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"So, the only man that can have you is one who's already tried to kill you. That's logic."
Kalidor, Red Sonja

This trope describes a situation where a woman can or will fall in love only with a man who can conquer her. Her defeat may take place in actual physical combat (this obviously only applies to warrior women), or in any skill or recreational endeavor that the woman is skilled at and takes so seriously that she bases her dating decisions on it, or in a metaphorical sort of battle, giving way once she meets a man who can take charge and show her that he is the one who is making the decisions. In either case, once she is defeated by a man in this capacity, she will surrender her heart and/or body to him.

In other words, Defeat Means Friendship with an instant Relationship Upgrade.

What forbids such a woman from loving a man who can't "master" her varies, but there is always some reason. She may have her own moral code telling her not to choose a mate weaker than herself. It may be an ancient custom or tradition of her people. It may even be religious or magical: there is a curse or blessing on her that will not allow her to submit until she meets the man who demonstrates that he is worthy to have her.

The presence of some rule or custom is what establishes this trope. The woman who falls in love with her opponent after he defeats/stands up to her is not enough to qualify for this trope — there must be a clear injunction that she cannot love any man until he proves his mastery by defeating her.

The Social Darwinist often adheres to this. Compare All Amazons Want Hercules. See also Slap-Slap-Kiss and Darwinist Desire. See also Sex–Face Turn and High-Heel–Face Turn. See also Red Sonja (the page for the former trope namer). Contrast Love at First Punch, which lacks the explicit requirement either by the character themselves or their society.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A less extreme version of this trope can be found in Bakuman。 where Iwase, the smartest girl in school, believes that she and Takagi are now a couple when he gets better grades than her. Too bad he thinks she was just making a friendly competition out of it. As of recent chapters she's likely going to enter the field of manga to compete with him.
  • Call of the Night: Having never lost a fight before, Susuki quickly falls in love with Yamori after he defeats her, much to Nazuna's chagrin. She clarifies, however, that she doesn't want to turn Yamori into her offspring, as a vampire attempting to do so to a human they've fallen in love with will kill the would-be offspring.
  • Subverted in City Hunter: Saeko Nogami, (who, to be fair, appears to be interested only in stronger men, given that Ryo and the late Makimura, her two love interests, are stronger than her,) claims she vowed to marry only a man stronger than herself... But it's apparently an excuse to get away from her father's attempts at getting her in an Arranged Marriage, and "tests" the applicants until they need hospitalization.
  • In Doctor Slump, the only story-line of Biker Boy, who shows up late in the series, involves him trying to woo a female race car driver, who tells him that she'd become his betrothed only if he manages to best her at racing. When his initial attempt at beating her at racing fails, he encounters Arale running by him and, in a moment of inspiration, enlists her help by having her looking like a motorbike while he rides her for a rematch race. It works this time thanks to Arale's Super-Speed, and the chapter ends with the Biker Boy and the female racer becoming married.
  • In Dog Days, Princess Leonmitchelli of the Galette Dominion accepts marriage proposals once a year, only giving serious consideration to men who can beat her in a one-on-one fight (Note that means that defeating her is only step one. You still have to woo her the old-fashioned way afterward). Since Leo has proven to be pretty much unstoppable in past seasons, this goes about as well as you'd expect. Indeed, the day is kind of a national holiday, where the people of the Dominion have a fair and enjoy watching their princess beat the crap out of several men for half a day.
  • Played with in Dr. STONE. The village tradition is that whoever wins the Grand Bout becomes the new chief and marries the priestess. The current priestess, Ruri, is an ill girl, and the strongest man in the village, Magma, openly talks about murdering her once he becomes chief and has no further use for her. Ruri's sister, Kohaku, refuses to let anything happen to her and fights against Magma herself. It's not entirely clear what would have happened if Kohaku would have won, but when the heroes realize that Chrome (who Ruri has a crush on) is in a position to win, they figure that's perfect. Unfortunately, Chrome falls unconscious right after he wins the semi-finals, leaving Senku the victor. Senku immediately grabs all the alcohol that he needed to make medicine, then unceremoniously divorces Ruri in front of the entire village. Everyone—including Ruri—is left too stunned to stop him when he and his friends run away with the alcohol.
  • Ghost Talker's Daydream: Played for Laughs (and fanservice) in chapter 16, when Kobayashi fantasizes about his co-worker, Shizue, her girlfriend, Kinako, and Lisa all throwing themselves at him, after beating them at a game of Mahjong. But it's hilariously subverted when he plays his final tile and sees it's a losing hand.
  • Kumiko pulls this trope in Gokusen to get out of an attempted arranged marriage. However, her tactics only make the prospective groom fall more in love with her and determined to win the fight and her hand.
  • In episode 5 of Golden Boy, Reiko promises to screw Kintaro if he (on his bicycle) can beat her (on her motorcycle) in a street race. He wins, leading to her chasing after him and begging him to screw her. Kintaro is so focused on pedalling, however, that he rides off into the distance.
  • Hinagiku of Hayate the Combat Butler. Hayate taught her how to defeat her fears (or the knowledge of how to), but when admitting it to Ayumu, she still wants Hayate to be the one to start the romance.
  • Monaco of Hetalia: Axis Powers demands that Seborga beat her in a game of Poker if he wants to take her on a date. It's hinted that she may have simply wanted to play a game with someone.
  • High School D×D: Sona's type of man is someone who can use their brain the way she can. She was once engaged, but when her fiancé failed to beat her in chess she dumped him right then and there.
  • Macross/Robotech:
    • Milia from Super Dimension Fortress Macross is a borderline case. She fell in love with Max after he beat her, but there was never an explicit "rule" about it. (There was to be a female pilot in the never-produced Robotech II: The Sentinels who idolized Miriya and, in an in-universe version of Misaimed Fandom, vowed only to marry a man who beat her.)
    • Macross 7 deconstructs this by strongly hinting that Max and Milia grew apart because they couldn't mentally deal with normal married life, not for lack of love. Max and Milia are only good at fighting and sex (the pair had seven children together; the second almost killed Milia during childbirth). Living together in harmony outside of those two activities is a major challenge for them.
  • Maken-ki!:
    • There was an incident in Tenbi's past, where a male teacher and a group of his students were alleged to have sexually assaulted a female student. It later turned out to be false, but the faculty still decided it was necessary to prevent such an incident from taking place. So they made it a general rule that any male student who wants to date any of its females has to be able to defeat them first.
    • For the most part, the girls' strength and combat capability far exceed what the guys are capable of. But it hasn't stopped a brave few, like Kai (who nurses an unrequited crush on Azuki), from trying.
  • Medaka Box: Invoked. When Zenkichi decides to become Medaka's "enemy" in order to not be left behind by her, he hits a bit of a roadblock when questioned what winning against her actually means to him. There are multiple points he brings up to himself; the fact that he doesn't actually want to beat her up, the fact that he'd rather beat her in a way that makes them both happy, the fact that Medaka WANTS him to oppose her anyway, and the fact that her wanting an "enemy" like that is the whole problem. An emotional breakthrough later, he decides to "defeat" her by making her fall for him... by defeating her in the next Student Council President election.
