Defeat Means Respect
The Hero serves him a slice of Humble Pie he starts to become nicer to those who have won and now considers them to be a Worthy Opponent. Sometimes it may take repeated losses to cause this in the case of a particularly stubborn villain. Every Unknown Rival is motivated by this trope. This is also the idea behind the victims of The Bully: "You have to stand for yourself". Distinct from Defeat Means Friendship because the opponent is still an enemy to the victor, but it can eventually evolve into friendship. Compare Graceful Loser and Touché.
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Anime and Manga
- In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Viral, who starts off as utterly contemptuous of our heroes, respects his opponents more and more with each consecutive defeat.
- In Romeo X Juliet Hermione stops hating Juliet after learning she truly loves Romeo
- Kagato in Tenchi Muyo! expresses admiration and respect for both the hero, Tenchi, and the goddess Tsunami, who granted him his power. See the page quote for Graceful Loser.
- Youre Under Arrest: Strike Man comes to regard Natsumi as his arch-nemesis, whom he dubs as "the infamous Homerun Girl," after she repeatedly knocks each of his pitches out of the park. Their alleged rivalry is one-sided, as Natsumi thinks he's a nutjob, and would rather not have to put up with him.
*watches in awe as Natsumi runs up a flight of stairs, while carrying her motocomp*Strike Man: (in admiration) "Great Day in the morning! I stand in silent awe of the explosiveness of your glutinous biceps! I'M GLEEFUL TO BE YOUR NEMESIS!!"
- It gets lampshaded in episode 25, "Run, Strike Man, Run!":
- Discussed in Soul Eater; when Maka begins her second battle against Chrona, she taunts Chrona's weapon Ragnarok by pointing out the way he's talking about her suggests this trope.
- Many of the major villains in Fist of the North Star, particularly Souther and Raoh. Ryuga is notable for not necessarily having anything against Kenshiro - his battle with him was more of a Secret Test of Character.
- Kyurem from Pokémon: Kyurem vs. The Sword of Justice defeats Keldeo even after Keldeo reached his Resolute Form, but he doesn't kick him while he's down. Instead, he lets him back up and commends him on his power.
- Maken-ki!: Reached mutually between Azuki and her rival, Yan-Min.
- When they first met, Yan-Min was dismissive of the Maken-ki, beliving them to be weak compared to herself and thought even less of Azuki for challening her. But near the end of their match in chapter 17, Yan-Min finally acknowledged Azuki as her equal, in terms of strength and her tenacity. So as a show of respect, she used her strongest technique to end the fight: "Reichen".
- Azuki won the match, but later admitted it was only because Yan-Min had held back. And said she wouldn't be satisfied until they had a proper rematch. Kai Kuragasa also experssed his admiration of Yan-Min's ability and formally addressed her as, "sempai".
- Variable Geo: In the final episode, Miranda gives Yuka an ultimatum: either surrender her body to her, or watch as she killed her best friend, Satomi, by making her bleed out from the inside. When Yuka asks Miranda why she suddenly wanted her body, Miranda openly acknowledges the fact that Yuka's fighting ability and overall power likely exceeded her own, during Miranda's prime. Making her body the ideal specimen for her designs.
- In Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Girard is seeking out someone good enough to defeat him. He embraces Ricky Bobby at the end.
- In The Karate Kid (1984), this is the reason Mr. Miyagi agreed to Daniel fighting: not so Daniel could take revenge on the bullies, but so that he would put up enough of a fight to earn their respect. That Daniel ended up winning the tournament was an unexpected bonus.
- In Mass Effect, the Reapers treat each cycle's resistance to being culled as futile (a speed bump at most), but by the end of Mass Effect 2 their leader Harbinger begins to acknowledge just how unexpectedly difficult humanity and Commander Shepard in particular is making this cycle. Leviathan notes that in the billion plus years of the Reapers' existence, no one has ever given them as much trouble as Shepard. Notably, there are multiple times in Mass Effect 3 where Reapers will turn their dreadnought-killing guns away from entire fleets to target Shepard alone.
- In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, your characters' role in the Battle of Kvatch earns them respect from the Dremora who were besieging the town.
- This is a fairly regular trope in Grand Theft Auto games, particularly Vice City, where you set up a crew by proving you're better than each of your specialists in their specialty.
- In Sonic Adventure 2, Knuckles and Rouge ended their rivalry over finding the missing pieces of the Master Emerald when Rouge grudgingly surrenders the pieces to him after their arguing and also when Knuckles saved her from falling into the lava which lead to their Almost Kiss. From then on, the two are belligerent acquaintances at best.
- The Count goes through something like this in the Boktai series. The first time he faces you he remarks that you're nothing more than a meal to him, while the second time you face him he treats you as a genuine threat despite still hailing Ringo as his greatest adversary. By the third time however he finally acknowledges you as not only a powerful warrior, but his new greatest adversary.
- In The Legend of Korra, the Big Bad of the final season, Kuvira, refers to Korra as obsolete. After Korra manages to defeat her and save her life twice during the Grand Finale, her stance towards her enemy changes drastically. Korra is able to talk to her about how they are Not So Different and convince her to surrender. Afterwards Kuvira tells her forces to stand down, and she willingly gives herself up. She admits Korra is capable of a greater power than she ever could hope to achieve.