Follow TV Tropes


"Cavemen vs. Astronauts" Debate

Go To

Spike: Look, if cavemen and astronauts got into a fight, who would win?
Wes: You've been yelling at each other for forty minutes about this? [beat] ...Do the astronauts have weapons?
Angel & Spike: NO.
Angel, "A Hole in the World"

It's common, when people are having a long discussion stretching across a number of different topics, that something will come up that they disagree on. Most of the time, they'll discuss this for a little bit, then move on to talking about something else.


Not this time. No, this time the argument becomes truly heated. Voices are raised. Curses are spit out. Friends are insulted. Parents threaten to disown children. Furniture is thrown across the room in fury. Fights break out. No one involved is willing to back down until they convince the others that they are right right RIGHT, DAMMIT!!

... all over something as mundane and inconsequential as whether or not peanut butter technically counts as a sauce.note  It's stupid, pointless, and really shouldn't be worth so much passion, but the characters just. Can't. Let it. Go.

Needless to say, Truth in Television—just see Broken Base for a number of media-centric examples (also see Unpleasable Fanbase and Base-Breaking Character, though we don't keep examples for those anymore). Frequently overlaps with Hypothetical Fight Debate, Fandom Rivalry (including the all-famous Console and Computer Wars), and Ship-to-Ship Combat.


This is when a Seinfeldian Conversation becomes Serious Business. When it happens in Real Life — YouTube comments in particular are full of these — some people theorize that it's because the combatants are people with an extremely fragile sense of self worth, and they view their opinion as a source of validation. In other words, they think that if they're wrong (or if someone else disagrees with them) about whether Spider-Man's costume is made of nylon or spandex, it lessens their inherent degree of value as a human being. Other people just enjoy having serious discussions about trivial subjects.

Not to be confused with the 1960s Astronauts in Caveman Days comedy It's About Time, or a Ginger or MaryAnn debate. Not related to Ancient Astronauts.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In One Piece when Buggy reveals that he knows Shanks we get a flashback to his days on Gold Roger's ship alongside Shanks. The very first scene we see is Shanks and Buggy literally at each other's necks arguing over whether the North Pole or South Pole is colder all the while the other crew members cheerfully egg them on. The argument is broken up when Rayleigh cuffs both of them and exasperatedly states that nobody cares which pole is colder, it's implied that Shanks and Buggy get up to this sort of thing a lot.

    Comic Books 
  • Many, many arguments in Knights of the Dinner Table. Whether dwarven women have beards is one that occurs multiple times, with various characters citing evidence from their favorite fantasy novels, games, etc. Sara has grabbed male characters' shirts and threatened physical violence over the issue.
  • DC Comics had to shut down comments on their blog due to a flame war over whether Superman or The Flash was faster.
  • Many issues of Marvel Comics' Marvel Team-Up comics line cashed in on these kinds of arguments. Want to know if the Hulk or Thor is stronger? There's an issue where they fight each other.
  • In Starman #13, one of the Mist's goons has a bizarre conversation with the captive Mikaal about who the best big screen Philip Marlowe was. He then admits that he once murdered a man for daring to claim it was George Montgomery.
    • Another issue had drugrunners tensely arguing over the best Sondheim musical.
  • Marvel Universe example from A+X #6: Captain Marvel and Wolverine get into a literal Caveman vs. Astronaut debate during a poker game. Carol, who starts the argument, even mentions that she first heard it on Angel. Made especially relevant since Carol and Logan are, more or less, an astronaut and a caveman respectively.
    • A random monster then shows up and is asked about it. He picks astronauts because the question had already been answered in Planet of the Apes. Astronaut fought caveman and won.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side had the following caption for a tentful of men drawing scimitars at each other:
    One remark led to another, and the bar suddenly polarized into two angry, confrontational factions: those espousing the virtues of the double-humped camel on the one side, single-humpers on the other.