  • My Monster Secret: This is (sort of) the case with Sakurada and Akari, as the former won't confess his feelings to the latter unless he can defeat her in a school-wide game of dodgeball. The first time it fails, as she wipes the floor with everyone. The next time it rolls around, things go a little better.
  • The Nadeshiko Village from the Naruto Shippuden filler has a law that the kunoichi may only marry a man who can defeat them. Its current leader Shizuka is bound by law to marry a student of Jiraiya who can defeat her.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Ku Fei has imposed this policy on herself, though she doesn't require that the combat actually take place. After all, it's obvious that Negi could crush her without any effort. However, just being able to defeat her isn't enough for her to be interested in someone, so she isn't seriously interested in Negi. When Negi is convinced that she'll need a pactio to defend herself, he asks her to make one and she grudgingly accepts the necessity, so they have an arm-wrestling contest to minimize damage. After he wins after actually needing to exert himself, she joked that now they had to get married... and then Chamo started wondering why Negi's great-something-granddaughter looked so Chinese. Awkward timing there, huh?
  • Played with after the first Time Skip in Ne.To.Ge (Lovers in a Cyber World) by Tamaki Nozomu, where the challenge (beating the girl in a PvP match on a VR MMORPG) applies to marriage but not sex... well, cybersex anyways. The girl also refuses to sleep with her boyfriend in real life after he beats her, stating she wants to stay a virgin until they get married (though it might simply have been out of spite since he only beat her by cheating). It's also worth pointing out that the game is called Hyperborea, which is clearly a reference to Hyboria.
  • Inverted in Pokémon Adventures. It is heavily hinted that the reason why Winona broke it off with Wallace was that having the regional champion as her boyfriend made her insecure about her own abilities.
  • Ranma ½:
    • Shampoo and the rest of her Amazon tribe. If an outsider male defeats a female Amazon, then she has to marry him (the outsider male has no say in the matter). Subverted if the victorious outsider is female, because then the Amazon is obligated to kill her.
    • Indirectly (and to her immense annoyance) Akane, after Kunō proclaimed that only he who could defeat her in combat was worthy of dating her. Cue the morning routine in which half the student body at Fūrinkan High (the male half) went out to fight her. They stop once Ranma shows up, recognizing he's a better fighter than the rest of them and that it's hopeless to try fighting for Akane at this point.
    • Amusingly, Kunō reverses this and applies this trope to himself, claiming that if the Pigtailed Girl (Ranma) can defeat him, he shall allow her to date with him. Since this isn't such a hard feat for Ranma, Kuno falls in love with that female persona.
    • Akari Unryū's grandfather wanted her to marry a boy strong enough to defeat her giant sumo pig.
  • Record of Lodoss War. Shiris was bested by Parn in the first episode of the TV anime adaptation, and after that, she was adamant that she was in love with him; her partner Orson pointed out that she was resentful of Parn beating her and desperately wanted to replace that resentment with another emotion, namely "love", to regain her lost pride. She was so angry by Orson's remarks that she hit him.
  • In the Sorcerer Hunters manga, Gateau's younger sister Eclair once vowed that she would never fall in love with any man who couldn't beat her in a fight. Since Eclair is about as strong as her brother, this disqualified most men in the world. She becomes attracted to the (first) Big Bad Sacher Torte who easily stops her frequent attempts to avenge her parents' deaths. She later falls in love with him after agreeing with his ideals and has him erase her memories so she doesn't have to feel conflicted about her feelings anymore.
  • Inverted in Steel Fist Riku: After she beats Chikara Toudou, Riku learns that he is now forbidden from setting foot on his family's property until he either defeats or marries her.
  • Tales of Wedding Rings:
    • It is tradition for the princess of the fire country of Needakitta to marry a strong man. As such, "courtship" basically means fighting that princess in single combat. Normally this isn't a problem since, while the Needakitta, male and female alike, are a Proud Warrior Race, the males are usually more physically powerful so eventually, a powerful enough suitor will come along. The issue is that current princess Granart is so strong that no man within the nation can best her. They opened up the courtship to anyone who was willing and even then none have succeeded. The protagonist, Sato, must "court" her because he needs to wed each of the nations' princesses to empower the magic rings they possess and defeat the Big Bad. She's willing to throw the fight since she realizes the fate of the world is more important than her pride, but he insists on fighting her for real. He doesn't technically beat her, but when he defeats a corrupted knight who interrupts their match, she declares that close enough.
    • Deconstructed pretty hard with Granart's parents, and implicitly all previous generations. Granart's father saw his wife as little more than a pretty trophy that came with the kingdom; Granart's mother never touched a sword again after losing that final fight, and after Granart's training was complete she simply walked away and never looked back. Part of the reason Granart was so powerful is that she thought the tradition was stupid and refused to show mercy to any opponent. Granart is rather annoyed later in the story when she discovers that her parents have turned into Amicable Exes Bash Brothers who meet up every once in a while to spar and see how they've both progressed. Neither of them saw the need to tell their daughter that they reconciled.
    • On the second visit to Earth, Granart decides to settle her feelings for Satou by dueling him again. She wins... which she decides means that in the spirit of gender equality, she won the right to bed him. She drags him to a love hotel and they consummate their relationship.
  • The Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann manga Guren Gakuenhen has Nia's split personality showing signs of this. This contrasts with the original personality who has other priorities. Fortunately for them both, Simon can fulfill both.
  • Whilst Ryunosuke Fujinami in Urusei Yatsura is more known for her aversion to guys (in fairness, she's surrounded by perverts) and for attracting swarms of enamored girls, she actually does want a boyfriend. The problem is she wants a guy stronger than herself. So, she decides to hold a competition, where she'll go out with whichever boy can beat her in a fight. She then proceeds to mop the floor with the entire male student body; the only boy who comes close to winning is the legendarily stubborn and perverse Ataru Moroboshi, who sticks her with anaesthetic whilst she's distracted. She's almost grateful when her father saves her by beating up Ataru... until he runs his mouth off about not letting his "son" be molested by another guy.
  • Words Worth invokes this with Astral's fiancé, Sharon. Despite being engaged to him, she doesn't acknowledge his worth until after he saves her from nearly being raped, by King Fabris. Astral proves himself again, following the 20-year timeskip, by stalemating against Sharon herself, and beds her soon afterward.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Deconstructed in the episode "Lights, Camera, Duel". A famous actor named Jean Claude Van Magnum who proposed to Mai previously wants to challenge Mai to a duel monsters game for her hand in marriage if he wins. Mai isn't interested in marrying him in the slightest and only agreed to the duel because she wanted to prove she's not a prize to be won. She wouldn't have agreed to marry him even if he won. At end of the episode when Jean loses it turns out he's a sore loser and tries to capture her to force her to marry him anyway, but his plan fails after almost getting Mai seriously hurt.
  • Inverted in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX where the Amazoness Shadow Rider Tania duels Bastion, but changing the condition from the usual losing his soul if he lost the duel seen in the previous Shadow Rider duel to having to marry her.

