->''"Hey, we never did settle who's the Fastest Man Alive..."''
-->-- '''Franchise/TheFlash''', ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'', "Speed Demons"

When CastSpeciation isn't strict enough, or characters just have vaguely similar amounts of damn near ''anything'', inevitable comparisons will be drawn between them. This might even get acknowledged by the writers and a subsequent episode will pit their abilities against each other. Although they get acknowledged, villains tend to lose. The audience may find it a little convenient, but they've been seasoned to expect that.

In contrast, heroes of equal footing are harder to write for; it's safer to concede a tie, or set up a situation which distracts or prevents a clear-cut judgement. Often, if the contest is interrupted at the start of the episode, the show will [[LightheartedRematch set it all up again at the end]] but [[InterruptedByTheEnd fade to credits before it starts up again]]. See LeftHanging and NoEnding. LetsYouAndHimFight is a convenient (and thus overused) set up because the heroes can simply identify the real bad guy before a winner can be decided.

While this is usually just a dramatic device, especially for characters who are StrongAsTheyNeedToBe, a lot of ''fans'' [[SeriousBusiness take this much more seriously]], spawning the infamous {{fanwank}}y and subjectivity-filled ''fight threads'' in online discussions.

See also UltimateShowdownOfUltimateDestiny. If it's a moral argument that gets evaded rather than a physical fight, that goes under DebateAndSwitch.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* An omake in ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' has Mustang's team speculating as to who would win in a fight - [[PersonOfMassDestruction the Colonel]], or [[PintSizedPowerhouse Ed]]. This eventually leads to said fight, and the omake was adapted into the [[Anime/FullmetalAlchemist 2003 anime]]. [[spoiler:Mustang [[AvertedTrope wipes the floor with Ed]] in both versions.]]
* At the end of the Battle City arc in ''Anime/YuGiOh'', Yugi and Jounouchi begin a duel to resolve the question raised by their previously unresolved duel, which Yugi had thrown to save Jounouchi's life. The episode ends before the first card is played, leaving it unresolved, though the fact that Jounouchi has his Red Eyes Black Dragon back in the next arc would suggest that he indeed won.
* The UltimateShowdownOfUltimateDestiny [[GrandFinale Series Finale]] of ''Anime/YuGiOhGX'' features Judai vs Yugi. However, the cards in play heavily suggest that [[spoiler:Judai]] lost, but on his own terms. And the important part was that he was finally having fun with the game again anyway.
* In ''Anime/YuGiOhTheDarkSideOfDimensions'', Yugi and Kaiba's duel is inconclusive, with Yugi apparently wiping him out, Kaiba somehow hanging on, and Aigami interrupting it before it can conclude. [[spoiler:The movie also ends just before Kaiba and Atem duel in the afterlife.]]
* ''Anime/VariableGeo'' builds up the long awaited showdown [[FriendlyRivalry between]] [[ChildhoodFriends Yuka and Satomi]], for the V.G. Tournament's championship bout. Except it immediately cuts the end credits right as the match begins.
* Ami and Michiru in ''Anime/SailorMoon'', who happen to have water based abilities, held a swimming race at the start of the episode. Michiru is [[IneffectualLoner is offended]] and rude when its heavily implied Ami deliberately slowed down to result in a tie. Haruka chides Michiru for being over-competitive, as Ami just wanted to be friends. The two start a new one at the end of the episode, though Michiru never does actually apologize or [[StatusQuoIsGod reference the situation ever again]].
* The entire final episode of ''[[Anime/SCryed s-CRY-ed]]'' is a continuation of the fight between the two main characters, Kazuma and Ryuho, which had been interrupted on several different occasions. The second-to-[[DistantFinale last]] scene of the episode (and the series) has both characters severely injured. It is never explicitly stated who won the fight, although it is popularly believed that [[spoiler:Kazuma triumphed based on the fist made by the victor (which is the only thing we see, and in silhouette so that we can't be absolutely sure whether those are Kazuma's scars)]].
* ''Franchise/LyricalNanoha'':
** Subverted in ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaAs''. Fate and Signum's battles were always interrupted with neither one getting an upper-hand, and on the last episode, the two promised one another to have a rematch sometime in the future to finally decide the better fighter. Thus, the season ends with the question of who's stronger left unanswered, right? Well, while that was the last ''anime'' episode of the season, there was still one [[AllThereInTheManual Sound Stage episode left]], and it revealed that those two had more than one rematch, with Signum kicking Fate's ass in the vast majority of them.
** In a straighter example, a [[ComicBookAdaptation supplementary manga chapter of]] ''[[Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaStrikers StrikerS]]'' had Signum mentioning a combat tactics exhibition she had with Nanoha which quickly escalated into a bloody brawl. She mentions that the fight ended without a conclusion. This same chapter also involved everyone being compared, trying to determine who was the strongest. No actual fights occurred, thanks to Nanoha redirecting their curiosity with a LogicBomb.
** And in a special ''[[Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaStrikers StrikerS]]'' chapter released a few years later and [[TimeSkip set a few years later]], Nanoha and Signum get a rematch in another TSAB sponsored event, this time, with the fight shown in full. It began with the two of them fighting with just the basics before going at it with everything they got for the final minutes. [[spoiler:It ends in a draw after both of their last attacks hit home]]. However neither Signum's new Unison or Nanoha's Starlight Breaker (or higher Blaster system levels) are used just to stir things a little more.
** Also at the end of ''[[Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaStrikers StrikerS]]'', Captains vs. Forwards grand royale and we never saw it, bummer.
