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Snark-to-Snark Combat
Lucius Fox: ...I've come to explain to you why we're going to have to put our deal on hold. We can't afford to be seen to do business with, well, whatever it is you're accused of being. A businessman of your stature will understand.
Lau: I think, Mr. Fox, that a simple phone call would have sufficed.
Lucius Fox: Well, I do love Chinese food. And Mr. Wayne didn't want you to think we'd been deliberately wasting your time.
Lau: Just accidentally wasting it.

Much like having different hammy actors in the same work, sometimes putting two snarky characters into the same works and having them interact in some form of discussion (especially an argument) can seem like a competition in sarcasm. This often makes it a little easier to tell which character is more of a snarker; it can also be a sign of Belligerent Sexual Tension, as it's a form of combat in which the antagonists suffer no actual physical damage, and many of the attacks can double as denials of the attacker's true feelings for the target.

See also Volleying Insults and World of Snark.

Not to be confused with cruise missile warfare.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime & Manga 
  • Missa and Sakuya's (compensated) dates in the Sensual Phrase anime have more than a shade of this. The moment they look into each other's eyes, you just know the sarcastic and playful comments will start the very moment they start talking.

    Comic Books 
  • Tends to happen a lot with Nightwing, particularly when going up against Batman himself or Alfred. Many of Batman and Alfred's more casual conversations with each other tend towards this - Alfred usually wins.
  • Spider-Man and The Human Torch have been doing this sort of thing whenever they team up or are even in the same story together for decades. It's kind of their thing.
  • After Gert found out about the time Nico kissed Chase, they decided to settle their differences with a snark-off, because at the time, the Runaways were dealing with a band of idiots who'd decided to declare themselves the newest incarnation of the Pride, and Gert and Nico had to get over their problems quickly.
  • Avengers Academy: #22's issue length snarkfest between Magneto and Quicksilver is epic.

    Fan Works 
  • Whenever Tora or Sarakshi from Seduction talk.
    Tora: Who do you think Hoseki's representatives would believe? One of the maids from a cafť that has done a grand event for the first time, or the well-mannered and chivalrous Igarashi heir?
    Sarakshi: Well-mannered. Chivalrous. Excuse me while I gag, Igarashi.
    Tora: I'm sure something as unattractive as that would be right up your street.
  • In Code: Total Drama Reality, Noah and Sora's first meeting results each burning the other.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Dark Knight Saga
    • Lucius and Lau from The Dark Knight provide the page-quote dialogue-sample.
    • In The Dark Knight Rises, when Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are dancing, they immediately rip each other new ones, but it's not surprising:
      Bruce Wayne: That's a brazen costume for a cat burglar.
      Selina Kyle: Yeah? Who are you pretending to be?
      Bruce Wayne: Bruce Wayne, eccentric billionaire. Who's your date? (motions to the man Selina was dancing with)
      Selina Kyle: His wife's in Ibiza. She left her diamonds behind, though. Worried they might get stolen.
      Bruce Wayne: Mm. It's pronounced Ibeetha. You wouldn't want any of these folks realizing you're a crook, not a social climber.
      Selina Kyle: You think I care what anyone in this room thinks of me?
      Bruce Wayne: I doubt you care what anyone in any room thinks of you.
      Selina Kyle: Don't condescend, Mr. Wayne. You don't know a thing about me.
      Bruce Wayne: Well, Selina Kyle, I know you came here from your walk-up in Old Town, a modest place for a master jewel thief. Which means that either you're saving for retirement, or you're in deep with the wrong people.
      Selina Kyle: You don't get to judge me just because you were born in the master bedroom of Wayne Manor.
      Bruce Wayne: Actually, I was born in the Regency Room.
      Selina Kyle: I started out doing what I had to. Once you've done what you've had to, they'll never let you do what you want to.
      Bruce Wayne: Start fresh.
      Selina Kyle: Ugh. There's no fresh start in today's world. Any twelve-year-old with a cell phone could find out what you did. Everything we do is collated and quantified. Everything sticks.
      Bruce Wayne: Is that how you justify stealing?
      Selina Kyle: I take what I need to from those who have more than enough. I don't stand on the shoulders of people with less.
      Bruce Wayne: Robin Hood?
      Selina Kyle: I think I do more to help someone than most of the people in this room. Than you.
      Bruce Wayne: I think maybe you're assuming a little too much.
  • In the Black Comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Harry and Perry go at it at every turn, with Harry losing most of the battles due to his idiot status as opposed to Perry's cleverness.
  • James Bond vs. R.
    • In The World Is Not Enough...
      Bond: If you're Q, does this make him R?
      R: Ah yes, the legendary 007 wit... or at least half of it.
    • ... and Die Another Day.
      Bond: Give me the old firing range anyday, Quartermaster.
      R: Yes, well they call it the Future, so get used to it. (takes Bond into a museum of call backs)
      Bond: This where they keep the old relics, is it?
  • Casablanca: Rick Blaine and just about everyone, but especially Captain Renault and Major Strasser.