    Chinese Animation 
  • Cupid's Chocolates: A Gender-Inverted example. As children, Xueli thought that she needed to be better than Haoyi at everything to grow closer and earn his love. It's revealed that her mother told her this, both as a motivator to make Xueli successful and also because it reflected her own past. Unfortunately for Xueli, her mother was completely wrong and Xueli's obsession with constantly outdoing and belittling Haoyi actually made him stop wanting anything to do with her.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: Proxima Midnight of the Black Order is already married to her teammate Corvus Glaive, but apparently invokes this trope to a degree whenever they sleep together. She likens their bedchamber to a battlefield, where either of them could 'lose' depending on the 'strategies' they use against each other. Corvus has also mentioned that every night he is usually 'defeated by' Proxima. It's not entirely clear what 'winning' or 'losing' means in this context, but they both seem very happy with the arrangement.
  • Black Moon Chronicles: Hellaynnnea, a succubus, offers to serve Wismerhill after he spares her life and becomes his consort. This is right after she played a big role in killing Wismerhill's previous girlfriend Fey.
  • Cerebus the Aardvark: Parodied with Red Sophia. Her father hires Cerebus to torture the man who besmirched her honor. During the journey her logorrhea is too much, they fight, he wins, she pledges service. (He refused to demand sexual favors from her at that point, trying to teach her a lesson by using her as a pack mule. She didn't learn; Sophia is simply Too Kinky to Torture.) The eventual torture is forcing the blackguard (who saw her naked) to marry Sophia. Years later she marries Cerebus.
  • Gold Digger: Julia was cursed with this by a rebuffed suitor who happened to be a wizard. This put her in a really bad mood, so she started shoving people out of her way while walking through town. One of those people was Theodore Diggers, who instinctively flipped her over with his martial arts. She then became fixated on figuring out how he beat her. After spending a long time following him and beating him in a rematch with his own techniques, she realized that she had fallen for him.
  • Marvel Treasury Edition #12 features a team-up between The Defenders and Howard the Duck against a group of nonentity villains called the Band of the Bland. Brawn Hilda Tillie the Hun informs the Hulk that she's made such a vow, and is rather annoyed that his response is that he Wouldn't Hit a Girl.
  • Red Sonja: The former Trope Namer here is Red Sonja, originally(-ish) from the Conan the Barbarian comics. Red Sonja lived with her family in a humble house in the Western Hyrkanian steppes (modern Ukraine/Russia). When she had just turned 17 years old, a group of mercenaries killed her family and burned down their house. Sonja survived but she had been raped by the leader of the group, leaving her in shame. Answering her cry for revenge, the red goddess Scathach appeared to her and instilled in her incredible skill in the handling of swords and other weapons on the condition that she would never lie with a man unless he defeated her in fair combat. Peter David commented that this essentially means that the only man she can ever love is one capable of replicating the most traumatic experience of her life.
    • Conan managed to beat her in the last story of Roy Thomas's original run. He could tell she was reluctant and he had just lost Belit recently, so he didn't do anything with her. At the end of the same issue, Sonja confessed her feelings for Conan and her fears of what might happen if she didn't put some distance between them.
    • In a What If? story where Wolverine became lost in time and wound up in Hyboria at the same time this story took place, Wolverine was able to beat Sonja in battle and went on to become King of Aquilonia instead of Conan, with Sonja as his queen. note  Mind you, while a barbarian in the Modern Era, Wolverine is the equivalent of Lawful Good for the Hyborian Age with remarkably enlightened attitudes toward women.
    • In issue 15 of the current series, she and two friends take on a god — a weakened god, but still a quasi-deity at least. He naturally trounces them. Whether that counts as a fair fight, which is what has to be waged for it to work, is moot: he doesn't invoke the trope; she does. Because, the writer said, she was using the loophole wherein someone who's beaten her isn't necessarily someone who has to have sex with her, or whom she even has to let, but whom she can allow to do so if she wants… and the writer decided she did want, sometime after the fight was over and they were allies. It's notable that in the new series the portrayal seems to be romantic love with someone who hasn't beaten her isn't forbidden — just physical affection. note 
    • In Gail Simone's run, the rule no longer applies, and Sonja actually quite enjoys sex. Parodied in one issue where she encounters a swordsman who has made this vow.
      Red Sonja: That is without question the stupidest thing I have ever heard.
    • It's been suggested by some fans that the rule is actually that she needs to be a Celibate Hero, and the "unless he bests her in combat" bit is not "it's then okay to have a relationship with him" but a delicate way of saying "being raped doesn't count".
  • Roadqueen: Eternal Roadtrip to Love: This is invoked and deconstructed when Leo turned down Boots' Love Confession in their freshman year, she challenged Boots to beat her in a race if she wanted to win a date with her. Leo didn't really mean it, but tons of other girls in school took her seriously and spent every morning for the next several years challenging her, much to Leo's annoyance.
  • Seaguy: She-Beard is a female warrior who vowed to give herself to the hero who proves his courage.
  • Shazam!: The Power of Shazam had an inversion: Billy Batson has a dream about arm-wrestling Wonder Woman in which he throws the match because the Wisdom of Solomon tells him she needs to defeat him before they can "get together".
  • Superman: Maxima, the super-powered Queen of the planet Almerac, seems to think this trope applies, gender-reversed, to Superman, and it's implied that this is a royal family tradition with sufficiently powerful defenders of conquered worlds. She tries this, among other tactics, to try to get Superman to sire her children and thereby increase the power of the Almerac royal lineage.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (2006): Viciously parodied in issue #24, where the producers of a Wonder Woman movie have her make this vow and get defeated by Hercules. The real Wonder Woman is not impressed. In the DCU, Hercules raped Wonder Woman's mother.
    • Wonder Woman: Warbringer: Diana tells Jason the tale of a heroine who took such an oath and ended up being killed by and killing a man she grew to love during the fight so was never with anyone in life.
    • Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Strikes Again had Wonder Woman imply that she hooked up with Superman after he threw her on the ground and made her his own. Miller takes it up a notch in All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder with Superman knocking Wonder Woman onto the ground, Wonder Woman calling him a bastard, and then the two start making out.
  • XXXenophile: Parodied by the character Blue Opal in the Phil Foglio comic, for whom this was more a curse than an oath. After the sexually frustrated warrior out-drinks and out-fights every man in the bar, the only one left is a meek man who invites her to play a strategy game with him. The curse is lifted after he beats her at the game—which, as they realize later, has a name that translates as "Battle". Joyful sex ensues. This pisses off the goddess who put that rule in place royally, but the guy's patron deity calms her down by teaching her "Battle", implying it's about to go the same way it did downstairs.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • In The Amazing Spider-Man: True Purpose, Sonja’s vow of celibacy unless she is defeated in battle prompts her to briefly fight with Spider-Man, but the fight soon ends when he is able to take her sword and hold it to her neck, Mary Jane observing that Sonja can’t win from this position even if they both know Peter won’t go all out.
  • In The Boy Behind The Mask, when Astrid has her prophecy read by Gothi, she states that only the one who can best her in battle will marry her. For years Astrid (who is determined to stay bachelorette at all costs) has defeated every person who has challenged her undefeated until Hiccup, who was trying to keep her from killing Katla over perceived disrespect, completely curb-stomps her when he ceases on the defensive.
  • Gender Inverted in A Dance on the Mats. It is Rainbow Dash who feels she must defeat Anon to date him/ note . Subverted, since Dash doesn't manage to win, but she still scores a date with Anon anyways.
  • Subterranean Queen in One Punch Man: Hero's Harem explains to Saitama that by Subterranean law, anyone who loses to an enemy but lives becomes their slave. As such, he's now her master.
  • In Incubus (an NSFW Harem Fic), Fleur promises Harry he will get to have her if he wins a dueling tournament. The final match is between the two of them, and Harry almost loses before remembering that being the titular creature, he has the instinct to know how to get any girl laid... including when defeating her is a requirement.
  • Invoked by Taylor in Projection Quest, after too many people try to woo her. Shortly thereafter, some guy challenges her to a chess match, which she rejects but admits is pretty bold of him.
  • Shadow and Rose (a Perspective Flip of Dragon Age: Origins from Alistair's point of view) has a variant of 'best her to wed her.' Elissa tells Alistair that she told her father she would never marry a man who could not best her in combat, to which her father replied, "I look forward to your spinsterhood, Pup." Alistair's playful response is to ask if he needs to throw his gauntlet on the ground or if a verbal challenge will suffice. The resultant match is a draw, and they marry at the end of the story.

