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[[quoteright:343:[[ComicStrip/{{Popeye}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/unhimfight_0.jpg]]]]

When two people fight each other due to some misunderstanding because someone [[ManipulativeBastard manipulated]] them into the struggle, it is an example of Let's You And Him Fight.

The phrase probably [[TropeNamer first comes from]] the ComicStrip/{{Popeye}} comic strip, as a catchphrase of [[WithFriendsLikeThese Wimpy]], who often gets Popeye to fight big tough guys he's wronged. "Let's You and Him Fight" is also the title of a Fleischer Studios Popeye short revolving around a boxing match between Popeye and Bluto. It also appears in Eric Berne's 1964 book ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Games_People_Play_%28book%29 Games People Play]]'' as one of the identified behavior patterns used to manipulate others.

This trope is particularly overused in SuperHero comics and the movies and shows spawned from them. In that genre, it long ago became cliched, not even excused by GenreBlindness. It's now reached the point of being an UndeadHorseTrope and is just as often parodied, averted, lampshaded, and mocked as it is played straight.

Sometimes leads to a LightheartedRematch. See also WhyIsntItAttacking. Comparable to WeAreStrugglingTogether. Happens ''constantly'' with HeadbuttingHeroes. Contrast FireForgedFriends, DefeatMeansFriendship, and FightingYourFriend. If more than one heroic character is involved in a UltimateShowdownOfUltimateDestiny, a misunderstanding a la this trope may occur to justify why the heroes are fighting. Compare the video-game trope SetAMookToKillAMook, when you make enemy forces fight each other.

Also commonly known in comics fandoms as "Fight Then Team Up," or the "Marvel Misunderstanding", even in the Marvel Bullpen.

See also: GoodVersusGood

* LetsYouAndHimFight/ComicBooks


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'': Aizen's secret machinations during the Soul Society arc pit Ichigo's group and the Gotei 13 against each other, giving him the opportunity to delve into Urahara's confiscated research to discover a means of extracting the Hougyoku from Rukia's soul. It's only at the end of the arc that the two groups realise they're on the same side and should be uniting against Aizen.
* ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex'':
** The Orsola Aquinas Rescue Arc has Touma, Index, and Stiyl fighting the Amakusa Catholics, who seem to have kidnapped Orsola Aquinas. Eventually, it turns out the Amakusa Catholics were trying to ''save'' her, as the Roman Catholic Church was going to have her tortured and executed. Once the misunderstanding is cleared up, they all team up to save her.
** During the DRAGON Arc, Shiage Hamazura runs into Accelerator and attacks him, thinking he was sent to kill his girlfriend Rikou Takitsubo. Accelerator easily defeats him and leaves. Shiage realizes he was mistaken and berates himself.
** This is the basics of Yukumi Hisako's Agitate Halation plan: manipulate ''every'' hero into fighting each other until she has [[{{Ubermensch}} created a world without heroes]]. To do this, [[spoiler: she creates a signal that gives anybody with heroic tendencies an uncontrollable urge to protect a little girl named Fremea Seivelun. Unfortunately, these people then perceive everybody else as a threat to her and attack them]].
** Touma manages to convince Othinus to pull a HeelFaceTurn, but then must defend her from all his allies and her enemies, who refuse to believe his explanations and think that he's either gone to the dark side or been brainwashed.
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'':
** {{Invoked|Trope}} in ''Anime/CodeGeass''. During what appears to be a rebellion by defecting Britannian troops, [[spoiler:Marianne in the body of]] Anya attacks Bismarck, accusing him of being in on it, so that he'd be on the defensive and wouldn't question her.
** It's played straight during the first episode, where Suzaku attacks Lelouch because he thinks he's a terrorist (which was not yet the case).
* ''Anime/DragonBallZ''
** Vegeta and Trunks ended up getting into this as the former plans on letting Cell absorb Android 18 for his perfect form while the latter has plans on stopping that.
** Later on Vegeta gets [[BrainwashedAndCrazy possessed]] by Babidi and turned into a Majin, where he only desires to fight Goku. This leads Goku and Majin Vegeta to battle it out for the first time in years.
* ''LightNovel/TheFamiliarOfZero'' has what is perhaps one of the most ''satisfying'' one of these ever in its backstory: the birth of [[PlayingWithFire Kirche]] and [[AnIcePerson Tabitha's]] [[HeterosexualLifePartners friendship.]] A number of girls were jealous that Kirche was stealing all the boys, and teamed up with a boy who Tabitha had humiliated in duel. At a dance the boy used wind to shred Kirche's dress, leaving her naked. He then offered her his coat and told her Tabitha was responsible, which Kirche found reasonable because she had teased Tabitha earlier in the year. When Kirche confronted Tabitha, she told Kirche that she had nothing to do with it and walked away. Then Tabitha returns to her room to find her book collection scorched, and immediately walks over to Kirche's room and accepts the challenge to a duel (this was done by the jealous girls). They go to the courtyard to fight and after one exchange of spells ''immediately'' realize that they were set up and team up to find and punish the real culprits.
* In ''Manga/{{Freezing}}'', some third years tell Rana that Satellizer is just using Kazuya (whom Rana has a crush on) for his power instead of treating him like a true partner. This lead to Rana challenging Satellizer to a duel. After the girls have beaten each other to a pulp, the third years applaud the "free entertainment" and then attack them.
* Hinted to have happened in ''Manga/GunslingerGirl'', while it's not overt, it's implied that the government was hoping that the terrorists that took over the Turin nuclear plant and the politically-dangerous Section 2 (an agency that uses ChildSoldiers) would take each other out. [[spoiler: There were enough Section 2 survivors left that the government just said 'screw it' and declared ''them'' terrorists, arresting them all.]]
* [[VillainSue Naraku]] from ''Manga/InuYasha'' should have won an Oscar for the number of times he plotted his enemies (and allies) against each other. One particularly nasty example is when he told Sango that Inuyasha slaughtered everyone in her village, leading her to almost kill herself trying to get revenge. Another such instance is when Naraku lures both Koga and Inuyasha to his castle and sets them up to make Koga believe Inuyasha wiped out his clan, tricking them into a life-and-death battle; then sends in his subordinates to kill the survivor. Of course, in both cases, he had arranged the massacre himself.
* The CrossOver movie ''Anime/LupinIIIVsDetectiveConan'' only has minor elements of this; Conan is chasing a RebelliousPrincess who [[PrinceAndPauper switched places with Ran]], but said princess has befriended Fujiko, leading to a chase sequence where Conan's rocket-powered skateboard actually manages to tail Fujiko's bike.
* In ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaStrikers'' Quattro tricks/brainwashes Vivio into fighting Nanoha. [[spoiler:Nanoha holds out just long enough for her Wide Area Search to pinpoint Quattro before using a restraint spell on Vivio and [[DungeonBypass unleashing]] her full MamaBear wrath on Quattro's ass]].
--> '''Quattro''': "Now kill each other like a good mother and daughter."
* In ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'', the first fight between Negi and Setsuna (in the {{furo|Scene}}) has distinct overtones of this. Negi loses. [[GroinAttack Painfully]].
* ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamWing'' has most of the initial encounters between the pilots of the five initial Gundams, who actually belong to ''the very same resistance movement''. [[JustifiedTrope There's actually a good reason for it]]: the movement's initial plan was to use the Gundams as an invasion force after executing a [[spoiler:ColonyDrop]], but as soon as they found out the pilots and their cells ditched the plan and launched a guerilla campaign... And, [[PoorCommunicationKills as they belong to]] ''[[PoorCommunicationKills different]]'' [[PoorCommunicationKills cells without contact with each other, they have no idea they all had the same idea and think the other Gundam pilots are there to continue the original plan and kill them for desertion upon encounter]].
** Amazingly {{subverted|Trope}} by Wufei: he's the WildCard and NotGoodWithPeople, but when he meets the other Gundams he doesn't fight them, he ''ends the fight of the other four'' by pointing out they're all on the same side and that [[spoiler:[[NiceJobBreakingItHero Heero has been tricked into killing the pacifist faction in the UESA military]]]].
* Being a deconstruction of the FightingSeries PlayedForLaughs, ''Manga/MutekiKanbanMusume'' show us the kind of person who would use this trope: Megumi is TheBully / SchoolYardBullyAllGrownUp / TheRival for Miki, and her personal definition of ''a friend'' is: ''Someone whom Megumi can manipulate to beat Miki''. Just after Megumi hears Miki describing to his mother a powerful enemy at the Endou house, while being punished for constantly CarryingACake:
--> This is surprising! There's someone who can land Onimaru-san in this much trouble. He must definitely be an amazing fighter. [[FalseFriend First I should become friends with this person]], then teaming up would be the best course of action.
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'': During the Five Kage Meeting arc, BigBad [[spoiler:Tobi]] sets up such a fight between [[spoiler:Sasuke and Danzo]].
* ''Manga/OnePiece'' puts an interesting spin on this. In the Whiskey Peak arc, the crew had been proudly welcomed by the town, which was used by bounty hunters from Baroque Works to rob and/ or kill unsuspecting pirates while they slept. When the bounty hunters attack Zoro, he defeats them all. A chain of events are set up for the saga as he comes face to face with two agents of the aforementioned organization, Mr. 5 and Ms. Valentine. But [[IdiotHero Luffy]], after learning Zoro attacked the other Baroque Works agents and unaware they weren't as nice as they seemed, becomes enraged and attacks Zoro, who calmly tries to explain before Luffy attacks him anyway. The two of them fight while the agents continue to complete their mission, but after Luffy and Zoro keep attacking them while they fight, Mr. 5 and Ms. Valentine try to kill them themselves...
--> '''Luffy and Zoro''': (Stop fighting and turn to the agents) Shut up! And go away!
--> '''Mr. 5 and Ms. Valentine''': (''[[OhCrap expressing extreme shock]]'')
--> '''Luffy and Zoro''': You're interfering... (''[[CombatUninterruptus punching the agents aside]]'') ...with our fight!!
** Played straight when the Straw Hats reach Water 7. The [=CP9=], with Nico Robin's help, frame the Straw Hats for the attempted assassination of mayor and shipbuilding company president Iceberg, essentially pitting them against the entire city, particularly the dock 1 foremen. Things are cleared up when the [=CP9=] reveal themselves.
** Sanji and Zoro trading insults until things get physical has become a RunningGag (especially during the Davy Back Fight arc, where it almost causes them to lose a match until they get their act together and team up.)
* In ''Anime/RoninWarriors'', [[MasterOfIllusion Dais]] uses his powers to make the heroes think each other is him, so they blindly attack each other.
* Subverted in ''Manga/SamuraiChamploo''. In the first episode both Mugen and Jin get into separate fights with the samurai in the town they are wandering through. When the two cross paths, Mugen believes Jin is one of the samurai sent to kill him and immediately attacks. When Mugen learns that Jin actually killed the town's samurai, Mugen becomes even more excited at the prospect of fighting a tougher opponent. The entire show consists of Mugen and Jin trying to fulfill their obligation to Fuu so they can finally fight each other, and the series constantly hints that no matter how close Mugen and Jin grow in their quest, their eventual duel will be to the death. [[spoiler: Averted in the end when they decide not to, having come to like one another far too much.]]
* In ''Manga/{{Sekirei}}'', Minato is trapped by many other Ashikabi and Sekirei who were sent an email by the Game Master who said if anyone stops Minato from reaching the MBI building, they'd be excused from his earlier rule where an Ashikabi with no wins would lose their Sekirei. A biker Ashikabi arrives late to the situation and immediately starts talking trash to them. Then they end up fighting each other instead, allowing Minato and his group to escape.
* ''Anime/SonicX'', "Cracking Knuckles", carrying on a tradition from the [[Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog video games]]. Knuckles manages to believe the villain way too often for his own good.
* An inverted example in ''Manga/{{Trigun}}'', when [[spoiler:a pair of bounty hunters after Vash the Stampede mistake one another for Vash, because of the wildly varying descriptions of him that are floating around]]. All within sight of Vash.
* ''Manga/CityHunter'': Mick Angel and Ryo's way to say hello when they met after very long time? Shoot at each other until they emptied their guns. Then they started laughing like idiots, and, after Mick revealed he had been hired to kill Ryo, they hit a few pubs.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''FanFic/{{Cenotaph}}'' features resident teen [[TheChessmaster Chessmaster]] Skitter, manipulating [[spoiler: Lung and Kaiser]] into a battle to the death. Then, when it looks like Kaiser might get away, she makes sure he is distracted and off-balence at a crucial moment. Kaiser was the one she thought would be harder to take down, ultimately.
* During ''FanFic/FantasyOfUtterRidiculousness'', Suika Ibuki accuses Coop--and Megas by extension--of stealing her prized sake gourd. Not knowing who she was or what she was talking about, Coop denies it and rebuffs Alice when she tries to warn him that it wasn't an ordinary little girl he was dealing with. This prompts Suika to super-size herself and punch Megas away from her, followed by her reciting the trope name almost word for word:
-->"Don't wanna give back my drinky-drink? It's a fight you're hankering for, huhhh? ...You want to surpass an oni? You're interested in a fight? Fine with me. ''Let's you and me fight.''"
* ''FanFic/FateStayNightUltimateMaster'': Ben and his servant Avenger against Saber and Archer. Ben and Avenger are always the one '''being''' attacked and are just defending themselves (with one exception, and even then there was a justification). Saber, Archer and Rin are too busy seeing him as a threat (actually outright attacking him on sight) to [[PoorCommunicationKills actually stop and talk with him and realise he]] doesn't want to win the Grail and is wary of it's [[JerkassGenie wish granting ability]].
* ''Fanfic/GodSlayingBladeWorks'': Shirou Emiya kills the evil god Angra Mainyu and gains his powers in the process. Perseus senses Angra's energy within him and attacks, thinking Shirou actually is Angra. Shirou is forced to kill him in self-defense, and Perseus realizes his mistake in his last moments. (Good thing he turns out to be such a GracefulLoser.)
* In the ''FanFic/PonyPOVSeries'' [[BadFuture Dark World Series]], Twilight's group ''does'' end up fighting with the rest of the mane six due to the others being BrainwashedAndCrazy until Discord's spell was broken. However, this is averted with Applejack and Twilight, who broke Discord's spell independently of one another and when they run into each other mistake the other as still being brainwashed. While Applejack does panic and kick her (leading to a comical moment of Twilight ending up under a Dirt Maid's skirt and being kicked back onto Applejack), they quickly put two and two together (such as Twilight calling her ''Applejack'' instead of Liarjack and Applejack having washed her CoolHat for the first time since the Day of Chaos) and realize the other isn't acting like Twilight Tragedy[=/=]Liarjack. They each quickly realize the others pulled a HeelFaceTurn and decide to trust each other and team up.
** This happens ''repeatedly'' in the Wedding Arc, due to characters constantly mistaking others for being brainwashed by the Changelings. And things are further complicated by the presence of [[spoiler: Moth, a reformed Changeling and Bon Bon's adopted sibling]].
*** Thankfully subverted when [[spoiler: [[HeroOfAnotherStory Misfit Actual]]]] joins up with the main heroes during the arc's FinalBattle; since they helped Trixie's group fight off [[TheBrute Hercules Beetle]] and tried to get Cadence to use her powers to vouch for them (it was Moon Dancer posing as Cadence, but they didn't know that), which would have exposed them if they were imposters, the others are quick to trust them.
* ''Fanfic/SuperwomenOfEva'': As expected of a [[SuperFic superhero]] FusionFic, the series has several examples (examples: She-Hulk vs. Spirit in ''Fanfic/SOEEmeraldFury'' and Power Girl vs. Wonder Girl in ''Fanfic/SOE2AmazingAmazon'').
* ''Fanfic/ThisBites'': Invoked by Cross and Soundbite to get the Unluckies that are pursuing them in Jaya off their backs. Soundbite goads [[ColdSniper Van Augur]] to start shooting at Ms. Friday, and when that doesn't stop Mr. 13, Cross finds Bellamy and insults him to his face to spring him right at him, [[DeadlyDodging and by extension, Mr. 13.]]
--> '''Cross''': Excuse me, is it true that Doflamingo's spring-heeled ''dickweasel'' can be found here, or is this the wrong bar?
* ''Fanfic/TheBridge'': Happens and is averted a few times despite the set up.
** Godzilla Junior in his unicorn form and Princess Luna get into a brawl because Junior was fighting the Canterlot Guard. Junior had just crash landed into the castle and was delirious, meaning when a guard grabbed him by the hoof he thought he was being attack; leading to an escalating fight with Luna jumping into the fray to protect the guards.
** Averted when Mothra (changeling queen) meets Twilight Sparkle. Despite Twilight initially mistaking her for Chrysalis, Mothra calmly defuses the situation and lets Twilight test her to prove she means her no harm.
** In the prequel ''Tales from the Amalgam'verse: Godzilla meets [[{{Film/Gorgo}} Gorgo]]'', the still kaiju Godzilla Junior and Gorgo's mother Orka fight. Orka is just trying to reclaim her son and Junior is trying to protect the humans. [[spoiler: Thankfully it ends without serious injury.]]

