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Apple of Discord

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"To The Fairest."

Ron Swanson: Who broke it [a coffee machine]? (accusations fly)
Ron: (to camera) I broke it. [...] I predict ten minutes from now, they'll be at each other's throats with warpaint on their faces and a pig head on a stick. Good. It was getting a little chummy around here.

A group of people are thick as thieves, supporting each other in all things. Then an outside party enters and asks them to decide something. It may be something as mundane as deciding what toppings they want on their pizza, or something as serious as which one of them is The Leader. Suddenly, they are at each other's throats and can't agree on anything except that each of them wants to be right.

The allusion of the name is to the Greek legend of how The Trojan War really started: Eris, the goddess of discord, approached Hera (of fertility and happy marriage), Athena (of intelligence, you might say from a modern viewpoint) and Aphrodite (of love) while they were at an Olympic gathering, a wedding to which Eris had not been invited, and threw a golden apple among the three, on which was written "To the most beautiful one." Divine bitchfighting ensued, and in the end, when the three goddesses couldn't end their argument, they decided to ask Paris, a mortal prince of Troy (because Zeus chickened out on the topic). Each of them tried to bribe him so that he would choose her, and he decided it should belong to Aphrodite - versions differ on whether it was because it was true, and/or because she had promised him the hand of the most beautiful woman on Earth, a Spartan woman who would soon be better known as Helen of Troy, who happened to be already married to another man...but the rest is a longer story for another time.

A sister trope to Centipede's Dilemma and a great way to make everyone play with the Conflict Ball. If the decision is whether to trust a once-villainous member of their group, it is the "They Still Belong to Us" Lecture.

Compare Forbidden Fruit, Rage Judo, Yoko Oh No, and Insidious Rumor Mill. For an object that everyone wants which drives them into conflict, see Artifact of Attraction and Loot Drama. For a supernatural cause, see Hate Plague. For the religion, see Principia Discordia and Discordianism.

Contrast Mediation Backfire, when an attempt to intervene in a conflict causes both sides to unite against the meddler.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Chao uses a future version of Negi's family tree to disrupt his entire party as they all want to know who he will marry.
    Negi party self-destructs!! [Record time of 57 seconds]
  • The Lychee Light Club appears to be tearing itself apart after the capture of Bishojo schoolgirl Kanon.
  • One Piece's Little Garden arc has a hundred-year-long series of duels fought between two best friends because of an argument over which killed the bigger sea monster. Although at this point neither care what started the duel any more (or can even remember), they keep fighting out of pride and honor and probably because they just like fighting. They're still best friends, and when an outside party rigs their latest duel to break the century-long streak of perfect draws, they almost immediately decide to disregard it due to interference and go back to fighting.
  • Kakashi's bells in Naruto invoke this; he has two of them for the three-person team, and the one who doesn't get one will get sent back to the academy. The temptation to acquire one, and thus continue being a shinobi, was enough to break up The Team (Naruto was determined to remain a ninja, Sakura wanted to stay with Sasuke and Sasuke wanted to remain a ninja while not trusting the others). The entire point of the exercise was for the genin to overcome that selfishness.
  • Referenced in Sword Art Online. A particular guild (called, appropriately enough, Golden Apple) found a rare item that granted a substantial stat boost to its wearer. Some guild members wanted to sell it for money, while others believed it would be better to keep it for themselves. The decision was put to vote, and the majority agreed it should be sold. The guild leader went off personally to sell it, but died mysteriously. Because of suspicions that the murderer was a fellow guild member, the guild fell apart. In a subversion, it was later discovered that the person behind the guild leader's death had a completely unrelated motive, and took advantage of the rare item dispute to avoid suspicion.
  • Referenced in the New York arc of Case Closed; Shinichi and Ran visit his mother Yukiko in New York, where she treats them to a showing of a musical that is loosely adapted from the original myth, except set in what appears to be Gilded Age America; backstage, the relationship of the actresses playing the three "goddesses" are similarly rocky, as all of them are rivals for the affections of the male lead Michael, so when he turns up murdered in the middle of the performance Everyone Is a Suspect.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: The trope-naming Greek mythology story is referenced in Joys of Seasons episode 30, where, to distract Wolnie and Fragrant Wolf and rescue Tibbie and Sparky, Jonie sets out an apple for them. Wolnie and Fragrant Wolf nicely insist to each other that they should eat the apple... and then Wolnie notices the box that the apple came in says "To the world's prettiest lady" on the side of the lid, which causes them to get into a fierce argument over who should eat it. Wolffy suggests sharing it, which turns into a problem when he can't get the apple to cut into halves. The apple is actually a bomb and blasts all three wolves out of Wolf Castle.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix:
    • In Asterix and the Roman Agent, the titular agent (who can start arguments just by standing there doing nothing) comes to the village with a vase as a gift to the most important man in the village. Instead of giving the vase to Chief Vitalstatistix, he gives it to Asterix, which leads to a chain reaction of arguments until the entire village is at odds with one another.
    • Another one happens in Asterix and Caesar's Gift when the coming of new citizens disrupts the order of the village enough that they are arguing over the best chief when the Romans begin firing catapults at the village. Of course, the Gauls argue a lot anyway, but usually, that's just Vitriolic Best Buds mixed with Boisterous Bruiser — open hostility is unusual.
  • One Bamse story involves some characters interfering with the opening of Pandora's Box. Skalman temporarily defeats them by asking "Who is the most dangerous of you?". While the Ills argue, Hope manages to entrap them in the box again (only for it to be opened later by Pandora's husband).
  • This happens constantly in Fantastic Four. The tiniest disagreement between the Four inevitably degenerates into shouting matches, which are basically never resolved and lead to a vicious cycle of passive-aggressive bickering and brooding (or in Ben and Johnny's case, No Holds Barred Beatdowns). They always get back together in the end though, usually after being forced to team up again to take down some supervillain or another.
  • During one of the occasions when Darkseid of New Gods was dead, his will turned out to simply read "TO THE STRONGEST..." Cue massive infighting amongst the senior Gods of Apokolips.
  • During one Popeye adventure in the fictional country of Nazilia, an army is about to attack the king's castle. Popeye throws the would-be revolution into disarray by tossing a large lump of gold into the crowd saying whoever can get it keeps it. Soon the entire army has beaten themselves up fighting for it.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Eris sees to it that golden apples that turn everyone violently defensive and unthinking are served when Themyscira first invites delegates to their shores after they vote to rejoin the world and take up their initial mission of being an example of tolerance and peace.

