Follow TV Tropes


Cheaters Never Prosper

Go To

"Cheatin' only gets ya so far."
The Sniper, Team Fortress 2

If a character or a team ever cheats in any sort of contest, they will end up coming last. In most cases, their cheating ways will explode spectacularly, and their illegal tactics often end up causing ruin for the cheater.

Even if the cheaters don't fail by their own fault, the honest competitors will beat them anyway, though it may be a close call. The message here is that while the cheaters put all their energy into cheating, the honest players spent time getting good at the game in order to come out on top without having to resort to dirty tricks.


It is extremely rare for the cheaters to win, only to be subsequently stripped of their medals after being found cheating. In almost all cases, they end up losing the race regardless, and the fact that they are then revealed as cheaters just adds insult to injury. Otherwise, where's the drama?

For an additional twist, the cheater may later play fairly and end up doing better than they did when they cheated.

Can't Get Away with Nuthin' is a more generic case, covering misbehavior in general. Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat is the special case where the cheater would have been more successful if he'd put his time and effort into honest competition instead. Disqualification-Induced Victory is a likely outcome. When a video game enforces this trope on the player, it's No Fair Cheating. Contrast Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime, Manga, and Manhwa 
  • Averted in Akagi. One of the marks of Akagi's brilliance is his ability to cheat really well.
  • In All Rounder Meguru, the referees are extremely observant and ready to punish a foul. The only time the cheater isn't punished is when Mitsuya suffers a thumbing and knocks his opponent out faster than the referee can call out the foul (and yes, the referee had noticed the foul-Mitsuya was just faster at punching out his opponent).
  • In Charlotte, Yu uses his ability to transfer his soul to another person to look at their answers on the test. This catches up with him after Nao catches him in the act repeatedly. He's called in to the office and forced to take a test to prove that he'd legitimately earned his scores, and when he tries to use his ability on the proctor, he gets found out.
  • Chivalry of a Failed Knight:
    • When Ayase is scheduled to have a tournament sword fight with Ikki, she first tricks Ikki into using his Ittou Shura (a technique he can only use once a day due to Heroic RRoD) before the match, then litters the battlefield with dozens of magical traps (you're allowed to use traps, but you have to set them up during the match, not before it). Ikki actually reports her cheating before the match but persuades them to let the match continue as he wanted to prove a point. Ayase ultimately loses because her guilt dulled her reflexes and skills.
    • Ikki's abusive family repeatedly tried to sabotage his matches with tactics like imprisoning and poisoning him shortly before the matches, but he would overcome this and win anyway.
  • Dragon Ball Super has Frost, the Universe 6 version of Frieza.
    • During the Tournament of Destroyers, he is caught having cheated against Goku and Piccolo with a poison needle. Goku is allowed back in the tournament and Frost is disqualified. However, Vegeta says there is no need to disqualify him and proceeds to defeat Frost himself, humiliating him.
    • In the Tournament of Power, he is angered that he was tricked and eliminated by Frieza and humiliated when Frieza calls him an amateur/second-rate dilettante. He tries to blast Frieza from the stands as revenge, but Zeno immediately erases him from existence for attempting to break the rules.
  • Duel Masters:
    • In their first duel, Jamira swaps his shuffled deck with a pre-arranged deck that he knows the order of so he'll always get good draws. In their second duel, he tries to hypnotize Shobu so he'll fall asleep and lose by default. Shobu beats him both times.
    • Benny Haha uses cameras to spy on the cards in Shobu's hand and predict his moves. Shobu figures it out and manages to confuse him and get an advantage, then Mimi destroys the cameras. When Shobu is about to win, Benny claims that his sister is sick and that he needs to remain undefeated so that he can pay for her treatments, but Mimi tells Shobu he is lying and he finishes him off.
  • Waver Velvet is the only Master in Fate/Zero who doesn't cheat at some point through the Fourth Holy Grail War. He doesn't win, but he makes it through the war alive and is the only one of the surviving Masters who is better off at the end of the war than he was at the start. Several of the others have their Loophole Abuse come back to hurt them pretty badly, the worst easily being Kayneth, who made his fiancée his servant's prana source so he wouldn't need to use his own, but in the process, she fell in love with said servant and made her a target, ultimately getting them both killed.