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'':
** Averted with the first series ending, when a fight between Naruto and Sasuke (and NOT a friendly one either) ends with [[spoiler:Sasuke knocking Naruto out]]. Though there's is much FanWank over whether it is because the winner is "better" or because his opponent pulled his attack. Regardless, in their next encounter [[spoiler:Sasuke]]'s superiority is firmly established.
** Played sort of straight on two later occasions: first when Suigetsu and Kisame decide to fight while [[spoiler:Itachi and Sasuke are fighting 1-on-1]], which is both completely off-screen and turned out to have been interrupted, '''but''' Sasuke tells Suigetsu that he's not strong enough yet. Second, when the fight between Sasuke and [[spoiler:the Raikage]] is interrupted by [[spoiler:Gaara]] stopping an attack by [[spoiler:the Raikage]] that would kill Sasuke but [[TakingYouWithMe get himself killed shortly thereafter]], and Sasuke exits by causing a cave-in. The anime avoids the former by showing that before being interrupted Kisame would easily take an advantage (as Sasuke had assumed), because Suigetsu's ability to [[BlobMonster turn into water to avoid damage]] is useless against Kisame, as he can simply [[EnergyAbsorption use Samehada to suck up his chakra anyway]].
* Averted in the manga of ''Manga/YakitateJapan''. In the space between two [[SeriousBusiness international]] {{Cooking Duel}}s, the members of the Japanese team decide to have a practice battle between themselves. But then, a message arrives saying that the next duel has been hurried and is gonna start right away.
* This happened to Jushiro Ukitake from ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' twice. One was the battle he and Shunsui Kyoraku had against Head Captain Yamamoto. Supposedly, they were two of the first to become captains and were chosen by Yamamoto himself, but we never get to see how powerful they are in comparison because the episode ends, and by the next episode [[spoiler: Aizen's treachery is revealed, and they stop fighting each other to fight the real BigBad]]. Though, the fact that they could hold their own against the man who made Nanao faint just by ''looking'' at her is saying something. The other was when his Lieutenant Kaien Shiba was possessed by a hollow, and Ukitake said he would destroy Kaien's body to destroy the hollow inside and save Kaien's soul, but he collapsed from an attack of his illness before the first blow was exchanged. [[spoiler: It's a little different though, in that Kaien ''dies'' afterward by Rukia's hand.]]
** The Fake Karakura Town arc kind of remedies this, slightly, until Ukitake is impaled by Wonderweiss. [[TemptingFate Just]] after telling Kyoraku he's well enough to fight, and defending his mate from Starrk. Kyoraku and Yamamoto have been pulled well out of Informed Ability territory as Combat Pragmatists of differing kinds.
** The anime and manga also likes to tease at Byakuya VS. Kenpachi. Neither has had an all out battle with each other, and both are pretty much counterparts to the other. The briefly fight in a filler arc, but it's inconclusive, as Byakuya leaves. Canonically, they ALMOST fight for real, but are interrupted by Yammy, and then decide to focus on kicking the crap outta him.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'': The Strawhat Pirates are occasionally set up to determine who's the strongest of them (though, the captain is usually considered to be, but earlier Zoro was quite close to him) Anyway, none of them were conclusive so far.
** A particularly humorous example is Luffy and Zoro's fight, caused by a misunderstanding. After brawling for a bit they charge at each other...and are then both punched out by Nami, who tells them to knock it off.
** The fact that the duel between [[spoiler: Luffy and Usopp]] actually played out to the end was a surprising aversion, given how [[SuperWeight horribly mismatched]] [[CurbStompBattle the combatants were.]] Of course, the ''other'' surprise of the fight was that [[spoiler: Usopp]] could give his monstrously-powerful opponent a run for his money.
** It happens multiple times during the Marineford arc, with combatants breaking off off panel (Jinbei vs Gecko Moria, Ivankov vs Kuma, Crocodile vs Doflamingo, Curiel vs Gecko Moria)
*** Averted in the anime version of Marineford. Due to AdaptationExpansion, the fights end much more conclusively, with Jinbei defeating Moria, then losing to Hawkeye. Due to the chaos, winners and losers are still separated before a finishing blow, but the victor is made clear.
* ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'' appears to have one of these between Jack Rakan and Nagi Springfield, although considering that [[BoisterousBruiser Jack]] is the one telling the story, and Nagi was considered the WorldsStrongestMan, it might be a case of UnreliableNarrator.
** Negi and Kotaro seem to have one of these going: Negi narrowly defeated Kotaro in their first battle, and ever since then they've had a number of sparring and training matches, with no clear victor. [[spoiler: Although once Negi starts training in BlackMagic, Kotaro himself thinks Negi would win.]]
* ''Manga/FairyTail''
*** We're told that Erza can defeat Natsu easily. When they agree to a match, they're both prepared to give it their all, with the crowd gathered around excitedly. The match is then broken up by more powerful magicians to arrest Erza. When Natsu wants to have their battle afterwards, Erza says she's tired and doesn't want to fight. Natsu attacks her anyways. [[spoiler: She takes him out with a single punch.]]
** A rather funny version happens in a bonus chapter after a TournamentArc: the two guild's two teams that competed in the game figure they need a way to decide which is the strongest, seemingly setting up a fight between Erza and Laxus. Before ''the end of the first page'' we find out this is "decided" based on a game of rock-paper-scissors (Erza loses).
* Shortly after Dororo's introduction in the ''Manga/SgtFrog'' manga, Giroro tries to [[MurderTheHypotenuse take out]] [[SchoolgirlLesbians Koyuki]], unaware of her relationship with Dororo. Though Dororo is reluctant, it quickly becomes clear he can't go easy on his friend; fortunately, Natsumi interrupts before either one lands a decisive blow.