    Fan Works 
  • An Impractical Guide to Godhood: The Stoll twins provoke a fight between the Daughters of Aphrodite by tossing a present labelled "For the hottest" into their midst. They later repeat this prank with the Hunters of Artemis, only in that case the label says "For the best shot."
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Olympian Journey has the urn which Jackie finds at the start of the story, which causes anyone who sees it to covet it, and be willing to fight over it. Jackie tries using this against the Villain Team-Up that comes after him in the first chapter, only for him and his family to get drawn into the fight as well, ultimately resulting in the urn breaking and the godly essences trapped inside being freed. Fittingly enough, one of the deities trapped in the urn was Eris, the goddess who created the Trope Namer in the first place.
  • Averted with the actual golden apples of Eris in With This Ring. Paul uses them several times when he needs a powerful source of chaos magic, but they're always cooperative ventures. (It should be no surprise, then, that although he officially worships Eris, she's a bit insecure about their relationship.)
    Paul: Apparently she's got a whole grove of them.
  • In This Bites!, Jeremiah Cross is fighting for his life against Mr. 13 in Mock Town and a crowd of pirates has formed around them to ensure the fight goes uninterrupted for their amusement. In order to break up the crowd and try to escape, Cross claims he and Mr. 13 were fighting because they had been arguing over who was the strongest of the Four Emperors and that Mr. 13 had said Kaido. This sparks an argument among the spectators over who's the greatest and the topic is such Serious Business that it escalates into a street brawl that ends with part of the town on fire.

    Films — Animated 
  • One spin-off short from Despicable Me has all the minions fighting over a banana. It eventually falls down a hole...cut to one minion standing apart from the crowd, taking a bite out of an apple. Oh, no.
  • In Happily N'Ever After the hero causes the wolves to fight over who is stronger with this.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Coke bottle in The Gods Must Be Crazy has a variety of uses in the African village into which it's thrown. The trouble is that there's only one, and it eventually causes people to start fighting over who gets to use it. The villagers call the Coke bottle "the evil thing" when they realize what it's doing to them. Xi is tasked with getting rid of it after it threatens to tear the village apart, which Xi plans to do by walking to the edge of the world (read: a really steep cliff) and throwing it over the edge.
  • The Norman McLaren short Neighbours is about two former friends who fight each other to the death over a flower growing in the middle of their two properties.
  • The House That Dripped Blood: In "Waxworks", the wax figure of Salome causes all men to see it as the woman they most desire. This causes problems as Philip and Rogers had both been in love with the same woman, and both see it as her.
  • Petticoat Planet, the presence of Steve Rogers—the first man on Puckerbush for 20 years—starts to cause jealousy and division among the inhabitants of the Lady Land.
  • Captain America: Civil War: Helmut Zemo's plan is to use Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier as one for the Avengers. He waits until the group is already facing internal division thanks to the Sokovia Accords, then reveals to Iron Man that Bucky — while under HYDRA's brainwashing — killed Tony's parents. The resulting fight between Captain America and Iron Man is the last straw that shatters the group in two.
  • GoldenEye: James Bond is caught in a Mexican Standoff with General Ouromov and Alec Trevelyan. He creates an opening for himself by revealing to Ouromov that Trevelyan is a Lienz Cossack, who has plenty to reason to hate and betray the Russian general. When Ouromov starts to doubt Trevelyan, Bond takes his shot and kills the general.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): Ludendorff and Dr. Poison trap the German high command in a room being flooded with poison gas. As they close and lock the door, they amuse themselves by tossing in a single gas mask for them to fight over... with the winner dying anyway because the mask won't stop the gas they used.