  • Nearly inverted by the Scythians, a nomadic civilization whose women were warriors. Greek accounts would have it that before they could get married, Scythian women had to defeat three men in combat. (However, not full inversion as they married others of their tribe rather than the defeated men, who were often dead.)

    Films — Animation 
  • In Brave, Merida is set to be married off to whoever the best archer is among her suitors. She competes as well since she's a better archer than any of them and doesn't want to be married.
  • The Lion King (1994): Downplayed with Nala. When she and her childhood best friend Simba reunite after not seeing each other for years, they almost instantly fall in love with each other. They proceed to have a Falling-in-Love Montage where they do many romantic things together while essentially having a "first date" together, including nuzzling, teasing each other, and flirting together. At the climax of this though, they start playfully wrestling together, with Simba ending up the "winner" by (accidentally) pinning Nala. Nala noticeably becomes even more affectionate with Simba after this, giving him a surprise lick on the cheek as a "reward" for finally beating her, and stares up at him seductively as he lays on top of her. It is also heavily implied that they mated together after this, resulting in Nala getting pregnant with their daughter Kiara.
  • The shield-maidens in Ronal the Barbarian have a tradition that demands any shield-maiden defeated in battle by a man to marry him. A while into the film, Zandra mentions this to Ronal. Much later, it turns out that Volcazar knows about this tradition pretty well; he could finish Zandra off after their fight, but he prefers to make her marry him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Curse Of The Ring, Queen Brunhilde wears a magical belt that makes her stronger than just about any man. She will only wed the man who can outpower her or best her in combat. There is one such man, but he is not interested in her due to a spell put on him.
  • Played with in Daredevil (2003). Elektra Natchios gives a cold shoulder to Matt Murdock when he tries to hit on her, eventually getting physical to make him desist. When the blind lawyer shows himself more than capable of matching her, she starts getting interested (though she does win their sparring match, probably because Matt is holding back to avoid revealing his superpowers).
    Matt: (sparring with her while balanced on a seesaw) Does every guy have to go through this to find out your name?
    Elektra: You should try asking for my number!
  • Red Sonja (1985): Sonja makes this declaration, and the film ends with Kalidor fighting her for a chance to get in her pants. (As the page quote shows, he formerly claimed the condition was stupid.) The duel ends with no clear winner and both completely worn out, yet looking oddly satisfied.
  • In X2: X-Men United, Mystique attempts to seduce Wolverine because he defeated her in the previous film, complimenting him "nobody ever left quite a scar like you did." She initially shapeshifts into Jean Grey, who Logan shows interest in, and briefly makes out with him before being discovered. When he shows no interest in her though and tells her to leave, she does so and doesn't show any romantic interest in him in future films. This attitude seemed to be exclusive to him though, since other films showed Mystique capable of having loving relationships with other mutants (though not always intimate), without them having to defeat her first.