* In ''Anime/GundamBuildFighters'', heroes Sei and Reiji swear to have a decisive showdown with their FriendlyRival Yuuki Tatsuya in the World Tournament. [[spoiler:This gets wrecked in episode 24, since Yuuki (as the 3rd Meijin Kawaguchi is placed under MindControl. In the final episode, Reiji says that fight didn't count, and challenges Yuuki to a real final battle -- but that fight ends inconclusively too, since the destruction of the crystal that created the Plavsky particles means the Gunpla Battle machine shuts down in the middle of the fight. More important than the actual resolution, though, is the fact that the brief fight shows that Sei's piloting skills have gone from terrible to world-class, demonstrated by the fact that he was just about to land a decisive blow on Yuuki's [[Anime/MobileSuitGundam00 Exia]] just before the machine shut down.]]
* In Toei's ''Anime/YuGiOhFirstAnimeSeries'', Yugi and Kaiba's first duel is reworked into a draw so neither side wins.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Franchise/{{Batman}} can win against many opponents, including against ''Superman himself,'' on account of him being so CrazyPrepared. Provided he knows who he's up against and he has a little time, he can work out a way to beat his opponent. No exceptions.
** There is a legend that in the late '80s DC had a memo posted in the editors offices that indicated that anyone with their own comic could defeat Batman ''once'' and ''only in their own comic'', and only if he was surprised. Beyond that there was said to be a list of 5 characters that could beat a prepared Batman in his comic but that these battles were to be saved for big events only. This is because in Batman's comic, people are used to him being awesome. He doesn't need to be a ''MemeticBadass'' during these times. However, it's always nice to remind people in other comics just how awesome Batman really is.
*** Interestingly, Batman ''has'' been defeated, repeatedly, in his own comic. Specifically, [[{{ComicBook/Knightfall}} the first time he fought Bane]], he was absolutely destroyed. In any case, it took a while following the 1960s TV series (where, by structure, he was captured and put in a death-trap at the end of every episode) to rebuild to the idea that the guy with the shark repellent might have a chance against a living god.
** While it's not strictly canon, we do get to see Batman and Superman actually go at it in ''ComicBook/BatmanTheDarkKnightReturns''. The aged Batman uses x-ray activated homing missiles, a powered exoskeleton, sonic scramblers, acid-to-the-face, the tank version of the Batmobile (driven by Robin), a [[CrazyPrepared synthesized kryptonite]] arrow (fired by the one armed Green Arrow), and then is helped by the Sun (source of Superman's power) being blotted out thanks to a recent nuclear blast (that Superman was caught in and not yet recovered from). [[spoiler: In the moment of victory, Batman's heart gives out and Superman wins by default]].
---> (Batman's internal monologue): It's been far too long since you knew what it was to be human, Clark, to be vulnerable. I want you to remember this moment with my hands around your throat. I want you to remember the MAN who beat you.
** In ''ComicBook/TheDarkKnightStrikesAgain'', the fight in its predecessor is reduced to a CurbStompBattle over three or four pages, where Superman doesn't have a chance, to the point of mockery.
** We get to see Batman kick the alien out of Superman with nothing but a Kryptonite ring [[CrazyPrepared he always carries]] in ''Hush.'' He doesn't actually win. He just keeps Superman occupied until [[spoiler: Catwoman can threaten Lois and break Poison Ivy's hold over him.]] He states that he could tell that the S-man was holding back unconsciously because it's such a deeply ingrained characteristic to not hurt people. When he's actually under the influence of [[spoiler:Max Lord]], he puts Batman into traction.
** Despite at least 3 chances to have seen an outcome, we have yet to truly see who would win a fair fight between Batman and his closest Franchise/MarvelUniverse equivalent in badass, ComicBook/CaptainAmerica[[note]]Well, technically, Batman's Marvel counterpart would be Comicbook/{{Daredevil}}, but that's not the point.[[/note]]. See:
*** Batman technically won the fight in the ''DC vs. Marvel'' miniseries, but it was only because of an environmental hazard got Cap distracted (a burst water pipe in the sewer they were fighting in).
*** In the WWII-era pastiche crossover between the two, they stopped as soon as they realized each of them (they were in their secret identities) were actually Batman/Captain America.
*** Then there was ''ComicBook/JLAAvengers'', where the two initially begin to fight but soon stopped when they both came to the conclusion they were probably being played.[[note]]Though Batman did admit that Cap would've probably won had the fight gone on longer.[[/note]]
** Comicbook/SwampThing appears to be a rare subversion, as he has had the gumption to beat ''Batman twice,'' once when Batman wasn't prepared (he thought the superpowered swamp monster was just a guy in a funny suit) and once when he was (he brought plant poison to the fight and outfitted the Batmobile with giant plant cutters, but underestimated Swamp Thing's regenerative powers). Both times Swamp Thing spared Batman, as he realized Batman meant well and was just trying to protect Gotham from what he saw as a threat.
** A fight between Batman and a brainwashed [[ComicBook/Batgirl2000 Cassandra Cain (Batgirl)]] ended this way.
* This trope is how all fights between Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog and Knuckles the Echidna ended in ''ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog''. Partially justified, because the two never had a good reason to fight each other, they both were just temperamental and would engage in blows every time they met, before being distracted by whatever it was they were doing in the first place.