  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • After Frodo is captured by orcs and stripped of his possessions, ownership of these (particularly his mithril chain shirt) drives the orcs to start killing each other, giving Sam a chance to sneak into Cirith Ungol to rescue Frodo.
    • The Ring itself has this effect on people (Boromir and Sméagol in particular). This is due to its magical influence and the natural temptation to use its power despite the danger. It's implied that the Hobbits' carefree and (relatively) friendly nature is what makes them so resistant to this property of the Ring.
  • In Mossflower, Martin and friends are captured by Tsarmina's soldiers and escape by encouraging their captors to fight over the remaining food.
    • There's also more than one instance in the series of calling out an insult while both captors' backs are turned, so they'd each think the other said it, start fighting, and allow the protagonist to slip away.
  • In the Isaac Asimov Black Widowers story "To The Barest," ex-Black-Widower Frank Ottur invokes this and alludes to the mythological example by leaving a sum of money in his will "to the barest" of the current Black Widowers, whatever that means—with the additional caveat that if they refuse to argue, the money will go to a local Nazi group instead. (For extra points, Ottur deliberately chose a lawyer named Parris as his executor.)
  • At the end of Discworld novel Feet of Clay, newly free-will-enabled golem Dorfl pulls this on a collection of evangelical priests. Though from disparate and rivalling faiths, they're briefly united in their endeavor to convert him until he says he'll be happy to dispute the matter with the priest of the most worthy god. Predictable bedlam ensues.
  • In Dom Casmurro Escobar eventually becomes this to Bentinho and Capitu.
  • According to historical records, during the Warring States period of China, the gift of two peaches kills three great warriors who were sworn brothers (the one who was snubbed was Driven to Suicide, and then the other two followed suit).
  • Mentioned repeatedly in Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! Trilogy. Since almost all the characters in the book are members of Discordian and/or Erisian conspiracies, this should come as little surprise. At the end of book 3, Eris Herself manifests to cast the actual Apple of Discord in among some zombie Nazi troops; each of them sees it as the thing they want most of all in (un)life, so the zombies to turn their guns on each other while fighting over it, ruining the Illuminati's plans.
  • In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Diao Chan was a human apple of discord thrown between Dong Zhuo and his adopted son Lu Bu.
  • James Corvidae in Pact is a spirit that specializes in this. He has the ability to reassign the connections between objects and people so that someone or something attached to one person finds its way to another, usually in what appears to be an entirely legitimate fashion. In the story, he causes a fire elemental belonging to a group of elementalists to take up residence in some skywriting equipment belonging to a local Astrologer, causing conflict over who gets to keep the equipment and the elemental.
  • Used in Deltora Quest when the main characters are cornered by the 11 children of a witch they killed. They begin to discuss who gets to eat which part when Lief mentions that he wants to be eaten by the most powerful of the children. By the time the argument is over only one of the children is left alive. In this case it's not so much disagreement over who is the strongest, they all know it's Ichabod, just if it's fair that he should get to eat more because of it.
  • The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign: Partway through the fifth volume, Kyousuke manages to summon the White Queen. This initially has the opposite effect of this trope, relaxing tensions among the members of the Fifteen Siblings Project. But over time, the Queen's presence stirs up all kinds of negative feelings: inadequacy at not being able to compare to her, fear of her incredible power, envy at Kyousuke for being able to monopolise her power. This leads to the others trying to gain control over the Queen, and eventually to the horrors of the Secret War.
  • In the Richard Matheson short story The Distributor, a new neighbor moves into a pleasant suburb and starts seeding chaos. He starts by just doing things like prank calls and phony deliveries, but quickly escalates to vandalism, blackmail, pet killings and arson, always leaving some evidence that another neighbor has done it. By the end of the story two people are dead, another is dying, the whole neighborhood hates each other, and he sets off to do the whole thing again somewhere else, as he has many times before. And what do most critics consider to be the scariest part of the story? We never find out why he does this.
  • Shows up in the Ravirn series, on the shelf of Eris/Discord. Turns out Aphrodite lost interest in it pretty quickly.... (Then it's revealed to have been modified to be a network access port for Eris' computing cluster, with the stem being removable for easier access.)
  • In Warbreaker (and Words of Radiance), Nightblood the living, cheerfully murderous sword is this - but only for especially evil people. They feel compelled to take it/him for themselves, and it always ends with them dead and a proud Nightblood. His master Vasher repeatedly lets him get stolen and retrieves him from the thieves' bodies, though not out of malice. Good and neutral people tend to be uneasy or afraid.
  • The Faerie Queene: Ate drives two brothers in arms, Paridell and Blandamour. to betray and attack each other by playing off their mutual lust for Florimell's clone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Babylon 5, Jha'dur's universal anti-agapic is a very intentional version of this on her part. Being the only surviving Dilgar, she offered up a drug that would grant immortality and immunity to disease, at the cost of another's life.note 
    Jha'dur: You will fall upon one another like wolves. It will make what we did pale by comparison. The billions that live forever will be a testimony to my work, and the billions who are murdered to buy that immortality will be the continuation of my work. Like us? You will become us! That's my monument, Commander.
  • In Better Off Ted, Heterosexual Life-Partners and coworkers Phil and Lem start arguing when Rose, Ted's daughter, asks if one is the other's boss. In the end, they make up when they decide to give each other equal authority.
  • Big Time Rush: In the Season 2 finale "Big Time Move", it was revealed near the end that what resulted in the boys brawling each other was the video game they got, thus they beg Mrs. Knight to return it to prevent any further arguments.
  • One scene in an episode of Blue Peter had Matt Baker playing a treasure-hunting sailor who was about to be eaten by three sirens. He declared that the most beautiful of the three should be allowed the first bite, causing all three of them to say "Thank You!" in unison, then ran off as they began arguing about who he'd meant.
  • In a season 4 arc of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike nonchalantly brings up issues that almost break the Scoobies up entirely. By the end of the season, they figure out that their arguments were just Spike messing with them because he's betrayed them to seasonal Big Bad Adam, but they don't completely feel comfortable around each other again until they team up and defeat the Big Bad through The Power of Friendship. Literally.
