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Bested at Bowling

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"I think it'll be a bonding experience between me and Ron. Men enjoy it when a woman is better than them at something they love."
Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation

On domestic sitcoms, the husband's delicate, frilly, pink masculine ego will be damaged when his wife or another female character outscores him in bowling. This, of course, could be because he doesn't know the rules of bowling...


Anime & Manga

  • Excel♡Saga: In "Bowling Girls", a bowling-obsessed terrorist group gets taken to the cleaners by Excel, using unorthodox tactics and Training from Hell. Of course, it's the kind of series where that isn't nearly the strangest thing going on.
  • Love Hina: While Keitaro losing to longtime/hardcore bowler Naru (she even has a monogrammed glove) is not presented as something shameful to contemplate, the fact that first-timer Mutsumi manages a perfect game (rolling the ball two-handed the entire time) is traumatizing to both of them.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Long story short, through a series of misunderstandings, the class believes that Negi and Ku Fei are dating and they end up in a bowling alley with Ayaka, Makie, and Nodoka challenging Ku Fei for Negi. While Nodoka ends up getting a lot of gutters, and Ayaka topping Makie (just like Naru defeating Keitaro), first-timer Ku Fei wins with a perfect game. Unlike Mutsumi, she throws the ball with superhuman strength.
  • The Prince of Tennis: The coach suggests a round of bowling on their day off. It turns out that both the coach and Team Mom Oishi are frequent bowlers, and Inui decides to force those who gutter to drink his newest health drink, with the losing team having to guzzle the whole thing. This same gag again in the beach volleyball episode, in which the coaches outplay everybody. Of course, one has to wonder why Seigaku's players are bowling when at least three of them, including Oishi, are suffering from arm injuries.

Comic Strips

  • Garfield: In a series of strips, Liz beats Jon at miniature golf. Garfield mockingly remarks how she's better at everything than Jon.
    Garfield: So what? So your girlfriend beat you at miniature golf... so she cooks better than you... so she's smarter than you... You are pathetic.
  • Moomin: In "Moomin's Winter Follies", the Mymble falls for the sports-loving Mr. Brisk, only to accidentally drive him to despair after beating him in a skiing contest. Moomintroll and his friends spend the rest of the story trying (with varying degrees of success) to cheer up Mr. Brisk.
  • Sherman's Lagoon: One arc features a golf tournament —underwater— that Megan wins. The final strip has Megan asking Sherman if he's upset that his wife, who's never played golf before in her life, won the whole thing.

Live-Action TV

  • All in the Family: In "Archie Is Cursed", Archie and Irene Lorenzo settle an argument with a game of billiards. He tries to get out of the game by faking a back injury, but he gets caught and loses to the woman anyway. It proves that women can compete against men in sports. Especially considering that Irene is a Wrench Wench.
  • The Big Bang Theory: A rare male-on-male example as Sheldon gets bested by Wil Wheaton in "The Wheaton Recurrence". Also subverted in that the others acknowledge that Penny is the best bowler in the team, as she is the most physically strong. First-timer Penny beating Leonard at chess fits as well.
  • The Boys (2019): In "The Female of the Species", Hughie and Annie/Starlight go bowling on a date. She plays clumsily, and Hughie cannot believe a Superhero is having trouble beating him. When he accuses her of holding back, she admits it. She worries No Guy Wants an Amazon and that he will feel diminished next to a more-powerful girlfriend. He disagrees, promises her superpowers are a part of her he respects and likes, and asks Annie not to deny them for his sake. Convinced, she throws an amazing strike and proceeds to crush Hughie at the rest of the game, to his delight.
  • Cheers: Subverted in "From Beer to Eternity". The gang gets into a bowling contest at Gary's Old Town Tavern. It turns out that Diane took bowling for a P.E. credit in college, and was the best bowler on either team. Sam is so thrilled to be able to beat Gary that it never even occurs to him to be bothered that Diane, of all people, is a better bowler than him.
  • Family Matters: In "Bowl Me Over", Carl refuses to accept defeat by Harriette in a bowling match and demands a rematch. Harriette admits she let Carl win the second time.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: There's more at stake than mere ego in "I, Bowl Buster". Carlton is thinking about forgoing college to become a professional bowler, so his family must convince him it's a grievous mistake.
  • Home Improvement: In "Up Your Alley", Jill bests Tim in front of all his buddies. He actually gets the final strike to win but walks over the line. When the game first begins turning against him, Tim tries to save face by claiming that he's letting her win because of her mother's conviction for grand theft auto.
  • Kirk: Inverted. Kirk's girlfriend is the only one that can take the place of his team's star and is terrible at it until Kirk uses a little bit of Reverse Psychology to help save the day.
  • Married... with Children: In "Peggy Turns 300", Peggy bowls 300 immediately after Al breaks the record at the local alley —his was just short of 300. This destroys Al's masculine ego.
  • Step by Step: Carol and Jean-Luc beat an overly-macho Frank and his pal, Moose. Complete with Frank and his construction associate forced to dance in Fairy costumes as per the terms of the wager. Had he won, Carol and Jean-Luc would have had to serve as their wait staff on Poker Night.

Web Videos

  • Cracked: Lampshaded in one sketch. The girl shows up to the challenge not knowing what sport she's playing (basketball) and clearly can't handle the ball. Meanwhile, he is athletic and clearly experienced, yet the video makes sure she hits every basket ..even using an obvious male stunt double for a dun— and he fails every single one. In the end, the lesson, as she puts it, is that movie law will not let a smug guy beat a cute girl at sports.

Western Animation

  • Doug: Gender-Inverted in "Doug Clobbers Patti". Competent and usually level-headed Patti is beaten at bowling by casual bowler Doug; she loses a lot of self-confidence as a result. At the end of the episode, she challenges Doug to a rematch, giving him time to deliver An Aesop about self-acceptance which she takes to heart. However, it doesn't prevent her from going wild with excitement when she defeats him.
  • The Flintstones: In "Fred's New Boss", the normally good bowler Fred loses a game to his wife, Wilma. She seems to pick up quickly on why this happened: Fred is so distracted by the rupture in his friendship with Barney that resulted when Barney became his boss.
  • The Simpsons: In "Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder", Maggie, the baby, beats/ties Homer at bowling. In response, he accuses her of walking over the line and docks her a point. The celebratory "300" balloon still falls from the ceiling, but Homer knocks it away quickly.
  • Sonic Boom: In "Lightning Bowler Society", Sonic's team . the Pink Dashes, loses to the titular Lightning Bowler Society, thus causing Sonic to suffer Sanity Slippage as he demands a rematch that he ultimately never gets.