  • In The Canterbury Tales, the Wife of Bath describes having several husbands for whom she doesn't seem to have cared in the slightest; that is, until she marries Jankyn, the first man who seems to have an ounce of power over her. Given the content of the Wife of Bath's tale and the fact that she asks that Jankyn give her mastery over him/their relationship, this may be more of a desire for a challenge than a desire to be "conquered."
  • The Marat in Codex Alera is a subversion. Marat women do give potential suitors a challenge that they must complete to win their affection. However, the challenge isn't necessarily against the woman herself, and either way the woman chooses the challenge. As Tavi notes, if the woman doesn't fancy that particular suitor, she need only choose a contest he's likely to fail at. Kitai's challenge to Tavi: Defeat the Big Bad. It says a lot about her faith in him that this wasn't intended as an Impossible Task, but more just motivation for him to get on with it.
  • Britomart in Edmund Spenser's poem The Faerie Queene is another example, with pretty much the same vow as Red Sonja's if for completely different reasons. She is an allegorical figure of the virgin Knight of Chastity.
  • In The Heirs of Alexandria's Much Fall of Blood, the Mongol warrior-princess Bortai refuses to marry anyone who can't beat her in a wrestling match (the book portrays this as being a normal Mongol custom). However, once she realizes that she's in love with Erik, she challenges him and promptly throws the match.
  • The ancient Chinese tale Hua Guan Suo Zhuan speaks of Bao Sanniang, a young girl who was both immensely beautiful, and immensely strong. With countless suitors, she declared that she'd only marry the one who could beat her in a duel and proceeded to beat up every last man who came for her hand. Eventually, Guan Suo - third son of the incomparable Guan 'The God Of War' Yu - heard of this, and went to challenge her. He beat her (in the fiftieth round), and she instantly fell in love with him. (By all accounts, he was quite the Bishōnen, and known to wear flowers in his hair even upon the battlefield, so that probably helped too...) From then on, she followed him everywhere and even fought alongside him in his remaining campaigns.
  • Inheritance Trilogy: In The Hundred-Thousand Kingdoms, the Darre tribe is a matriarchal society where the female leader wrestles against a male. If the female wins, he dies and doesn't marry her. If he wins, he rapes her in front of the entire village.
  • In the novel Mercenary, part of Piers Anthony's Bio of a Space Tyrant series, to ally with Space Pirates, Hope Hubris, the Navy Commander, must wed Rue, the daughter of the Pirate leader. However, being pirates, the "marriage ceremony" consists of the "groom" kidnapping and "having [his] way with" the prospective bride. While this is usually done in a "ceremonious" manner (since the marriage partners are the ones often wanting the union), the daughter in this case had already killed three earlier suitors. She took it literally. Luckily, Hope wins in the end.
  • Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation: Rudeus ends up being subjected to a variant of this trope due to a misunderstanding. After his humiliation of Linia and Pursena, who are The Chief's Daughters among the Doldia Tribe, he gets challenged by practically every Beast Man student at Ranoa for they believe that if they defeat him they will get the right to marry Linia and Pursena. This only comes to an end thanks to the sudden arrival of the Demon Lord Badigadi who proceeds to defeat every single one of the challengers, leaving Rudeus to face him.
    • To a lesser extent, at the same time he is challenged by Nina Farion, The Rival to his former flame Eris, who believes that if she beats him she can steal him away from Eris. She also gets beaten up by Badigadi for her troubles.
  • In the Nibelungenlied, a 12th-13th century German verse epic, the super-strong Icelandic queen Brünhild will only marry the man who can defeat her in three contests of strength (javelin throwing, boulder-tossing, and long jump); whoever enters the contest and loses is executed. King Gunther of Burgundy tries to woo Brünhild, but as he has no chance of defeating her, he allows the hero Siegfried to help him complete the trials under cover of Siegfried's Invisibility Cloak. Brünhild falls for the trick and marries Gunther, much to her regret.
  • Bradamante, the daughter of Duke Aymon in Ariosto's epic Orlando Furioso, escapes the specter of arranged marriage by getting Emperor Charlemagne to promise that she won't have to marry any man who can't endure a duel with her from dawn to dusk. Her motivation for this is that she's fallen for a Saracen knight named Ruggiero and been tasked by Merlin's ghost with converting him and founding a lineage of great Italians.
  • In Re:Zero, Wilhelm van Astrea married his wife Theresia after he was able to defeat her in a swordfight.
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero: Sadina will only marry someone who can beat her, but not at fighting; at drinking. This is, unfortunately, very difficult due to her incredibly high alcohol tolerance and drinking experience. Fortunately, she has found someone with innate immunity to alcohol of any kind, quantity, or purity: Naofumi.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Wildling women won't accept husbands who aren't tough enough to kidnap them. When Qhorin Halfhand and Jon Snow capture a group of wildlings and Jon refuses to execute the woman Ygritte and saves her life, letting her go, Ygritte mistakenly assumes that this is his intention (though Jon had no idea of this custom) and is more than willing to sleep with him. However, she is very confused when Jon refuses Ygritte's sexual advances and won't sleep with her — even after she's dropped what seems to her to be very unsubtle hints that she wants him. He knows nothing, at least until she teaches him. And they do fall in love. How much effort a wildling woman will put into fighting off her would-be paramour tends to vary: if she is captured by someone she wants or doesn't mind being captured by, she might not fight back very hard (Tormund mentions his daughter let her suitor off with a few love bites and a cut to his earlobe). On the other hand, if her captor is cruel and brutalizes her, it is acceptable for the wildling woman to slit his throat.
    • Invoked when Brienne of Tarth was set up for an Arranged Marriage with a noble who made it clear he would "chastise" her if she persisted in wearing chainmail and training in swordplay. Brienne stated that she would only allow herself to be chastised by a man who would defeat her in combat. Deciding to teach his future wife her place, he accepted the challenge and ended up with several broken ribs from a tourney mace. After that, Brienne's father gave up the idea of marrying his daughter off.
  • Invoked by Chad and then defied by Angela in Super Powereds. Chad issues a challenge to Angela after having a Love Epiphany about her. When she wins, he thinks it means that he has to give up, but she tells him she still wants to date him but that she appreciated the respect of courting her as a warrior.
  • Villainess Level 99: I May Be The Hidden Boss, but I'm Not The Demon Lord: Downplayed. This is what Yumiella claims, but it's mostly to avoid would-be suitors who would love to get a Person of Mass Destruction on their side in order to push their political and territorial goals. Since she's the strongest person in recorded history by a wide margin, this is a good deterrent. Patrick, her best friend and crush, hides his own feelings towards her for most of their time at the academy, believing she'd never give him a chance unless he's even in the ballpark. He does start training to reach Level 99 in service of this (which pleases her greatly), but by the time he reaches it, both have confessed their feelings for one another and have been dating for years.
  • A P. G. Wodehouse golfing story was about a strikingly beautiful and adventurous world-traveling woman showing up at the golf club and attracting the attention of several men, including one very meek little fellow who only earns her scorn. After emasculating himself by singing "Only God Can Make A Tree" at a public event, he gives up on her and focuses on training for a tournament. Later, during the tournament, he manages to accidentally peg her with a stray ball (she was taking a walk on the course despite warnings); when she comes over to give him a piece of her mind, he fumbles a swing and throws his club at her; and when he tries to help her up, he somehow ends up punching her in the face. She promptly declares her undying love for him, having finally found a man capable of dominating her. A later scene (although it's set at the start of the chapter due to the broken chronology) shows them happily married with her being submissive and him keeping up the dominant act.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Chinese Paladin, Yue'Ru's father despairs of finding a man for her (and is personally fed up with her bratty behavior), and offers to marry her to anyone who can defeat her in a kung fu contest. In something of a subversion, after seeing the quality of the contestants who do show up, he privately advises her to go for the kill. She subsequently falls in Love at First Punch with the hero.
  • In Dark Kingdom The Dragon King (a.k.a. The Ring of the Nibelungs) Kristanna Loken plays Brunhilde the Queen, who will lose all her strength if she marries a man who has not defeated her in battle.
  • Saffron from Firefly tried to con Mal at the end of the episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds" by pretending to be this type. Mal didn't fall for it and responded with a Dramatic Gun Cock instead.
  • In Game of Thrones, Jaime Lannister surmises that boys have tried to force themselves onto the larger Brienne of Tarth and suspects that she secretly wants to find a man who can overpower her. She declines to confirm this, saying only that no one ever could.
  • The Professionals. In "Long Shot", Bodie and Doyle see an attractive female member of CI5 practicing her marital arts. Bodie claims that she is a Womens Libber who will only date a man she feels superior to, and convinces Doyle to spar her and take a dive. Bodie then challenges her and, after winning, asks her out which she accepts, having already rejected Doyle because "she couldn't date a man she felt superior to." Doyle isn't happy at having been had, but at the end of the episode he's shown walking off with the girl instead, to Bodie's confusion.
  • The Quantum Leap episode "How the Tess Was Won". Sam leaps into "Doc" Daniel Young, a veterinarian working on a Texas ranch. Sam is convinced that his mission is to win over the ranch owner's daughter, Tess, by competing in a "cowboy" contest against her.
  • Sense8 inverts this with one of the main characters, Sun, a champion kickboxer. She lost her virginity to a male fighter she defeated at a tournament, and the first time she and her love interest Munn had sex was after she beat him in a sparring session.
  • In Ultraman Z, Yoko Nakashima promised her father that she would not marry anyone unless they could beat her at arm wrestling. Haruki does just that in the final episode.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Older Than Feudalism: This happens at least a few times in Classical Mythology:
    • Amazon Queen Hippolyta and Heracles. All Amazons Want Hercules, after all.
    • Atalanta, who would only marry a man who could defeat her in a foot race. The losers were executed. (In more extreme versions, the idea was to outrun her in the said race, as she'd stab them from behind with a dagger if they couldn't.) Eventually, Aphrodite got sick of Atalanta's attitude and gave the next competitor three golden apples with which to cheat. Every time Atalanta got ahead, he threw one out in front of her and broke for the lead while she was distracted, giving him the win. One bit of Alternative Character Interpretation was that she actually liked the guy beforehand and didn't want him to die so that coupled with his apparent cleverness was enough to persuade her to throw the race intentionally.
    • Peleus had to defeat the immortal and shape-changing Thetis to be allowed to marry her. Their son was Achilles.
  • The idea for Red Sonja herself was taken from Aoife of Irish mythology via a William Butler Yeats play, though as noted there are examples considerably older with this.
  • In a chapter of the Devi Mahatmya, the Demon Lord Sumbha, who becomes infatuated by the Mother Goddess Parvati, sends an envoy to persuade the goddess to marry the Asura Lord. Parvati refuses and states that she will only wed the demon lord if she is bested by him in combat. After hearing this, Sumbha sends an Army of 60,000 demons to battle the goddess and "drag her by her hair" back to the king should they subdue her. Parvati God-modes into the warrior Goddess Durga and the battle ends about as well as somebody sending a herd of sheep to fight a grizzly bear.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A set of Dungeons & Dragons trading cards from the mid-90s included a variation, with a Lawful Good priestess who was foretold to leave the sisterhood to wed a great hero and vowed only to marry a man whose virtues exceeded her own.
  • In Legends of the Wulin, according to Daoist beliefs, it's not healthy for a woman to be stronger than her mate; it can cause sickness if her Yin is stronger than his Yang. Therefore, smart men don't bed women they can't beat. At the same time, it is healthy for the man's partner to have a strong Yin. As the book says, "the ideal lover is a woman who he can just barely beat in battle, or who can sometimes be beaten and sometimes not." Meanwhile, it is healthy a woman seeks out as strong a male as possible, at least her equal. She faces the little risk of his yang overwhelming her yin (there must be at least a 3 rank difference, which is a massive power gap, between them for this to occur). This paints a picture where martial artists seek out their approximate equals when they look for love.

  • Played With in Annie Get Your Gun. Frank Butler begins to fall in love with Annie Oakley after she beats him in a sharpshooting contest, but their relationship falters when he realizes she's better and more popular than him. In the end, Annie throws a shooting contest between them, as No Guy Wants an Amazon. In newer productions, Frank throws away his shot as well, realizing such intense competition isn't healthy. In reality, Butler was nothing but supportive of Oakley's career and, in fact, gave up his own career to be her manager.
  • Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream had the Amazon Queen Hippolyta marrying Theseus, the Duke of Athens, after he defeated her forces.
  • The Taming of the Shrew could be argued to be an example of this, as Kate 'defeats', or at any rate sees off all other potential suitors until Petruchio manages to break her through sheer horrendous treatment and stubbornness.

    Video Games 
  • Subverted in Baldur's Gate III. After progressing far enough in Proud Warrior Race Girl Lae'zel's romance, she'll demand a duel for you to prove yourself worthy of her (after you've already bedded her a few times). If you lose she'll panic and start tending to your wounds, saying she can't stand to see you hurt.
    Lae'zel: Tsk'va! No more. I can't bear it. I've torn flesh from monsters and men. I've laughed as they suffered. But you... I don't want to hurt you - I want to protect you. For you to protect me. 'I am yours.' Say the words. (Player responds) Zhak vo'n'ash duj. Source of my bruises.
  • One of the campaigns in the RTS Blood And Magic, called "Matchmaker Mayhem," revolves around this plot. Princess Roxana proclaims that she will only marry a man who can best her in a contest of martial skill, although the suitor is allowed to pick the specific contest. She defeats several would-be suitors in jousts and duels, before facing Bryan the Bold, who chooses open war as his specific conflict. You, the player, can choose to lead Bryan's forces or Roxana's.
  • Discworld has a character who had the standard oath regarding laying with a man who could defeat her. Later on in the game, she notes that she was finally defeated by a man who challenged her to a game of tiddlywinks. It seems her goddess didn't stipulate that she had to be defeated in armed combat. Rincewind learns of this, much to his regret, as he is really good at tiddlywinks.
  • Non-canon sidequests in Dynasty Warriors games often involve male characters needing to prove they are worthy of their love interests by defeating them.
  • Uthgerd the Unbroken in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will only marry you if you can defeat her in a brawl. Goes hand in hand with Defeat Means Friendship, since brawling with her is also the only way to make her your follower.
  • In the C support of Fire Emblem: Awakening, between Vaike and Sully, Vaike asks Sully what she looks for in a man. Sully replies that he has to be "Smarter, faster, better with a blade and lance."
  • In Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja, the fisherwoman Ichika spends a lot of her time looking for a mate who's as strong as her. By the end of the game, she eventually finds him, and the sequel begins with their wedding.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: Curiously, completing the Handmaiden's romance sidequest requires defeating her in three unarmed duels. Where both participants are wearing underwear (the player's covers more than the Handmaiden's does, though). The Lancer Atton reveals that this is a form of courtship in her Proud Warrior Race Guy culture.
    • Ditto for the sidequest with Visas, though hers is more of a Defeat Means Friendship blossoming into something more.
  • Ibuki's winquote against Steve Fox in Street Fighter X Tekken has this implication:
    Ibuki: "You're kinda my type, but I don't go for guys who are weaker than me."
  • In Tales of Vesperia, Nan has self-imposed this on herself, under the "can't marry anyone weak" logic. This leads her to do a one-on-one fight with Karol at the end of his version of the 100-Man Melee. Her biggest problem is that the guy she likes is an Oblivious to Love Idiot Hero who ironically has a crush on her.
  • In Way of the Samurai 4 the last step of the Nightcrawling mini-game involves either throwing the woman you want on a bed or hitting them until their clothes come off. Additionally, some characters like Sensei or Melinda require you to defeat them in a sword fight before they will even give you a chance.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: Jutta, a swordmaiden from Skellige islands, vowed to bed, marry and have children with the man that bests her in combat. Although Geralt says he can't fulfill the last two bits (due to a spell cast by Yennefer and being infertile, respectively) she doesn't seem to mind, conveniently.
  • Jeanne of World Heroes seems to be of this type, as her endings usually have her lamenting her victories as a still-single woman.