** Averted in ''[[VideoGame/Sonic3AndKnuckles Sonic & Knuckles]]'' where Sonic [[AntiClimaxBoss kicks Knuckles' ass]].
*** Knuckles wins in a Free Comic Book day issue. [[WordOfGod This is considered canon]].
** Also averted in the [[ComicBook/SonicTheComic Fleetway comics]], where Sonic wins after a long and difficult fight.
** Averted exactly one time in Archie's comic. During the Enerjak arc, [[SuperMode Super Sonic]] and a BrainwashedAndCrazy [[SuperMode Hyper Knuckles (he WAS going by Enerjak at the time, but he was effectively Hyper Knuckles)]] fight. The fight was interrupted, but it is made clear who the winner would be -- Knuckles, at the time, was supercharged and would have remained Super for longer, [[VictoryByEndurance thus winning a battle of attrition]], but had Sonic stayed Super long enough (a hard prospect, considering the Master Emerald was corrupted and it was a miracle he went Super in the first place) he WOULD have eventually won.
* Averted in the {{Crossover}} between Comicbook/SavageDragon and ComicBook/{{Hellboy}} in which Dragon was clearly shown to be stronger. The issue was co-written by both character's creators.
* There was a one-shot comic entitled ''ComicBook/SpiderMan vs. Franchise/{{Wolverine}}'' released in the eighties where the two characters fought without a clear winner (it ended in a deadlock and was broken up by bad guys). Later, a ''Comicbook/MarvelComicsPresents'' story with the same title also showed an inconclusive fight (Spider-Man attacked a person whom he thought was impersonating Wolverine and stopped after a few traded blows once Wolvie proved he was the real deal). Though, in ''ComicBook/SecretWars'' Spidey basically took on all of the X-Men and was winning before the Professor X mindwipe (though he had ConservationOfNinjutsu on his side then).
** Spidey has a similar relationship with Comicbook/{{Daredevil}} despite the two of them being close friends. They would always fight to a standstill. Often, Spider-Man would be hindered in some way (mind-controlled, wounded, etc.) in order to make the fight more even since he had SuperStrength and DD didn't.
** After the return of the original Green Goblin, ComicBook/NormanOsborn, and the revelation of the original Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley, the two had a heated confrontation that dodged any answer as to who was superior in any particular way. Kingsley ends up fighting a proxy Green Goblin for much of the story; a brief altercation with Osborn is interrupted by a fire; Osborn's refusal to get his hands dirty during the story removes the possibility of a straight-up fight. The evasiveness even extends to the villains' planning skills - Kingsley ultimately gets away scot free after pulling a successful BatmanGambit on Norman, but along the way Osborn saw through all of Kingsley's deceptions and bought out Kingsley's corporate holdings. By the end, both villains win in a tangible way without settling the question of who is superior in any respect.
* This does not stop with {{super team}}s, either. Usually, every super team goes up against another super team at least once with no clear team being the victor. However, individual members can sometimes have clear victories. More often than not, there will be an equal number of teammates on both sides once the dust settles.
** The ComicBook/NewWarriors once fought ComicBook/XForce with no clear winner, although there was a double-KO when Speedball and Cannonball collided.
** In ''ComicBook/JLAAvengers'', while many heroes on both sides defeated their counterparts, no team was ever the clear winner by the end of the miniseries.
** The ComicBook/FantasticFour once fought ComicBook/XMen and, despite being clearly outnumbered, held its own and there was never a winner of the fight.
** Comicbook/TheAvengers also went up against the ComicBook/XMen a few times with similar results.
** This trope was averted in the ComicBook/XForce/ComicBook/XFactor fight during the ''Executioner's Song'' {{Crossover}}. X-Factor defeated and captured the X-Force, bringing them in for questioning on the whereabouts of ComicBook/{{Cable}}.
* This trope is often averted when ComicBook/ThePunisher fights other heroes, perhaps due to his AntiHero status. Spider-Man, Daredevil, and ComicBook/CaptainAmerica have all had clear victories over Frank Castle.
* In UsefulNotes/{{the Silver Age|OfComicBooks}} and UsefulNotes/{{the Bronze Age|OfComicBooks}}, virtually every race between Franchise/{{Superman}} and [[ComicBook/TheFlash the Flash]] ended ambiguously as a draw for one reason or another. In their first race, the two deliberately tie in order to frustrate a gambling syndicate; in their second, none of the spectators can agree on the winner because it looked like a different outcome from different angles. However, the ComicBook/PostCrisis comics quickly averted the trope by having Wally West's Flash outrun Superman, a result that has stayed consistent in every race since regardless of [[LegacyCharacter which Flash]] is involved and where the characters are otherwise in terms of PowerCreepPowerSeep. The fact that the pair used to be neck-and-neck was explained by Flash with the fact that "those races were for charity."
* After the first battle between ComicBook/{{Thor}} and the ComicBook/IncredibleHulk in ''ComicBook/TheAvengers'' #3, Creator/StanLee felt unsatisfied with the resolution - floodwaters separate the two combatants before the fight can really get started. He later wrote an issue of ''Thor'' in which Thor comes across [[LeaningOnTheFourthWall a group of children arguing over which of the two is the strongest]]. Thor sits with them and recounts the previous battle, but now much longer and more elaborate than previously seen in the ''Avengers'', adding extra wrinkles (such as Thor deciding to battle Hulk without his hammer and Odin granting him five minutes to do so). While the fight still ends inconclusively, Thor tells the boys that the fight was not simply a question of who was the strongest, but that there were many factors that could have swung the fight in either direction. Stan himself seemed to be suggesting that this was more dramatically interesting than having a definitive winner.
* ''Franchise/AvatarTheLastAirbender'':
** In ''The Lost Adventures'' strip, "Bumi vs. Toph, Round 1", we get to see [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin the fight between Bumi and Toph]] for the title of "greatest [[DishingOutDirt earthbender]] of all time". [[SpoilerTitle As the "Round 1" part of the title suggests]], the fight ends up being inconclusive. (It's stopped by their camp members since they're supposed to be hiding from the Fire Nation and the fight might give away their location.)
