Sheldon: Howard, that's quite a gesture on your part. Showing yourself to be the bigger man.
Howard: Thank you.
Sheldon: Which I find totally unacceptable. I must be the bigger man.
This is when two characters who disagree with each other each decide to be the better person and give in, then start arguing again about who will be allowed to give in.
The humor of course is that the characters are acting childish and petty over the idea of being the more mature person by letting the argument go.
When this happens expect lots of Passive Aggressive Combat
. May also involve a Gift of the Magi Plot
if the two characters are arguing over who should get the other their gift. Compare More Hero Than Thou
, Overly Polite Pals
Anime and Manga
- Date A Live: The competitive "splinters"/twins Kaguya and Yuzura call each other out on arrogance and get violent again instead of waiting on the "duel" outcome, when they find out that they both have secretly asked Shidou to actually choose the other one of the two as the winner (Shidou is agreed to be the tie-breaking judge as well as the target of novel-for-the-two duel in womanly charms). The said winner is to get to solely inherit the Yamai spirit identity and keep on living while the loser is to cease to exist.
- In The Stormlight Archive, this is the correct way to negotiate with Shin merchants. In one scene, a Shin livestock merchant keeps telling his trading partner how dirt cheap he got the chickens he's selling and expresses awe at the Thaylen merchant's unmined metalnote , while the Thaylen tells him that the chickens are a lucrative niche product and the metal was basically classroom detritus produced by Soulcaster apprentices practicing.
- In Father Ted, Mrs. Doyle goes for tea with her friend Mrs. Donne. Afterwards, both women insist on picking up the check, with the conflict escalating to a physical fight. In the end neither of them pays, because the management calls the police on them.
- Frasier, the titular character is feuding with his Sitcom Archnemesis Cam Winston. When they think their parents have begun dating, Frasier decides to bury the hatchet and call a truce, only for his phone to ring: Cam had the same idea. Frasier feigns a bad signal as a pretense to hang up, furious that "that son-of-a-bitch is trying to steal my high ground!"
- The Big Bang Theory: After an argument between Sheldon & Howard over a parking spot, Howard comes over to aplogoize and let Sheldon have the spot. Sheldon, annoyed Howard is trying to be the bigger man, decides to let him have it instead and demands Howard acknowledge him as as the bigger man.
- On Family Guy, one of the fights between Peter and the Chicken was over who would pick up the check after the Chicken and his wife take Peter out for dinner in an attempt to bury the hatchet, because Peter refused to let the Chicken pay for everything.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the episode "Trade Ya!" features Applejack and Rarity each wanting to trade all their barter goods for an item the other thinks is frivolous. They then shift to demanding the other do the trade they want to prove they're the better friend.