    Fan Works 

  • In Crimson Tide, a fight ensues when one character says that the Kirby Silver Surfer was the only true Silver Surfer, and that the Moebius Silver Surfer was shit.
  • In The Rundown, Beck gets into a debate over whether Mike Tyson could take Muhammad Ali if they were both in their prime. Beck claims Ali could take Tyson.
  • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, once the plot's winding down, Steve and Tony argue with Thor as to whether Vision can lift Mjölnir because he's worthy or because he's a machine.
    Steve: But if you put the hammer in an elevator...
    Tony: It would still go up.
    Steve: Elevator's not worthy.

  • Animorphs:
    • One book informs us that, when they were younger, Jake and Marco would spend entire afternoons arguing about whether or not cheese tastes yellow (Marco thought it tasted sorta green). Now that they're older, they have more serious, adult debates, like Who Would Win: Spider-Man or Batman?
    • Cassie and Marco got into a debate about which term for vomiting was the best after Marco pointed out that the action has a lot of Unusual Euphemisms... while carrying a very sick Jake back home after he had aborted the mission to throw up. Terms range from the expected (Ralph, Hurl, Puke, Spew) to more creative (Blowing Chunks, Upchuck, Losing your Lunch, Tango with the Toilet). Marco is declared the winner with "A Yawn in Technicolor" which causes even Jake to laugh and then immediately barf again. It should be pointed out that this is not something Cassie is known for doing, but she knew Jake was upset for botching the mission and that he would have had this conversation with Marco if he wasn't as sick as he was.
  • In Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, there is a war waging between people who break their hard-boiled egg at the fat end (the "big-endians"), and those who break it at the narrow end. (It's a deliberate analogy to Whigs vs Tories in British party politics of Swift's time.)
  • Similar to the Gulliver's Travels example above, The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss features an allegory for the Cold War being waged over which side of the bread to butter.
  • The Guinness World Records was created specifically to end pub debates about the biggest/strongest/fastest whatever.
  • According to The Devil's Dictionary, Australia's "industrial and commercial development has been unspeakably retarded by an unfortunate dispute among geographers as to whether it is a continent or island."