    • Arguably a larger, overarching theme across the different incarnations of the Holy Grail War. The original Einzbern ritual required seven mages working in unison to complete the Heaven's Feel. The squabbling between the seven started the Holy Grail Wars and cost everyone their chance to make their wish. To put into perspective how costly this was... the ritual could only be used once every sixty years, and it was never successfully completed in two centuries. Later on, the Einzbern attempt at cheating during the Third Holy Grail War instead tainted the rite so it could only complete any wish it granted in the most awful way possible and created a God of Evil.
    • In fact, the Third Holy Grail War went spectacularly Off the Rails because everyone cheated. Piecing together the events from other sources, the Master of Berserker (the Einzbern representative) cheated by attempting to summon a deity - which summoned the pathetic Avenger instead. The Edelfelt sisters attempted to cheat by using their Ore Scales ability to summon two incarnations of the same Saber. One left the country in humiliation, while the other stayed and married into the Tohsakas, starting the families' feud. The Master of Lancer (Darnic Prestone) attempted to steal the Greater Grail with Nazi help, starting full-on open shootouts between Nazi and Imperial forces in Fuyuki. The Master of Assassin was an American spy scoping the ritual for duplication. And considering one of the remaining three Masters was Zouken Matou...
    • Likewise, in the Great Holy Grail War, both the masterminds working for the Grail bend or outright break the rules in an effort to stack the deck in favor of their own faction... and again, neither gets the Grail.
  • In Food Wars!, during a cooking contest, two guys waste so much time trying to sabotage Soma and Megumi that they don't pay attention to their own dish and burn it. In their panic, they also accidentally spill a lot of salt into it, making it utterly unpalatable.
    • During the final arc, Noir chef Don Calma decides to have Takumi's brother Isami kidnapped so he can't come to his aid during a team cooking duel. What he did not anticipate was that Soma would come to help Takumi, let alone that the two would have such effective team work despite being rivals.
  • In Future GPX Cyber Formula SAGA, the Aoi team gets disqualified from CF for one year after they cheated in the Japan Grand Prix by doping (also happened in other races), kidnapping Hayato the night before the race and trying to kill him by Nagumo taking control of Al-zard computer system in the race.
  • In Girls und Panzer, Alice's attempt to cheat by intercepting Oarai's radio communications during their match backfires when Oarai uses the tactic to lead her into a trap, and when her commander Kay, upon finding out, decides to attack with only half her forces to keep things fair.
  • In the 1st Stage of Initial D, Takumi races against Shingo Shoji of the Myogi Night Kids in a "duct-tape deathmatch" to limit their drifting. When Takumi manages to get the hang and overtakes him, Shingo gets enraged and tries to nudge his car to make him lose control. The race ends when Shingo, trying not to embarrass himself, tries to double-crash their cars so the race ends in a tie, but Takumi evades him and Shingo crashes against the guard rail, not even finishing the race himself.
  • In Isekai Quartet, Ainz tries to use Time Stop to cheat on a test. However, before he can even attempt to do anything, he finds that Aqua, Tanya and Subaru are all immune, leaving him unable to do anything. Aqua attempts to cheat herself (among other mischief) and is caught standing when Ainz cancels the spell, leading to her being punished. Tanya and Subaru, who didn't exploit the Time Stop, manage to return to their seats in time and avoid punishment, while Ainz finds another way to pass the test.
  • If there is a competition between the Student Council in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Fujiwara will usually cheat to win only for someone to find out, and then Ishigami scolds her for cheating. Chapter 117 has Ishigami even recording her because he knows she'll cheat.
  • In Minami-ke, Kana challenges Fujioka to see who can get better grades. Despite repeatedly cheating and rewriting her scores, she still always falls behind by a few points.
  • Averted in Monster, where Tenma and Gillen come in second and first in their class, respectively, after cheating on a major test.
