->"''Of course you realize, this means war!''"
-->-- '''WesternAnimation/BugsBunny'''

In a sitcom, one character does something slightly bothersome to another. The other retaliates, but does the first character one better; which the first character tries to top; and so on for the remainder of the episode. At some points it will enlarge with scary speed, in which DisproportionateRetribution is in effect.

Specific variant: TruthTellingSession. Compare to ZanySchemeChicken. CycleOfRevenge is the noncomedic and often bloody version of this trope. Not to be confused with LensmanArmsRace, which is this in an ''actual'' war.

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* The box war episode of ''RozenMaiden''.
* In ''MaisonIkkoku'', new tenant Nikaido says insulting things about the other tenants, leading to a prank war between him and Yotsuya.
* In ''{{Patlabor}}'', The Seven Days of Fire, a civil war between the labor mechanics at Special Vehicles section 2.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In the comic book and various adaptations thereof, Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm of The Comicbook/FantasticFour are involved in an ongoing escalating prank war with each other.
* Ditto with the Human Torch and Spider-Man. Johnny usually ends up the worse of the pair in these confrontations, thanks to Pete's SpiderSense.
* Occasionally happens in Donald Duck comics, between Donald and his neighbour.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:FanWorks]]
* In the ongoing Discworld/sci-fi/crossover saga ''FanFic/SlippingBetweenWorlds'', lord Vetinari is greatly concerned about the Visitors to Discworld. If any of them were to reveal the secrets of their high-technology weaponry to one of the world's powers, whether for ideological or mercenary reasons, he can see the existing balance of power so badly skewed that simmering hostilities and an uneasy peace between finely-balanced enemies could erupt into first local war, then into all-out world war as the Superpowers (Klatch and Ankh-Morpork) are forced to step in to support their allies/client states. As Vetinari's foreign policy relies on keeping the balance of power by ensuring both sides remain equally balanced (through a sort of Mutually Assured Inconvenience), the prospect disturbs him. Hell, he doesn't even want ''Ankh-Morpork'' to have ''gonne'' technology...
* TD's feud with Blueblood in ''[[FanFic/TheNonBronyverse TD the Alicorn Princess]]'' quickly starts to get out of control after Blueblood sets up a machine that pies TD in the face.
* ''FanFic/TheTwilightChild'': The Seven Day Prank War of Righteousness, between Rainbow Dash and Midday, started when Dash presses one of Midday's [[BerserkButton Berserk Buttons]] (which is [[AlwaysSomeoneBetter comparing her to Twilight Sparkle]]). It eventually ends with much of Ponyville covered in paint, and the two of them being dragged away by an ''extremely'' angry Rarity, when the fashion designer has had enough.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''Film/{{Octopussy}}'': [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Orlov Orlov's]] plan to invade Western Europe is [[RenegadeRussian villified]] by the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politburo_of_the_Communist_Party_of_the_Soviet_Union Politburo]]. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Gogol Gogol]] and another official state that the Soviet military is for defending the Motherland.
* The entire plot of ''Film/PennAndTellerGetKilled'' revolves around Creator/PennAndTeller subjecting each other to a series of escalating practical jokes [[spoiler:which eventually causes Teller to shoot Penn and himself]].
* The plot of the movie ''Film/TinMen'' revolves around this after two aluminum siding salesman have a fender bender, and subsequently escalates to taking bats to each other's cars, [[spoiler:seducing the other guy's wife]], and [[spoiler:breaking into his house]].
* ''Film/BrideWars'' had the two friends sabotage each others weddings from sabotaging a dye job until it escalates into having a embarrassing slide show done on the wedding day.
* ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neighbours_%28film%29 Neighbours]]'', Norman [=McLaren=]'s Oscar-winning short film for the National Film Board of Canada, takes this to a disturbing (and not at all humorous) level, which combines with a bizarre type of StopMotion using live actors. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wh4DstK2w_Q Watch it here.]]
* This is the main plotline of the short film ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVFHNgNSH0s Nemesis]]''. The film's protagonist actually specifically requested someone to be [[TheRival his rival]].