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory has a parody of this in which the guys debate who the bravest person in the Marvel Universe is. Candidates include Captain America's undocumented Mexican gardener, the doctor who gives Wolverine his prostate exam, and whoever uses the bathroom after the Thing.
    • Raj and Leonard once debated over whether or not mummies and zombies are the same thing. Leonard won the debate by calling in Insufferable Genius Sheldon, who quickly decimated Raj's argument.
    • In "The Bakersfield Expedition," Penny, Amy, and Bernadette decide to read a single comic book to try and understand why their boyfriends (and Raj) are so obsessed with them. They read an issue of Thor, and at first deride the comic as stupid and the boys' arguing over minor details as a complete waste of time. As an example, Penny sarcastically refers to Thor's hammer as "so heavy that no one else can lift it"... which leads the girls to start debating whether the hammer is heavy or magical. By the end of the episode, they're tearing through every Thor comic that Leonard and Sheldon own and fiercely arguing over minutiae in them.
    • To the girls, Sheldon mentions in passing a discussion he and the other guys had about whether werewolves can swim. The girls quickly become drawn into the debate.
    • An episode starts with Sheldon wanting to ask a question regarding Man-Bat and Batman, the guys quickly get into a complicated and tongue-twisting discussion regarding how a combination of the two characters via bite would be named. The scene ends before Sheldon even gets to ask the question.
  • The Angel episode "A Hole in the World" is the Trope Namer. Wesley walks in on Spike and Angel after they've spent 40 minutes shouting at each other about who would win in a fight between cavemen and astronauts. Pretty soon everyone in the show is getting in on the act; it's all built up to the episode's Wham Line: "cavemen win, of course the cavemen win", one character's last words.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Ted brings a picture that could either be a rabbit or a duck to make a point about how a date might seem right for someone but turn out to be wrong, and vice versa. Then the gang disagrees over which represented the bad choice, the duck or the rabbit. According to Older Ted, it was the longest, most intense argument they've ever had. It even drags in their regular limo driver and by the end, Marshall is drenched in sweat.
    Ted: Then why don't we take, a rabbit, a duck, stick 'em in a cardboard box and let them fight it out?!
    • When Barney and Robin date each other, their relationship seems to be full of these sorts of arguments. Barney once dared Robin to stab a knife through his chest over a fight about which of them should clean the dishes.
    • One episode had the gang argue over which food is the most common in the United States; they looked up the answer and it turned out they were all wrong.
    • On another occasion, Ted and Barney have a passionate argument initially framed as simply Edward vs Jacob. It's immediately revealed not to be about shipping but what the first name of the actor who played the main character in Stand and Deliver was (Edward James Olmos).
  • Seinfeld:
    • Elaine and her boyfriend of the week get into a heated argument leading to their breakup about when it's appropriate to use exclamation points.
    • In another episode, George and another man try to park in the same Parallel Parking spot at the same time. George insists that the other guy needs to give up the spot because he was trying to pull in front first, and the only civilized way to parallel park is by backing up. The other guy disagrees, and they spend the rest of the night with both their cars halfway in the spot, halfway in the street, arguing over the validity of front-first parking. Everyone who passes by has a strongly held opinion on the issue, even the cops who show up to make them move their cars.
      Mike: Hey, pal, you're not getting that space. I mean, I'll sleep in my car if I have to.
      George: I'll die out here.
    • While attending the funeral of his current girlfriend's aunt in "The Implant," George ends up getting into an argument about double-dipping that quickly turns violent. It eventually gets so intense, his girlfriend angrily breaks up with him and throws him out of the house.
    • In one Seinfeldian Conversation opening segment, George asks Jerry who he'd eat first if he were stranded with only him and Kramer and is actually offended when Jerry says he'd start with Kramer.
      George: Well, I would eat you!
      Jerry: That's very nice...I guess.
      George: I still don't see why you wouldn't eat me, I'm your best friend!
      Jerry: Look, if other people are having some, I'll try you!
      George: Thank you!
  • Hank and Davis of Corner Gas apparently have a long-standing debate over who is cooler—Darth Maul or Darth Vader. Davis supports the Vader side and staunchly believes that everyone just thinks Darth Maul is cool because he has a double lightsaber.
  • The Spike TV show Deadliest Warrior is ALL ABOUT this trope. The premise of the show is to pit two types of "Warriors" from different time periods against each other to see who would win; it is almost embarrassing to see how seriously some of the experts think their warrior is just the best.
    • Subverted from time to time, though. Occasionally Manipulative Editing is used to make things look more hostile than they actually are, and in a few cases (SWAT vs. GSG9, SEALs vs. Israeli Commandos) the teams acknowledge that they don't REALLY hate each other. Also, it's entirely possible that silly performances by the visiting experts are encouraged by the producers. The post-episode commentaries posted to the web confirm that most of the hostility between teams is played up for the show - they are very polite and cordial with each other in the web videos.
  • There is an episode of Married... with Children in which a riot breaks out amongst the members of NOMAAM over the question of who starred in the first lite beer commercial.
  • In the Cheers episode "The Triangle," the bar regulars (who frequently debate mundane topics) get into an intense discussion of Roadrunner-Coyote cartoons. The argument escalates from whether the coyote is obsessed or simply hungry, to whether his ability to survive falling off a cliff indicates he's the Antichrist.