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanVsRobin'' has it right in the title. According to the plot, Robin (Damian Wayne) discovers an {{ancient conspiracy}} known as [[ComicBook/NightOfTheOwls the Court of Owls]] that leads him and Batman into fighting. [[spoiler: Said fight only happened at the midway point, with the real conflict between father and son being their rocky relationship.]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/DrNo'', Film/JamesBond's investigation into an MI-6 operative's death leads him to Quarrel, who's already working with CIA agent Felix Leiter. Because Leiter saw Bond leave the airport with one of Dr. No's men, Quarrel attacks Bond; their fight is broken up when Leiter arrives to clarify the whole mess.
* In ''Film/TheMatrixReloaded'', Seraph fights Neo on their first meeting, but in that case it's to establish that he really is The One. Given Mr. Smith's ability to BodySurf this is a sensible precaution.
* Two cops in ''Film/HardBoiled'' end up on either sides of a ''major'' gang shootout taking place in a warehouse. One is undercover. The other drops in from the skylight to do a bust, and does not know about the cop undercover. This is a very, very straight example.
* ''Film/TheForbiddenKingdom''. It having ''Creator/JetLi and Creator/JackieChan in the same movie first time ever!!'', of course they have to fight at first. This is achieved by having Jet Li's character first steal the MacGuffin, taking Chan's character and the kid to be a couple of thieves.
* In ''Film/HeroicTrio'', all three main characters fight each other in different scenes before finally teaming up.
* In ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanDeadMansChest'', Jack Sparrow uses this tactic to escape Will and Norrington.
* In ''Film/{{Bunraku}}'' the two main characters have a BarBrawl before deciding to team up to go after the BigBad.
* ''Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse'':
** In ''Film/IronMan2'', [[spoiler:Rhodey suits up as War Machine to rein in Crazy Drunken Self-Destructive Tony]]. It seems played for laughs at first, but gradually turns very un-funny. They fight a second time, unwillingly, [[spoiler: when Vanko hacks Rhodey's suit. While Rhodey's inside. And can fly. And has a mounted Gatling gun.]]
** In ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'': Thor tries to get to his brother Loki, but provokes Iron Man and Captain America by stealing him out of SHIELD custody. What follows is a short but intense brawl of pure, delightful fanservice, [[UltimateShowdownOfUltimateDestiny gratuitous demonstration of power and ability ranges galore]], that any comic-reader can tell is a very explicit ShoutOut to/ AffectionateParody of this trope, which has long-since passed cliche and reached the levels of UndeadHorseTrope in actual superhero comics.
** Creator/JossWhedon discussed the trope in the commentary of the scene, explaining that he desperately avoided setting up the fight with a misunderstanding or with one hero being BrainwashedAndCrazy because then the audience would simply be waiting for them to wise up and start talking. Having them fight over custody of Loki let the movie have its fight with full justification.
** Later on in the movie, Thor fights to stop a rampaging Hulk from destroying the Helicarrier, and Black Widow fights off [[spoiler:a BrainwashedAndCrazy Hawkeye]]. Cap and Iron Man almost get angry enough at each other to start a fight themselves (Steve even makes a challenge, but Tony refuses to suit up), but they drop the issue the moment the Helicarrier comes under attack.
** ''Film/AvengersAgeOfUltron'' has another case where one of the heroes tries to intervene in a Hulk rampage; this time Iron Man with special anti-Hulk armor he had prepared.
** In ''Film/CaptainAmericaCivilWar'', Zemo's plan is to turn the Avengers against each other by framing Bucky Barnes for a terrorist attack. As relations among the team are already strained due to disagreements over a SuperRegistrationAct, it works only too well. His masterstroke: [[spoiler: revealing that Bucky killed Tony's parents while under HYDRA's control, leading to an all-out brawl involving Tony, Cap and Bucky.]]
** In ''Film/AvengersInfinityWar'', Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Dr. Strange meet Star-Lord, Drax, and Mantis. The two groups attack each other due to mistakenly believing the other works for Thanos.
* ''Film/MaxPayne'' has this with him and Mona briefly before teaming up.
* In ''Film/TheSumOfAllFears'', the villains try to get the two world superpowers, the U.S. and Russia, to destroy each other.
* In ''Film/{{Godzilla 2014}}'', Serizawa's solution to the MUTO attacks after [[spoiler:the nuke is hijacked by a MUTO]] is to let Franchise/{{Godzilla}} [[GodzillaThreshold finish the job.]]
* ''Film/JurassicWorld'': Is an I-rex threatening you and your family? No problem. Just [[spoiler: [[WhamLine open Paddock 9]] and let [[TyrannosaurusRex Rexy]] handle it. Bonus points if you can get a semi-trained [[RaptorAttack Velociraptor]] and a [[SeaMonster Mosasaurus]] to lend a hand]].
* Both ''Film/KamenRiderXSuperSentaiSuperHeroTaisen'' and ''Film/HeiseiRiderVsShowaRiderKamenRiderWarsFeaturingSuperSentai'' both have two different sets of hero groups slugging it out due to cases of SuperDickery.
* In ''Film/BatmanVSupermanDawnOfJustice'', Batman and Superman are manipulated [[spoiler: and partly forced, due to Lex's kidnapping of Martha Kent]] by Lex Luthor into conflict.
* In ''Film/JusticeLeague2017'', [[spoiler:after Superman comes back to life, he wanders the city confused and disoriented with amnesia. When the rest of the Justice League approach him, his XRayVision activates by itself and he becomes frightened at seeing walking skeletons. Then Cyborg's defense systems activate and he involuntarily blasts Superman, enraging him into attacking them. It isn't until Lois Lane shows up that he calms down.]]
* In ''Film/YamatoTakeru'', the hero ends up fighting his [[BattleCouple future love interest/adventuring companion]] Oto Tachibana when they first meet, because the latter mistakes him and his friends for the thieves who stole her shrine's sacred mirror. The misunderstanding is thankfully cleared up before anyone can get seriously hurt.