* The Creator/LaurelAndHardy short ''Film/BigBusiness'' plays this for hiliarious effect. Stan and Ollie are trying to sell Christmas trees door-to-door. They wind up irritating a homeowner so much that he cuts up their tree. Stan then cuts up the homeowner's doorjamb. This leads to an escalating war of destruction in which Stan and Ollie wreck the homeowner's bungalow, while he in turn annihilates their car.
** In ''[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlIXByXcUHw The Battle of the Century]]'', more and more people get pied and are drawn into the pie fight until over 2,500 people are engaging in a close to medium range mass pie fight.
** In "[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZ_JZBCkqvA Two Tars]]'', more and more people get mad and suffer from road rage until everyone starts wrecking cars and engaging in CarFu.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* In Robert Asprin's ''MythAdventures'' book series, an escalating prank war that began when Garkin (Skeeve's first master) left Aahz with the check at a restaurant resulted in Aahz losing his powers when Garkin used joke powder on him and was killed before he was able to provide an antidote.
* Not really done ''to each other'', but in ''MoreInformationThanYouRequire, the cities of Richmond, VA and Milwaukee, WI are consistently one-upping each other for the title of "Strange Rain Capital of the United States". [[WidgetSeries It's that kind of book.]]
* Happens in AaronAllston's ''[[XWingSeries Wraith Squadron]]'' books. Wes Janson has the talent and inclination... Wedge Antilles has the resources.
* In ''Fleet of the Damned'', Sten and the other cadets get into an escalating water war.
* The first several chapters of ''Literature/TheTwits'' focus entirely on the Twits pulling cruel pranks on each other. Finally the narrator says this has gone on long enough and he wants to move on to a lighter topic.
* The great Proxy Prank War of ''Literature/TheTatamiGalaxy'' started with two guys who were interested in the same woman and has since been passed on through generations of Kyoto University students. By this point, the pranks are highly elaborate and cunningly planned.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The Vegas episode of ''Series/{{Friends}}'', where Ross and Rachel try to humiliate one another.
** Or the episode in which Rachel tries to get revenge on Chandler for accidentally seeing her naked after having stepped out of the shower...and accidentally walks in the wrong target. Come to think of it, ''{{Friends}}'' does this ''a lot''.
* The episode of ''MalcolmInTheMiddle'' which followed a chain of events that started with Malcolm stealing a single blueberry off Reese's plate, and ended with them putting each other in full-body casts.
** While it was only one scene, the incident where a woman hit Lois' car when opening her own car door went from Lois slamming her own door into the woman's car and apologizing (to show the woman how to react when caught doing something like that) to the two women destroying both cars in an impromptu demolition derby may serve as a sort of miniature version.
* The episode of ''JustShootMe'' where Jack, Finch and Eliot make bets about one another is a rare example of a three-way war.
* Escalating prank wars were occasionally seen on ''Series/{{Mash}}''.
* ''Series/{{Cheers}}'' had an ongoing prank war with Gary's Olde Towne Tavern that spanned six seasons.
** Gary even went so far as to [[spoiler:hire the whole city of Boston including everyone at Cheers to convince Sam that he had killed Gary]].
* Bayside High of ''SavedByTheBell'' engaged in a prank war with Valley High.
* A ''ThirdRockFromTheSun'' episode that starts with an annoyed Albright stabbing Dick's Mr. Potato Head doll with pencils. By the time the smoke clears, her car has been tricked out with an expensive subwoofer and lowriders, and Dick is epoxied to his desk.
* On ''Series/{{House}}'', it's usually House and Wilson usually engage in a war of verbal one-upsmanship every episode.
** In the S2 episode "Safe", however, they battle in an ongoing prank war like a couple of overgrown frat boys. House tricks Wilson into doing the dishes House had promised to do, locks him out of their apartment for hours, and puts Wilson's hand in warm water to make him pee himself. Wilson gets the last word by sawing halfway through House's cane, so that it dumps House on his ass in the middle of a crowded hallway - and even House [[ActuallyPrettyFunny can't help but laugh]] (in large part because he was mostly trying to get Wilson to snap out of his funk over a third divorce).
** In "Resignation", House and Wilson dose each other with medication: Wilson slips anti-depressants into House's coffee to cheer him up; House (to test if Wilson's also on meds) slips amphetamine into Wilson's coffee. Honestly, this one is worth watching if only for Robert Sean Leonard's hysterical delivery of "I'm not ''on'' anti-depressants, I'm on ''SPEEED''".