  • Naruto:
    • Inverted in the original Naruto. The first portion of the Chuunin Exam is a written test far too difficult for the level of the examinees, who are expelled with their teammates if caught cheating too many times. These details are clues to the true nature of the test: The examinees are supposed to cheat, but not actually get caught, as what's actually being tested is the ninjas' ability to gain information. Ibiki is somewhat amused that Naruto himself passed without even answering any questions.
    • Played straight in Boruto: Naruto the Movie. In an attempt to finally be noticed by his father, Boruto cheats in the Chunin Exam. He's briefly expelled as a ninja when he's caught.
  • Chapter 182 of Nichijou features everybody except Yuuko falling asleep in class during a test. Yuuko nabs this opportunity to start copying answers off everyone else's worksheets. Yuuko is just Genre Savvy enough to realize that copying from just one worksheet could expose her due to identical answers. So she copies a different answer from each person in class. Such is Yuuko's luck that every individual answer she copies is incorrect, resulting in a score of zero.
  • Taken to a beautiful extreme by Ninja Nonsense, which has Onsokumaru attempting to cheat at baseball by causing the ball to multiply itself. It backfires in a spectacular fashion when Miyabi summons a bunch of floating hands to catch every ball, getting Onsokumaru out 108 times, winning the next four games by default in the process.
  • Zigazzed in No Game No Life; most enemies attempt to cheat Shiro and Sora. They usually lose because Shiro and Sora can cheat a lot better. On the other hand, the siblings never cheat if their enemies don't cheat either and Jibril doesn't cheat ever, no discussion. That said, attempting to cheat Jibril equals a suicide declaration.
  • During the Davy Back games in One Piece, the Foxy Pirates use several tricks to tip the odds in the favor against the Straw Hats. Naturally, the Straw Hats Beat Them at Their Own Game.
  • Team Rocket in Pokémon:
    • "The Flame Pokémon-athon" features a race in which one of the competitors, Dario, conspires with Team Rocket to knock his rivals out of the race, especially having injured his lifelong rival, Lara Laramie, the owner of the Ponyta Ash had to ride, replacing her in the race. He still loses when Ponyta evolves into Rapidash and wins the race. Dario, furious at his loss (even having the nerve to call Ash the cheater), orders Dodrio to attack Rapidash, only to be kicked off flying into the sky by Rapidash.
    • In "Off The Unbeaten Path", there is a Pokemon competition that both Jessie and James enter separately. Jessie cheats while James is determined to play fair. As is typical of this trope, Jessie loses while James is actually the winner, which goes to show that even someone from Team Rocket can win if he doesn't act like a criminal.
    • Zigzagged and Reconstructed in "A Dancing Debut", where Jessie tries to cheat by getting early details about the Appeal round of the episode's Showcase. When she misreads it and it gives her no lead whatsoever, her team just resort to legitimate methods and win anyway.
    • Also played with in the Sinnoh contests, which were the starting point for Jessie winning coordinator events. Jessie at first assumed this was because James and Meowth had rigged the stage in some way, but they later admit they were out of ideas and had lied, shocking Jessie by making her realise she had won solely through competence.
    • Actually a pretty consistent theme in the show. Compare how well Team Rocket tends to do when they play by the rules rather than cheat.
    • They're often shown to actually be competent in battles and competition and have just as close if not closer contests with their Pokemon as Ash and his friends. They're just not very evil.
    • A non-Team Rocket example. Faba was pitted against Ash in the Alola League and decided to cheat by having his Hypno use Psychic to pull Meltan into battle. Unfortunately, he didn't take into account that Meltan eats metal, nor that Hypno's pendulum happens to be made of metal. He suffers a Curb-Stomp Battle when Meltan eats the pendulum, crippling Hypno. This ends up giving Ash his easiest victory in any League ever.