* Creator/NeilGaiman's ''Literature/AmericanGods'', where it's a key plot point. An example of an old, named scam mentioned to Shadow by Mr. Wednesday, "Let's You and Him Fight" turns out to be [[spoiler: the EvilPlan Odin and Loki have been working on together. The plan was to goad the home-grown modern gods into fighting the immigrant gods to the death, so both Odin and Loki could feed off ensuing battle]].
* ''Literature/TheHeroesOfOlympus'' series:
** Percy and Jason duke it out when possessed by evil spirits.
** In the audiobook ''Son of Sobek'', Percy [[{{Crossover}} crosses paths]] with [[Literature/TheKaneChronicles Carter Kane]] while they are both hunting the titular giant crocodile, and they get into a fight when Percy mistakes Carter for a rogue demigod.
* It also appears in ''Literature/TheLongGoodbye'' by Creator/RaymondChandler, said by Marlowe when two cops start bickering with each other when they're supposed to be interrogating him.
-->'''Sergeant Green:''' You make the notes, and leave your brains alone. If you're real good we'll let you sing Mother Machree at the police smoker.\\
'''Detective Dayton:''' The hell with you, Sarge, if I may say so with proper respect for your rank.\\
'''Marlowe:''' ''[to Green]'' Let's you and him fight. I'll catch him when he drops.
* In one of the ''Literature/{{Sharpe}}'' books, [[TheChessmaster master manipulator]] Ducos comes up with a plan to end the war. As a first stage, he needs a general killed. On a personal level, he wants Sharpe dead. As luck would have it, Sharpe has already slept with the general's wife. One well-timed letter later, the DuelToTheDeath is arranged.
** In another book, Sharpe and Harper go to a monastery occupied by a mixed force of deserters from all the armies involved in the Peninsular War, led by a French cook and [[spoiler: 'Colonel' Hakeswill]], carrying the ransom for the Portuguese wife of an English high-up who'd been at the monastery for an annual festival. At the same time a French officer and his sergeant arrive to pay the ransom for the French officer's English wife. Both sides think that the other is the enemy.
** In the film, Sharpe pins the French colonel and calls for him to surrender, but the Frenchman refuses to surrender to a "deserter".
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' novel ''Literature/GreyKnights''
** The BigBad uses [[ShroudedInMyth the secrecy surrounding the Grey Knights]] to paint them as Chaos Marines and get the local Imperial forces against them.
** Similarly, Alaric, the protagonist of the series, pulls this off on his foes in the sequel ''Hammer of Daemons.'' Some of the Daemons he manipulates are aware that he's playing them, but they are compelled to go along by their own greed, paranoia, and rage.
* Heimerdinger's ''Literature/KingdomsAndConquerors'' features several chapters of this, told from multiple POV. One hero( Apollos) believes his Love Interest was murdered by his masked opponents( a long ago friend) while Gid was informed that Apollos killed his good friends. the two continue to fight until Gid's friends shout his name, and Apollos recognizes the voices.
* This ultimately turns out to be the plan of [[spoiler: the alien Starflyer]] in Peter Hamilton's SpaceOpera ''Literature/PandorasStar/Literature/JudasUnchained''.
* In the history of Creator/LarryNiven's ''Literature/KnownSpace'' universe, the Puppeteers lure an Outsider ship into human space so that the humans will gain an advantage during the First Man-Kzin war. And during one of the later Man-Kzin wars, the Puppeteers themselves show up to sell humanity invulnerable starship hulls. They do this so the humans will wreck the Kzinti population (and specifically to kill off the more violence-prone members of the species), thus reducing the Kzinti threat to the Puppeteers.
* In a Russian short story, after a devastating interstellar war, humanity and a race of human-sized insects wipe out each other (humans cause the bugs' star to go nova, while the bugs nuke Earth). The few remaining humans are helped by a race of benevolent aliens. When the aliens offer one of the humans (a clone, actually) a chance to fight a cloned bug, he readily agrees. During the fight, though, the bug (who has GeneticMemory) reveals that the supposed "benefactors" are, in fact, the masterminds behind the failed FirstContact between humand and bugs. Apparently, whenever they encoutner a violent race that can potentially threaten them, they find another violent race and pit them against each other to mutual annihilation.
* Much of Simon R. Green's ''Literature/GuardAgainstDishonor'' is set up so as to get that series' married-cop protagonists, [[BattleCouple Hawk and Fisher]], to fight one another, as the bad guys implicate Fisher in police corruption while alleging Hawk has gone rogue and is killing innocent people. When they finally meet, [[spoiler: it's subverted, because they both care about each other more than about their duty as cops, so wouldn't have attacked each other even if the allegations had been true]].
* Simon R. Green's ''Literature/{{Nightside}}'' series has this as a favorite tactic of the main character.
--> '''Count Video''' (on sending agents of hell against the Walking Man): "Let's you and him fight, I like it."
* In ''Literature/NeedfulThings'', Leland Gaunt tricks an entire town into fighting and killing each other by selling worthless junk magically disguised as treasures to people in exchange for having them perform pranks on their neighbors.
* Pretty much the entire ''plot'' of Literature/HonorHarrington has been orchestrated by [[spoiler:the Mesan Alignment]].
* This happens in [[Literature/TalesOfTheBranionRealm The Granite Shield]], in which a weak and tiny expy of [[FantasyCounterpartCulture Protestant Wales]] distracts all of Europe by [[spoiler: assassinating the equivalent of the Pope]], thus plunging its many, many enemies into a decade of war.
* In Creator/MichaelFlynn's ''Literature/SpiralArm'' novel ''On The Razor's Edge'', when Gidula pitches Donovan against Eglay Portion, in an official combat that Donovan suspects may be used to cripple him against the rules, Donovan with some cunning timing defeats him in the first moments. Eglay appraises him, asks him how to do it, and [[DefeatMeansFriendship is his man thereafter.]]
* ''Dog Warrior'', the last ''Literature/UkiahOregon'' book, opens with Atticus Steele (undercover DEA agent) finding his long lost brother (the protagonist of the rest of the series) unconscious in a car trunk wearing a [[AllBikersAreHellsAngels Dog Warriors]] jacket. Research shows that every known member of the gang is on the [[WellIntentionedExtremist FBI Most Wanted list]], and he shuns his newfound family and works against them. Meanwhile, Ukiah sees that his long-lost brother seems to be a ruthless drug dealer, and suspicion leads the Pack to put Atticus through a harsh initiation, confirming their criminality and enmity in his mind.
* In ''Literature/DevilsCape'', Bedlam attacks Argonaut, thinking Argonaut was responsible for breaking out a patient at his psychological institute and almost killing Bedlam himself. However, the mistake is understandable, as the culprit was Argonaut's [[AlwaysIdenticalTwins twin brother,]] who has the same powers and even uses the same aftershave.
* The ''[[Franchise/BattleTechExpandedUniverse BattleTech]]'' novel ''Call of Duty'' has two military groups, each of which is tricked into thinking the other had attacked it.
* ''Franchise/{{Doctor Who|ExpandedUniverse}}'' spinoff ''Literature/FactionParadox'' has the [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast War in Heaven]], a massive conflict arranged by the titular Faction between the [[JustForFun/TimeLord Homeworld]] and [[EldritchAbomination The Enemy]] for a chance to swipe some nice tech, some converts... [[BreadEggsMilkSquick and poison the timestream in the process]].

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Franchise/TheGreenHornet'' {{Crossover}} episode of ''Series/{{Batman}}'' included a classic "ignorant good guys beat the crap out of each other" scene.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** "Puppet Show" (Sid the Dummy), "What's My Line?" (Kendra), among others. Also, Spike and Faith are both characters who have gone through HeelFaceTurn character arcs. By "Dirty Girls," both of them are on the side of good. When they meet for the first time since they were both evil, they trade blows for a bit, because Faith thinks Spike is still evil, and Spike just gets pissed off enough to hit back.
** Another example would be the season 4 episode "Primeval", in which [[spoiler:Adam, the season's BigBad, plans for the army and the demons to kill each other, creating lots of dead bodies for his [[NinjaPirateZombieRobot human/demon cyborg]] army]].
** Another Faith example. In "Revelations", the big bad tricks Faith into fighting Angel. It was easy enough, after [[GreenEyedMonster Xander]] laid the ground work.
** In "Angel", Darla concocts a {{plan}} to entice Angel "back to the fold" by arranging to have him kill Buffy.
** In ''Series/{{Angel}}'', Angelus does this with [[TheDragon The Beast]] and Faith, allowing the Beast to weaken her before he killed it, as he wanted to kill Faith himself. Luckily, she manages to get away.
** "Dirty Girls" has a quite amusing variation as Spike and Faith, both former villains, fight each other because each is unaware that the other has gone through a HeelFaceTurn.
* On ''Series/{{Hustle}}'' a nonviolent version ensues for the first episode of [[spoiler: series 5]]. [[spoiler:Albert]] sets up Mickey and Ash and [[spoiler: Emma and Sean]] to pull cons on each other at the same time.
* It seems a mandatory part of every entry of the Heisei ''Franchise/KamenRider'' series (except maybe ''Series/KamenRiderHibiki'') that every single pair of Riders must fight each other at least once in the series. Made the entire point of ''Series/KamenRiderRyuki'', where ThereCanBeOnlyOne.
** For much of ''[[Series/KamenRiderFaiz Kamen Rider 555]]'', Inui Takumi and Kiba Yuuji are friends in their civilian identities and each ignorant of the other's alter-ego - which is good, because each thinks the other (in his alter ego) is a [[TheDragon Dragon]] for the evil corporation. Even the AU Kiba of the NonSerialMovie is tricked into fighting Takumi by the bad guys.
** ''Series/KamenRiderDecade'' is a good example. Most of the time, whenever he travels to other people's worlds, those people get word of Decade being a devil and would destroy them, so naturally, they fought back, save for, coincidentally enough, Hibiki, who see him more as a grand teacher. As it turns out, [[spoiler:Tsukasa's goal is to kill the riders, so that their battles can be remembered, and thus, save the worlds from crumbling]].
** After Decade, Kamen Riders seem to avert this, or at least justify it so that one of the riders is heavily influenced, be it BrainwashedAndCrazy or attacking them to fulfill a DealWithTheDevil. The only Kamen Rider show to play this trope as straight as its earlier counterparts is ''Series/KamenRiderDouble'', in which the first encounter with Accel results in them fighting because of conflicting view points (Shotaro wants to arrest someone, while Ryu wants to kill them). ''Series/KamenRiderFourze'' also plays it straight, but it gets {{subverted|Trope}} as Gentaro's friends [[GoThroughMe huddle around him to prevent a fight with Meteor]] after the latter sees them as a threat to his goal.
** This streak went on until ''Series/KamenRiderWizard'', where both the brainwashed ''and'' clash of ideals styles come in. Brainwashed in the form of [[spoiler:The White Wizard's brainwashed Mages]] and clash of ideals in the form of Wizard vs. Beast (Haruto wants to stop Phantoms from making people despair and Nitoh wants to keep eating Phantoms). It also has Wizard vs. [[spoiler:White Wizard]], though it doesn't count since by the time it happens the latter has clearly established that he's ''not'' a hero.
** ''Series/KamenRiderGaim'' brings the trope back to its early roots, with the protagonist fighting every other Rider at least once, mainly because they're the ones attacking him (though some of them are outright villains). A good example of it being played straight is near the final episodes, where [[spoiler:his best friend is manipulated by the MadScientist to fight him and get him out of the way for him to dissect the girl [[LoveTriangle they both like]]]].
** In ''Series/KamenRiderDrive'', it's Kamen Rider Mach that instigates most of these fights since he suffers from FantasticRacism. He mostly goes after [[spoiler:Kamen Rider Chaser, a member of the monsters who has since sided with humanity and redeemed himself]]; but sometimes the villains have manipulated his rage and led him to tangle with Drive as well. Mach was also brainwashed for a little while ([[spoiler:or rather, ''pretending'' to be brainwashed until he could get the villains' research]]).
* Similarly, almost every ''Franchise/SuperSentai'' series from about 2000 and on must have its yearly teamup movie with the previous group of Rangers start with the two groups mistakenly battling it out before getting into the meat of the plot. ''Franchise/PowerRangers'', on the other hand, usually averts this trope by having Ranger teams get down to business pretty quickly. The only teamups that invoke it are ''[[Series/PowerRangersNinjaStorm Ninja Storm]]''/''[[Series/PowerRangersDinoThunder Dino Thunder]]'' (the Dino Rangers need to smack some sense into the brainwashed Ninja Rangers) and ''[[Series/PowerRangersRPM RPM]]''/''[[Series/PowerRangersSamurai Samurai]]'' (both Red Rangers are manipulated into getting pissed at each other).
* ''Series/DoctorWho'': The [[TheNthDoctor regeneration]] story "Time and the Rani" had this happen between the Doctor and his sidekick -- she didn't realise he was the Doctor because she hadn't seen him since the regeneration, and the last time he'd seen "her" it had been the villain in disguise.
* In ''Series/{{Sharpe}}'' at one point, Hakeswill orchestrates it so that Sharpe and Harper, on a mission to ransom a general's kidnapped wife, attack and almost kill a pair of Frenchmen... who are there for exactly the same reason, but for the French officer's wife. Fortunately, Sharpe realizes what's going on before anything irreversible happens.
* In ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', Maury Parkman uses his mind control powers to trick Nathan Petrelli and Matt Parkman into fighting each other, each thinking they are fighting an enemy.
* Happens all the time in ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' when Clark meets another hero.
* Season 3 of ''Series/{{Dexter}}'' starts with the death of a semi-innocent man due to this trope.
* In ''Series/BabylonFive'' a large part of Sheridan's strategy is to arrange this for the Shadows and Vorlons.
** Likewise, this trope was essentially the Shadow's philosophy: to get the younger races to fight amongst each other, so that the survivors would be stronger.
* Rare heroic example in season 5 of ''Series/TwentyFour'': Jack Bauer is inside a bank retrieving evidence [[spoiler:that will implicate the President of the United States in the day's conspiracy]] from a safety deposit box when Christopher Henderson's men manage to find him and surround the bank, but due to the fact that all the windows and walls are bulletproof, Jack's safe as long as he remains in the building--''but only then''. He has the bank president set off the silent alarm to call the police to the bank, and since Henderson can't allow that evidence to reach CTU (which it undoubtedly would if Bauer was arrested), his men open fire on the policemen, allowing Jack to escape in the confusion. In a police car, no less.
** "Live Another Day" is basically a whole season of this trope, as Jack is considered a traitor and the local CTU branch has a grand total of ''one'' agent who's not a trigger-happy idiot.
* In the final season of ''Series/{{Lost}}'', Locke/the Smoke monster tries to manipulate Kate and Claire into killing each other over Aaron.
** One of the big reveals near the end of the series was that the Smoke Monster, being prevented from killing Jacob's candidates himself, was manipulating them into killing each other all along: Survivors, the Others, DHARMA folk and everyone else - and while some attempts failed, other have succeeded.
* Used by Patrick Jane of ''Series/TheMentalist''. Faced with a serial killer he could identify but who he could not prove, Jane [[spoiler:went on a talkshow with the killer and goaded him into talking smack about the "deceased" Red John]]. As one would imagine, [[DoNotTauntCthulhu there was one less serial killer that evening]].
** An accidental (and much less serious) example occurs in an earlier episode of the same show. The main cast team enters an abandoned house to investigate a body found, leading another CBI team to a report of lights on inside a vacant house possibly connected to the abduction they're investigating. Fortunately, the agents recognize each other before anyone actually gets hurt.
* In the ''Series/StargateSG1'' episode "Full Alert", the Goa'uld try to manipulate the United States and Russia into a nuclear war.
* Explicitly invoked in ''Series/ThreeKingdoms'' to explain the Huarong Valley incident: the victorious naval commander Zhou Yu reveals to his lord Sun Quan that he set up the pursuit so that Cao Cao would be chased into the forces of Sun Quan's nominal ally Liu Bei, intending for Cao Cao's successors to blame Liu Bei for his death and primarily target Liu Bei's force, leaving Sun Quan's force free to operate more freely. However, Liu Bei's military advisor Zhuge Liang revealed this plot to his lord, and that he'd deliberately left Guan Yu on that route ''because'' Guan Yu's honor debt for Cao Cao's past generosity to him meant that [[HonorBeforeReason he would let Cao Cao escape]], so as to escape Zhou Yu's plot (since apparently chasing Cao Cao back into the arms of Sun Quan/Zhou Yu's force wasn't an option).
** Later attempted when Sun Quan later offers Cao Cao a birthday present of [[spoiler:Guan Yu's severed head]] with a deferential proclamation that he'd followed Cao Cao's instructions, intending for Liu Bei's wrath would turn from Sun Quan's state of Eastern Wu towards Cao Cao's state of Wei -- but Cao Cao sees right through it and [[spoiler:[[DueToTheDead orders the head buried with a body carved from fragrant wood and a noble's honors]], complete with a heartfelt eulogy]].
* ''Series/HappyDays'': In "Joanie's Weird Boyfriend," Fonzie and Carmine Ragusa (guest appearing from ''Series/LaverneAndShirley'') let Richie, Ralph and Potsie fight the Red Devil gang before finishing the job afterwards.
* This happens several times on ''Series/{{Chuck}}'', where the team gets into a fight with another spy, only to learn that they're actually {{MI6}} agents working on the same case undercover. Cole Barker is a particularly notable example.
** It also happens within the team, as well. The second episode had Casey and Sarah accusing each other of being rogue with Chuck caught in the middle. The penultimate episode of season two starts with Chuck and Sarah gone rogue to save his father, with Casey in pursuit. A season 3 episode has ''Casey'' briefly go rogue to protect his [[spoiler: ex-fiance]]. Most tragically, [[spoiler: Quinn uses a malfunctioning Intersect to destroy Sarah's memories and brainwash her, before turning her loose against the team in the GrandFinale]].
* Occasionally used on ''Series/{{NCIS}}'' between Team Gibbs and their rival, Fornell of the FBI. When one federal agency is investigating a case the other will either be following the same case or looking into a lead on another, [[JurisdictionFriction they'll meet with interesting results]].
* In the ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' episode [[Recap/SupernaturalS02E21AllHellBreaksLoosePartOne "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One" (S02, Ep21)]], the yellow-eyed demon brings all the special children to Cold Oak, a ghost town, and manipulates them to fight each other.
* ''Series/TheFlash2014'': The Arrow and The Flash get into a fight after the latter has been infected with a HatePlague. It ends with a draw, as Arrow is able to stall Flash long enough for their allies to come up with a cure.
* In the ''Series/LegendsOfTomorrow'' episode "The Justice Society of America", the first meeting of the Legends and the ComicBook/{{Justice Society|OfAmerica}} has the two teams quickly ending up fighting, due to the JSA thinking that the Legends are Nazi spies.
* ''Series/TheDefenders2017'': Series/{{Luke Cage|2016}} and [[Series/IronFist2017 Danny Rand]] run into each other when their investigations into the Hand [[WorkingTheSameCase cause them to cross paths]] when Luke catches Danny in the act of roughing up Cole, causing a fight to break out. The first minute or so of the fight is completely one-sided in Luke's favor, as nothing Danny does [[SuperToughness can make Luke budge an inch.]] It takes Danny delivering a direct hit to Luke's face with the Iron Fist to do any actual damage.
* ''Series/Daredevil2015'': When Wilson Fisk can't directly get rid of an inconvenient ally or an outright enemy, he'll set up these situations as an indirect way to get rid of the problem. In season 1, Fisk escalates the conflict between Matt and the Russians, so that the Russians are in a position where Fisk can target them with bombs, and then sends in the corrupt cops in his pocket to kill the survivors. Later on, when Nobu gets too insistent that Fisk immediately fulfill his part of the Hand's deal to acquire Elena's property for Midland Circle, Fisk sets him up to fight Matt in the hopes that they kill each other. In season 2, Fisk does a series of orchestrated moves to get Frank Castle into his jail, then gets Frank to kill Dutton and his entire crew, which allows Fisk to keep his hands 'clean'. When Frank thwarts Fisk's attempts to have him killed after getting rid of Dutton, Fisk then arranges for Frank to be released knowing that Frank will go out and kill off lots of criminal rivals who may pose a challenge to Fisk on his release from prison.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine''
** The Dominion's plan to conquer the Alpha Quadrant is to set the major powers fighting against each other, so that they'll all be weakened enough for the Dominion to come in virtually unopposed.
** The plot of the infamous episode "In the Pale Moonlight" is to set up a scenario that lets the Dominion and the Romulans fight.
** In "Homefront"/"Paradise Lost", InsaneAdmiral Leyton is planning a coup against President Jaresh-Inyo. When the ''Defiant'' heads for Earth with crucial evidence, Leyton sends the ''Lakota'' to stop them by saying that the ''Defiant'' has been taken over by Changelings.

* The song, "The Ultimate Showdown" by Music/LemonDemon takes this trope UpToEleven.
* In the Charlie Daniels song "Uneasy Rider", the protagonist attempts the heroic version of this when he stops at a bar in Jackson, Mississippi, and the rednecks threaten to hurt him for looking like "one of those long-haired hippie-type pinko fags." He accuses one of them of being an undercover FBI agent who's trying to infiltrate and destroy the [[TheKlan Ku Klux Klan]]. The ploy doesn't quite work, but the protagonist manages to distract everyone long enough to run out to the parking lot, get in his Chevrolet, and obtain a measure of revenge by pretending to run the rednecks down when they come out to chase him...before making his escape and heading for Omaha.

* Happened more than a few times in ancient Greece, since [[Series/HerculesTheLegendaryJourneys "the ancient gods were petty and cruel."]] [[ItMakesSenseInContext The Trojan War actually started this way, with a goddess getting three other goddesses to fight over who was the prettiest.]] Some of the heroes did this, too: apparently, the best way to defeat dragon's-tooth warriors is to throw a rock into their midst and have them fight each other over who threw the rock.

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* The trope name comes from ''ComicStrip/{{Popeye}}'': it's one of Wimpy's {{Catch Phrase}}s.
* An early ''ComicStrip/{{Garfield}}'' strip had the cat manipulating Jon, Lyman and Odie into a BigBallOfViolence-type brawl [[ItAmusedMe simply because he was bored]].

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* Wrestling/MsChif successfully pulled this scheme on Wrestling/DaizeeHaze and Haze's TagTeam partner Mickie Knuckles on the second night of ''IWA Mid-South King of the Death Matches 2004: The Last Bloody Stand''. However, while she got one over on Haze, it was the start of what would become a multiyear rivalry with Knuckles.
* Wrestling/ElGenerico, Excess 69 and Wrestling/KevinSteen all competed with each other to have the least amount of time in the ring with Wrestling/SamoaJoe during a northern Championship wrestling four corner's match (and to a lesser extent, to be out of the ring in general as winner had to face Wrestling/{{R|ingOfHonor}}OH champion Wrestling/AustinAries) in January of 2005. 69 didn't want to be in the ring with Steen either, which in turn let Generico outmaneuver Steen.
* Wrestling/{{Raven}}'s plan for Wrestling/KurtAngle, Wrestling/{{Christian}} and Wrestling/SamoaJoe in Wrestling/{{TNA}} during early 2005 while he bid his time messing with Abyss until the time was opportune to enter the Wrestling/{{N|ationalWrestlingAlliance}}WA World Heavyweight Title picture and [[BecauseDestinySaysSo fulfill his destiny]].
* Wrestling/{{Carlito C|olon}}aribbean Cool cost himself the WWC Universal Title this way in January of 2015 by choosing to go after a confused Ray González while the two of them were surrounded by La Revolución rather than team up. La Revolución went on to attack both of them and then set their sights on the third Universal title contender Mighty Ursus, yet González, Colón and Ursus still kept fighting each other. Eventually though, Carlito would wise up and united against the common enemy, that is he joined forces with Revolución...[[ShockingSwerve Juan Manuel Ortega, the who had been on a mission to rid the pro wrestling industry of Carly's family prior.]]

* Required in ''Pinball/TheAvengersStern'' -- the only way to reach the final WizardMode is to pit the heroes against each other.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In the ''TabletopGame/StarFleetBattles Universe'' (an AlternateHistory Franchise/StarTrek universe), this is how the Tholians survive being bordered by the Federation, Romulans and Klingons (the last of which are flat out trying to destroy them... with some good reason).
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}''
** This is standard Eldar operating procedure. While they're usually more concerned with making entire species fight each other for their own benefit they are more than happy to manipulate individuals to the same end.
** Due to the extreme secrecy surrounding [[StateSec Inquisitors]] and the insidiousness of the forces of [[TheCorruption Chaos]], most times an Inquisitor crosses paths with another during an investigation it ends in bloodshed. Due to [[DarkerAndEdgier the nature]] [[BlackAndGrayMorality of]] [[CrapsackWorld the universe]], however, one of them usually turns out to be correct about the other's corruption.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Champions}}'' Organization Book 2 ''PRIMUS and DEMON''. The DEMON organization's plan to steal the Earth Crown of Krim from PRIMUS headquarters involves tricking PRIMUS into attacking the local superhero group.

* In ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'', Paris (Juliet's betrothed) goes to visit her grave at the same time that Romeo does-- they each think the other is trying to defile her tomb, attack each other, and Paris dies. Romeo doesn't realize his mistake until Paris (with his dying breath) begs to be brought to Juliet's side so that he may join her in death.

* Has happened a few times in ''Toys/{{Bionicle}}'', usually when the heroes have never met before (or at least, one doesn't recognize the other due to a MidSeasonUpgrade). The most blatant one, which has no such justification, comes when the Toa Hagah show up and say "Sorry, but, uh, we kind of have to cause some MonumentalDamage to complete our mission.", to which the Toa Mahri say ''"Aw [[PardonMyKlingon Karzahni]] no!"'' and they fight. After it breaks up, they lampshade that they're idiots for not even ''trying'' to come up with a less destructive plan for the Hagah to follow.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaCurseOfDarkness'' has this with the main character Hector, and the famous vampire slayer Trevor Belmont. Trevor believed that Hector was the Devil Forgemaster causing all of the trouble, and it's only until ''after'' the fight that Trevor learns better.
* Mega Man first met his brother, Protoman, under these circumstances in ''VideoGame/MegaMan3''. Also, Duo for ''VideoGame/MegaMan8''.
** Also, an impending fight between ''VideoGame/MegaManX'' and Zero has been hinted upon ever since X2. (Though in a non-canon process just before the final battle in that case.) It was again touched upon in X4 before finally taking place in X5, and by extension, both X6. (And not ''VideoGame/MegaManZero 1'' and ''3'', since [[spoiler:that's a copy]].)
* ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'':
** In ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsI'', Sora ends up in a fight with Leon shortly after he arrives in Traverse Town.
** In ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts358DaysOver2'', Roxas is tasked to defeat a "[[BossBattle giant heartless]]" in Halloween Town - said Heartless [[spoiler:happens to be Xion, who attacks him because she is under the impression that he is ''her'' target. Their missions were rigged by the Organization so that one of them could assimilate the other]].
** In ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'', Xaldin tricks [[Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast The Beast]] into going berserk and attacking the protagonists who spend the fight trying to calm him down. Throughout the series, Disney/{{H|ercules}}ades, being the ManipulativeBastard that he is, uses various means to get his enemies to kill each other, such as making a deal with Cloud and brainwashing Auron. In [[Disney/{{Mulan}} The Land of Dragons]], Sora mistakes Riku for a member of Organization XIII and attacks him. Riku later attempted to warn the Emperor of China about the Heartless Dragon that Xigbar created, but had to fight and defeat Shang to get to him.
* Happens to ''everyone'' in ''VideoGame/RivalSchools''. Characters from the respective high schools start disappearing and come back BrainwashedAndCrazy, or at the very least [[NotHimself Not Themselves]]. Nobody knows who's behind the chaos until the very end, after they've all beaten each other to a pulp.
* The SRX and ATX teams meet this way in ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsOriginalGeneration'', due to the ATX team being used as a test for the new units that the SRX team got. The participants notice it's obviously a bit contrived and only some go through with their orders.
** In ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsZ'', an incident ends up in a battle between one half of your team and the other half. [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome Which includes some of the most famous mecha in all of anime]].
** In ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars [[VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsOriginalGeneration OG Saga:]] VideoGame/EndlessFrontier'', the player's party is tricked by Saya, BigBad of ''VideoGame/NamcoXCapcom'', into attacking her pursuers, namely Reiji Arisu and Xiaomu, the main heroes of ''VideoGame/NamcoXCapcom''. What plays into Saya's favor is that Reiji and Xiamou wear red and black, a color scheme also worn the Orchestral Army, seen by the player's party as being up to no good. Upon the party's meeting of Reiji and Xiaomu, Two of the party members suspect they've been lied to, but goes ahead with the beatdown and decide to figure things out later.
* Arguably combined with GambitRoulette in ''VideoGame/BattalionWars 2''. Kaiser Vlad, leader of the Germany-equivalent Xylvania, orchestrates a preemptive invasion by the UK-based Anglo Isles on the Japan-esque Solar Empire, who promptly counterattack by invading the Anglo Isles with Russian-stand-in Tundran Territory support. All this to invade the Tundran Territories in an attempt to find a weapon placed there. It's implied that he may have done it once before, setting the America-counterpart Western Frontier against the Tundrans to set up mining operations in the Frontier.
** Also pretty much the plot of ''VideoGame/AdvanceWars 1'', as Sturm (and his pawn, Olaf) set up a massive war between the protagonists Orange Star and the other nations, using clones of Orange Star's CO Andy, with the idea of cleaning up the remains.
* ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros'':
** In the Subspace Emissary, Mario and Pit fight Link and Yoshi when one team finds the other standing over the dissolving fake trophy of either Zelda or Peach. Which team finds which depends on the player's actions. In both cases, the misunderstanding is eventually cleaned up and they join forces. This is one of several such misunderstandings that occur throughout the Subspace Emissary, most of which involving Meta Knight (i.e., Marth, Lucario, almost with Snake). There's almost one between Fox and Sheik, but it is [[DefiedTrope broken up]] by [[TheChick Peach]]. ''[[CrowningMomentOfFunny With tea]].'' The use of this strategy by a player, during a multiplayer match, is the bane of StopHavingFunGuys everywhere.
* In ''Franchise/MortalKombat vs [[Franchise/TheDCU DC Universe]]'''s story mode, there wouldn't ''be'' a story without this. Only when ready to battle Dark Khan does everyone realize the obvious. And when he does appear, he infects absolutely everyone with the [[HatePlague Kombat]] [[UnstoppableRage Rage]] to keep it going until Franchise/{{Superman}} and Raiden are the only ones remaining.
* In the Story Mode of ''VideoGame/MortalKombat9'', the heroes get into fights with each other a lot, either via misunderstandings or just plain getting angry at one another. (Most of the latter examples involve Johnny Cage, who acts like a jerk a ''lot'' over the course of the story.)
* Mission 6-4 of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIIRevenantWings''. What makes this so annoying is that it's probably [[ScrappyLevel the hardest battle in the game]].
* ''Franchise/DevilMayCry''
** ''VideoGame/DevilMayCry3DantesAwakening'' has this to an extent. [[spoiler: Arkham was playing Lady, Vergil and Dante, and trying to get them to fight each other, and weaken each other so that he could come out on top, and open the gate to hell. Dante and Vergil do end up fighting each other in the end, though Lady and Dante end up sort of on the same side.]]
** ''VideoGame/DevilMayCry4'' has a subversion that gets retroactively played straight. Nero is sent on a mission to bring down Dante for shooting Sanctus in the head. Makes sense, from Nero's perspective and even from the audience's (Dante might be heroic but he certainly did something not very heroic here and they empathize with Nero before getting the whole story). [[spoiler:However later, it's revealed what Sanctus was really doing and what role Dante was actually playing, which turns the battle from earlier into this trope. Nero and Dante stand together by the end of the game in order to stop the real villain.]]
* The battle with Savyna in ''VideoGame/BatenKaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean''. Once you win, you realize that it was a misunderstanding, and she [[DefeatMeansFriendship joins the party]].
* In ''VideoGame/KirbysAdventure'' and the remake ''Nightmare in Dreamland'', a sheer misunderstanding on Kirby's part resulted in Kirby collecting all the star rod pieces from King Dedede and his minions. King Dedede wasn't given a chance to explain properly that the reason why he broke the Star Rod in the first place was to [[spoiler: prevent Nightmare from possessing the Fountain of Dreams]].
* In ''VideoGame/CaveStory'' the protagonist is attacked by Curly Brace before he has time to explain to her that he's not after the Mimigas.
* The ''Awakened'' {{D|ownloadableContent}}LC for ''VideoGame/DeadSpace3'', which involves the newly-awakened [[EldritchAbomination Brethren Moons]] manipulating the two playable characters, Issac Clarke and John Carver, to fight each other, buying time so they can reach their newest snack: humanity.
* ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' introduces many of the characters this way. In the FightingGame ''Immaterial and Missing Power'', many of the heroes already know each other but still assume the other is a villain.
** As well as the follow-up fighter ''Scarlet Weather Rhapsody'' and its expansion, the versus-shooter ''Phantasmagoria of Flower View'' is also very guilty of this.
** In ''Imperishable Night'', the 4th stage boss is either [[TheProtagonist Reimu or Marisa]], who attack your party for causing the titular imperishable night. In truth, the team you pick ''did'' do this, but only because of the ''real'' incident: the corrupted moon, and are trying to buy time. Not that Reimu and Marisa are willing to ''listen'' to that reasoning, though. In fact, they are either oblivious to the moon problem, or immediately blame ''you'' for the moon problem, once you bring it up.
* ''VideoGame/BioShock1'' allows players to invoke this trope on enemies with a variety of plasmids, such as the Enrage plasmid, which makes enemies fight each other blindly, or the Hypnotize Big Daddy plasmid, which can be used to make two Big Daddies fight one another. It's one of the safest ways to [[BossInMookClothing kill the bastards]].
* ''VideoGame/BioshockInfinite'' has the vigor "Possession," which when used not only makes [[SentryGun automata]] to gun down enemy {{Mooks}} but also allows {{Mooks}} to fight each other until the effect wears off.
* The ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'' series is a big fan of this trope:
** In Knuckles' very first appearance, in ''[[VideoGame/Sonic3AndKnuckles Sonic the Hedgehog 3]]'', he fights Sonic because he thought that Sonic meant to steal the Master Emerald. Then after he has been established as a character, Robotnik tricks him into fighting Sonic again in ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure'' and ''[[RuleOfThree again]]'' in ''VideoGame/{{Sonic Advance|Trilogy}} 2''.
** ''VideoGame/SonicHeroes'' has tons of fights between the 4 teams (Team Sonic, Team Dark, Team Rose, and Team Chaotix). Despite being on the same side, they constantly fight each other for petty reasons and misunderstandings throughout the game. Noticeably, it is Team Dark who kept attacking people because their opponents might have saved the day before they could for their own reasons.
** ''VideoGame/{{Sonic Rush|Series}}'' subverted this a bit; [[spoiler:Sonic and Blaze fight each other over who would fight Eggman (or Nega), even though they both know near the end that both are good guys (in fact, Blaze knows that Sonic is a good guy from the near start, but she felt that it was her responsibility to stop the Eggmans and refused to let anyone else intervene)]].
** ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2006'' has Silver, who arrived from the future and is told by Mephiles that Sonic is the Iblis Trigger (basically the cause of Silver's BadFuture). [[spoiler:Mephiles is manipulating Silver to destroy Sonic - in order to make Elise cry, and ergo release Iblis and cause the bad future that Mephiles wants. Silver only wisens up when Shadow shows him the past, after spending most of the game pursuing Sonic.]]
** The ''VideoGame/SonicRivals'' series is full of this. In the first game, 4 of the main characters - Sonic, Knuckles, Shadow, and Silver - fight each other because they want to be the first to confront Eggman [[spoiler:who turns out to be Eggman Nega later on.]] In the second game, the same 4 characters fight each other again, this time with a companion on their side (Tails, Rouge, Metal Sonic, and Espio respectively). Even [[AntiHeroTeam Team Dark]] teammates Shadow and Rouge fought each other.
** At a meta level, this is the modus operandi of ''VideoGame/SonicTheFighters'' and ''VideoGame/SonicBattle''. The former has a nonsensical plot that doesn't remotely make sense, the latter has the characters grab the IdiotBall and fight each other to train up a MacGuffin robot.
** Subverted in ''VideoGame/SonicColors''. Eggman attempts to start a fight between Sonic and [[spoiler:a brainwashed Tails, but his mind-control beam runs out of power before Tails could attack]].
%%* In ''VideoGame/BrutalLegend'', this is the [[TheEmpire Tainted Coil's]] most effective strategy. Emperor [[BigBad Doviculus]] appears to be especially good at it.
* In ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'', in Nagrand, Lantresor of the Blade provides an unusual example of a ''good'' guy pulling off this scheme.
** Most of the game revolves around both the Alliance and Horde being at odds with each other but working towards the same end. A prime example is the Icecrown Gunship Battle, where both sides are using a gunship in order to get to the top and set up a base camp for the strike force...and end up trying to shoot each other down in the process.
* A ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes'' arc has you tracking an evil double of yourself. At the same time, a good double is also tracking the evil double. You run into the good one first, and you both (unaware that there's three of you running around) assume the other's the evil one, so you fight one another, and sort things out afterward.
* In ''VideoGame/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaAsPortable: The Battle of Aces'', the cast mainly fights "memories" of the other characters, showing what they were like in the past or would have been like if things had not turned out as well as they did. In Fate's story, the real Vita mistakes her for a Memory and begins attacking her. After the player wins the fight, Fate succeeds in convincing Vita that she's real.
* ''VideoGame/AlphaProtocol'' has you [[spoiler:attempting to foil an assassination plot planned on a Taiwanese president. You're given information saying that one [[ThatOneBoss Omen Deng]] is the one planning the hit. Cue giant battle to take the plaza nearby the president's press conference. Ending with you and Omen (possibly) talking. Seems he received info that You were the assassin. just as you'd received the same. Cue OhCrap]]
** [[spoiler:It's also possible for Mike to pit Conrad Marburg and Alan Parker against each other in the finale by either revealing to Marburg that Parker was responsible for him going rogue years ago or, if Madison Saint James, AKA Parker's daughter is killed, telling Parker that Marburg was the one who did the deed. Either way, it ends with Parker dead and Michael getting a chance to even the score with Marburg.]]
* Near the end of ''VideoGame/ProfessorLaytonVsAceAttorney'', [[spoiler:Professor Layton takes over the role of prosecutor and goes up against Phoenix in court. Of course, he doesn't really believe your client is guilty, but just wants to make sure you can really get to the truth. Also, he becomes prosecutor at a point when you need the existing prosecutor to testify, so that helps too]].
* Happens three times in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfSpyro'' trilogy. The first two times, the present villain tries getting Cynder to fight Spyro, the first time, they pretend to fight for the crowd. The second time they try this again so Cynder can take out Gaul's staff but [[spoiler: Gaul sees it coming and knocks her out when she tries]]. The last time it's for real when [[spoiler: Malefor takes over Cynder's mind and makes her attack Spyro]].
* ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'': What to do when the RED Demoman and BLU Soldier are becoming best pals, before they realize that their opposing militias are secretly run by the same woman? Invoke this trope through new weapons and a bit of BerserkButton-pushing.
* In ''Videogame/JablessAdventure'', neither of the first two bosses are bad guys. Lumber Jacques mistakes you for a walking tree (and after you defeat him, he gives you a powerup to apologize). Then Rutherford Goldbeard thinks you're a cattle rustler (and/or a brain squid victim) and attacks you to defend his property.
* Happens in the opening of ''VideoGame/{{Halo 3}}'' where the Master Chief notices a cloaked elite and moves in to attack it until Johnson stops him saying that the Arbiter is with the humans. The Arbiter was cloaked because he was on reconnaissance.
* This can be used in levels in the ''Franchise/SlyCooper'' series that contain patrols other than guards ([[BearsAreBadNews Bears in Canada]], Wolves in Holland, and Carmelita to escape detection. When a guard spots you, you can alert said patrols and the two of them will typically fight it out while you run away.
* ''VideoGame/PlayStationAllStarsBattleRoyale'' uses a rivalry system to organize the roster, and while some of them make sense (Franchise/RatchetAndClank vs. VideoGame/JakAndDaxter) most of them come so far out of left-field that justifying their fighting requires a number of pretzel-like twists in logic to work. Besides [[VideoGame/{{Uncharted}} Nathan Drake]] and Franchise/SlyCooper's rivalry (which is quite [[ItsPersonal personal]]) the vast majority of the rivalries have the characters stepping on one-another's egos or being needlessly argumentative/callous.
* Monster infighting is often used by players in ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}''.
* The Sith Warrior can do this in an early mission in ''Videogame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic''. The player is sent to protect a package his master is receiving. Two gangs appear, intending to steal it, but it turns out they hate each other. They actually discuss working together to defeat the Sith/Imperial forces guarding the package, but a few clever words from the player will set them at each other's throats; they wipe each other out completely in a cutscene.
* ''VideoGame/StarTrekOnline'': In episode "Allies", mission "Memory Lane", the Tal Shiar leak false information to try and get the Romulan Republic PlayerCharacter and a Republic captain allied with the opposite faction to take each other out. This fails, but not before the Romulan PC kills several of the other captain's squads.
* In ''VideoGame/PulpAdventures'', two teams of protagonists (the Spider and the Avenger, versus the Green Hornet and Kato) have an encounter in a warehouse which has just been cleared from the mod using it. Since the Green Hornet is a vigilante pretending to be a criminal mastermind in order to fight crime from the inside, the Avenger tries to arrest him, which would have turned into a fight (the Green Hornet intended to resist) if the Shadow didn't appear at this exact moment and explained what was really going on.
* You can play the role of TheChessmaster inciting three factions to fight each other and profiting in VideoGame/Fallout4 Battle of Bunker Hill quest. Although you are initially sent there by the Institute to recapture escaped [[RidiculouslyHumanRobots synths]], you can inform [[WellIntentionedExtremist the Brotherhood of Steel]] who want to KillEmAll instead, as well as the [[SlaveLiberation Railroad, who are the ones hiding the synths there]]. Cue a three way battle between Brotherhood troops in PoweredArmor, Institute SkeleBot9000 troops and Railroad heavies with armored trench coats and {{Wave Motion Gun}}s, while you can [[PassThePopcorn sit back and watch]]. Once the fight is over, regardless of who wins, you can loot all those PoweredArmor pieces, armored long coats, expensive Gauss rifles, synth components and laser weapons from all the corpses, making a huge ton of caps. Furthermore, Bunker Hill can become an allied settlement.
* In ''VideGame/MassEffect3'', [[TotalitarianUtilitarian Cerberus]] attempts to incite a [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy Krogan]] [[SpaceRomans Turian]] war by detonating an extremely powerful bomb on the Krogan home world - a bomb placed there by the turians a thousand years ago as a failsafe.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'':
** The series' Illusion School of magic has a few spells that can utilize this.[[note]]Several of the following spells have been classified differently at various points in the series, but are primarily classed as Illusion.[[/note]] The "Frenzy/Fury" spells send targets into a blind rage, causing them to attack friend and foe alike. "Rally" spells bring a neutral target into the fight on the side of the caster. "Command" spells put the target under the command of the caster, and can be used upon otherwise hostile opponents. A MasterOfIllusion can do quite well by simply getting enemies to fight one another, and then [[CombatPragmatist finish off the (weakened) victor]] once the spell wears off.
** ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'':
*** A number of random world encounters include members of two opposing factions battling one another ([[YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters Stormcloak rebels]] vs. [[RedshirtArmy Imperial soldiers]], Stormcloaks soldiers vs. [[ANaziByAnyOtherName Thalmor]] justicars, [[CreatureHunterOrganization Vigilants of Stendarr]] vs. [[OurVampiresAreDifferent Vampires]]/{{Necromancer}}s/[[ReligionOfEvil Daedra worshipers]], etc.). Depending on your allegiances, you can aid one side against the other, or simply sit back and slaughter the weakened winning group.
*** In a storyline-driven example, crossing over with EnemyCivilWar, it's revealed that the Thalmor-led [[AntiHumanAlliance Aldmeri Dominion]] have been carefully manipulating the Stormcloaks and Empire into a war with one another, as part of a grander plot to [[spoiler:weaken them both for an inevitable Second Great War, and eventually, exterminate [[KillAllHumans all of mankind]] as part of an ''even greater plot'' to [[OmnicidalManiac unmake the mortal world]]...]]
* The plot of ''VideoGame/BlazblueCrossTagBattle'' throws the heroes of Franchise/{{Blazblue}}, Franchise/{{Persona}}, VideoGame/UnderNightInBirth and WebAnimation/{{RWBY}} into an alternate dimension that resembles their respective worlds mixed into one. A mysterious entity reveals that there exist four special Keystones, one for each world; the side that gathers them all will be allowed to return home. So the race is on to gather the Keystones and possibly also identify and confront the mysterious entity.

* ''WebComic/AntiheroForHire'': Crossroad jumps Shadehawk because a doppleganger disguised as him ratted her SecretIdentity out to her mob-boss father. Presently, Shadehawk is engaged in a running battle with the "Civic Champions" who think he's evil for a repeatedly unrevealed reason, which eventually turns out to be [[spoiler:breaking into Tera Corp]].
* ''WebComic/ArthurKingOfTimeAndSpace'' [[http://arthurkingoftimeandspace.com/0570.htm here]], partly for the pun and [[spoiler:partly as part of a quick little {{plan}} by Morgan]].
* In [[http://circusknights.smackjeeves.com Circus Knights]], the school's protectors attack Domino because he's carrying an unconscious girl, and someone's been going around putting girls in comas. About twenty pages later, one of the protectors points out that the girl Domino is carrying [[http://circusknights.smackjeeves.com/comics/233060/page-59/ "Has shown signs of Narcolepsy."]]
-->"You're kidding me... We could be attacking someone who tried to help Mrs. Blacksmith?... ''JOE! This isn't funny!!''
* ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' has done a variant on this... until ''just'' before the Big Impressive Fight started, [[spoiler:she ''[[GrandTheftMe was]]'' the Big Bad.]]
** Also, it now is home to what may be the [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20081013 first ever]] version of this trope intentionally enacted by both heroes.
*** [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20091120 Two]].
* In ''Webcomic/{{Inverloch}}'', Acheron is captured and put in an arena for fighting da'kor. Varden volunteers to fight him [[spoiler: in order to fake Acheron's death and save him. In order to make the fight believable, Varden says something to anger Acheron, making him believe Varden has switched sides]].
* ''Webcomic/{{Magellan}}'' has an impressive aversion: [[spoiler: a team from the future (and thus, unknown in the present) was attacked three times by other heroes in quick succession. The latter two they quickly resolved with diplomacy, and the first was a very short fight]].
* In ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' this happens between Berk and Torg during the [[http://www.sluggy.com/comics/archives/daily/990112 K'Z'K storyline]], since Berk thinks Torg is the one who summons [[TheLegionsOfHell the demon K'Z'K into the world]] and Torg just thinks Berk is a nut with a shotgun.
* Played [[http://superredundant.com/?p=543 painfully straight]] in ''Webcomic/LeagueOfSuperRedundantHeroes''.
* Karno's webcomic [=PeRKS=] has Savage Squirrel and Happy Jack cross paths while working two different cases. [[http://www.furaffinity.net/view/4753342/ Savage orders Happy Jack to surrender]]--[[SubvertedTrope and Happy Jack promptly does]]. When Savage Squirrel wonders why, Happy Jack explains that [[spoiler:s]]he is working a slavery ring (Savage Squirrel is working a kidnapping). The two guess their cases are related and team up.
* Novik from ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod'' eggs his team mates on to establish a strength hierarchy and beats almost all of them.
* Webcomic/{{Energize}} vs the Heroes Unite Initiative in Energize: Hunted. [[spoiler:As a result of both the HU Commander and Nemesis [[GambitPileup pursuing their own separate agendas]].]]
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', an Immortal deliberately set up a fight between Elliot and a griffin named Tara in hopes of [[spoiler:getting Elliot killed.]] This method was chosen, as Immortals are forbidden from acting directly.

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* Invoked (the author is a troper...) in ''Literature/StarHarborNights'' when Perfection Jones and Ray Vallenzio first meet.
* Let's not forget the [[http://deadliestfiction.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page Deadliest Fiction Wiki]], designed for the express purpose of playing this trope out.
* In ''WebAnimation/DeathBattle'', there's usually no excuse for characters fighting each other, even if they're both good guys; it's more like a thought experiment on who would win played out. There are exceptions:
** For "Franchise/{{Superman}} vs. [[Manga/DragonBall Son Goku]]", when Goku learns of Superman, he assumes Superman is an evil invading alien and launches a preemptive strike. Superman tries to reason with him, but Goku's BloodKnight tendencies make him keep attacking.
*** Which is still a humorous hand wave given Goku's tendency to offer mercy and second chances to even his most evil opponents. To say nothing of Superman.
** For "[[WesternAnimation/HeManAndTheMastersOfTheUniverse1983 He-Man]] vs. [[WesternAnimation/ThunderCats Lion-O]]", when Lion-O sees He-Man riding Battle Cat, he assumes He-Man is treating the cat as a slave instead of a partner. As Lord of the [=ThunderCats=], Lion-O is outraged and attacks him.
** For "[[VideoGame/StarFox Fox McCloud]] vs [[Comicbook/BuckyOHareAndTheToadWars Bucky O'Hare]]", Bucky mistakes Fox's friend Slippy Toad for a member of the evil Toad Empire and kills him. Enraged, Fox attacks Bucky to avenge him.
* ''WebVideo/EpicRapBattlesOfHistory'': A couple of Season 4 battles have one side [[InvokedTrope invoking this]] on the other so as to disrupt team flow:
** Lewis and Clark make note of [[StacysMom Bill's stepmom]], something which Ted agrees with and Bill isn't that pleased with, causing them to waste bars getting themselves squared away.
** Sun Tzu points out that Socrates is the father of Western philosophy and by implication Nietzsche and Voltaire are his pupils. Nietzsche takes exception[[note]]Reflective of real life - the real Nietzsche thought poorly of Socrates' moral philosophy[[/note]] and starts a feud with Socrates; Voltaire tries to play peacemaker but Socrates in turn was incensed at Voltaire (specifically his rigging of the French lottery) - Team West ended up bickering amongst themselves, [[BatmanGambit just as Sun Tzu planned]]. [[spoiler: Team East ended up doing the same to ''themselves'' after one IceCreamKoan too many.]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/CodenameKidsNextDoor'', "Dogfight" does this, by having [[NoNameGiven The Kid]] fight Numbuh 2 (both of them like to eat chili dogs, which plays a role in the plot). Later turns out that the owner of the hobby shop they both frequent told The Kid that Numbuh 2 was trying to destroy chili dog stands. Guess who's really behind that plan (hint: he doesn't like chili dogs staining his counter). And, a la Buffy, we didn't find out until The Kid brought it up.
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Hercules}}'' had a crossover with ''WesternAnimation/AladdinTheSeries'', with a VillainTeamUp of Jafar and Hades. After failing to destroy each other's nemeses, the villains engineered a fight between the two heroes.
* The ''WesternAnimation/SpiderManAndHisAmazingFriends'' episode dealing with the origin of ComicBook/{{Iceman}} managed to work in a fight between the two heroes prior to their official team-up, until Spidey managed to talk some sense into him.
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/KappaMikey'' does this, with Gonard and a lobster that had escaped from the kitchen.
* From the Franchise/DCAnimatedUniverse:
** In ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'' and ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' crossover, there is a scene where Superman meets Batman for the first time while he is in the process of crossing two lines: a) Don't threaten and/or beat up the mooks any more than is necessary and b) Don't do it on Superman's turf. Supes tries to get Batman to stand down. Batman throws Superman across the room. A second later, Superman has him pinned to the wall, commenting that he had heard he was crazy, but "I didn't think you were ''stupid''." Then Batman gets out the Kryptonite...
---> '''Batman''' (holding out a minuscule sliver of Kryptonite as Superman buckles): It doesn't take much, does it?
:: :...in response to Superman using his X-Ray vision to discover who he is. All of this builds up to the end of the episode, which reveals the real reason for Batman's attack when (after Batman takes the time to warn him that ComicBook/TheJoker is after him with a buttload more Kryptonite and departs) Superman finally gets a moment to himself in his apartment in his secret identity as Clark Kent, discovers a tracking device hidden on his cape, and looks out the window to see Batman, several blocks down, watching him through a pair of binoculars.
** The same episode has the villains' sidekicks, Mercy Graves and Harley Quinn, fighting in a FunnyBackgroundEvent during a meeting between Lex Luthor and ComicBook/TheJoker.
** ''WesternAnimation/TheZetaProject'' episode "Shadows" sets things up so that, in a spot of havoc by the rogue infiltration unit IU7, [[WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond Batman]] becomes convinced that Zeta has returned to his old ways. Their encounter doesn't have the same visceral satisfaction of many other examples, as Zeta is barely even defending himself.
** WesternAnimation/{{Static|Shock}} is giving Batman a hand with a villain's time machine in the Batcave when he's flung 40 years into the future. [[WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond The new Batman]], not recognizing him and reasonably considering him an intruder, tussles with him until the elderly Bruce Wayne breaks it up. He's been expecting this day, and he needs them both for a mission...
** In the ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' episode "The Terror Beyond", Superman, Wonder Woman, and Hawkgirl stumble upon Dr. Fate, Inara, and Aquaman apparently torturing Solomon Grundy. Supes demands that they stop; Dr Fate decides that there isn't enough time to ''explain'' what's going on. He makes a shield to block the heroes out, and when that fails, he magically teleports everyone away... and when ''that'' fails, Hawkgirl kicks his butt.
** Technically, this trope also occurs in the episode "Paradise Lost". In it, both Franchise/WonderWoman and Franchise/{{Superman}} have hallucinations in which they see each other as a monster and then proceed to attack each other. Superman discovers the ruse when he sees Wonder Woman's reflection in water. He tries to tell her, but she still sees him as a monster and continues to attack. One would think that she would [[WhyIsntItAttacking start to wonder why it wasn't fighting back]] but she was so enraged that the thought [[AvertedTrope never occurred to her.]] She finally snaps out of it when the monster answers her inquiry ("Where is Superman?!") by pointing to a [[TheMirrorShowsYourTrueSelf mirror,]] revealing him to be the monster she was holding in a choke-hold.
** Then there's the ''Justice League Unlimited'' episode "Clash," which has Superman and Captain Marvel come to blows after Superman, having his suspicions about an underground device with a timer attached to it below Lex Luthor's newly-built city, refuses to listen to Marvel's reasonable suggestion to have some of the heroes check the device to see what it is. The [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BJ1-trrgqc resulting fight]] does considerable damage to the city [[spoiler:which Luthor was counting on all along to [[VillainWithGoodPublicity bolster his growing popularity]] and [[HeroWithBadPublicity paint the Justice League in a bad light]]]] and ends with Marvel quitting the League after a WhatTheHellHero speech to the founding members.
** The ''JLU'' episode "Double Date", not long before "Clash", has Green Arrow and Black Canary defending a loathsome, but under police protection mob boss against a rogue Huntress and Question. This ends up being a case where, out of four established characters with comparable abilities, there ends up being a clear winner. [[spoiler:Probably due in part to them being depicted as the "good guys" in this encounter, Green Arrow and Black Canary win.]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' episode "Deep Six", the Titans team up with Aqualad to stop a painfully-egotistical villain named Trident, who's using toxic chemicals to clone himself and take over the world. Because they all have the same thoughts and personality, [[CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass Beast Boy]] is able to get all the clones to fight each other by saying that only ''one'' of them can be true perfection, letting their collective egos turn them against each other.
* An unusual example in ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'' with a hero pulling this on two villains. The team are captured and held in stasis, guarded by the powerful Black Beetle, who mopped the floor with them in the first place. Who does Arsenal free first in order to keep Beetle occupied? '''Mongul''', a GalacticConqueror who can go toe-to-toe with Superman.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated'', the Autobots met Jetfire and Jetstorm this way, assuming them to be Decepticons because only Decepticons have access to flight modes. They were unaware that Jetfire and Jetstorm were the first Autobots to obtain fully functioning flight modes.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheTransformers'' G1 cartoon has a few examples. Season 3 twice contrives a way to have Optimus Prime and Rodimus Prime fight (once when Optimus has been brainwashed by the Quintessons, once when Rodimus has been infected with the Hate Plague). Before that "War of the Dinobots" saw Megatron manipulate the three original Dinobots into attacking Optimus Prime. Then the two new Dinobots turn up and...clue's in the title.
* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|1987}}'', ComicBook/{{Usagi|Yojimbo}} is forced to attack the titular turtles by a bad guy who tells him his sensei will be killed if he does not.
* ''WesternAnimation/WinxClub'':
** In episode 22 of the third season, Riven mistakenly believes that Nabu (at the time using the fake name Ophir) is trying to steal Musa from him due to a NotWhatItLooksLike situation, and when he arrives at the Red tower where the others are, everyone but Nabu has been knocked unconscious after a fight with the guardians of the Red tower, and Riven assumes that Nabu was responsible for that as well. Before Nabu gets a chance to explain what is going on, Riven attacks him and Nabu has to fight back. Luckily, the others regain consciousness, stop the fight, and clear up the misunderstanding.
** Also in the third season, Valtor creates illusions that make the various schoolmasters fight one another, to everyone's shock and confusion.
* Aku from ''WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack'' has all the reasons in the world to call himself the master of deception.
* ''WesternAnimation/SpiderManTheAnimatedSeries'' did it with Daredevil, who thought Spider-Man was the one who framed Peter Parker, given his particularly poor reputation at the time.
* ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse has a fight between Amethyst and Pearl in "On the Run". Amethyst battles Pearl because Amethhyst feels really bad about where she came from and Pearl is being insensitive.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' episode "The Farnsworth Parabox", when the Planet Express crew meet themselves from a ParallelUniverse, both groups assume the other is {{evil|Twin}}, as [[GenreSavvy mirror universe doppelgangers are always evil]]. Of course, [[WrongGenreSavvy neither are evil]] ([[ChaoticNeutral not that either are good, either]]).
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', between the Gaang and Zuko the first time they meet after [[spoiler: his HeelFaceTurn during the third season]]. Understandable given their history, which included [[spoiler:a HeelFaceTurn he didn't quite complete at the end of the second season]], something that Katara angrily reminds him off before and after [[spoiler:he makes this one stick]].
* ''WesternAnimation/TheAvengersEarthsMightiestHeroes'' episode "''Panther's Quest''".
** In the 90s ''WesternAnimation/FantasticFour'' series, Panther did it ''without'' a misunderstanding. It looked very much like he woke up one morning thinking hunting them would be fun. If completely unfamiliar with the character, you'd have thought he was a villain in the vein of [[HuntingTheMostDangerousGame Kraven the Hunter]], but it turns out that he's, well, ComicBook/BlackPanther, and he's testing the Four's strength to see if they were badass enough to help him out.
* The crossover episode ''WesternAnimation/Ben10GeneratorRexHeroesUnited'' starts that way, with [[WesternAnimation/GeneratorRex Rex Salazar]] mistaking [[WesternAnimation/Ben10UltimateAlien Ben Tennyson]] for an [=EVO=] and Ben mistaking Rex for an alien. The fight is relatively short however, and most of the special deals with them cooperating.
* ''WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2003'' has Leonardo and Raphael getting into this in episodes like "[[Recap/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2003S1E2ABetterMousetrap A Better Mousetrap]]" and "[[Recap/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2003S2E14CityAtWarPart1 City at War]]".
* ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes''
** In a WesternAnimation/FoghornLeghorn cartoon, Henery Hawk watches next to a boiling stew pot as Foghorn and Barnyard Dawg fight it out.
-->'''Henery:''' I don't care who wins. I'll fricassee the loser!
** In the WesternAnimation/BugsBunny cartoon "French Rarebit", Bugs is being pursued by two competing French chefs who each want him for the special of the day. Bugs tricks them into fighting each other so that he can get away.
** WesternAnimation/DaffyDuck got in a similar situation in "What Makes Daffy Duck", where he's being hunted by a fox and by Elmer Fudd. He tries to get the pair into competing over who gets to have him.
* Brianne Drouhard has made [[https://twitter.com/Fyre_flye/status/333809817460297730 a little animatic]] of [[WesternAnimation/AmethystPrincessOfGemworld Amy Winston]] clashing with the "Burrito Bandit" (implied and later revealed to be Batgirl of ''WesternAnimation/SuperBestFriendsForever''; there's evidence that both are very skilled with computers) online and swearing to ''find'' her. The creators of both shows seem to agree that they would end up as best friends. However, she has also gone on the record as saying that actually animating it would get her arrested.
* Brock arranges this in the season 3 finale of ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'', pitting General Treister's forces against The Monarch's.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/BewareTheBatman'' episode "Reckoning", Batman is simultaneously confronted by [[RoguesGallery several of his enemies]] trying to claim the dead-or-alive reward offered by Ra's al Ghul. Batman surrenders to one of them, who is then attacked by another villain, and so on until Batman is able to simply walk away from the free-for-all.
* In the mini-series ''Franchise/IndianaJones and the Sargasso Pirates'', New Jersey Jones (no relation to Indy; he's a con artist capitalizing on the Jones name) uses this trope verbatim to get Indy and Bill Lawton to fight.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' episode "Tweek vs. Craig", the boys keep on trying to let Tweek and Craig fight.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/HouseOfMouse'' short "Mickey's Cabin", Mickey is held hostage in his cabin by Pete and his cousin Zeke after they rob a bank, and Mickey outwits the two by convincing each of them that the other is going to steal the money they took.
* The ''WesternAnimation/{{Popeye}}'' short "What- No Spinach?", provoked by Wimpy. A waiter in Bluto's restaurant, Wimpy incites a DinerBrawl between Popeye and Bluto by spiking Popeye's roast duck with red pepper sauce, causing the sailor to march out in a huff. Bluto sees a customer leave without paying and attacks him, giving Wimpy free reign to plunder the food safe.

* There are cases of bar fights starting this way. A DirtyCoward troublemaker will rile up a huge crowd and then run away.
* Some old-school American conservatives - Pat Buchanan most notably - have argued in recent years that the United States should have done the passive version of this trope during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, staying out of the war entirely and letting [[EvilVersusEvil Nazi Germany and Communist Russia annihilate each other]]. On the other hand, UsefulNotes/HarryTruman argued that the U.S. should enter the war on the side of which of the two combatants was the weaker in order to neutralize the greater threat. UsefulNotes/WinstonChurchill, meanwhile, asserted that the Nazis were definitely the biggest threat and that the Allies should [[EnemyMine team up with whoever opposed the Nazis, even if it was the Devil himself]].
** This did happen to some degree, depending on ones perspective. While air and naval campaigns were underway by the US, UK, and other allies, ground incursions didn't happen in Italy until September 1943, well after the Germans had been thrown back from Stalingrad and lost a large chunk of their army and France until June 1944, after Russia had made large amounts of progress and pushed Germany halfway back to Poland. The Soviets argued strenuously that both invasions begin as soon as possible.
** America's position during WWI essentially amounted to this. The overwhelming majority opinion of American's was that the whole war was a case of EvilVsEvil and there could be nothing but good from letting Imperial powers fight each other to the death.
* The Communists in China used this during WWII to position themselves to take control of the country from the vanquished Japanese and exhausted Nationalists that had nominal control.
* A lot of Eastern European historians (especially Polish ones) accuse the USSR of employing this tactic during WWII. They argue that once the Red Army had dealt a mortal wound to the German military at Leningrad and Stalingrad, they took their time liberating the rest of eastern Europe. This was done so that partisan groups would wear themselves out fighting the Nazis and anti-Soviet resistance would be minimal.
* A less violent example might be bringing up a topic you know will inspire an argument between friends you're introducing to each other.
* A complaint leveled against the US government by African American civil rights activists during UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar was that the war was being used to let the black and yellow men fight and kill each other while white imperialists reap the rewards.