  • Doctor Who: Part of the Doctor's knack as a Guile Hero lies in setting his enemies against each other. For example, in "The Faceless Ones", he sets the Chameleons against each other by pointing out that the ones whose human templates are still on Earth are vulnerable if the humans find where they've been hidden, and implying that the Chameleons' leader would be giving the Doctor's body to one of his friends. When the staff at Gatwick Airport manage to find the bodies and take out one Chameleon as a warning shot, Captain Blade - who's just been told he's next on the chopping block - mutinies on the spot.
  • Hogan's Heroes: In the episode "To the Gestapo, With Love", the Gestapo tried to pull this on the Heroes by having them be interrogated by three absolutely gorgeous women who were showering them with attention to try and wheedle information out of them. Hogan pulled the tables by manufacturing gossip, telling each of the girls that another of them told him the gossip, and then got Hochstetter in on it by mentioning that one of the girls had a mole and telling her that one of the other girls had told him a prominent general had told her... making it appear to Hochstetter that he had been stood up by that girl for the general. By the time he was done, all four (the three women and Hochstetter) were one big squabbling mess.
  • iCarly: "iDon't Want to Fight" has Sam receive an iCarly t-shirt from Carly to mark the fifth anniversary of their friendship, which also happens to be the very first shirt for the webshow ever. Sam winds up trading the shirt to Con Man Rip-Off Rodney for concert tickets, which upsets Carly to the point it initiates the very first fight between the two girls which lasts the majority of the episode. The fight ends when Freddie hosts an online poll and most of the viewers vote the girls are acting dumb and it's best if they just make up and reconcile.
  • The Jessie episode "Coffee Talk" had Jessie score VIP wristbands to a Justin Timberlake concert, but there's only two so she can take either Emma or Zuri, who argue over who will go. And when she gets only one of the wristbands in the mail, all three girls plus Ravi fight over it.
  • Kamen Rider Gaim has the Golden Fruit, which is said to be the source of the Overlords' power, and lust for that power drives allies into betraying each other (like Takatora getting backstabbed by his inner circle and his younger brother, or Kaito inevitably breaking with the good Riders). The series itself actually implies that the Golden Fruit was the inspiration for several similar concepts from human myths and religion, which of course includes the Apple of Discord.
  • In a sketch by Loriot, two couples go to a restaurant together to celebrate the friendship they started when they vacationed together. At the end of the meal, the waiter recommends the house specialty dessert, the Kosakenzipfel, which both husbands then order. Unfortunately it turns out there is only one left. The two decide to share it, but this becomes so complicated that it devolves into a shouting match between the two families who are now presumably enemies for life.
  • The Librarians 2014: The episode "...And the Apple of Discord" had the actual Apple of Discord, and whoever held it turned into the worst version of themselves. It didn't work on Jones since being a petty thief was already the worst version of himself.
  • Malcolm in the Middle:
    • Dewey: This sort of behaviour is his modus operandi throughout the series with the younger brother being generally quiet but interjecting the right line at the right time so that everybody else will react according to his plan.
      • He does it to Hal's barbershop quartet group, asking the members why each of them has his own specific role within the group. They do make up (in the middle of a performance, no less), but presumably have problems again at the end, when Dewey starts in on them again.
      • He also works on a couple that performed. Five minutes after Dewey started in on them, they were in a gigantic fight.
    • Malcolm, Reese and Dewey once pose as political demonstrators to avoid being sent to their mother after an act of vandalism. When someone decides to send each of them a cupcake, Lois removes the cherries from two of the cupcakes so they'll fight over the remaining one. The boys eventually wise up to her plan and merely send the cherry back.
  • Spooks episode 4x03 has Adam Carter infiltrating a far-right political party (which totally isn't the BNP) and manufacturing a rift between its leaders before they can ignite a race war.
  • The 10th Kingdom: The trolls are holding Virginia captive, and Wolf throws a box into the room. The note says that it's a present for the strongest, bravest troll. Cue all three knocking each other out.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959) used this trope on two occasions, both Played for Drama.
    • In the first, "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," a meteorlike object passes over the titular street, a happy suburban neighborhood. A few minutes later, every electric device and machine on the street loses power, and one young boy says that the meteor was actually an alien spaceship. The neighbors laugh this off until the boy mentions that in one of his comic books, a group of aliens originally disguised themselves as humans to prepare for the invasion. When another neighbor's car mysteriously turns back on, a seed of doubt is planted, and by that night, everyone on Maple Street has started attacking and even killing each other. It's then revealed that the space object really was a meteor, but the aliens didn't send down a spy—instead, they deliberately messed with the power on the street and let human frailty and hatred do the rest.
    • "The Shelter" is even worse, as it doesn't use any supernatural elements and instead displays humans as absolutely monstrous. A neighborhood gathers to celebrate the birthday of the town doctor, with laughter, camraderie, and general good feeling all around. Then a warning goes off on the radio: nuclear missiles have been fired from Russia and are on their way to the United States at that very moment. The doctor immediately hustles his family into the bomb shelter he's prepared and urges the others to return to their own shelters...which they didn't build. Suddenly everyone wants to get into the limited space, and before long, horrible accusations, racial slurs, and general terrible behavior runs rampant. It eventually gets so bad that the neighbors start trying to ram the door down...and that's when another radio announcement reveals that the missiles were a fluke. The neighbors try to act like they can make up for what happened, but the doctor sadly realizes that they can never go back now that they've shown their true selves.
  • Victorious: One episode had Beck's friend from Canada come visit him. Cat, Jade, and Tori all become smitten with him and begin fighting with each other over him.
  • Zoey 101: The "Spring Break-Up" special had Tek-Mates, which the two teams of Gender Defenders use to communicate with each other. Chase steals Zoey's in an attempt to delete a text message he accidentally sent her proclaiming his love for her, which in turn results in her losing one of the challenges. This causes Zoey and the other girls to get furious with Chase, and thus it turns into a real battle between girls and boys.