  • Slam Dunk: In their first match in the Nationals, Shohoku has to face Toyotama, whose players specialize in aggressive moves, often committing fouls and seeking to deliberately injure the opposing players, or trash-talking them to. Toyotama's star player, Tsuyoshi Minami, gives Rukawa an elbow that leaves him with a black eye for the rest of the game (and he'd done something similar to Fujima of Shoyo the previous year, which earned him the nickname "Ace Killer"), and when that doesn't stop Rukawa, Minami gets desperate and tries to jump on Rukawa to knee him in the face and leave him out for good. However, Rukawa anticipates and shields his face, and Minami falls and getting himself a head injury, and his team ultimately loses to Shohoku.
  • Zig-zagged in Smile Pretty Cure!. Episode 29 has the villains forcing the Cures to play games with them. They're not playing fair one bit though by having Akanbes holding up the girls. So the Cures decide to cheat as well and they win every single challenge. The funny thing is that while the bad guys are just using cheap tricks, the Cures have no problem using their powers to harm them (like Happy blasting the Akanbe-moles and repeatedly whack them with a hammer, Peace electrocuting the Akanbe-pins or Beauty freezing Wolfrun and a shark-like Akanbe).
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero: The words Malty Melromarc and fair play do not go hand in hand. The evil Princess uses others to fight her battles for her, or utilises lies and dirty underhanded tactics to try and get what she wants. The two best examples for this trope however, occurred in Volumes 1 and 2 of the light novels/Episodes 4 and 5 of the anime.
    • In the former, Malty deliberately goaded Motoyasu into fighting Naofumi, for custody of the Shield Hero's companion, the demi-human Raphtalia. When Naofumi started to win, Malty illegally intervened causing the Shield Hero to be falsely declared the loser. Unfortunately for Malty, Raphtalia not only thoroughly chewed Motoyasu out, the two other heroes, Ren and Itsuki called the Princess out on her actions, ensuring that nothing changed at all!
    • In the latter incident, she challenged the Shield Hero to a race of the Lordship of Riyute Village; Motoyasu and a Dragon vs Naofumi and his Filolial, Filo. Once again, when the Shield Heroes team started winning, Malty had her knights cast several spells to try and hinder Naofumi's progress and give Motoyasu the advantages. Despite all of this, Motoyasu still lost. Outraged, Malty tried to have Naofumi disqualified by claiming that he had cheated. Naofumi called her out on her actions and the Queens shadows confirmed it, thus leading to Malty and her comrades being led unceremoniously away.
  • You're Under Arrest!: In Episode 40, the Bokutou Officers head for an amusement park to spy on Miyuki and Ken having a date, and end up playing a survival paintball game. They quickly eliminate their enemies, who refuse to be defeated and decide to cheat by "reviving" themselves (when they were supposed to act dead until the game was over). Even though they manage to eliminate most of the team when they reach the enemy base, Miyuki and Natsumi end up winning the game anyway.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • First and second series anime along with the manga as well.
      • Jonouchi/Joey has a habit of dueling cheaters, such as Mai (perfume that enables her to predict her next draw by scent) and Bandit Keith (cards in his bracelets) in the Duelist Kingdom arc, and Esper/Espa (has his brothers spy on his opponents), Haga/Weevil (sabotages his deck) in Battle City, and Ooka/Johnson (uses the technology of the virtual world to manipulate his coin tosses and dice rolls) in the Virtual Nightmare Arc (and he used to be a lawyer, no less). Predictably, they all lose to him.
      • Also, there's the matter of Pegasus, whose Millennium Eye and ridiculously over-powered cards definitely grant him an advantage, but the cards are arguably not cheating as, well, he invented the game and he says so. Still, the ability to look at whatever cards your opponent has is against the rules he himself made. Kaiba eventually figures out that Pegasus is cheating (though not exactly how), and Yugi/Yami knows about the Eye from the beginning. Both eventually find ways to nullify it (Kaiba by simply not looking at his own hand, and Yugi and Yami by constantly switching between minds so Pegasus can't predict what they're going to do, and when that strategy ultimately proves too much of a strain, it turns out that the Eye's power can be blocked through the bonds of friendship, if those friends are focused on the goal of doing so).
      • Earlier on, Dark Yugi spends his time making sure that people who cheat against him never prosper are subject to horrible Mind Rape for the rest of their lives.
