a single point.
      4. However, NASCAR almost immediately announced that the incident was under review, and on the following Monday threw the book at MWR : Bowyer lost fifty points, throwing him down to 12th in the Chase seeding and already more than a full race behind 11th. Truex also lost fifty points, but this was assessed to his pre-seeding total, meaning he was thrown out of the Chase and his spot given to Newman. Even Brian Vickers, who isn't eligible to receive Sprint Cup points, was nailed with this penalty, meaning he'll finish dead last in the 2013 standings. All three teams were also hit with owner point penalties, along with a $300,000 fine, and GM of Competition Ty Norris was indefinitely suspended.

  • Averted in the 1986 FIFA World Cup. A play made by Argentinian player Diego Maradona (called "The Hand of God" by fans) was clearly an illegal move, but was not penalized. Argentina would end up winning because of it, leading many to believe (not without merit) that the victory had not been earned.
  • If the recent doping history in the Tour de France with cyclists like Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis is any indication, doping has become widespread in cycling.
    • The doping scandals are further apart than they used to be, where most of the doping scandals in the 2013 media are old ones (Armstrong, Hamilton, Dekker, Rasmussen)
      • This has led to the joke that the best way to become a Tour De France winner is simply to finish. Even if you're in last place, sooner or later everybody ahead of you will be disqualified.
  • Marion Jones was the darling of Olympic Track & Field. However, after getting linked to an insurance fraud racket, Jones was forced to admit she used steroids in order to reduce jail time. She gave a public speech admitting she cheated and was stripped of all her medals. Since then, Jones has been trying to make a comeback in different sports, but so far nothing successful has come of it. To be just, Victor Conte, her drug supplier, made it clear that she was actually competing on an equal level, because most if not all of the athletes she competed with, were also using steroids. Given that other athletes worldwide tested positive in future Olympic games since the scandal, Conte might be telling the truth.
  • In the boxing world, Antonio Margarito was a feared power puncher that had knockout power in both hands, and a rock hard chin. Even the great Floyd Mayweather Jr. seemed afraid to fight him, or so his critics will have you believe. He was a big middleweight that could make the welterweight division. His most famous victory was against Miguel Cotto, whom he battered savagely that night, breaking his jaw. Then came the night he was to fight "Sugar" Shane Mosley. Mosley's trainer discovered Margarito's people loading his gloves with liquid plaster which got hard after getting wet. It already had dried blood on it, suggesting it was used many times before. After The Reveal, Margarito got knocked out by Shane Mosley the same night. Margarito, whom no longer had punching power, was exposed as a cheater and nicknamed: Margacheato. However, the trope was almost averted when he still landed a big money fight with superstar boxer Manny Pacquiao. Only for Manny to beat him up so badly, the injuries ended his career and permanently damaged one of his eyes.
  • In 2013, Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd tried to stall the end of an NBA game by telling one of his players to "hit me" and make him spill his beverage, forcing a time-out. Not only did the Nets lose, but the NBA got wise, and fined Kidd $50,000.


Trying to Catch Me Fighting DirtyA Dishonorable IndexCombat Pragmatist
Casualty in the RingSports Story TropesCrippling the Competition
Quality Over QuantityStock AesopsNo Challenge Equals No Satisfaction

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