  • In Goddess Creation System the Wang Pu household is close knit and caring, at least towards each other. However, the increasingly beautiful new maid Xiaxi ignites tensions and brings up long standing resentments between the two brothers, causing the whole household to basically fall apart as they fight over her. Xiaxi, for her part, is doing this on purpose because the more they fight with each other, the more they want her and the easier her job gets.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Trojan Cycle:
    • Zeus held a banquet to honor the wedding of mortal Peleus to immortal Thetis (who became Achilles' parents), but Eris was not invited. To avenge this snub, Eris wrote "to the fairest" on a golden apple and threw it into the banquet, where a brawl immediately erupted, as every woman in attendance (bride included) fought for the right to claim the title. At least twenty years later (by the time Peleus and Thetis had a son, named Achilles, who had grown into a famed warrior), the bickering over the apple still hadn't died down, but it had narrowed down to three women — the three most powerful goddesses on Olympus (coincidence? You tell me.) These were Hera, queen of the gods, Athena, goddess of wisdom, and Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty. The three demanded Zeus choose who was the "fairest", but he wisely declined. Instead, he chose a mortal man to arbitrate. Each goddess presented their beauty to him while also offering a prize should he choose them. Eventually he chose Aphrodite as winner and accepted her promise of the most beautiful woman in Greece. The man? Paris of Troy. The woman? Helen of Sparta. Thus began The Trojan War.
    • Ajax son of Telamon and Odysseus jointly save Achilles' body but then fall out over which one of them deserves to be rewarded with Achilles' arms (which were fashioned by the god Hephaistos), which leads to Ajax' madness and suicide.