      • Anzu/Tea faces Johnny Steps in a game of DanceDanceRevolution. He tries to trip and elbow her, but she still beats him.
      • Most Rare Hunters that Yugi duels in Battle City cheat too. Seeker uses counterfeit Exodia cards that are also marked with ink that only he can see using special contact lenses. He also uses multiple Exodia pieces and Graceful Charity copies (although, whether that's illegal in this continuity isn't clear). Mask of Light and Mask of Darkness (Lumis and Umbra) have microphones hidden under their hoods, letting them communicate with each other in a way that Yugi and Kaiba clearly can't. (After stating that a team isn't allowed to share cards and strategies, no less.) In both cases, the Rare Hunters lose.
      • Pandora/Arkana is an even more blatant cheater: he trims the edges of an important card (Dark Magician) so that it lands on top of his deck when Yugi cuts it; additionally, in the manga he boasts - to himself - that as a stage magician, he knows over one-hundred ways to cheat at cards. Yugi is on to him, however; after using Card Destruction to ruin his plan (for the moment) he tells Pandora that it's clear to him that someone who would risk damaging his cards by "shotgun shuffling" would probably stoop to a trick like that too.
      • In a filler arc, despite not needing to, Noa cheats like crazy during his duel with Kaiba out of petty sadism, using a mind-controlled Mokuba as a human shield to prevent Kaiba from attacking him, and "wins" by turning both Kaiba and Mokuba to stone. This however brings the wrath of Yugi and Yami down on Noa's head.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX
      • Exactly how much Saiou/Satorius is cheating is debatable. Is future vision against the rules? It's also clear that the Light of Ruin is helping him a little, made more obvious when the thing takes complete control of him in the Final Battle. However, he blatantly cheats in the fourth season, planting a card called Arcana Force 0 - The Fool in Judai/Jaden's deck before the duel, and much like Weevil, uses a Spell Card to force him to summon it. Once he's done that, he's able to use its presence in combination with other cards that let him forgo the coin tosses for his luck-based cards, and is able to safely use some of the most dangerous ones, like Tour of Doom and Sowing of the Fool. Unfortunately for him, Judai finds a weakness in this strategy, manages to destroy the Fool, and when Saiou has to depend purely on luck for his cards, it proves outright terrible.
      • In the manga version of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Judai's first opponent, a teacher applicant named Ryuga, cheats by using a device that prevents his opponents from using Spell Cards. Judai is put in a tight spot when he's unable to use Fusion, but he manages to turn it around without even finding out what his opponent was doing. (Ryuga is never seen after that story; many fans assume he was fired, especially since losing to Judai meant he failed to fulfill the conditions needed to be recognized as an official professor of the school.)
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's:
      • Clark Smith, the member of Yliaster who murdered Sherry LeBlanc's parents (although Sherry does admit that he didn't do it himself, but simply "allowed" it to happen). When Yusei confronts him, he challenges Yusei to a Concentration Duel, a special duel using house rules with elements of the game Concentration. It's rigged; the cards are all spread out face-down on the table, and Clark knows what his are due to marks on them that only he can read due to his special glasses. Yusei realizes he's cheating and wins anyway by using his own trick against him, and Clark pays dearly after he tries to kill Yusei and Sherry, something that defies the orders of his masters - they erase him from existence, literally.
      • Another example is Team Catastrophe. Originally three down-on-their-luck losers from Satellite, the Three Emperors of Yliaster gave them two Dark Cards that they thought would help them win the WRGP and catapult them to stardom. However, the first of these two cards is Hook the Hidden Knight, a card that houses the spirit of a demon that lets them defeat Team Unicorn by sabotaging their D-Wheels, causing their opponents to crash, injuring them. Team Catastrophe doesn't fare as well against Team 5D's; after Crow defeats their first duelist and destroys Hook the Hidden Knight, their leader Nicholas goes up against Jack, and uses the second Dark Card, a far more potent one that he cannot control. Nicholas barely escapes with his life, and in the end, he and his two teammates are bigger losers than they were before.