** And in S4's "Alone", Wilson holds House's guitar hostage until he agrees to hire some new fellows. House shows his displeasure by erasing Wilson's [=TiVo=] and moving one of Wilson's cancer patients without telling him. While Wilson is terrible at keeping his identity as the guitar-napper secret (he sends House ransom notes, but leaves the cut-up newspaper on his desk, where he knows House will look..and ''tries to read it'' while House is in the room), House does eventually interview for a new team. Of course, Wilson ''wanted'' House to know he took the guitar. The faking it was only for his own amusement.
*** Made even funnier by the fact that throughout the entire episode, both House and Wilson refer to the guitar as being "guitar-napped" but the cancer patient as being "stolen."
** In the episode ''Last Temptation'', House and Wilson have a bet as to who can keep a live chicken in their office the longest without hospital security catching on. Throughout the episode, we see each's increasingly bizarre attempts to expose the other.
* An episode of ''Series/{{Scrubs}}'' saw Dr. Cox and Turk both trying to get rid of an annoying hypochondriac with fake arm pain. There is a montage of each of them writing down increasingly rare diagnoses on the patient's chart as he is turfed from surgery to medical and back again, until Dr. Cox finally writes down a disease that can only be fixed by surgery. Dr. Cox believes he's won the war... until he's told that Turk actually ''gave the patient unnecessary surgery.'' [[spoiler:Of course the surgery was faked as Turk's [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome final strike]] in the war.]]
* ''BoyMeetsWorld'''s final season had a two-parter in which a prank-off escalated into an all-out knock-down drag-out fight. Feelings were hurt, sides were taken, there was even a ''bear'' involved. It took the pure-hearted wisdom of childlike [[TheDitz ditz]] Eric Matthews to put a stop to the madness.
* An episode of ''NightCourt'' focused almost entirely on a prank war between Harry and a younger judge who was every bit the prankster he was. Some of the highlights included Dan Fielding being chased down the hall by a giant 8-ball, Harry's bench being unwittingly shattered by his gavel (after an ''entire night'' of cases had finished) and the rival prankster's robe being rigged with a giant inflatable balloon trapping him. The episode ended with Harry about to puncture said balloon.
* In an episode of ''TheWestWing'', Charlie informed C.J. that she would have to sign out a copy of the President's daily schedule as it had been leaked with increasing regularity. In response to his slightly pompous way of informing her, C.J. mischievously incorrectly filed the report away in the wrong cabinet. The resulting prank war ended with Charlie loosening all the bolts on C.J.'s desk.
* ''Series/TheAdventuresOfPeteAndPete'' had an episode entitled "Apocalypse Pete", which starts over a race...between Petes' dad and a neighbor using an R/C car. The height of the war sees both sides using technology that [[FamilyFriendlyFirearms neither one of them could conceivably afford...or get a hold of.]]
** Mr. Wrigley had all of Little Pete's resources at his disposal, not to mention [[WorldsStrongestMan Artie]]; it's only Mr. Hickle's side that's [[FamilyFriendlyFirearms confusing]].
* In both versions of ''TheOffice'', the annoying behavior of Gareth/Dwight leads to Tim/Jim playing pranks on them.
* In ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'', Dean and Sam have a prank war as the B plot of the episode "Hell House." At the end, they both pull (rather vicious) independent pranks on a pair of arrogant teens that had been bugging them for the episode, and calling their truce with each other. For the next 100 miles, at least.
* In an episode of ''Series/{{NCIS}}'', Ziva pulls the classic marker on the binoculars gag on Tony. He assures her that he won't be escalating anything. She spends the rest of the episode getting increasingly paranoid over what he might do, while he pays no attention to it. [[spoiler:In the final scene, after she has accepted that nothing is going to happen, her chair collapses when she tries to sit down.]]
* The modus operandi for any fight between Serena and Blair on ''Series/GossipGirl''.
** Could also apply for Blair and Chuck, and their half-a-season long fight over who should be the first to say "I love you". Continues even after they've decided to just let it be for now, since they then start to argue over who really knows the other best...
** And the fight between Jenny and Blair. And the fight between Blair and the teacher who gave her a B. Let's face it, this is ''Blair's'' modus operandi - you'd think people would just figure out that pissing her off is a bad idea unless you ''want'' to take it that far.
* Several ''Series/DeadliestCatch'' captains (most notably the Hilstrand brothers) pull successively elaborate pranks using the boats' fishing lines. If I recall correctly, it went: tying bags of flour to the line to bomb the crew; tying a ''porta-potty'' to the line; the grand finale was ''tying a '''[[CrazyAwesome truck]]''' onto the line''. Even the victim was [[MagnificentBastard impressed]] by that.
** The sequel was ''Northwestern'' Jake stealing one of the Hilstrand's beloved USA jackets, then being [[TooDumbToLive dumb enough]] to brag about it on camera so the ''Time Bandit'' crew ''hung and later [[KillItWithFire burned]] him in effigy'' (they claimed they burned it just to get rid of the effigy's ''Northwestern'' sweatshirt, which they felt was jinxing them).
** Most recently the captain and crew of one of the newer boats on the show graffitied the crane on the ''Time Bandit''. How did the Hilstrands retaliate? By buying over 1,000 eggs, calling in reinforcements from the ''Northwestern'' and another boat, and then egging the ever-loving hell out of the culprit's boat.
** The same season as the graffiti/egging incident, the Hilstrands released over 20 Chinese lanterns upwind of the ''Northwestern'', turning off their ship's lights and GPS so the ''Northwestern'' wouldn't see the ''Time Bandit''. When Captain Sig saw the lights, he freaked out, because he couldn't figure out what was going on. It wasn't until the Hilstrands called the ''Northwestern'' up and turned their lights back on that Sig realized he'd been pranked. During the following opilio crab season, Sig plotted his revenge on the brothers by stocking a bunch of fireworks on board the ship. At the end of the season, he intercepted the ''Time Bandit'', and the crew of the ''Northwestern'' unleashed a volley of rockets at the Hilstrands' ship. Of course, the Hilstrands (as always) had their own stock of fireworks aboard, and returned fire. The fireworks frenzy between the two ships continued, and much fun was had by all.
* The ''Series/MagnumPI'' episode "Paper War" pushes the usual format of "Magnum solves a crime" into a B-plot to focus almost entirely on an increasingly petty prank war between Magnum and Higgins.
* ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'' has Sheldon and Raj engaging in this in "The Hot Troll Deviation" episode of season 4.
** Before that was Sheldon and Penny in the season 2 episode "The Panty Piņata Polorization". Sheldon gave Penny her second strike for touching his food (the first was sending a WebOriginal/LOLCats email) and she retaliated by sitting in [[ThisIsMyChair his spot]]. And then it was on.
*** And then Sheldon and Howard have one in the season 6 episode "The Parking Spot Escalation".
* Jim and his brother-in-law Andy from ''Series/AccordingToJim'' do this... ''over a grill''. In two separate episodes, to boot.
* ''Series/{{Yeralash}}'' has an episode based on that. First, boys push each other. Then, one calls for his brother. Ends up with a nuclear war.
* ''Series/{{Community}}'' has Abed embarks on one of these after being messed with by Troy, acting as an alien. [[spoiler: Subverted in that Troy isn't fooled by Abed's pranks, but ''is'' increasingly concerned by Abed's ridiculously elaborate attempts.]]
* One HalloweenEpisode of ''HomeImprovement'' had all the characters try to out-prank each other.
* Morgan and Reid have a prank war in the ''Series/CriminalMinds'' episode "Painless". Can be seen [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5ZGdvHNhWc here]]. Remember children, BewareTheNiceOnes.
* ''Series/ThirtyRock'': The writers play a prank on new cast member Danny, he retaliates and Jack gets involved. A few tricks and the revalation of a college secret society later, Jack ends the war with a video of himself drinking wine in Frank's mother's bedroom.
-->'''Jack''': Now, I'm a gentleman. I'll say goodbye and leave right away. But if I have to do this again, you won't enjoy the next tape. YourMom might...
-->'''Frank''': Pranksmen. Stand down.