  • In Community Jeff and Britta spend an entire evening arguing with each other over which bar is better place for Troy to have his first drink when turns twenty-one, "Red Door" or "L Street". Troy looks up to both Jeff and Britta as two different ways to be cool and mature, but becomes infuriated when they all learn that "Red Door" and "L Street" are the same bar, meaning that their argument (And thus the entire competing lifestyles represented by Jeff and Britta) is meaningless since they are just slapping different terms onto the same things.
    • And again when it comes out that Jeff is the only member of the study group that dislikes the band Barenaked Ladies. Hilariously, they're having this argument at the exact same time they're arguing over something actually important, and treating it with more gravity.
    • Troy and Abed had an argument if having giant ears or a tail would be better, walking into the study room and asking the others, only then realising that a different group was using the study room. They then have the other group cast votes.
    • More examples can be thought of and it is implied that the group has meaningless arguments like this even off-screen:
      Britta: Will anyone back me up if I say this is ridiculous, or is it going to be another Avatar situation?
  • Night Court had a case involving a riot at a Star Trek convention between fans over which was better: the Original Series or the Next Generation. The Next-Gen fans leave the court by...beaming out.
    Spock Cosplayer: Big deal. Can they do this? [Vulcan salute]
  • A running joke in Ricky Gervais' Extras. The main character and his best friend would ask each other questions like, "what would you rather be? A penguin, where you are a bird but you can't fly, or a flying fish where you can fly but you're still a fish." Once or twice an episode.
  • MythBusters addresses these a lot, particularly trying to test the legitimacy of taking idioms literally note .
    • One myth came directly from a very heated argument going on at their own website; namely "Can a plane take off if it's on a conveyor belt running in the opposite direction?" They tested it, and concluded that yes, it can; forward motion is driven by the propeller, and how the wheels interact with the ground is irrelevant.
    • Another time, they tested what would happen if a truck was traveling at 60 miles per hour and a ball was ejected from the back of the truck at the same speed. It fell vertically from the point where it was fired. The forward motion of the truck and the aft motion of the ball-launcher cancelled each other out.
    • Yet another test involved the double-dipping claim from Seinfeld above; they ruled that double-dipping didn't add all that many mouth-germs to a dip since because it is lost in the bacterial noise in the food itself.
    • The Scope Snipe, particularly a famous one by Vietnam-era sniper Carlos Hathcock, was initially deemed busted due to the number of refractive lenses and narrowness of the scope itself preventing a clean bore. They recognized the problem with discrediting a myth that is popular among snipers, but acknowledged that their initial testing was done with modern scopes and not the shorter, wider scopes with fewer lenses from the correct era. It was confirmed on a revisit.
  • Supernatural: Sam and Dean Winchester have their own version of this as shown in the episode "Death's Door" with Chuck Norris vs. Jet Li. They also argue over which movie snacks are the best and who was a better stooge, Curly vs. Shemp.
  • Have I Got News for You: Quite often Paul Merton would indulge in this; once having a (seemingly) aggressive shouting match with Arthur Smith over whether or not you should put tomato sauce on baked beans.
  • Saturday Night Live once did a commercial parody where a married couple argue over whether "New Shimmer" is a floor cleaner or a dessert topping. They end up struggling for the bottle and the husband calls his wife a cow. The pitchman arrives and settles the dispute. It's both.
  • The Jonathan Creek episode "The Three Gamblers", which has a Hollywood Voodoo theme, has one scene open with Jonathan and Maddie barely speaking after a furious row. It turns out they disagree about the exact meaningless words in the chorus of the novelty song "The Witch Doctor".
  • The Syfy reality show Opposite Worlds was ostensibly designed to put the debate to the test, with one team living in harsh caveman conditions (including needing to make fire to cook their food and keep warm) and the other living in relative comfort in Next Sunday A.D., and competing in weekly physical challenges to determine who is forced to leave and who gets to stay in which conditions. As Jenny Nicholson points out in her video essay, the predictable result is the team living in the future winning most of the challenges because they are well fed and rested while the cavemen team are tired, cold, and hungry.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia frequently employs this trope.
    • The audience glimpses the tail end of one of these arguments in the Cold Open of "The Gang Gets Invincible": the matter of contention being whether a rat or a scorpion would win in a duel against one another.
    • The entire plot of "Reynolds v. Reynolds: the Cereal Defense." Frank crashes into Dennis's Land Rover while Dennis was eating a bowl of cereal, causing him to spill it on the dashboard. Dennis claims Frank is responsible for the spill; Frank insists that eating cereal in a car is inherently risky, so Dennis assumes responsibility for the effects of the spill. They then get sidetracked by Mac into yet another argument over whether or not natural selection and evolution are real.
    • "The Gang Solves the Bathroom Problem" finds the five main characters spending an afternoon arguing about who is allowed to use which restroom in the bar.
  • An episode of Drake & Josh had the brothers arguing over who'd win in a fight between Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff, which Helen resolves by agreeing that Lohan would win because Duff can't take a punch. They then argue who'd win in a fight between Clay Aiken and Frodo, but both agree on Frodo.

