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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Anime and Manga
- Inazuma Eleven, Goenji and Tsuruki love doing this.
- Averted in Shin Captain Tsubasa, Japan is curb-stomped by Humburg SV, with Tsubasa arriving late to the match. Despite the team's opinions, Hyuga and Matsuyama insist him staying on the bench since Tsubasa isn't even listed in the team's roster. This trope plays straight in the movies, however.
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.)
- In Horse Feathers, Huxley College hires two professional football players for an upcoming game against Darwin College. In retaliation, Darwin's president Wagstaff (Groucho Marx) tries to do the same, and ends up hiring a stockboy and a dogcatcher instead.
- In Diggstown, Caine and Gillon make a bet that Caine's friend "Honey Roy" Palmer (an over-the-hill almost-was heavyweight boxer) can defeat 10 fighters from Olivair County (where the titular town is located) in 24 hours. Gillon manages to pull this trope twice. First, when he brings in "Hammerhead" Hagan, the professional boxer who originally defeated Roy by having him legally move to Olivair County the night before the contract is signed. And second, when he brings in a tough-as-nails prison fighter Minoso Torres from the prison located in Olivair County. Both times, Roy manages to win by getting angry at Hagan and by having Caine anticipate Gillon's last move and bribe Torres to throw the fight.
- 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.
- Married... with Children: Al gets his old high-school football team back together to face their old rivals, who bring in such NFL ringers as Bubba Smith, Lawrence Taylor, and Ken Stabler.
- In the Defiance pilot, Nolan and Irisa arrive to the titular town and need to earn some money quickly to buy a vehicle and get back to their stash in the woods. They go to Datak Tarr's establishment, where he runs a fighting ring. Seeing the Castithan champion, Nolan gets in the ring to challenge him, putting what little money he has on himself. Datak, being Genre Savvy, invokes house rules and switches the champion to a Bioman, a genetically-engineered Super Soldier with muscles bulging all over the place. Using his experience during the Pale Wars, Nolan manages to shut down the Bioman by punching his lower back (where this model's off switch is located). Datak, however, claims that Nolan cheated and demands his winnings back. Being nice, though, he leaves Nolan a small percentage of it.
- In Fate/stay night the Einzbern family attempted this during the Third Holy Grail War. They subverted the Grail system in an attempt to summon Angra Mainyu, the Zoroastrian god of evil, as their Servant. Instead they summoned the origin of the god's myth, a man whose fellow villagers declared he was the reason they sinned and was in no way capable of standing up to a Heroic Spirit.
- 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).