      • Then there's Takasu, the warden of the facility. In his duel with Yusei, he has them both wear Shock Collars designed to shock a duelist when they lose Life Points; his was purposely not working. He also uses a security camera to look at Yusei's hand during the whole duel; however, this backfires on him badly when another inmate hacks the facility's system to turn his Shock Collar on and then kills the power so that he briefly can't use the camera, causing him to make a mistake. (In general, the reason for Takasu's downfall is that he abuses the inmates so much, they are all more than willing to help Yusei bring him down.)
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL:
      • The first cheaters in this series are Rikuo and Kaio (called Scorch and Chills in the dub) the original holders of Number 61: Volcasaurus and Number 19: Freezadon, respectively. As if cheating via deck stacking isn't bad enough, they plan to rob a rare card from a museum and frame Shark for it. (Fortunately, the two aren't convincing cheaters anyway.)
      • Jin (called Fortuno in the dub) uses a hidden camera to spy on the cards in Yuma's hand and relay the info to his D-Gazer, giving him an advantage because some of his cards require guessing the cards in the opponent's hand. Cathy figures it out and destroys the camera, and Yuma is able to beat him.
      • Tron and his three sons all cheat in some way, and in each case, they are ultimately beaten.
      • V has an incredibly broken monster on his field that is hidden from view, and doesn't let Kaito see it until the last second.
      • III steals Yuma's "Kattobing" and kills Astral, deleting both from Yuma's memories, severely diminishing his dueling skills. Astral gets better.
      • IV tricks Shark into peeking in his deck to get him disqualified, and leads Shark into a Magma field where his monsters are at a disadvantage.
      • Tron himself uses powerful magic to cheat, using his crest's power to eliminate any Trap Cards caught in his way during the Duel Carnival ride. (In his defense, exactly how much this qualifies as cheating is debatable, as Droite is the one who placed most of them deliberately to stop him.)
      • Then there's Mr. Heartland, who doen't even try to hide the fact that he blatantly rigs the duels between his henchmen, the Fearsome Five, and the heroes. Heartland uses a device that let Semimaru, Kurage and Mosquito Ninja all start their duels by taking half their opponents life points and adding it to theirs, just because he can. On top of that, Kurage and Mosquito Ninja handicap their opponents with poison and hallucinations respectively, while Semimaru simply discards a Battle Royal rule he doesn't like (not that he takes advantage of discarding that rule...) Nonetheless, they all lose, proving that they were poor duelists who can't win even when they don't care if the heroes know they're cheating.
      • Inverted with Yuma and Astral, who go so far as to fabricate entirely new cards on the spot to win some of their later duels and do nothing but prosper for it. Granted it's kind of a kill or be killed sort of thing, but still.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: Zigzagged with seedy Duel Monsters agent Nico Smiley, who seriously rigs the odds of several duels against Yuya, only for Yuya to triumph each time. For instance, in Yuya's duel with the genius, Kyuando Eita, Yuya's last challenge to prove Fermat's Last Theorem in five seconds (required of Yuya for the final Trap Card) would be impossible by any reasonable standard.note  (Of course, Yuya wins because he had wants to answer wrong on that one, but Nico remains a cheater for including it.) Nico does prosper, however, because his intention is to test Yuya, who proves to be even better than he'd hoped.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS: Queen, the Corrupt Corporate Executive of SOL, resorts to cheating whenever things are going south for her, such as using a Dirty Coward skill during her Master Duel against Ai. Roboppy accuses her of cheating, but Ai won the Duel anyway thanks to Linguriboh's effect.
  • Risho and his manager of YuYu Hakusho trapped two of the five protagonist team members before their match in the Dark Tournament; the protagonists were already at a disadvantage by being forced to fight two teams in one day. Kuwabara was already nearly dead, so Yusuke and Kurama were left to split five consecutive matches between the two of them. Before Yusuke begins the last fight against Risho himself, the manager bribes the judges to get Yusuke off on a technicality. Both of them get what's coming to them when Kuwabara gets in the ring despite his injuries and defeats Risho, while up in the booth Toguro easily murders the manager, because he felt the man was disgusting, although he reasons (correctly) that if Yusuke's team is worth his time, they should be able to overcome their predicament.