    Print Media 
  • In order to illustrate a position that is a won position for one player in Chess but a mate in two for the other in Shatranj, Chess Review magazine once ran a story called "The Case of the Missing Chessmen" wherein two guys investigate the mystery of a dying sixteenth century hidalgo in the New World, whose treasure find he decided (being insanely obsessed with Shatranj) to give to whichever of his two benefactors won a game. The loser betrayed the winner, but got mortally wounded in the process.

  • The Golden Apple is a loose paraphrase of the Trope Namer in the "Mythology" section above. The apple is the "symbol of our proud state of Washington" made of golden wire. Eris, Hera, Athena and Aphrodite are here named Mother Hare, Mrs. Juniper, Miss Minerva and Lovey Mars. The last-named lady is awarded the apple by Paris, who elopes with Helen.

    Video Games 
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, Hades manages to get the humans to go to war with each other over an artfiact that can grant any wish even though said artifact does not actually exist.
  • In Bleach Shattered Blade, the Sokyoku Shards get scattered about. Because even a shard grants massive power, this breaks down the Soul Society into a bunch of infighting among those who want them.
  • In MMORPG games, Rare Drops can serve as Apples of Discord and tear apart guilds or spark conflict between factions because of the ensuing Loot Drama.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim allows you to use this on some enemies. Drop something valuable - like a gemstone - among a group of bandits without being spotted, and they will start fighting over it and end up killing each other. Also, if you manage to summon the Daedra Prince Boethiah, she will command all her faithful (including you) to fight each other to the death, with the promise of a special task for the last survivor.
  • Mother 3 gives us Tazmily Village, a happy little place where there's no technology or currency, but everyone cares for each other- There's no crime, need to lock doors, or greed. But when technology and money are introduced, fighting begins, and people begin leaving for New Pork City, abandoning the harmony and peaceful lives they once had for things like money- And by the end of the game, it's pretty much completely abandoned. The music reflects the change, too- At first, it's perfectly happy, normal music. But by the end, when everyone is gone, and there's no more peace, the music becomes downright heartwrenching.
  • The Literature in Shin Megami Tensei IV. The humans in Mikado are so dependent in their vision of the world to function that the merest hint that reality can work otherwise is an Artifact of Doom capable of warping souls and bodies, turning common citizens into abominable demons.
  • The central plot of Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines is kicked off when the mysterious and fabled Ankharan Sarcophagus arrives in Los Angeles as part of a museum exhibit. The legendary power rumored to be contained in the Sarcophagus throws the city's vampire underworld into chaos, as every faction begins falling all over themselves to get ahold of it, each for their own reasons. Which is exactly what Smiling Jack and the Cabbie intended. The Ankharan Sarcophagus is actually just some old, empty coffin that they made up to look like the real deal in order to create an Apple of Discord that would upheave LA's vampiric society and destroy the people they blame for the city's issues, most particularly Prince LaCroix. It doesn't even have a body in it; it's laden with explosives to kill whoever wins the engineered war and tries to claim it.
  • Little Alchemy 2: The Apple of Discord is an element in the Myths and Monsters DLC.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-050 is a statue of a monkey with "To the Cleverest" written on its base. It loves pranks and pursuit of the title of cleverest trickster results in a massive prank war.
  • In Kickassia Fritz von Baugh tries this trick on the reviewers while trying to retake the nation for President Baugh. Of course, the use of this trope gets lampshaded.
  • Back when Osama bin Laden was still alive and in hiding, Brazilian website wwwdotchargesdotcomdotbr posted an animation suggesting that the reason he still was at large was because the people who found him fought one another because none of them wanted to share the reward.
  • A Tumblr user discovered that Hershey's was selling gold foil-wrapped chocolate apples for Valentine's Day. Inspired by the Trope Namer, they bought one, wrote "The Fairest" under "To" on the label, left it out in the open, and waited to see if people would fight over it. It worked.
    courfeyclause: this is definitely how the college au of the iliad starts