    Visual Novels 
  • This is the romantic fantasy of Tenko Chabashira in Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony. In her fantasy, she sees Shuichi as a Neo-Aikido practitioner who has defeated her in a sparring match, and she tries to get him to do whatever he wants to her. As she gets frustrated with Shuichi hesitating to do so, she then admits that she challenged him to the match because she is in love with him, and she giddily celebrates confessing to him.
  • In Double Homework, this is possibly what happened to cause the protagonist and Rachel to start dating (the first time). Both are avid skiers, and the protagonist inspired Rachel’s Olympic ambitions.
  • This is a custom of the Valkyrie clan in War: 13th Day. Grant tries to invoke this with Wildfire and fails pitifully.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • In Captain SNES: The Game Masta, the wife of Cid from Final Fantasy IV is said to be this.
  • Very much subverted in The Challenges of Zona. Yatta-Ta is entirely convinced this is the case with the titular heroine and challenges her at every opportunity in order to win her hand. In actuality, Zona is an Ethical Slut (although she becomes devoted to her boyfriend, the Quirky Bard Mentl, once they hit it off) and her culture is very big on free love - Yatta-Ta would have gotten much farther by just asking nicely. He does eventually learn and accept the truth, and they reconcile as friends - and then he discovers that there are plenty of other, just as attractive and friendly Erogenian women to go after, and being a handsome and skilled swordsman makes him quite sought-after.
  • A variant in Commander Kitty: Freeda seems to think it's sexy that Mittens stood up to her.
  • The unnamed Mongol warrior from Get Medieval falls hard for the alien gladiatrix Rylede after she defeats him.
  • Parodied in Insecticomics: after being beaten by Flamewar, Grimlock assumes he has to marry her. Flamewar questions the logic of this, asking if she has to marry Jazz because he once shot her in the back. Being Grimlock, he agrees, and it only gets better from there. Jazz even refers to it as a "Red Sonja-kick".
    Inferno: Hey, Grimlock, ya didn't win the lottery last week.
    Grimlock: Then me Grimlock must marry... the LOTTERY!
    Prowl: Don't encourage him, Inferno.
  • NPC: Amazonian law is that Amazons must marry the first man to defeat them in combat. It doesn't matter if the man was aware of this rule or has any interest in marrying her.
    Serena: I was patrolling around my village as usual...
    Galandor: So far, so good...
    Serena: And then I saw you and I fought you.
    Galandor: Yeah, I remember that part.
    Serena: And since you managed to beat me, now you're my husband.
    Galandor: Wait, what the hell is that shitty logic?
  • Parodied in this Oglaf strip, in which Tall Sonja not only won't sleep with anyone that hasn't beaten her, she won't sleep in a bed that hasn't beaten her... so she collapses from exhaustion. Then she refuses treatment by any doctor that hasn't beaten her, so the doctor lightly slaps her— she's too weary to fight back and thanks him.

    Web Original 
  • The If I Am Ever the Heroine list (similar to the Evil Overlord List) strongly warns against agreeing to this practice.
  • A character by furry artist, Linno, falls under this trope (at least at one point). His Kangaroo babe, named "K.O." is a professional boxer, who uses both her fists and her tail to box with. Of course, this would seemingly make her quite tough to beat in an actual match; so anyone who does beat her in a one-on-one challenge gets a very special prize. Believe it or not, there was even an adult flash game made out of it (no, this isn't made up).

    Western Animation 
  • In the Ben 10 universe, Tetramands have their courtship working that way. Notably, Tetramands possess natural Super-Strength, and females are naturally stronger than males, so this is an uphill battle for males. Ben 10: Omniverse reveals that Kevin defeated Tetramand princess Looma when he was 13, though he was only interested in the engine her family would give him as a wedding gift. When the time to marry her came, he tricked Ben into defeating Looma in a duel, leading him to become her fiancée instead.
  • Superman: The Animated Series: In "Warrior Queen" Maxima dragged Superman off to her home planet to be her mate after he defeated her in a fight. She eventually learns to respect his opinion and sadly lets him go... but when Lobo shows up, it's "Superman who?" Note that in the comics, Maxima merely wanted Supes because his genes went well with her royal bloodline of warriors.
  • In What About Mimi?, Mimi learns her brother Bradley is being tormented by a prankster called Jamie, so she schemes a Rube Goldberg-style prank in order to teach her a lesson. But when she discovers that Bradley lets her prank him because he has a crush on her, Mimi tries to call off the scheme, but she arrives too late, and Jamie falls for it. As it turns out, this was precisely what Bradley needed: out-prank her. Jamie took it as proof that he liked her, and they started dating.

    Real Life 
  • A member of the Roshigumi, The Shinsengumi and the Shinchogumi, Nakazawa Koto was a tall, good-looking proud Wholesome Crossdressernote  swordswoman who decided to only marry a man stronger than her. It had Gone Horribly Right (or exactly as intended?) and she died at the age of 88 on October 12, 1927, as a Maiden Aunt to her brother's descendants.
  • In the accounts of both Marco Polo and Rashid al-Din, Khutulun, the grandniece of Kublai Khan, said that she'd only marry a man who could defeat her in a wrestling match. Demanding that every suitor bring her one hundred horses that would be forfeit if he lost, Khutulun came to own ten thousand steeds. Eventually, a handsome and especially strong prince came and offered a thousand horses instead of a hundred, to show his confidence. Khutulun's parents begged her to let him win, but she refused. In the Hollywood version, he'd probably have been the one to get the girl — but according to Polo's account, after an especially long and difficult match, she was able to defeat him, too. Khutulun became a skilled warrior, and eventually did marry but historians aren't sure who.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Defeat Means Love


Shieldmaiden Tradition

The shield-maidens' tradition demands that shield-maidens be defeated by their spouse to be. Unfortunately, Volcazar knows about this tradition.

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Main / BestHerToBedHer

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