** {{Subverted|Trope}} in another ''The Lost Adventures'' strip, "Swordbending". Sokka challenges [[spoiler:Zuko (after his HeelFaceTurn)]] into a "Swordbending Kai" (which of course is simply [[SwordFight a duel fought with swords]]). [[CurbStompBattle Sokka loses in a matter of seconds]]. And then again... and again... [[OverlyLongGag and a couple times more]]. ''Even his last effort to throw [[spoiler:Zuko]] off focus and defeat him with a sucker punch fails.'' In the end however, Sokka proudly states that even having lost the battle of ''swords'' he won the battle of ''words''.
* In ''ComicBook/IdentityCrisis'', as ComicBook/{{Deathstroke}} is tearing his way through a team assembled to help Elongated Man take down Doctor Light, he grabs ComicBook/GreenLantern's ring-bearing hand and wonders if his superior intellect could actually force the ring to work for him. The question is left unanswered after ComicBook/GreenArrow stabs him in his bad eye.
* {{ComicBook/Deadpool}} once got into a [[YourMom Yo Momma]] fight with Spider-Man, and as he was building up to the ultimate zinger that would leave Spidey completely crushed, he left, claiming he'd achieved his goal of distracting him.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/SadakoVsKayako'' ends with Sadako and Kayako both possessing the main character and becoming a new curse.
* ''Film/RockyIII'', between Rocky and Apollo. [[spoiler: Ultimately averted years later in ''Film/{{Creed}}'' when, though the fight is still not shown, Rocky admits that Apollo won.]]
* ''Film/FreddyVsJason'' is pretty much an evasive fight thread movie, right down to its ambiguous ending.
* A fair amount of outrage was generated in ''Theatre/ThePhantomOfTheOpera'' fandom when the [[Film/ThePhantomOfTheOpera 2004 Gerard Butler version]] had Raoul beat the Phantom in a sword-fight outside the masoleum.
* ''Film/FrankensteinMeetsTheWolfMan'' depicts a climatic battle between the two Universal monster classics. [[spoiler: The fight ends when both monsters are caught in a flood with no winner.]]
* Roughly half the ''Franchise/{{Godzilla}}'' movies involved him fighting a different monster from a different movie. Perhaps the most famous example would be ''Film/KingKongVsGodzilla'' where both monsters fall into the ocean and the end of the fight isn't seen on camera. King Kong is later shown surfacing from the ocean and swimming away and Godzilla isn't seen again at all, very ambiguously implying that King Kong won.
* Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse:
** As expected, ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'' has some of its members fight or almost fight upon meeting one another. Film/IronMan fights Film/{{Thor}} who later fights Film/TheIncredibleHulk with no clear-cut winners. Film/{{Captain America|TheFirstAvenger}} deflects Thor's hammer when he breaks up his fight with Tony and even challenges Iron Man to a fight but nothing comes of either conflict. This is averted in the fight between Comicbook/BlackWidow and ComicBook/{{Hawkeye}} as Black Widow renders Hawkeye unconscious (although he was both under mind control and severely sleep deprived at the time...)
** This trope is averted in ''The Avengers'' sequel, ''Film/AvengersAgeOfUltron''. Iron Man, now wearing a special suit designed to fight the Hulk, actually manages to beat him in a pretty brutal match. Meanwhile, ComicBook/ScarletWitch manages to MindRape the entire team at one point or another, with the exception of Hawkeye, who sees her coming and electrocutes her. ComicBook/{{Quicksilver}} beats Hawkeye twice with the element of surprise, but Hawkeye beats him using surprise in their third encounter.
** Averted in the climactic fight of ''Film/CaptainAmericaCivilWar'': an enraged Iron Man vs Captain America and Bucky. While Tony is mostly interested in murdering Bucky, it escalates into a vicious brawl that only ends when Steve shatters Tony's arc reactor.
* In ''Film/JusticeLeague,'' Flash and Superman race to see who is fastest (not one of the usual charity races; the Flash just wanted to know who'd win, and Superman obliged.) When the race starts, the two run past the camera almost instantly, and that's all we see of it, never learning the winner.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In a ''Series/PairOfKings'' episode, we never do get to find out which twin was born first. To make matters worse, commercials aired for weeks prior promising we'd find out, and the whole episode was drummed up big time.
* ''Series/StargateAtlantis'':
** Ford and Ronon go toe-to-toe on two separate occasions but the audience never gets to find out which one would win, mostly because Ronon is replacing Ford.
** Ronon, being TheBigGuy, also gets to spar with Teal'c, TheBigGuy of ''[[Series/StargateAtlantis Atlantis']]'' sister show, ''Series/StargateSG1''. Gate fans have likely been waiting for this since the day Ronon was introduced. Neither has the upper hand when Carter breaks it up. Well, Teal'c does manage to draw first blood after an hour-long fight, but still, very even. Bonus points to Teal'c for being over a hundred years old by the time the fight takes place.
* In ''Series/TheXFiles'', a fight between Skinner and X comes to an ambiguous conclusion. Both actors still insist they would have won.
* Averted in ''Series/{{Angel}}'' season 5: when [[BackFromTheDead Spike]] gets his body back, it takes them a matter of hours to come to blows (though the bad guys helped arrange it). The clear winner is [[spoiler: Spike, which doesn't much help the confidence issues Angel was going through]].
* In the final episode of ''Series/KamenRiderKiva'', the eponymous hero and his half-brother have a fight - at the suggestion of their mother -- in order to work out their past aggression ([[spoiler:since most of the way through the series they were mortal enemies]]). The scene cuts away before we see who won, but since it was a LightheartedRematch it really doesn't matter.