    Western Animation 
  • In the short film Balance, five men living precariously balanced on a platform floating in space have nothing to do with their time but fish over the side. Then one of the men catches a music box, and he and his fellows quickly start fighting over it.
  • The season one finale of Ben 10 had the heroes distract the villains by asking who the second strongest (aside from Dr. Animo) out of them was.
  • In the Beware the Batman episode "Reckoning", Batman is simultaneously faced with five enemies, each trying to collect Ra's al Ghul's reward for bringing him in dead or alive. He surrenders to one of them, who is promptly attacked by another to claim the prize, who is then attacked in turn.... The situation quickly degenerates into a free-for-all from which Batman simply walks away.
  • In the Big City Greens episode "Cricket's Tickets", Cricket fishes out two VIP tickets to a show called The Barnacle Banquet, but since he can only take one friend with him — either Tilly or Remy — he cannot decide. The two then proceed to do various favors for Cricket, hoping he'd choose either of them. He then decides to choose neither and pick one of the neighborhood kids instead, but Tilly and Remy steal the kids for their own party; thus Cricket gives the ticket to a random screaming kid named Gregly. However, Cricket realizes he hurt Tilly and Remy's feelings and interrupts the show to apologize to them; but since the show only calls for two people, Cricket ultimately decides to relinquish the tickets to Tilly and Remy, as they deserve it more.
  • In the Disney short "Toy Tinkers" Donald Duck does this to Chip and Dale. Pretending to be Santa Claus he gives one a large walnut and the other a small walnut. Instantly they are fighting over who deserves the large one.
  • In Dave the Barbarian, one of the Dark Lord Chuckles the Silly Piggy's schemes against Udragoth was to give the royal family a gift of literal rose-tinted glasses enchanted to convince the wearer they're living in their ideal fantasies. Everyone starts fighting each other for the glasses, softening the kingdom up for Chuckles to invade more easily.
  • In DuckTales (2017) episode "The Beagle Birthday Massacre" Webby joins her new friend Lena to a party not realizing they are crashing Ma Beagle's birthday party. Ma and Webby know each other from a previous encounter where the preteen duck captured Ma. So, seeing them there Ma sicks all of her sons on them. Eventually the horde of Beagle Boys capture Lena, Webby, and Heuy, Dewie, and Louie. Needing a distraction, Webby and Lena asks the emotionally abused boys if they plan to share credit or will one set of them get all the love from Ma for this capture. This leads to each clique of Beagle Boys to attack each other, giving Webby time to break out of her ropes, free Lena, and rescue the boys. They escape just as Ma arrives and looks at her boys beaten in a mess.
  • Franklin: In "Franklin's Crystal", Franklin and Beaver find a quartz crystal in a river and later agree to keep in the treehouse. Franklin takes Bear over to show it to him, but Beaver took it for a performance without his knowledge. The two settle on making a schedule on who gets the crystal on which days, but it only adds more problems rather than resolve the one they currently have, leading them to constantly argue. Eventually, Bear and Goose settle it by deciding to keep it... in the river, so that they won't have to argue over it.
  • Garfield and Friends: Garfield once got the Buddy Bears, those bastions of conformity and cooperation, off his back by asking them what they want on their pizza. Garfield even lampshades this by stating it to be a fundamental human behavior, since even the parents each have their own disagreeable and contentious opinions on which pizza topping combo is the best.
    Garfield: In the history of mankind, no two people have ever been able to agree on pizza toppings.
  • As mentioned above, Eris from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, while the apple is more of an Artifact of Doom, in one episode where she appears, Eris "gives up on chaos" and gives the apple to the trio, Grim tries to seal it away, Mandy wants to become the new goddess of chaos, and Billy is... well, Billy. The three eventually end up fighting over it until Eris returns, glad with the chaos her plan created, and leaves with the apple.
    "Well, well... this turned out to be my best idea ever!"
  • The Jungle Bunch: In "The Cube" the animals of the jungle are fighting over a mysterious sparkling blue cube that they each think is something legendary or significant, though they each think it's something different. At the end of the episode, it's revealed that it was one of Al's art projects.
  • I web short for Justice League Action has The Joker and The Trickster kidnap a famous actor. Said actor then gets the two villains arguing with each other by imitating their voices, which gets them so riled up they don't notice where they're going until they get caught by Swamp Thing. The actor? None other than Mark Hamill(As Himself), who in Real Life voices all three characters for the show.
  • In King of the Hill, Hank and the gang need a diversion in a bar frequented by military veterans. Bill loudly asserts that Vietnam soldiers endured more hardships than anyone else, and the room immediately devolves into a shouting match between veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, etc. The bar apparently goes through this a lot since once the fighting breaks out the bartender points to a sign reading "No war debates!" but is merely ignored.
  • The Looney Tunes short "The Fighting 69½th" has a similar ending. Two ant armies fight over a picnic until the humans pack up, leaving only one small pastry with a cherry. Realizing the futility of their struggle, they decide to end hostilities and split the pastry evenly. However, they can't decide which side gets the cherry, and the war begins anew.
    • In "Bugsy and Mugsy", when Bugs overhears Rocky and Muggsy talking about a load of "carrots", which is a jewelry store heist, Bugs starts gossiping over the phone, suggesting that Muggsy isn't as innocent as he appears to be, and Bugs starts framing Muggsy with a screwdriver in his hand after the light fixture falls on Rocky, having him light a stick of dynamite which he thinks is a cigarette, and puts a pair of roller skates on Muggsy which he controls from beneath the floor with a magnet. The cops rush in and arrest Rocky and Muggsy once Bugs rigs up a sign saying "Rocky's Hideaway".
    • The plot of "Bugsy and Mugsy" was taken from "Stooge for a Mouse", where Sylvester and Hector, who start off as friends enjoying a nap, are pitted against each other by a mouse, who frames Sylvester and gets him into hot water with Hector using similar gags, making enemies of them, only to have the mouse get his comeuppance when the chandelier falls on him.
  • Happens a couple of times in Mixels:
    • The episode "Cookironi" contains the last of a box of cookironis (a cookie and macaroni noodle hybrid) that nine of the Mixels squabble over, leading to an all-out battle of the Maxes. It breaks before any of them can claim it...and then a Nixel is found with a box of them...
    • The special "A Quest for the Lost Mixamajig" contains a special key that grants the wielder as The Chosen One, which leads to a gigantic brawl for who will be the key-bearer. Even when the main group manages to split the role among themselves, they come to a shocking realization that the entire thing was a hoax pulled by King Nixel, and he had lured the others into this trick as well. Thankfully, they were able to overcome their selfishness to work together in the end.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "The Ticket Master", Twilight Sparkle receives two tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala. When her sidekick Spike declines his, the spare ticket becomes a source of friction between Twilight's friends. She ultimately sends them back to Celestia with a note explaining why she's not going. In response Celestia immediaely says "Why didn't you just say so in the first place?" and sends her enough tickets for everyone.
    • Season 2 opener "The Return of Harmony", has a shout-out to the original Greek myth with a Reality Warper villain named Discord. He turns the main characters against each other, mainly using Break the Cutie and mind control, before literally turning into a pile of apples, thus making this a literal case of Apples of Discord. It was only broken by Celestia sending Twilight all the friendship reports she wrote to her.
    • "Non-Compete Clause" has the Teacher of the Month award, which has consistently gone to Fluttershy month after month much to the chagrin of Applejack and Rainbow Dash. They are so at each other's throats over trying to win it during a field trip they inadvertently let Yona nearly drown and don't even seem to notice or care.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks:
    • The Dazzlings propose turning the school's musical showcase into a Battle of the Bands and use the competition to fuel their magically-induced Hate Plague.
    • The mane characters (plus DJ PON-3) are immune to the Hate Plague, so the Dazzlings resort to physical and psychological means of causing discord between the Rainbooms so they can feed on their emotional energy as well, and in fact succeed, until Sunset and Twilight manage to defuse the Rainbooms' arguments.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Yours, Mine and Mine", Mr. Krabs makes SpongeBob and Patrick a krabby patty toy to share amongst each other; in Patrick's case, he takes "sharing" as All Take and No Give and refuses to let SpongeBob play with it, causing a heated argument between the two. When it culminates in Patrick eating the toy so no one can play with it, Mr. Krabs hears and is angry at them for letting a single toy get in the way of their friendship, so he gives each of them another toy which ends the feud.
  • Teen Titans:
    • Beast Boy and Aqualad pull this off on the clones that a villain made of himself. The villain had an enormous ego and believe he was perfect, as did his clones. The effect of the question "If you're all perfect, which one of you is the best?" should not be hard to imagine.
    • An earlier episode had a more humorous example where the normally cohesive Titans were unable to agree on pizza toppings. (Notably, Starfire thought mint frosting was a topping and suggested that they have it on their pizza.)
  • Tom and Jerry short "The Truce Hurts": Tom, Jerry, and Spike make a pact to stop fighting. Then they find a steak and fight over how to divide it. When the steak ends up going down a sewer drain, Spike tears up their truce and the three go back to pummeling one another.
  • In Total Drama, Owen is hired back to the show in the second season as a secret mole for Chris to stir up drama. He is tasked in one episode with breaking up the quickly budding friendship between Duncan and Harold, who began getting along after seasons of fighting when they spent the entire day together training.
  • In the We Bare Bears episode "Jean Jacket", the eponymous article of clothing brings good luck to whoever wears it and Grizzly, Panda, and Ice Bear briefly start arguing over who gets to wear it. They then spend the rest of the episode trying to get rid of the jacket before it causes any more of a rift between the three of them.
  • In The Weekenders, Tino wins two tickets to a Chum Bukket concert and he has a tough time deciding which of his friends to take. He ultimately chooses Carver. Then they learn that Tino actually won passes that are each worth two free tickets, so they all get to go after all.