  • Ookla the Mok's "Stop Talking About Comic Books or I'll Kill You":
    I don't care if the Hulk could defeat the Man of Steel
    I'm gonna rearrange your face if you continue to debate
    Whether Logan's claws could pierce Steve Rogers' shield


    Video Games 
  • In Bravely Default Agnes and Edea start going at it in an epic argument about which dessert is the best. Tiz and Ringabel are naturally exasperated at this.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Rose reflects on her first meeting with Raiden in New York City. Rose was misdirecting some tourists to the Chrysler Building, thinking it was the centerpiece of King Kong. Raiden, a movie buff, overheard this and the pair got into a shouting match until the tourists fled.
  • In Persona 5 Royal, the siblings Justine and Caroline argue about whether jellyfish are better than killer whales, which indicates their precociousness and respective personalities. Then they demand that the "inmate" they're escorting give his opinion. No option ends well.
  • In the Splatoon series, the Inklings have entire large scale celebrations called Splatfests solely dedicated to taking simple debates like dogs vs. cats, rock vs. pop, lemon tea vs. milk tea, sandcastles vs. snowmen or Autobots vs. Decepticons and having people from both sides deciding who's better via nighttime ink battles, complete with an all-night party and religious undertones through the Cargo Cult fax machine used to announce them. Splatoon 3 ups the ante by making these three-sided debates. Furthermore, the final Splatfest of each game helps determines the plot and theming of the following installment.
  • A skit in Tales of Berseria features Rokurou and Eizen get in an argument on whether the beetle that has been de-therionized and is now in Laphicet's care is a stag beetle or rhinoceros beetle. They both give their justifications and are very passionate while doing so, much to everyone's discontent.
    Eleanor: Why is it that boys get so excited when they talk about bugs?
    Magilou: Rhinoceros, stag or butterfly, it's all no matter to me.
    Velvet: They all look like cockroaches.
  • In Watch_Dogs 2, Marcus and Wrench get into a debate on who would win in a fight between Aliens and Predator. Then they bring Judge Dredd, Batman and even Archie into the discussion.

  • Surviving The World has a convenient guide to these arguments.
  • Sluggy Freelance has Torg and Riff debating what's the axiom of flavor: Garlic Butter or Breaded & Deep Fat Fried. Zoe acts as referee, and the debate reaches the point of physical violence when the Minion Master throws in Salt as a contender.
  • Subverted in this Joyce and Walky strip, where Sal assumes the argument going on is about a stupid subject but it's really about serious philosophical questions.
  • Ghastly's Ghastly Comic; Nort tries to deflect attention from it being his turn to buy the next round of drinks by pretending he and Glemph were discussing whether Christopher Walken was creepier than John Malkovich, specifically in an "ass-rape" situation.
  • Home on the Strange shows Tom and Karla spending multiple strips arguing about whether a bear or a shark would win if fighting in a tank half-filled with water.
    "You realise we've spent more time planning an imaginary bearfight than we did planning our home insurance."
    "Please. An imaginary sharkfight."