    Literature 
  • Many of the interactions between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.
  • Half of the conversations in Harry Potter.
  • Ranger's Apprentice Halt usually wins, so when a younger character (usually Will or Horace) wins, they feel a sense of pride, for some reason.
  • What happens when The Dresden Files puts Harry Dresden and Gentleman Johnny Marcone in the same room.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons novel The Savage Caves, what's not surprising is that the resident Loveable Rogue, Lidda, is incredibly snarky to the resident Good Shepherd, Jozan. What is surprising — and entertaining — is that his method of preaching at her to behave often consists of Gentleman Snarking right back at her. They spend almost all of their scenes together verbally going at it as a result.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has plenty of snarkers, all quite willing to exchange fire when two (or more) find themselves in the same room. Tyrion Lannister, however, takes the cake: he'll manage to raise return snark from even the most unlikely of sources simply by opening his mouth. Granted, he'll probably still beat them back down, but hey. (Unless they're Sansa — pity holds him back, there; or, his father — that's due to downright intimidation. Well, until he calls him out with a crossbow, at least.)
    Cersei: You know you're not half as smart as you think you are.
    Tyrion: That still makes me smarter than you.
  • In Brother Odd, pretty much all of Odd Thomas's conversations with the enigmatic Rodion Romanovich consist of this.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The respective 'verses of Hawaii Five-0 and NCIS: Los Angeles are full of snarkers. So naturally, in the two-episode crossover, there is a lot of snarking going on, especially between Deeks and Danny.
  • Gilmore Girls. The scripts of that show do not call for pauses.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000. The boys try to out-snark one another on some topic when one of them makes a seminal joke.
  • Jim Brass and Gil Grissom sometimes used to get into this in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
  • Niles and C.C. from The Nanny.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer uses this a lot. Not very surprising, considering the type of work it is. Even Giles and Wes get in on it sometimes. Lampshaded in Season 4 by a random vamp:
    Vamp: Are we gonna fight, or is there just gonna be a monster sarcasm rally?
  • Castle is pretty much driven by this and Unresolved Sexual Tension.
  • Most of the main cast of Sherlock gets in on this. Sherlock vs. John, Sherlock vs. Lestrade, John vs. Mycroft, Sherlock vs. Mycroft, etc.
  • Being a Joss Whedon show, Firefly has a lot of this going on. Virtually all of Mal and Zoe's dialogue, for example.
    Zoe: You paid money for this, sir? On purpose?
    Mal: Ship like this, be with you till the day you die.
    Zoe: Because it's a death trap.
  • Jeff and Britta from Community are masters of this.
  • Blackadder and anyone who's as smart as he is. Blackadder usually butts heads with this person, (Melchett, Lord Flashheart, Captain Darling) and wins in the end. Usually hilariously.
  • Stargate SG-1
    • Many of the characters of get into this at one point or another, especially between Daniel Jackson and Jack O'Neill in the later seasons:
      Jackson: They'll never see it coming.
      O'Neill: Which is one of the advantages of a totally insane idea.
      Jackson: Yeah, where'd I learn that from?
    • In the episode "Tin Man", Jack O'Neill gets into a Snark-to-Snark combat with himself.
  • Chuck and Blair on Gossip Girl, nearly all the time—one of the other characters refers to it as foreplay.
  • Frasier and Niles Crane on Frasier were the absolute masters of this trope, often doing it very much intentionally and lampshading it in-universe. It stems mainly from their Sibling Rivalry.
  • All the characters on How I Met Your Mother occasionally indulge in this, especially Ted and Robin.
  • Dr. Cox and Jordan on Scrubs do this all the time, as part of their Slap-Slap-Kiss, often to very vicious and/or humiliating levels.
  • Just about any conversation in Red Dwarf.
  • Within the first few minutes of Eureka, the series establishes this as the relationship Carter has with daughter.
  • The Salvatore brothers on The Vampire Diaries seem to have this a lot. Damon is more snarky and smug but Stefan is far more deadpan. Most of Their scenes seem to be contests of who can outdo the other.
  • Occasionally happens on Glee, usually between Sue and Will. The best example is in the appropriately-named episode "Throwdown."
  • Mr Lucky: Andamo and Lt. Rovacs tend to engage in this whenever they're around each other.
  • Smallville: Occurs often when Tess Mercer is involved, particularly with Oliver and Lois.
  • Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor and his Companions.
  • Game of Thrones takes right after its parent A Song of Ice and Fire. If anything, it even manages to increase the generalized snark levels. However, Tyrion still triumphs.
    • Almost any scene with the series' resident Magnificent Bastards, Varys and Littlefinger, together fits as this.
    • Scenes featuring Varys and Tyrion generally show a lighter version—a friendly rivalry version of Snark-to-Snark Combat.
  • Patricia and Eddie do this a lot on House of Anubis as part of their Belligerent Sexual Tension. The best example, though, has to be when they first met:
    Eddie: You woke me!
    Patricia: Student lounges are for lounging, not sleeping. Hence the name?
    Eddie: Okay, look. I was on a plane for six hours and then I was on a train for four more. And now I'm in Boresville, UK and don't need a lecture, 'kay, Hermione?
    Patricia: Great, that's just what we need, another stupid American whose only reference to the UK is Harry Potter. Who are you anyway?
    Eddie: Who are you?
    Patricia: I asked first.
    Eddie: [laughing] Really?
    Patricia: Next time you feel like tripping someone up, remember it's considered polite to apologize in this country.
    Eddie: Do you ever stop talking? I should call you Blabs. Or Yacker. Yeah, Yacker.
    Patricia: And how bout I call you, a cab back to the airport?
    Eddie: [claps] Devastating.
  • On Cracked, Detective Aiden Black and Dr. Daniella Ridley engage in this a lot, especially in their first episode together, "How The Light Gets In".
  • The altercations between Regina and Zelena in Once Upon a Time are full of this.
    Regina finds a basket of green apples on her porch.
    Zelena: A gift. From sister to sister.
    Regina: What are you doing here?
    Zelena: I saw your tree and I thought you could use something better. Red apples are so sickly sweet, don't you think? People tend to like something...a little sharper.
    Regina: And green apples are just...bitter.

    Theater 

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect
    • Mass Effect 2 cheerfully descends into this in "Lair of the Shadow Broker", when Shepard and Liara snark to each other about game mechanics.
      Shepard: Not even a guard rail. I bet the Broker's agents love patrolling the hull.
      Liara: At least the view is nice.

      Liara: Why are they attacking in waves? They'd be more effective if they all attacked at once.
      Shepard: Please don't give the mercs ideas.

      Shepard: Don't you miss the days when you could just slap omni-gel on everything?
      Liara: That bug fix made a lot of people very unhappy.
    • This gem featuring Joker and Garrus lampshading what relations between humans and turians look like in Mass Effect 3.
      Garrus: All right, my turn. What's the first order an Alliance commander gives at the start of combat?
      Joker: Uh... I give up.
      Garrus: Correct!
      Joker: All right, big guy. What do you call it when a turian gets killed by a horrible spiky monster?
      Garrus: Friendly fire. Come on, that one goes back to Shanxi.
  • In I Miss the Sunrise, if you choose to make Ros a Deadpan Snarker, you'll get plenty of this whenever you interact with Mahk.
  • While many characters in Tales of the Abyss try to keep up with Jade Curtiss's sarcasm, only Emperor Peony can truly defeat him. Put them in a room and they're either snarking at each other non-stop or scheming to snark at others.
  • The Bard's Tale pits repeatedly pits The Bard against... the narrator.
  • The pre-fight talks in The King of Fighters XIII has virtually all characters sassing each other before the fisticuffs start. Of special notice is how Ash Crimson managing to raise everyone's hackles and piss them off... until Terry Bogard calmly sasses him back.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Adam Jensen and Frank Pritchard pretty much use this as their normal manner of speech to each other.
    Jensen: "Pritchard, I'm in."
    Frank: "Nicely done, Jensen. Dare I ask how?"
    Jensen: "A vent on the roof. It'll be in my report the next time we're discussing security loopholes."
    Frank: "Oh, goody; I'll be sure to take notes."
    • To the point where it's genuinely shocking when, in one of their conversations during Jensen's infiltration of Picus headquarters, Pritchard asks Jensen to "spare [him] the sarcasm".
  • MechWarrior 4: Vengeance has a Deadpan Snarker named Casey Nolan as one of your lancemates. The Player Character in the Black Knight expansion is a mercenary hired to bring down the regime that the original player character established in Vengeance, and is quite the Deadpan Snarker himself. Nolan, being crucial to victory in the Vengeance campaign, is retained by the Dresari regime as a training officer for new Mechwarriors, which makes him one of the main targets in the Black Knight campaign. The entire level in which Nolan is featured is riddled with these two going back and forth on the comm.
    Nolan: "Punch out now and I'll give you a job... scrubbing toilets."
    Black Knight: "Thanks! I'll pass."
  • Tomb Raider: The majority of dialogue from the Core Design era consists of Lara and whatever unfortunate NPC she's about to kill bouncing snarky one-liners off each other for a few minutes before she gets back to shooting things. Taken Up to Eleven for Angel of Darkness where Lara's Dialogue Tree generally consists of a mean, snarky comment and a meaner snarky comment, with the recipient giving as good as they get.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Many characters in New Vindicators are snarky, but in a scene between Adonis and Deimos shows this trope, along with Casual Danger Dialog, as Adonis is keeping his cool despite Deimos having just kicked the crap out of Adonis' followers.
    Adonis: They played their part. They slowed you down enough for me to deliver the killing stroke.
    Deimos: Keep dreaming, pretty boy.
    Adonis: Awe, you think I'm pretty.
    Deimos: You're not my type.
    Adonis: Yeah, so I hear. Itís because Iím not a figment of your imagination, isnít it?
    Deimos: Youíre going to pay for that one you son of a bitch! Fade was my fatherís illusions! Iím not crazy!
    Adonis:Try saying that when youíre not threatening to kill a toddlerÖ
    • This culminates with Deimos grappling Adonis and Donny giving an excellent Pre Ass Kicking One Liner, telling Deimos he dropped something, when Deimos asks what, Donny stabs him in the neck with the tip of his own broken sword.

    Western Animation 
  • Brian the Dog and Stewie Griffin, from Family Guy, are two of the snarkiest characters on the show. As such, conversations between them involve them being especially snarky. Here is an example.
    Brian: Oh, there's my laptop. Do you mind? I want to check my email.
    Stewie: Go away, I'm editing this music video I am making for Susie.
    Brian: Oh really? A music video? Working on a little video there? A little music video? (voice starts to increase in pitch as he goes on) A little compliation of visual images to go with a song? A little 4-minute movie that tells the story of a...
    Stewie: Yeah, that only works when I do it.
  • Pretty much every Battle Couple in Justice League is like this. Green Lantern/Hawkgirl, Green Arrow/Black Canary, Huntress/Question...
    • Although it's not just couples. Hawkgirl/Flash, Superman/Batman, Hawgirl/Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern/Flash team-ups all tend to turn into snarkfests.
  • This seems to be the only way anyone is capable of communicating on Archer.
  • Obi-Wan and Anakin do this left, right and centre in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but Obi-Wan is such a Snark Knight that he also tends to do this with just about everyone he fights along side (except maybe Cody).
  • Toph and Sokka in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • In Daria, this was basically the only way that some characters (Daria and Jane, for the most part) opened up to each other.


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