* ''Series/KamenRiderDecade'''s Rider Vs. Rider fights are filled with nothing but this. Every time a fight begins, it will ''never'' be finished. Someone will always interfere, or they will simply retreat. In fact, there was one episode where Decade and [[Series/SamuraiSentaiShinkenger ShinkenRed]] were about to transform and fight each other, but were interrupted. The only time Decade ever won a Rider Vs. Rider fight was when that rider happened to be the BigBad of a world, a summon from [[TheRival Diend]], [[spoiler: or when he taps into his SuperPoweredEvilSide]]. The only Decade Vs. Rider fight he did win outside of these conditions was against Imperer.
** Averted in the first movie, where the entire point is a [[InevitableTournament Rider tournament]]. We see brief flashes of several fights, but see (or learn) the outcomes of the ones that matter. Decade vs [[Series/KamenRiderBlackRX Black RX]]? [[spoiler:RX dominates most of the fight, but Decade wins in the end]]. [[Series/KamenRiderKuuga Kuuga]] vs [[Series/KamenRiderX X-Rider]]? [[spoiler:Kuuga wins it.]] Decade, Diend, and Kuuga vs [[Series/KamenRiderV3 V3]], [[Series/KamenRiderSuper1 Super-1]], and [[Series/KamenRiderBlack Black]]? [[spoiler: Diend [[DirtyCoward punks out early]], Kuuga gets eliminated TakingTheBullet for Decade, and Decade takes out all three opponents at once through clever use of his [[DoppelgangerSpin AttackRide: Illusion]] card.]]
** Subverted in ''Film/HeiseiRiderVsShowaRiderKamenRiderWarsFeaturingSuperSentai'': For most of the film, the Showa Riders want to kick the Heisei Riders' asses, but that gets put by the wayside when it turns out that the hatred was mostly faked as part of a plan by [[Series/KamenRider Rider #1]] and Film/KamenRiderZX to defeat the Badan Empire. After Badan is defeated, the Showa Riders approach the Heisei Riders and say they have unfinished business... remember that '''mostly''' faked hatred? An ending was filmed for each side, but he Heisei Riders won an online poll and thus their version was screened in theaters; both it and the Showa ending can be found on the DVD and Bluray release of the film.
* Averted in the ''Series/PowerRangersDinoThunder'' ReunionShow. The main three [[Series/PowerRangersNinjaStorm Ninja Storm Rangers]] are brainwashed by Lothor and walk all over their Dino Thunder counterparts. The second time is closer to the trope: they start off using their out-of-suit powers, and the other Ninja Storm Rangers intervene and de-brainwash their friends before anyone morphs. Somewhat justified in the former battle, as the Ninja Storm Rangers had more experience than the Dino Thunder ones. Also, being ninjas, they had continued to maintain peak physical conditioning since the end of their series, even without the aid of Ranger powers.
* {{Averted|Trope}} in ''Series/{{Merlin|2008}}''. Arthur can beat anyone in combat... except Lancelot.
* The TV versions of Franchise/TheGreenHornet and Series/{{Batman}} once had a fight along with their respective sidekicks. Legend has it, Robin was supposed to defeat Kato while Batman and Green Hornet stalemated. Creator/BruceLee (Kato) refused to do the episode unless it was changed. The studio relented and there was no clear winner in either fight. To say that Bruce Lee refused is a bit of an understatement -- rather, he was furious that his character was to lose and loudly proclaimed on set that when the cameras rolled, he was going to give Burt Ward a genuine beatdown. The producers pacified him by changing the script to have the fight end in a draw.
* The ''Series/{{Arrowverse}}'':
** In the first major crossover between ''Series/{{Arrow}}'' and ''Series/TheFlash2014'', Oliver has to fight a HatePlague-influenced Barry. Oliver fights merely to contain Barry and the latter is cured before there's a clear winner. The episode ends with them just starting a friendly rematch. A later crossover states that Barry won the rematch, but Oliver jokes that since there were [[LeaningOnTheFourthWall no witnesses to the fight]], Barry doesn't have the evidence to back that claim.
** During the "Invasion!" crossover, the Flash has to go up against a BrainwashedAndCrazy Series/{{Supergirl|2015}}. Barry doesn't actively try to ''fight'' Supergirl; instead he tries to avoid her as best he can and, like with the earlier fight with Oliver, Barry deals with her by breaking the brainwashing. The fight does show that while Supergirl is {{Nigh Invulnerab|ility}}le, can withstand the Flash's Speed Force lightning (his only major offensive move), and can almost match his speed; the Flash is better at using that speed to react, change course, and dodge her attacks. It's also possible that he was specifically holding back his speed so she ''could'' keep up, as he was luring her to a specific location.
* In season 14 of ''Series/{{NCIS}}'', the two "alpha"-type characters, Torres and Reeves finally acknowledged their overlapping skills, rivalry and mutual respect by arm wrestling - to the [[ParentingTheHusband derision of the female agents]] - however, the contest was aborted, unresolved, by the intrusion of a case and their assignments.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* This is a recurring theme in ''VideoGame/LufiaIIRiseOfTheSinistrals'' where protagonist and [[BecauseDestinySaysSo fated hero]] Maxim, an incredibly skilled swordsman, is constantly challenged by other famous warriors, including fellow party members Guy, Selan, and Dekar, to see if he is truly the best. Such duels either occur off-screen with no clear winner given or are never able to occur at all (though it is usually implied that Maxim would indeed win these fights). The trope is even subtly parodied when Maxim first meets Guy and they challenge each other to a duel, and just as Guy leaps into the air to strike the first blow, monsters literally teleport into the middle of town and the two must join forces to fight them.
* Happens a lot in ''Franchise/StreetFighter'' between Ryu and Ken. They've had several off-screen fights to determine who's stronger, with the overall results being a tie, as near as can be determined. It's also subverted in the case of Oro and Akuma: Oro is shown to be ''much'' stronger than Akuma is.
** One overarching instance with Ryu and Ken zig-zags. In ''VideoGame/StreetFighterAlpha 2'', Ken's FinalBoss is Ryu himself. Ken canonically defeats Ryu, as is the case with most of the storylines in that game, but notices that Ryu wasn't giving it his all (Ryu was preoccupied with his previous encounter with Akuma from his Arcade Mode path and the revelation of [[KillingIntent the Satsui no Hadou]] inside of him), and instead bequeaths his hair tie to Ryu, which helps gets his buddy out of his funk and becomes Ryu's headband in the ''[[VideoGame/StreetFighterII II]]'' series. Ken also vows to not marry his then-girlfriend Eliza until he defeats Ryu in a decisive match; while it's unknown how Ken fared in the Second World Warrior Tournament, [[VideoGame/StreetFighterIII the]] [[VideoGame/StreetFighterIV sequels]] show Ken and Eliza married with a son named Mel, so it's [[{{Fanon}} commonly assumed]] that Ken did have his rematch and win.
** This happens again in ''VideoGame/StreetFighterIV'', but instead between [[CainAndAbel Akuma and Gouken]]. After sealing away the Satsui no Hadou within Ryu in his ending, Gouken is attacked by Akuma for his meddling, Akuma having long since wanted Ryu to accept the dark power and give him the deathmatch he craved. Given that Gouken's Power of Nothingness allows him to NoSell the [[DangerousForbiddenTechnique Shun Goku Satsu]] and backstory materials note that Gouken had already handily beaten Akuma once before (technically twice; Gouken spared Akuma in their rematch, which allowed Akuma to [[ConvenientComa "kill"]] him with the SGS), some have taken this ending as an explanation for not only the lack of [[SuperpoweredEvilSide Evil Ryu]] in the ''III'' series, but Akuma's lack of interest in Ryu in ''2nd Impact'' and ''3rd Strike''.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* For part of the flash series ''WebAnimation/{{TOME}}'', whenever TheHero and TheRival attempted to fight, they were interrupted by the silent, mysterious, obscenely powerful Giga.
* ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'':
** Tex and Carolina. The first time they fight, they're just running toward one another when they're interrupted by [[spoiler:the Director shouting "Allison"]]. The second time, they actually do get to fight, but they're interrupted again, this time by the ship plowing into a planet from outer space. [[spoiler:And Maine throwing Carolina off a cliff.]] Carolina ends up [[spoiler:saying Tex is stronger, but she was facing 50+ Texbots at the time]].
** Averted in the Season 14 crossover with ''WebAnimation/DeathBattle'' -- which finally pits Carolina and the Meta together. They spend most of the fight more or less equally matched, but ultimately Carolina wins, due to her ability to work well with Church as her AI. The episode LampShades the BrokenBase nature of this trope by having Grif refuse to accept the result of the "simulation". (And of course, some of the commentators on the Website/YouTube video themselves are rejecting the outcome.)
* Averted by ''WebAnimation/DeathBattle'', which shows such battles as Batman vs Spider-Man, M. Bison vs Shao Kahn, and even Superman vs Goku; and in each case there's a clear winner.
** They had the armies and various mechanical creations of [[Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog Dr. "Eggman" Robotnik]] and [[VideoGame/MegaManClassic Dr. Albert Wily]] duke it out. [[spoiler: Metal Sonic from Robotnik's army went rogue mid-battle and killed both of them, going on to destroy the world.]] When this was raised in the ''Magfest 13'' interview, the creators explained that, unlike most examples of this trope, this was due to them seeing it as the logical conclusion of a battle of armies between the two, based on the abilities of their most used creations and the personalities of the scientists. [[spoiler:Metal Sonic's ability to [[PowerCopying quickly copy what he scans]] and improve his already impressive powers trumps all of the other commonly used robots of Wily and Robotnik. This would force Wily to use Roboenza as the only probable way to incapacitate him, causing Metal Sonic to go rogue.]]
** Creator/ChuckNorris vs. Advertising/SegataSanshiro ends with [[spoiler:the two vanishing when a black hole is created as a result of the battle. The hosts speculate that they are either dead or fighting in another universe. Either way, they cannot be detected]].
* Happens a couple times in ''WebAnimation/OneMinuteMelee'', the first time between [[spoiler:Lucario and Renamon, which ended in a double KO]]. Also happened in [[spoiler:Megaman vs. Samus, where Megaman defeated what was thought to be Samus, before that "Samus" turned out to be SA-X, who furiously attacked Megaman before the real Samus showed up to help Megaman take it down]].
* ''WebVideo/DragonBallZAbridged'': During the Cell arc, several videos featured the protagonists of other series showing up to battle Cell, including [[WebVideo/YuGiOhTheAbridgedSeries Yami]] ([[spoiler:Cell managed to RulesLawyer him into {{Rage Quit}}ting]]) and [[Anime/FistOfTheNorthStar Kenshiro]] ([[spoiler:His Hokuto Hyakuretsuken managed to wipe the smug off Cell's face, but he regenerated]]). Then [[Manga/OnePunchMan Saitama and Genos]] show up. Genos goes first, [[TheWorfEffect and you can guess how that goes]], and as [[ComicallyInvincibleHero Saitama]] steps up, Cell makes the mistake of saying when the tournament takes place, prompting Saitama to realize there's a sale on that day, meaning he won't be able to make it to the fight, so he picks up Genos and leaves.
--> '''Cell:''' [[LampshadeHanging Am I the only one who feels like he got blueballed here?]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Subrosian and Wise_Mankey (Characters who show up in many sprite comics hosted by The Fallout Shelter, but do not appear to have comics of their own) had a rivalry, which they were given a chance to settle in AkumaTH's "Last Chance" event. However, their fight was interrupted by Silver Fox, who was there to settle his own grudge with Subrosian. He managed to defeat both of them (Along with the referee), and was then defeated by [[spoiler: Cream the Rabbit and Big the Cat]], which Subrosian and Mankey found so embarrassing that they couldn't bring themselves to continue the match.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Parodied in the end of an episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Undergrads}}'' where Nitz and Gimpy get into a heated war over who is better at trivia, culminating in a showdown in a trivia tournament. Their tournament gets interrupted and the episode ends with [[EverybodyLaughsEnding everyone laughing]], but just when you think the trope's going to come into play, Gimpy gets one final line:
--> '''Gimpy:''' And just so there is no confusion, I was winning the tournament when we were interrupted. So I won, and Nitz lost! Heh, loser.
* ''Franchise/DCAnimatedUniverse'':
** In ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'', the for-charity footrace held between Superman and the Flash gets detoured by the plot. The episode ends just as they start it over again. [[spoiler:An episode of ''Justice League Unlimited'' takes place in Coast City's Flash Museum, which has a display about the race containing a big trophy, leading to the WildMassGuess that Flash won.]] ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'''s second season episode "Eclipsed," firmly establishes that Flash can reach speeds that Superman can't -- they need to get something moving close to the speed of light, and Flash is the only one who can manage it. The charity race also happened before [[spoiler:the Speed Force event]] in ''Justice League Unlimited'', which makes it clear that [[spoiler:the Diniverse's Flash is, in the very least, ''several orders of magnitude'' faster than Superman... [[DeadlyUpgrade Though it would likely kill him to try doing it again]]]]. Averted by the versions of Superman and the Flash in ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'' according to WordOfGod. Since Superman has multiple powers and superspeed is the Flash's only superpower, Greg Weisman says it makes the most sense to him that the latter is faster.
** Similarly, in ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueUnlimited'', "Grudge Match", a fight between ComicBook/{{Huntress}} and a mind-controlled ComicBook/BlackCanary is interrupted when the mind-control tech is destroyed; at the end of the episode, they decide to go at it again, but the episode ends before the first blow.
** In yet another ''Justice League Unlimited'' example, Superman wins via wits even though it's made fairly clear that in a straight-up fight between Superman and [[ComicBook/{{Shazam}} Captain Marvel]], neither the Man of Steel nor the World's Mightiest Mortal have the upper hand. This is mostly a fan bonus legacy nod to how similar the characters were originally in the comics, though you will have nitpickers complaining the [[Franchise/DCAnimatedUniverse Diniverse]] Superman is inconsistently weaker in this adaptation. [[spoiler: It also serves as a bit of a deconstruction of the "Who would win in a fight?" concept, as it's made clear that it's ComicBook/LexLuthor who gains the most from two good guys pounding each other.]] It's also a nod to the comic ''ComicBook/KingdomCome'', where Superman fights a Luthor-manipulated Captain Marvel - especially obvious with Marvel using the magic lightning against Superman, who is vulnerable against magic. Both fights pretty much ended the same way, though.
* One ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' short featured a race between Speedy Gonzales and the Road Runner. The results were obscured when Sylvester and Wile E. Coyote, who had been chasing the duo through the whole cartoon, accidentally overtook them in a rocket car and crossed the finish line ''just'' before them in a cloud of dust. An overlap of this with DarkHorseVictory. [[spoiler:Though Speedy came in second place, beating the Road Runner in that race.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'': Thanks to an unauthorized online leak, much anticipation surrounded the sword fight between Jet (twin tiger-head hook swords) and Prince Zuko (dual dao sabres). Before it came to a clear finish, the two were interrupted by [[SecretPolice the Dai Li]], and Jet was arrested.
* Subverted, of all the crazy places, in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''. At the end of "The Great Wife Hope", Bart challenges Lisa to a fight to settle the bad blood between them. They jump at each other and the scene freezes and breaks to the start of the credits, [[spoiler:only to [[SubvertedTrope subvert the trope]] and unfreeze a few seconds later as Lisa lays Bart out with a single punch]].
* The ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' episode "Fall Weather Friends" is all about a rivalry between Applejack and Rainbow Dash to determine who is the most athletic pony. Rainbow Dash wins the most events in an "iron pony competition" between the two of them, but after Applejack objects that Rainbow has an innate advantage in some of the events due to the latter being a pegasus, they decide to settle the matter once and for all by competing in a marathon footrace. [[spoiler:The race eventually devolves into the two of them pulling dirty tricks on each other, delaying them both until they wound up tying for last place.]] At the end of the episode they reconcile their grudge and decide to re-run the race fairly, but the credits roll right after they get started. Their rivalry is still going strong as of "Castle Mane-ia".
* Regardless of his speed compared to Franchise/TheFlash, ''WesternAnimation/RobotChicken'' has [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Te4-ofPoTuk Superman in a race with Santa Claus.]]
* Similar to the Superman: The Animated Series version, the Flash and Superman's charity race was interrupted by villains, the episode ending with them racing again, the outcome never to be learned by fans. It aired ''the very same week'' as the ''Film/JusticeLeague'' movie's premiere (in which, after the world is saved, Flash challenges Superman to a race, the scene shifting after they run past the camera, leaving the outcome unknown.)