    Web Original 
  • has an entire discussion forum dedicated to precisely this issue.
  • This trope is pretty much the whole reason DEATH BATTLE! exists. They use science to calculate who would win, with a hefty dose of how the characters in question normally fight. Wonder Woman hitting Rogue in the face is normal fighting style for her, while Spider-Man's spider-sense negates Batman's favored "sneak up on them" technique. There are still those who argue the results.
  • French Baguette Intelligence: Many of French Baguette Intelligence's videos feature people arguing passionately over topics like this.
  • Pirates vs. Ninjas quickly turns into this if the debaters are taking it too seriously.
  • In BuzzFeed Unsolved, Bears v Sharks, in "The Odd Death of Michelle Von Emster" and "The Strange Drowning of Natalie Wood".
    Ryan: I mean, [a great white shark] is not a bear, but it''s a powerful animal.
    Shane: It can certainly kill a bear, hands down, if you dropped a bear in the ocean—
    Ryan: We've been over this before, the bear is the most deadly animal of all time.
    Shane: No, it's not.
    Ryan: Yes, it is.
    Shane: No, it's not.
    Ryan: Yes, it is.
    Shane: No, it's not.
    Ryan: If you put a bear on any playing field in the world: water—
    Shane: Nope. Hippopotamus.
    Ryan: No, fuck you dude, a bear's the most—
    Shane: Hippopotamus would kill a bear in a heartbeat.
    Ryan: You know what, we're getting the h-this is a different episode.
    Shane: [impulsively] Fuck you.
  • The Hardly Working skit "Mothra" had several of the CollegeHumor writers being threatened by a predatory Moth Menace and completely losing focus on the problem in favor of arguing about whether it's technically classifiable as a monster or just a really, really big moth.
    Dan: What are we doing? Moments from death, the reaper's scythe swinging down on us... and we're listening to how wrong Pat is!
    Sarah: Thank you!
    Pat: The average weight of an American moth is .05 grams, I'm sorry if I think a specimen that weighs twelve thousand pounds qualifies as a monster!
    Dan: Maybe he has a pituitary deficiency! You ever think of that?
  • Stumpt has the Sandwich War. Rik asks if a hot dog is a sandwich. Over the next ten minutes, Ash's definitions of "sandwich" and "bread" become increasingly arbitrary, Price is driven to screaming in Angrish about why is a bagel considered bread but pizza is not, even if you remove the toppings and sell it as flatbread, and Jas and Rik are just laughing and prodding both sides on.
    Price: Oh, so it's branding, is it? So I could take pizza dough, bake it without any toppings, market it as Pizza-Bread, and then is it a sandwich?
    Ash: No!

    Western Animation 
  • In the Futurama episode "Why Must I Be A Crustacean In Love?", Zoidberg discusses "the ceremony of Claw-Plach, where my species fight to the death over matters of honor. Also whether abbreviations count in Scrabble. They don't!"
    • In "I Dated a Robot", the gang is walking through cyberspace and pass a Star Trek forum, where two nerds are in the midst of a heated "Kirk vs. Picard" debate.
  • In an episode of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, the Dreadnoks can be seen in the background having come to blows over whether a certain product was a breath mint or a candy mint.
  • Kim Possible: In the episode where we learn why Dr. Drakken became a mad scientist, he is shocked to find out that Kim is the daughter of Dr. Possible, who he knew in college, and who he is currently attempting to take revenge upon. When Ron (who is currently Drakken's prisoner) makes fun of him for not making the connection, Drakken defends himself on the basis that "Possible is a very common last name." Drakken ends up leaving the room in order to get a phone book just to back up his argument, causing him to miss the fact that rescuers are breaking into the building.
  • In one episode of Sealab 2021, the entire crew of Sealab get caught up in an argument about the hypothetical possibility of transferring their minds into robot bodies. So caught up that they don't notice that all of Sealab's safety systems are catastrophically failing.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "Homer at the Bat", Wade Boggs is knocked out cold by Barney after the two argue over who's the best British Prime Minister of all time.
      Barney: And I say England's greatest Prime Minister was Lord Palmerston!
      Wade Boggs: Pitt the Elder!
      Barney: LORD PALMERSTON!
      Boggs: PITT! THE! ELDER!
      Barney: Okay, you asked for it, Boggs!
      [punches out Boggs]
      Moe: Yeah, that's showin' 'im, Barn! [mockingly] "Pitt the Elder"...
      Barney: LORD PALMERSTON!
      [punches out Moe]
    • Another episode has Ned Flanders say that his denomination of Christianity (The Northwest Branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism) split off from the Catholic Church several centuries ago over the right of worshipers to come to church with wet hair. He then sheepishly admits that his denomination has since abolished that right.
    • Similarly, the founders of Springfield and Shelbyville were originally one group which fragmented over whether or not people could marry their cousins.
    • In "Regarding Margie", Sideshow Mel and Captain MacAlistair are fighting over what the most delicious kind of cherry is, while balanced on Bumblebee Man and Duffman's shoulders.
      Sideshow Mel: Maraschino isn't even a kind of cherry! It's a way of preserving them!
    • In "C.E. D'oh", Lenny and Carl are fighting with carbon rods as they argue which of the first two Star Wars prequels are worse:
      Lenny: I say The Phantom Menace sucked more!
      Carl: I say Attack of the Clones sucked more!
  • The Venture Bros.: Who Would Win in a fight, Lizzie Borden or Anne Frank?
  • SpongeBob SquarePants had a more or less literal example of this, when Patchy the Pirate and Potty the Parrot get into an argument of whether "Prehistory" or "The Future" is better.
    • The episode "The Battle of Bikini Bottom" begins with two war reenactors explaining to SpongeBob and Patrick the titular battle, which was apparently fought over washing one's hands.note  This starts the two friends discussing cleanliness (SpongeBob is pro-clean, Patrick is not), and soon engage in a battle of their own.
  • South Park has an episode where two Star Trek nerds intensely debate as to whether a two-parter counted as one or two episodes, overshadowing their co-invention of a time machine.
  • In the Beavis and Butt-Head episode "Patsies," B&B are recruited to join a teacher's "Positive Acting Teens" and help a group of dorks clean up trash beside a highway. On the way there in the van, B&B make their "this sucks" faces while a couple of the dorks argue about which would be better—making Data human or curing Geordi of his blindness.
  • In Rugrats, at a costume party, Stu and Drew vehemently disagree on whether Tarzan or King Kong (their respective costumes) is king of the jungle. Stu suggests that they take it outside; Drew appears to agree but then locks Stu out of the house. Not that these brothers need much of a reason to get nasty with each other.
  • Moral Orel had the Puppingtons and Postabules become Feuding Families because the former say "trespasses/trespassers" and the latter "debtors/debts" for the Lord's Prayer. And yes, this is Truth in Television.
  • The Teen Titans Go! episode "Burger vs. Burrito" had Cyborg and Beast Boy getting into an escalating war over which of their favorite foods is superior, culminating in a fight between Cyborg's giant burger robot and Beast Boy's burrito kaiju. After their combatants have destroyed each other, the two friends make up and then look like they're about to have another debate over whether pie or ice cream is the better dessert, only for them to agree that those two foods are better eaten together.
  • The Regular Show episode "Replaced" states Mordecai and Rigby as once having a 3-day long argument about the outcome of a fight between a "two-headed dinosaur and a robotic Bigfoot". When they attempt to have their potential replacements discuss the same argument to get them to stop working, they both agree the "robotic Bigfoot" is the obvious choice.

    Real Life 
  • In an interview with Jon Stewart, Bill Clinton discussed this essentially happening in politics. When you have two similar candidates (in this case Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton), the campaign becomes about stressing the minor differences between them. That can lead to them passionately stressing and arguing about a stance that the candidates don't actually find that important. Heck, any random, small, and otherwise irrelevant, difference in political, philosophical or religious views could turn into this.
  • Edit Wars are often built off of relatively minor differences in wording, phrasing, or detail.
    • The Other Wiki has these in spades. For example: is that city in northern Poland called "Danzig" or "Gdańsk" in English? There's even been wars about punctuation!
    • Even this wiki isn't immune: Timey-Wimey Ball once had the line, "debating which time travel theory is right is much like trying to find the best flavor of ice cream". After over fifty different edits of what the best flavor of ice cream actually was, the joke was removed. Oddly enough, a similar line involving Kool-Aid flavors is now in its place and has not attracted controversy. So far.
  • There was actually a Supreme Court decision about whether the tomato should be considered a fruit or a vegetable for tax purposes. It was decided that it was legally a vegetable, despite being botanically a fruit.
  • Similarly, the makers of Jaffa Cakes went to court in the UK to prove that they are actually cakes, which aren't taxed in the UK, rather than biscuits which are (but only if they have chocolate on them: that means that they're considered luxury items—unlike cakes, apparently). No, it doesn't really make sense. The company managed to prove that Jaffa Cakes are indeed cakes by A: Showing that Jaffa Cakes, like other cakes, will go stale if left out (if they were biscuits they would go soft) and B: Making an extra large Jaffa Cake which was then served as a regular cake; this was easy enough to do, as Jaffa Cakes really are based on a Genoise recipe (a kind of sponge with a biscuity surface if cooked just so; it's also the base for madeleines and ladyfingers). That hasn't stopped debates raging up and down the country; tea and biscuits (or cakes) really are Serious Business in Britain. As silly it looks for an average person, for multinational companies product classifications may translate to millions in taxes and customs. (This also led to the "Big One," a cake-sized Jaffa Cake you can buy.)
  • The Latke-Hamantash Debate, an Affectionate Parody of Jewish religious arguments, has been held every year at the University of Chicago since 1946.
  • Many a troper has probably been watching a classic movie with friends when an inane debate broke out. Ever witnessed a debate running the length of Back to the Future over whether the Flux-Capacitor capacitates flux or fluxes capacitance? The winners are the people who made the physics students who started the trouble watch The Core. As a similar example in literature, fans of Tolkien's Legendarium have engaged in more than one Flame War over whether Balrogs have wings, based on an ambiguous passage in The Lord of the Rings that could either indicate literal wings or Symbolic Wings.
  • The whole black and blue/white and gold dress debacle. People are literally only able to see it one way. It was revealed to be black and blue, though the company that produced it made a one-off white and gold one for a charity event.
    • And the very next year, it was a soundbite where people could hear either "Laurel" or "Yanny" - this was eventually revealed to be the result of whether the person listening registered higher or lower pitches of voice better.
  • The East Coast/West Coast Hip-Hop feud, fought in The United States over regional variants of rap music. The Notorious B.I.G. (representing the East Coast) and Tupac Shakur (representing the West Coast) both got assassinated during this conflict.
  • Within Christianity, the most contentious of minor arguments is this: should the Lord's Prayer be said with trespasses/trespassers, or debts/debtors? There's a third contingent that thinks "sins/sinners", but the first two won't dignify that argument.
  • A whole post about the subject of Academic debates, but the winners are Edgar Allan Poe scholars and the story about why WE! DO NOT! TALK! ABOUT! THE ORANGUTAN!
  • In 2018, "Is a hot dog a sandwich?" became an object of deeply heated debate on Twitter.
  • In video-game fandom circles, the debate of "if one billion lions were to face off against one of each Pokémon, which side would win" has sparked numerous heated arguments. Some argue that the Pokémon would win due to the existence of several godlike Pokémon with incredibly powerful abilities and the fact that Pokémon can control things like electricity and fire while lions cannot. Others argue that the lions would win due to the fact that, since there are only 896 Pokémon, the lions would have them beat by sheer force of numbers, and considering both this and the fact that lions hunt in groups, the lions would be able to Zerg Rush their Pokémon foes. This debate has even become sort of an inside joke in the Pokémon fandom, and the source of many memes.
  • The "should dwarf women have beards" debate from Knights of the Dinner Table is very much Truth in Television, has been going on for decades, and can get shockingly vicious when it isn't used as a joke, as many players of Dungeons & Dragons will happily tell you. Everybody seems to have an opinion on it, and serious discussions about it rarely stay civil, sometimes taking on bizarre and downright nasty political undertones when the arguments drift a little too close to Real Life debates about gender identity. It's not just the players either, Wizards of the Coast themselves have gotten into this, openly taking the "no beards" side since DND's 3rd Edition.
  • Alternate History is notorious for this: Napoleon's armies vs Roman legions etc. A newspaper headline from a clash of two biker gangs read "Banditos vs. Mongols"; the challenge was to find a historical path that made the headline real.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Cavemen Versus Astronauts Debate


Aliens vs. Predator vs. Etc.

Marcus and Wrench discuss who would win in a fight between Aliens and Predator. And Judge Dredd. And Batman. And Archie.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / CavemenVsAstronautsDebate

Media sources: