Two men get in a fight, or at least a highly charged physical confrontation, over a woman they're both attracted to
. One of them wins, so naturally she spurns him and goes for the loser.
Sometimes it's the winner's arrogant assumption that because he won the fight he's "won" the girl that dooms his chances. Other times, the severity of the injuries he inflicted revolts her.
Though the genderswapped
version is of course possible, it appears to be rare-to-nonexistent in practice. Authors with traditional views about gender roles probably won't have women in this kind of confrontation, while more feminist writers are likely to shy away from Unfortunate Implications
about physically capable women
. But see Wounded Gazelle Gambit
Because this often leads to the After-Action Patch-Up
or, more seriously, the After-Action Healing Drama
, this often can be the result of the Florence Nightingale Effect
. It can also be used as a subversion
of Did Not Get the Girl
: the Loser Protagonist
thinks she's out of his league, but then she comes back to him. It may serve as the conclusion of an Everything but the Girl
show. The loser is frequently The Woobie
, especially when his love interest is intended as an audience identification character.
- Kagome from InuYasha tends to act this way.
- Meowth from Pokémon manages to defeat a Persian that was keeping his old Love interest Meowzie in his gang, but Meowzie decides to stay with the Persian as he helped her when her trainer abandoned her... and also because she still thinks Meowth is a freak for knowing how to talk.
- Julia from Rave Master chooses Let over Jegan, after the latter had defeated Let in a battle. Much to Jegan's resentment and jealousy.
- Used at least a few times in the Archie Comics.
- Monica's Gang: Back when Jimmy Five's parents were students, Mr. Five had a rival and the two fought for her affections. Mr. Five lost the fight and she pitied him.
- A gender-flipped version of this occurs in Harry Potter fic One Misfired Spell Later when Harry's girlfriend Hermione gets into a rivalry with Fleur over Harry that culminates in a duel over who gets to date him. Fleur beats Hermione badly, only for Harry to make it clear that it's up to him who he dates, he's not going to dump Hermione just because she got beaten up by a girl three years older than her, and that he wants nothing to do with Fleur.
- A variation in Big Fish, where Edward Bloom lets Don Price beat him savagely because he's sworn to Sandra not to hurt him.
- In the movie version of Bridget Jones's Diary, she rejects Mark Darcy for beating up Daniel (but goes on to reject Daniel, too).
- In Next, Nicolas Cage is a man with the ability to see into the immediate future, and he knows none of his pickup lines will work on the woman he meets in a diner. Not even beating up her stalkerish ex-boyfriend gets him a good result, only allowing the boyfriend to sucker-punch him.
- Tommy Forester and Alum Bey get in a fight over Bridget Comfrey at the beginning of Stardust. After Alun beats up Tommy, who is comforted by Bridget, the narration says, "Neither of them was quite certain who had won, who had lost."
- The Knight's Tale from Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales contains a variation. Cousins and former friends Palamon and Arcite fall out and duel for the love of Emilia. Arcite wins, but is struck dead in a literal Deus ex Machina, after which Emilia and Palamon are united.
- In The Big Bang Theory, this happens with Leonard, Penny's ex Kurt, and Penny, though when Penny comes on to Leonard he's Above the Influence.
- In Jeeves and Wooster, Jeeves plans to get one of Bertie's friend Bingo together with the current object of his infatuation by having another young lady distract him at a crucial point during a foot race, on the basis that she's more likely to be attracted to the "gallant loser" than a man who won a race against a group of septuagenarians. (It Makes Sense in Context.) Of course, Bingo immediately falls for the other woman, Bingo's flightiness being greater than even Jeeves predicted.
- In the Charmed episode "Happily Ever After", Phoebe's ex-husband Cole gets into an argument with her Boy of the Week Adam, which ends with Cole putting Adam in a painful-looking wrist lock and Adam and Phoebe walking off together.
- In the American Dad! episode "Camp Refoogee", Steve wins a critical race against the opposing camp to rescue his girlfriend... who promptly starts making out with the guy who lost the race. Her explanation: "I'm sorry Steve... but I'm kind of a crazy chick." It should be noted that the loser was a murderous militant leader who destroyed the girl's village. And he's an adult, while the girl is Steve's age, i.e. about fourteen. "Crazy chick" indeed.
- A classic subversion occurs in Popeye. Olive Oyl, having just opened a Blacksmith shop, needs a Strong Man to help run it. Popeye and Bluto naturally spend the duration of the episode trying to best each other, ultimately leading to Bluto lying in a heap on the floor. Olive Oyl proudly declares that Bluto is her choice to operate the shop, much to Bluto's surprise and delight, until he watches Olive and Popeye going off on a romantic vacation.
- Another episode had Popeye and Bluto trying to get themselves hurt because Olive was the nurse at the local hospital. Popeye "wins" by force-feeding Bluto his spinach and getting the crap beaten out of him.
- In one version of the story, Popeye's "victory" was pyrrhic because the hospital was for dogs and cats.
- In the cartoon series where Bluto was renamed Brutus, Olive was a sculptress wanting a beaten model.