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Defeat Means Friendship / Real Life

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  • The United States has a long history of turning bitter enemies into battle buddies, going back to practically its founding.
    • Britain. After fighting The American Revolution and the War of 1812 with the USA, relations between the two have been quite peaceful. Even before the War of 1812, Alexander Hamilton was a big advocate of this as a way to develop America's commercial economy, though his preferred policies didn't go over that well in the climate of Anglophobia immediately following the Revolutionary War. This doesn't mean that tensions disappeared right away, however. There were still occasional squabbles throughout the middle of the 19th century, particularly disputes over the border with Canada. The major border issues were settled by 1850, and at the same time Anglo-American cooperation started to get going; the original Monroe Doctrine, articulated in 1823, served the purposes and had the tacit support of the British, which is a bit part of why it was taken somewhat seriously by the European powers. The growing trade relationship between the US and Britain—and between the US and Canada—also factored in, and by the 1880s the US and Britain were warily inching towards the alliance that would come to develop over the past century. America's aid helped in World War I, but it was America's involvement in World War II, providing much-needed support to British troops who had held off a full-scale German invasion longer than any other nation besides Russia, that sealed the two nations' alliance. Since the days of Churchill and FDR, the US and UK have become nigh-inseparable, and have by far the strongest diplomatic and military alliance of any two autonomous nations in the civilized world.
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    • Played straight with white Northern and Southerners after the end of The American Civil War, unlike some other places where a civil war leads to a Cycle of Revenge. Unfortunately, it was done at the expense of America's black population, who lost a lot of the initial gains (there were several black members of Congress during Reconstruction, and many black members of southern state governments; after that, it was effective disenfranchisement and Jim Crow suppression in the South, and a refusal to recognize black contributions to the Union cause during the Civil War) they had made post-war.
    • The treatment the Axis Powers received from the western allies after World War II. After just seven years of punishing West Germany by keeping the country poor and powerless (as per the 'Morgenthau Plan', which was publicly disavowed but partially enacted), the US extended their general western-European investment drive ('The Marshall Program') to them as well and even released high-ranking ex-Nazi officers from prison (including Erich von Manstein, who had been imprisoned for war crimes against POW and civilians but was released early) so they could found a new German military. The result? A German military that helped redress the Balance of Power in Europe against the Warsaw Pact, and more than 60 years of mutual prosperity and relative peace between the former Axis powers and their conquerors. And Japan, following its surrender and the subsequent drafting of its non-aggression constitution, quickly became an ally of the West after Chairman Mao seized power in mainland China and the outbreak of The Korean War. Today, Germany, Italy, and Japan are three of the biggest economic powerhouses in the world and the centers of two of the world's foremost currencies (euro and yen, respectively). This wasn't out of altruism, but more out of Cold War strategy. The US maintains a number of bases in both Europe and Asia to project power facing threats of domination from Russia and China. And at a more personal level, a number of friendships sprang up between surviving German fighter pilots and their one-time opponents; most famously, German ace Adolf Galland. The famously comfortable circumstances of Anglo-American POWs (who were neither used for slave labour nor exterminated) meant that some former POWs and camp guards also became friends. At a higher level, former Wehrmacht generals like Erich von Manstein cultivated friendships with people such as Captain Sir Basil Hart (who published Rommel's Diaries in English, a notable best-seller of the early '50s).note 
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    • Believe it or not, the US and Vietnam are fast approaching this today (although it's more like "Stalemate equals Friendship"). The Vietnamese, although obviously having mixed feelings about the American intervention in their country, very quickly entered the good graces of the US after the Cold War.note  Currently, the US is Vietnam's largest trading partner (unless you count the whole EU as one unit, in which case the US is second), and the US and Vietnam cooperate on regional issues in Southeast Asia, including tacit US support for Vietnam's position in their numerous maritime border disputes with China. The US assiduously courted Vietnam in the 1990s, and that Vietnam has far less animosity with the US than with China — which has invaded and occupied the country several times over the past...oh...two thousand frickin' years,note  most recently in 1979, and has been trying to mess with Hanoi's business quite blatantly for decades. Today, Vietnam is one of the most pro-American countries in all Asia, with a whopping 71% of Vietnamese having a positive image of the US. (This amusingly for those not directly involved causes trouble with the Vietnamese-American community, who are overwhelmingly anticommunists from South Vietnam and not happy with the rapprochement and its symbols, like acceptance of the current official Vietnamese flag).
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  • Salah-al-Din, a Muslim warlord of Kurdish ancestry, became something of a "Noble Heathen" folk hero to Europeans following his conquest of Jerusalem, which inspired the Third Crusade. According to legend, Saladin made friends with Richard the Lionheart, although in real life they more or less fought each other to a standstill and never met in person. Most importantly was what Salah-al-Din (romanized as Saladin) didn't do: when he conquered Jerusalem, he didn't slaughter the Christians or Jews living there. This is the absolute opposite of what European Crusaders had done when they first took Jerusalem - the Crusaders mercilessly slaughtered every Muslim and as many Jews as they could find. When Salah-al-Din took Jerusalem back, Europe was positive news of a massacre would follow, but it never did. Salah-al-Din simply took the city back and nothing more. Hence, the legend of the Noble Heathen. That was because Jerusalem was taken in 1099 by an all-out assault, while in 1187 Jerusalem surrendered instead of being taken by force. The Medieval custom was to spare the town's inhabitants if the town surrendered; if it was conquered by assault, the town was free to be ravaged for three days and three nights. That said, Saladin was also intentionally invoking the memory of the rise of Islam: almost exactly 550 years earlier, Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab had taken Jerusalem and entered the city quietly; this conquest had ended several decades where the city repeatedly changed hands between the Byzantine Empire and Sassanid Persia, with the conquerors slaughtering hundreds if not thousands each time for security reasons.note 
    There were most likely also pragmatic reasons involved. Most European countries had other conflicts to worry about and were perfectly happy to ignore the Middle East as long as there was no compelling motivation to have another war. Massacres in Jerusalem or the destruction of Christian holy sites would have been such a reason, and the Church would have forced Europe to put aside their various petty conflicts and launch another crusade. Salah-al-Din was supposedly not stupid and realized what would happen if he played the part of the brutal conqueror.
  • The reason why the Nepali Gurkhas fight in the British Army. In 1814, the British East India Company (EIC) used its mercenary army to invade the Kingdom of Nepal; however, the Gurkhas fought the Anglo-Indian troops so hard that The Company only managed to conquer a third of Nepali land and it took them 2 years and large numbers of casualties to do so. The Company was however impressed by the Gurkhas' fighting spirits and abilities so from 1816 onward they recruited Gurkhas into their forces. After the Mercenary Rebellion of 1857 and the subsequent nationalisation of the EIC the following year, the Gurkhas were folded into the British Army and have played a key role in it ever since.
  • Britain and France, though who exactly defeated who is debatable. Suffice it to say that after nine-hundred years of each nation scheming, fighting, and inflicting a humiliating defeat on each other, perfide Albion and "the bloody French" put aside their differences and signed the l'entente cordiale in 1904, forging an alliance that would defeat the Kaiser and Hitler, and that endures to this day. While they still enjoy taking the piss out of each other, they wouldn't dream of fighting—and they both tend to end up on the same side of intra-European political spats (generally trying to keep Germany from getting too big for its britches).
  • In one of the most epic boxing matches ever, George Foreman was defeated by Muhammad Ali in 1974. The two became good friends afterward. Another boxing example is Micky Ward and Arturo Gatti, who had three memorable fights in the 2000s and became friends, with Ward even becoming Gatti's trainer until the Italian-born Canadian died in 2009.
  • Howard Stern often gained the praises or at least acceptance of many former radio and celebrity rivals once he established his ratings supremacy and celebrity credibility.
  • The first encounter of Turkey and Australia was on opposing sides of a battlefield in World War I. The conflict was both fierce and gentlemanly - an odd combination which, despite the eventual defeat of the Australian forces, created a bond of mutual respect, admiration, and friendship between the nations which continues to this day. The Ataturk Memorial is a perfect encapsulation of these ties.
  • John Adams, who had defeated Thomas Jefferson for the presidency in 1796, refused to attend Jefferson's inauguration after Jefferson was elected President in the 1800 election. In 1812, Adams reconciled with Jefferson by postal correspondence until they died several hours apart on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Abraham Lincoln:
    • He and the man who was previously the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 1860, William Henry Seward. Seward became his Secretary of State and one of his most loyal and trusted supporters. Pointedly not the case with Salmon Chase, the other vanquished rival who joined Cabinet, though.
    • Earlier in his political career Lincoln played this trope entirely literally. After several anonymous letters were published criticizing auditor of the State of Illinois James Shields, he blamed Lincoln and challenged him to a duel. Lincoln accepted, though, with dueling being illegal in Illinois at the time, the two met on an island on the Missouri side of the Mississippi. As Shields had challenged Lincoln, Lincoln was allowed to select the terms of the duel and chose the cavalry broadsword as their weapon. 5'9 Shields, tall for his day, was still towered over (and more importantly, outreached) by the nearly six and a half foot tall Lincoln, and found it in his heart to forgive Lincoln, who, for his part, agreed to a written apology, and the two remained friends for life.
  • Jimmy Carter became good friends with former rival Gerald Ford after his presidency ended.
  • Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush became friends after the bulk of their political careers concluded, and spent most of the subsequent decade co-organizing charity events. Bush made it quite clear that he was going to vote for Bill's wife in 2016 — though his own party's nominee also played a big role in that. Clinton, meanwhile, came to view Bush almost as a surrogate father figure and was devastated by his death in 2018.
  • The quarrel between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft cost them the 1912 election which Woodrow Wilson won by a landslide; near the end of his life, Roosevelt eventually reconciled with Taft.
  • In 1980, Bush and Ronald Reagan were competing for the Republican nomination. When Reagan won, Bush agreed to be his running mate.
  • Katie Sandwina defeated a man in a wrestling match. They later married and had a kid.
  • In the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Anthony Kiedis' first encounter with Flea involved telling Flea off for bullying one of his classmates. Then they became friends when they discovered they had similar music tastes.
  • One of the oldest ones in the book: When Persian King Cyrus the Great conquered a country, he often let its king live, letting him become a royal advisor instead. This most famously happened to Croesos (the King of Lydia and the man who invented money, or rather his grandson), whose later loyalty to Cyrus is documented in several places.
  • This is how early man tamed and bred dogs by establishing dominance as the "pack Alpha" while offering food and affection. Even nowadays dog owners need to make sure their dogs know that the dogs are their pets and not the other way around.
  • On the set of Enter the Dragon, a martial artist extra continually challenged Bruce Lee to a sparring match. Bruce accepted, kicked the crap out of the guy as expected, and the extra quickly became his student.
  • Sports example: professional golfer Jason Dufner lost to Keegan Bradley in a playoff at the 2011 PGA Championship after letting go of a late lead. After the playoff, the two became great friends and often played jokes on each other. Two years later, Dufner would have another late lead in the PGA Championship—this time, Bradley was on his way to the airport and hearing of Dufner's chances, asked to be driven back to the course to await his friend. He made it back in time for Dufner's victory and congratulated him on camera just off the 18th green as Dufner went to have his score verified.
  • It is rumoured that Stanley Kubrick won the respect of George C. Scott during the filming of Dr. Strangelove by beating him in a game of chess. Scott disliked the over-the-top way in which Kubrick wanted him to play the character of Gen. Buck Turgidson, but once Kubrick beat him in the game, Scott began to get along with him and grudgingly complied with Kubrick's instructions.note 
  • Essentially what Napoleon tried to achieve, most notably with Russia and Austria. He and Alexander became great friends after their meeting at Tilsitt (until Napoleon demanded that Alexander enforce the Continental System in Russia, effectively crippling the country's economy), and he hoped that marrying Francis II's daughter Marie-Louise would create a close bond between the two former enemies. He failed in both cases.
  • It is said that Bruce Lee and Gene LeBell became friends when they were sparring in the set of a TV series. Gene supposedly threw Lee down and immobilized him, and when Lee asked him to release the hold, Gene refused, saying that if he did it, Bruce would get up and kick his ass in revenge. It's debatable how much of a defeat such a funny incident was, but the reality is that they started to train together after this.
  • Mixed martial artists Frank Shamrock, Maurice Smith, and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka became the ¡Three Amigos! of MMA after Kohsaka defeated Smith and Shamrock defeated Kohsaka.
  • Actor Bruce Cabot (most famous for King Kong) was a rising star in the 1930s until he lost the lead in Stagecoach to John Wayne, who quickly eclipsed him as a leading man, effectively demolishing Cabot's chance at stardom. The two later became close friends and Wayne made a point of getting roles for Cabot in many of his own movies.
  • Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama endured one of the bitterest primaries in modern politics, but four years of Clinton serving as Obama's Secretary of State forged a strong working relationship and, ultimately, deep friendship between the two of them. Obama essentially hand-picked her as his chosen successor for the Presidency with a ringing endorsement, calling her "the most qualified candidate in history" and making it clear that she has his complete trust and support. After Labor Day, when the general election kicked into high gear, he embarked on a campaign blitz on her behalf that is unmatched by a sitting President in modern history. Just look at them now.
  • Invoked and Enforced in the 2020 Democratic primaries. After defeating Sanders in the primaries and becoming the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden immediately formed Unity Task Forces with Sanders to unify the Democrats. In return for full cooperation from the Sanders campaign, Biden adopting several of Sanders' policies and hired his surrogates to draft his platform.
  • Julie d'Aubigny was a noted duelist, and one of her opponents was Louis-Joseph d'Albert Luynes. Not only did she win the duel, she ran her sword through his shoulder. However, while in recovery, d'Albert sent one of his companions to apologize to Julie on his behalf, so she went to visit him. And then hooked up with him. Despite their on-off sexual relationship, the two were actually quite good friends after that and remained so until Julie died.
  • In what is possibly the most extreme variation of this trope yet seen, Miriam Blasco of Spain defeated Nicola Fairbrother of Great Britain in the finals for women's judo at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Not only would the two of them later become good friends, they eventually got married.
  • Rachel Plummer - a woman captured by Comanches in 19th century Texas - was initially treated like a slave and regularly beaten by the women she was servile to. One night she snapped and attacked the younger of the two women. Shocked that no one came to the woman's defence, she tended to her wounds herself. The other woman then tried to burn Rachel, who fought back and beat her too. The Comanche council ordered her to repair the lodge that had been destroyed in the fight, but Rachel stood up for herself and refused to unless the other two women be forced to help her. In doing so, she earned the respect of the council, was granted that judgment, and found her situation improved.
  • Alexander the Great had a habit of doing this throughout his campaign. Many of the kings and tribal leaders that he defeated in battle ended up joining his side and became his satraps. The most notable would be King Porus, who upon his defeat at the Battle of the Hydaspes, requested Alexander to "treat him as a king". Alexander was reportedly so impressed that no only did he restore Porus' kingdom, but he also gave dominion over the lands of the surrounding tribes that Alexander had defeated earlier. Porus then ended up becoming a loyal friend to Alexander and helped him with his campaign in India.
  • Ray Gunter and Anthony Barber. In 1951 the two faced each other in the UK General Election for the seat of Doncaster. Having faced each other before in 1950, where Barber ran Gunter close, Gunter only winning by 878 votes, the two had a healthy respect for each other already, which was only cemented by the two running a vigorous but clean campaign against each other that lead to Barber winning by 384 votes. They also tussled for the seat in 1955, where Barber won by 1,660 votes. After Gunter returned to the Commons in 1959 for Southwark, the two could be seen chatting amiably on many occasions, and, in an emergency, Gunter even acted as Barber's pair when Barber couldn't attend a debate. Famously, Barber was occasionally treated by Gunter to meals in the legendarily left-ward leaning restaurant "The Gay Hussar", which was a rare occurrence indeed. Barber went on to be Chancellor of the Exchequer under Edward Heath, of which Gunter remarked "Tony will do a damn fine job as long as he doesn't get any hare-brained ideas about boosting the economy".
  • In the National Football League, though New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees defeated Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts at Super Bowl XLIV, Brees and Manning have become close friends. It helps that Peyton's father, Archie Manning, was widely regarded as the Saints' greatest QB before Brees joined the team.
  • After Sega dropped out of the console market due to the failure of the Dreamcast, they began to publish the Sonic the Hedgehog games on Nintendo's consoles, with several of those games being exclusive to Nintendo platforms, and occasionally crossing over with its former rival, the Super Mario games. It extends beyond that, with Atlus, now a subsidiary of Sega, publishing and developing Shin Megami Tensei IV and V exclusively for Nintendo platforms, a remake of Panzer Dragoon being announced for the Nintendo Switch, and Nintendo more or less taking over publishing duties for the Bayonetta games starting from Bayonetta 2 onward.
  • Ancient Rome cheerfully inducted defeated tribes and peoples into the larger Roman state. One professor described their expansion method as "the Goku Model of Imperialism": we beat you so now we're friends, and friends send soldiers to help our campaign to, uh, make new friends, right?