* ''Series/TopGear'': A frequent occurrence, especially on the presenters overseas trips, where any act of smugness is frequently retaliated against.
** In India, Clarkson and Hammond find that the air conditioning in May's car still works, so they decide out of "fairness" it needs to be broken. May retaliates by setting the heater in Clarkson's car onto full and pulling the knob out, and setting Hammond's seat all the way forward and breaking the adjuster. They get him back further by wiring the brakes of May's car to his horn, causing him to let out a blast every time he tries to slow down.
** During their search for the Nile, May breaks the skid plate on his low-slung car. He fashions a new one from one of Clarkson's car doors without Clarkson's permission. When Clarkson finds out, he takes a patch for him door from May's bonnet. May responds by stealing a piece from Hammond's bonnet. Hammond responds by stealing the toilet seat (ItMakesSenseInContext.) from Clarkson's car... By the time the trip is finished, each car almost has more bits from the other cars than their own original parts.
* An episode of ''{{Zoey 101}}'' had the boys and the girls engage in one. This came to a head when the girls place a pair of panties on a statue of the founder...[[FromBadToWorse while his son came to visit no less]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* {{Subverted|Trope}} in ''ComicStrip/BeetleBailey'', eventually. When going out for a three-day holiday, Beetle slaps Sarge on the back just before leaving. He runs after him and whacks him with a chair. After a trashcan thrown from a roof and ''dynamite'', when Beetle is pointing at Sarge with an enormous artillery piece of some sort, Sarge tells him to wait and points out that while what they're doing is fun and all, Beetle should perhaps consider what kind of shape he wants to be in for his holiday.
* ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'' featured one of these with water fights. Calvin's use of a water pistol merits Hobbes hitting him with a water balloon. Just as Calvin is getting out the hose, Hobbes walks around the corner with a wading pool...
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* The "[[SitcomArchNemesis feud]]" between Wrestling/CMPunk and [[Wrestling/HunterJohnston Delirious]] in IWA Mid-South was as much about who could most consistently prank and embarrass the other as it was about who could win the most matches.[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'', the great dragons Dunkelzahn and Alamais spent 30-odd years exchanging the same fruitcake on alternate Christmases. The specifics aren't given, but the implication is that the 'exchange' required each dragon to ''somehow'' give the fruitcake to the other without being caught, like a game of tag. The game was put on hold following Alamais FakingTheDead in the mid 2050s and stopped when Dunkelzahn was KilledOffForReal in 2057. [[{{Troll}} Naturally he dedicated a place in his will for the fruitcake's return, ousting Alamais in the process]].[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* One of ''VideoGame/{{Worms}} 2'''s introductory movies is an escalating war between two worms showing off ever deadlier weapons, starting with standard weaponry, then moving into missile tanks with more and more missiles on each one. Finally the second worm brings out a vehicle which casts a giant shadow and the first one screams. It turns out to be a tank-mounted hammer the size of the Eiffel Tower. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFfxld5sk0U Smoosh!]]
* ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'''s [[ColdSniper Sniper]] and [[MagnificentBastard Spy]] were engaged in this (their updates were released at the same time, so most of the new gear is designed for fighting each other.) Brief synopsis: The Spy is always backstabbing the Sniper, so the Sniper taped a car battery to a tribal shield and electrocuted the Spy. Then, it turns out the Spy had a [[ShoePhone watch]] that caused him to cloak and feign death when he took damage. Then the Sniper's new weapon turned out to be... [[RefugeInAudacity a jar of his own piss that shorts out cloaking devices.]]
* In ''VisualNovel/{{Kanon}}'' Makoto and Yuuichi have one of these going on... unfortunately, the term 'stealth' is apparently [[WithCatlikeTread not part of her vocabulary]], so whenever she tries something it always backfires. Makoto is essentially in an escalating war with ''herself''.
* In ''Videogame/MassEffect2'' Joker and EDI, an artificial intelligence, end up in one of these. First Joker mutes her until his thumb breaks[[note]]he has a brittle bone disease so this isn't as hard as it sounds[[/note]], so she makes his chair spin, so he puts grease on her camera lenses, and so forth.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* The ''Webcomic/{{Insecticomics}}'' routinely has one of these between the Insecticons and Vector Prime.