    Real Life 
  • This is also why many discussion forums, online and otherwise, have an official or understood Ban on Politics.
  • Apple itself (that is, the computer company) is an apple of discord on some technology forums. Especially gaming forums. Flamewars erupt over whether Apple's computer and smartphone products are better than competing products (especially Windows and Linux over the former and Android over the latter).
  • This trope, along with Loot Drama, was used in ancient China to kill off three mighty military leaders who had gotten so politically powerful that their lord got nervous he would be overthrown. One of the other advisers told the lord to throw a party and made a big to-do about bestowing two incredibly rare peaches (a symbol of immortality) to the greatest men of the kingdom. One of the men was immediately Driven to Suicide over being the odd man out, after which the other two also killed themselves over their comrade killing themselves over such a petty matter.
  • When it was clear he wouldn't recover from his illness, Alexander the Great's last words are said to have been "To the strongest" ("tôi kratistôi") when asked which of his generals he left his empire to. Cue immediate fighting by the generals over who gets what (not helped by the fact that one of them was named Krateros, making it possible he'd actually said "To Krateros" ("tôi Kraterôi")), and dissolution of the Macedonian empire.


Video Example(s):


Nova Fleet Falling Apart

Mariner tries to sow seeds of dissent with the various crews that have joined Locarno. She doesn't gain much traction, but Locarno ends up doing the heavy lifting when he starts barking out orders against the spirit of his organization. Eventually, the crews abandon him when things start falling apart.

How well does it match the trope?

4.83 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / AppleOfDiscord

Media sources: