Replacing a player in a contest with an absurdly high-ranking replacement pulled in from nowhere — a Super Ringer.
A typical plot using the trope would play out as follows: Alice is our plucky heroine. Elena is her Latina best friend
. Suzie is the Alpha Bitch
and Tina is The Dragon
in Suzie's Girl Posse
. The game is doubles tennis, it's the final
and the prize is $1,000 to the charity of the winners' choice. Naturally, Suzie will use it for nefarious ends.
Near the end of the episode, something happens to Elena; she breaks her arm after slipping on a wet floor. She can't play. Surely the evil Suzie cannot be stopped. Alice has an idea. On the day of the game, she comes along with another player.
"Hi, everyone", she smiles sweetly, "this is Maria
Suzie's mouth drops open and she promptly concedes. Never mind that you can't just randomly change a player who gets injured during an event, you would have to forfeit.
Compare/contrast with Put Me In, Coach!
, where a previously-underestimated player shows her talents in the final stretch. A common subversion is for the Super Ringer
to get injured or incapacitated forcing the team to rely on the underestimated player
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Films — Live-Action
- In the M*A*S*H movie they bring in Spearchucker Jones who played professional football with the San Francisco 49'ers prior to the war as well as being a surgeon. He is transferred to the 4077th to help them win a football game against a rival outfit. Then the other team starts winning anyway. How? Jones notices someone on the other team — or, in Radar's words, "Our ringer spotted their ringer."
- In the Abbott and Costello movie Here Come the Co-Eds, a professional women's basketball team is secretly brought in to play a women's college team. (There's heavy betting involved. The college's future is at stake.) One of the college players is injured, so Lou Costello puts on a dress and a wig and goes in as a sub. He's terrible, but after he's knocked out mid-game, he awakens with amnesia and is told, "You're Dolly Dimple, the world's greatest woman basketball player!" Living up to his billing, his team wins. At the end of the game, all of the ringers are revealed. The officials decide that "Five ringers are worse than one" and award the game to the college players (and Lou, who isn't in college.)
- Subverted rather amusingly in a non-fiction book called The Art of Coarse Acting, which sounds like a guide to making it big in Awful British Sex Comedy but is actually a mix of how-to guide and memoir about amateur dramatics. Getting a professional in to help because he or she happens to live locally is a stressful and not especially beneficial prospect for all concerned.
- An episode of Kenan & Kel had Kenan and Kel bring on the NBA player who'd been the Special Guest Star as their third player in a game of basketball against some people who challenged them earlier. Their opponents defaulted.
- The West Wing: In "The Crackpots and These Women," a variation of this trope occurs, in which President Bartlet has recruited a ringer (a former Duke Basketball player and Final Four contender) to help him beat the rest of his staff at a game of basketball. A slight aversion because there's no indication given of who would normally be playing or why they aren't. The episode also makes reference to Bartlet previously having gotten Steffi Graf to be his doubles partner.
- Family Matters: Extraverted Nerd Steve Urkel tries to recruit Jerk Jock Eddie Winslow as his partner in a 2-on-2 inner city basketball tournament. Despite showing some very respectable ball handling skills, Eddie refuses and goes with someone else. Undaunted, Steve shows up at the tournament with a tall, muscular woman in a dress and bonnet whom he only calls "Grandmama". Sure enough, the two teams face each other in the finals. But defying trope, Grandmama is injured during the game, so Eddie's partner steps out and Eddie and Steve play each other 1-on-1 for the last point, where Steve jukes right past Eddie for the winning layup.
- In the NUMB3RS episode "12:01 A.M.", the CalSci basketball team, which hasn't won in years, is being coached by Prof. Fleinhart, who has a serious problem with losing. He brings in two NBA players as ringers, promising them a ride on the space shuttle. They get a ride on the shuttle simulator in a later episode.
- The Simpsons
- In the Futurama episode "Time Keeps on Slipping", the protagonists are challenged to a game of basketball against the Harlem Globetrotters, so the Professor creates some ringers: a team of atomic supermen.
- In Static Shock, Shenice is introduced as the Super Ringer on the girls' bowling team (it's legit in this case since it was a school team and she had just joined the school) where she proceeds to cream the boys until her parents show up and she gutters the last ball. Turns out Shenice is a literal Super Ringer, who also moonlights as the heroine Shebang.
- The second season of Wakfu has a Gobbowl team call in a super-powered ringer after their star player was revealed to be a woman and switched to the other team (long story).