* Rose Lalonde in ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' is engaged in an escalating war of passive aggression with her Mother (or so she thinks, anyway).
** This was the original intention (at least, before the kids [[GameBreaker broke the]] [[SequenceBreaking game]] beyond repair) of the war inside Skaia. They share genetic engineering facilities used specifically to raise the stakes and add more pieces to the Battlefield, so that the players have some impetus to beat the game quickly.
-->[[color:gray:CG: THE VEIL IS KIND OF LIKE NEUTRAL GROUND FOR THE KINGDOMS, LIKE OUR PLANETS.]]
-->[[color:gray:CG: SOME PLACES ARE USED TO GENETICALLY ENGINEER SOLDIERS AND AGENTS FOR THE TWO SIDES.]]
-->[[color:gray:CG: USING GENETIC MATERIAL FROM THE EXOTIC MENAGERIE OF CHESS PIECES ON THE BATTLEFIELD.]]
-->[[color:gray:CG: TO HELP FUEL THE WAR AND KEEP RAISING THE STAKES.]]
** This also happened among the trolls. To summarize, Tavros became crippled because of Vriska, so as revenge Aradia tormented Vriska with the ghosts of the people she'd killed. Vriska in response arranged for Aradia to be killed by Sollux using her mind control, who, just to rub salt in the wound, she had a crush on. Terezi then set up Vriska to lose her arm and eye when her 8 ball exploded in her face, and in retaliation Vriska had Terezi blinded. Terezi and Vriska finally agreed to a truce to settle this, but then Aradia came back as a robot and kills Vriska, though DeathIsCheap so it doesn't really stick and Vriska ascends to God Tier and kills Tavros, and ''then'' Terezi and Vriska have their final confrontation, wherein Terezi kills Vriska and ends the war. Whew.
* The campus whiteboard war in ''Webcomic/MacHall''. Unfortunately, the only one we see involved someone picking a fight with [[HeroicComedicSociopath Drew]]. [[http://machall.com/view.php?date=2001-11-29 The result wasn't pretty.]]
* Tagger in ''Webcomic/NipAndTuck'' tried to [[BreakTheHaughty loosen up a new student]]. HilarityEnsues.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* The ''Wiki/SCPFoundation'''s Great Researcher Prank War of '09, caused by various personnel vying for possession of [[http://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/scp-050 SCP-050]], a statue which follows whomever demonstrates themselves to be "the cleverest".
* [[http://www.youtube.com/user/BaratsAndBereta Barats and Bereta]] use this trope quite a bit in their videos:
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOTBWlt0-Y0#movie_player Windward Reports: Cubicle War 2006]] brings this trope to the office.
** The legendary [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fad6eZTDikA Douche Off]]
** They also have a video showing escalating [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cS46WpexBJ0 April Fools pranks over the years]]
* WhateleyUniverse example: as of the winter term at SuperheroSchool Whateley Academy, Beltane and Thorn are having an Escalating War of pranks. Since both have the power of creating and manipulating ectoplasm, the pranks are getting out of hand.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Some ''WesternAnimation/TomAndJerry'' cartoons have this dynamic: one character will do something minor (sometimes even inadvertently) to irritate the other at the beginning, and then it's battle on.
* A common feature of [[ClassicDisneyShorts Donald Duck]] shorts, particularly those co-starring Chip 'n Dale.
* This has been the basis of the relationship between Kyle and Cartman of ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' for over 15 years. As the seasons progress, what were verbal volley of insults has escalated to levels including Cartman infecting Kyle with his HIV virus to Kyle convincing Cartman to go to Somalia as certain death.
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' mentioned a feud with Shelbyville but only shows the final prank.
-->'''Lisa''': What's so special about this game anyway? It's just another chapter in the pointless rivalry between Springfield and Shelbyville. They built a mini-mall, so we built a bigger mini-mall. They made the world's largest pizza, so we burnt down their city hall.\\
'''Homer''': Heh heh heh. Yeah, they swore they'd get us back by spiking our water supply. But they didn't have the guts.\\
'''Marge''' ''(drinks a glass of water and then sees the walls start to run)'': Ooooh. The walls are melting again. ''(giggles)''
** An episode of [[ShowWithinAShow Itchy & Scratchy]] features this trope with each character pulling out bigger and bigger handguns at each other. In the end the guns are the size of the Earth.
* The ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom'' episode "Eye For An Eye" does a rather sinister take on this trope with the rivarly between Danny and EvilCounterpart Vlad. It starts with Danny tricking the local equivalent of TheMenInBlack to raid Vlad's mansion, continues to Vlad [[MagnificentBastard electing himself mayor]], and ends with a brutal fight between the two that Danny barely manages to make a tie, with the revelation that Vlad's motives have shifted from borderline-sympathetic to outright-megalomaniacal.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers''. The guild of calamitous intent doesn't take kindly to murder. Dr. Girlfriend said it best: "Then the guild steps up ''their'' game. [[Film/TheUntouchables If you throw a rock, they throw a knife]]. You throw a knife, [[DisproportionateRetribution they come to your house when you're sleeping and murder your family.]]"
* Artha and Moordyrd do this in the ''WesternAnimation/DragonBooster'' episode "Pride Of The Hero." It starts with them getting into a fight at the racetrack, this soon escalates to Artha talking Moordyrd into riding Beau, then their little feud gets out of control when Moordyrd uses a bonemark on Beau. The episode ends with both Artha and Moordyrd realizing their mistakes or as Artha puts it, "Think about that, I will".
* WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck and [[EvilTwin Negaduck]] do this almost accidentally in the episode "Disguise the Limit," when Darkwing is momentarily transformed into a duplicate of Negaduck (I know, it makes my head hurt too) and the two of them keep pulling larger and larger weapons on each other.
* Shows up in many of the ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' classics. For instance, ''Rabbit of Seville'', where Characters/BugsBunny and Elmer Fudd continually pull out bigger guns to point at each other. Or Daffy as Duck Dodgers, claiming Planet X for its supply of the shaving cream atom, and getting into an escalating war over it with Marvin the Martian. Let's just say the results were not pretty, and widely considered something of a parody of the unwinnable nature of nuclear war, something of a worry at the time.
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'': The Peter/Chicken fights were over an expired coupon.
** In the ''Film/BackToTheFuture'' parody episode "Meet the Quagmires", we see that it may have started even earlier, when Peter bumped into the Chicken at the dance.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheFlintstones'' features Fred playing countless practical jokes on Barney, who then comes back with a "counterfeiting scheme" (using money he won in a contest). This goes on until both get in trouble with the Mob, only to realize Wilma and Betty were behind the whole thing, in order to get their husbands to call off the endless pranking.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TinyToonAdventuresHowISpentMyVacation'', Buster Bunny starts a water fight with Babs. By the end, Babs opens a dam, then Buster triggers a massive tsunami, and Acme Acres ends up underwater.
-->'''Babs:''' [[LampshadeHanging I may have gone too far.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', "Fall Weather Friends''. Applejack and Rainbow Dash get overly competitive going into the annual Running of the Leaves. When Rainbow Dash (wrongly) suspects Applejack of cheating, it triggers an escalating war of [[WatchOutForThatTree interference]] and [[RoadSignReversal misdirection]] that culminates in a BigBallOfViolence that carries them over the finish line, where [[DickDastardlyStopsToCheat the both of them end up coming jointly dead last]].
* Bobby and Luanne get in an escalating prank war in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/KingOfTheHill'', which eventually leads to Luanne convincing Bobby that he got her pregnant. Hank and his friends assist Luanne by arranging a fake ShotgunWedding . . . then turn the prank back on Luanne by telling her the wedding was real.
* Dan's feud with the Lemonade Stand Gang in ''WesternAnimation/DanVs.'', ''Dan Vs The Lemonade Stand Gang''. It starts with the Lemonade Stand Gang stealing Dan's parking space, strong-arming him and Chris into buying overpriced lemonade, and throwing a lemon with a threat written on it through Dan's window. Dan responds by making Chris dress up as a monster and break into the ringleader's house -- it goes horribly wrong of course. The Gang goes on to outright ''mug'' Chris and Dan for their wallets. Dan and Chris wreck their bicycles with an axe. The Gang wrecks Chris' ''car''. At this point Elise is prepared to ship the Gang to a Korean weapons factory where they would never be heard from again. Chris puts a stop to this insanity and they defeat the gang by showing their parents proof of their crimes.
* ''WesternAnimation/TazMania'': "War and Pieces" consists entirely of an escalating war between Taz and Molly that begins when Molly's loud music causes Taz to drop his sandwich, and he retaliates by eating her [=CDs=].
* There's an old PinkPanther cartoon which escalates from a non-returned lawnmower to a full on shooting war, under the influence of an unseen voice that turns out to be the devil.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheCatCameBack'' could be seen as this. Mr. Johnson's attempts to get rid of the cat get increasingly over-the-top, and every time the cat comes back, it causes more and more damage to Mr. Johnson's house.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* There was a news story about a [[http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/pants.asp prank war]] between two brothers-in-law who kept exchanging the same old ratty pair of pants between them for Christmas. The methods they used for "wrapping" the pants became more and more outrageous over the years--to the point where the pants were being embedded within hundreds of kilograms of welded-together copper piping one year and then placed in a car that was filled with cement the next. Alas, the pants were destroyed when a packaging scheme went awry.
* One more real-life example, though farcical: ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' actors NathanFillion and Jewel Staite engaged in a "war of birds". Each came up with more and more creative ways to [[FlippingTheBird flip the other off]]. Some people believe Jewel won the contest at Comic-Con 2005, when she got the entire audience at the ''Film/{{Serenity}}'' panel to flip Nathan off.
* One could say the UsefulNotes/ColdWar.
** At least in the first half. The fact that it (fortunately) remained "cold" for the most part kinda puts a crimp on the "escalating" part.
** How about the Space Race?
** This is why the policy of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_retaliation massive retaliation]] (nuking the shit out of the CCCP in the event of a US-CCCP war, no matter how limited or minor) was replaced by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flexible_response flexible response]] (doing things ''other than'' nuking the shit out them). The first part of this involved building up their conventional military to the point where it might be strong enough to take on the Soviet military ''without'' tossing nukes around like candy. The second involved ''not'' [[DisproportionateRetribution glassing the entire Soviet Union in response to just one Soviet nuclear strike]], but instead declaring that they would respond tit-for-tat (St Petersburg for Detroit was a classic example). Through these policis they hoped to avoid [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt a nuclear]] [[http://www.stardestroyer.net/Strategy/Basic/Priorities.html 'total war']] in the event of some kind of confrontation [[ANuclearError or even a Soviet accident]].
* Two members of thew on College Humor have been having an [[http://www.collegehumor.com/tag:prank-war/videos escalating prank war]] going on for some time now. It started out innocently enough ([[http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1759697 innocent being a very relative term]] (not quite safe for work)), but at the time of writing, the latest prank involves guy A making guy B's girlfriend think that guy B was proposing to her. On the giant screen at a Yankees game. [[http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1774718 Said girlfriend was not pleased.]]
** Streeter (Guy B) got back at Amir (Guy A) by making him think he'd won $500,000 by making a blindfolded half-court shot at a University of Maryland basketball game. He did this by having the crowd cheer as loudly as possible no matter how bad Amir's shot was. Amir's shot was wide left, the crowd screamed, he went crazy and then Streeter walked onto the court, in disguise, to give Amir his check. Then the disguise came off.
*** Guy B went skydiving, attached to a instructor, of course. [[MoralEventHorizon Guy A paid the instructor to make it look like they were going to plummet to their inevitable deaths.]] They even rigged the gear to make it look like the ripcord went straight off without triggering the parachute.
* [[http://deanhunt.com/advert-wars/ This]] famous series of car ads.
* [[http://media.ebaumsworld.com/mediaFiles/picture/655389/80604420.jpg This]] rather amusing Church sign debate.
** It's a prank made with the [[http://www.churchsigngenerator.com Church Sign Generator]]. Doesn't make it any less funny, though.
* There was a story about four shops (or other kinds of service) located on the same street. One day, the first of them put up a sign declaring itself to have the best wares (or service) in the city. The second responded by declaring itself the best in the whole country. The third one soon followed by calling itself the best in the world. Then, the fourth one put up a sign saying it's the best on this street.
[[/folder]]

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