  • Inverted in episodes 24 and 25 of Yumeiro Pâtissière, when Miya Koshiro ("The Heiress")'s team defeats Team Ichigo in the Cake Grand Prix semi-finals by having one of its members spy on Ichigo in order to steal Team Ichigo's recipe. To add injury to insult, said spy went so far as to make the room hotter, thus ruining the chocolate Team Ichigo was making. To add further to the humiliation, Team Ichigo lost by only ONE point.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: Subverted. In Episode 44, Doctor H. tries to take muscle-enhancing drugs to help him win the fitness competition. The other heroes try to convince him against it, to no avail; however, when he makes it to the competition, Doctor H. ultimately decides not to use the drugs.

    Comic Books 
  • Generally played with in the Asterix comics. The Roman team (which includes Asterix) at the Games is humiliated by the various Greek cities, and because they're so useless, the Greeks come up with a special Roman-only event. The Roman competitors take this extremely seriously, so Asterix induces them all to take a dose of the magic potion, which constitutes a drug offence. In the race the next day, Asterix, the only competitor not to cheat, comes a distant last, but the Romans are exposed and Asterix is declared the winner. He then gives away the laurel wreath to one of the Roman competitors, who gets all the credit back in Rome and is promoted as a result.
  • The Ultimates: The Colonel fights fairly with Cap at first but signals for help when he's losing. Very shortly after, he is killed.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Outright stated to be the moral of "Tutine, the Tutor of Destruction," to quote the opening blurb: "when you see the terrible trouble that one boy brought [...]on himself[...]when his cheating placed him in the clutches of an avaricious gangster, you will agree that such dishonesty always invites disaster."

    Fan Works 
  • In The AFR Universe story "King of Thieves", the Phantom Thieves of Hearts play the King's Game together in a hotel. Late into the game, they discover that Joker was cheating to be King several times in a row. As punishment, they're locked out of the hotel room and forced to sleep on the balcony for the rest of the night.
  • At least two examples in The Awakening of a Magus:
    • During the ritual to cure Remus, a local wolf pack leader is displeased at Harry's and the werewolf's presence, so he challenges Harry to a honor duel... and attempts to make it a fight to kill. However, with Harry's physical changes, all it does is nearly get him killed (Harry is forced to heal up a major artery) and cost a lot of standing with other pack leaders.
    • When a particularly arrogant transfer student attempts to cheat in a fencing duel with Draco by using a stamina-restoring talisman, Draco simply beats him despite the cheating, after which his trainer is notified.
  • In My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic, Dusk Shine drugs Celesto's water during a tournament to determine who will guard Celestia. He gets caught, stripped of his rank, and banished.
  • Peace's Apprentice: Aizawa expels Izuku before the Quirk Assessment Test on their first day so that he can replace him with his protege Shinsou. This prompts Nezu to strip away his ability to instantly expel students so that he can't abuse it any further, but the damage is already done: the rest of the class no longer trusts Aizawa to support them, and when the League attacks the USJ, they have to deal with it without Izuku or All Might intervening. And to top it off, Shinsou is so badly injured that he's rendered effectively Quirkless, and Aizawa gets fired when he tries to browbeat his student into continuing, refusing to acknowledge it was All for Nothing.
  • Often shown in the sidestories of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. Like in canon, Character of the Day Dario attempts to cheat in the Big P Pokémon Race, losing two consecutive years, first to Lara Laramie (using the excuse that she rode her father's Rapidash, which is considered the fastest in the Kanto region), and the next year to Ash after injuring Lara to get her to sit out of the race.
  • In Scarlet Lady's take on "Riposte", Kagami's determination to prove herself the best of the best drives her to force Adrien off the mat and chase him around. While D'Argencourt permits her corps-a-corps, taking the fight away from where everyone could see it clearly prevented the audience members from making any kind of fair call. As a result, D'Argencourt goes with the first ruling anyone is willing to make decisively: namely, Chloé's declaration that Adrien won. The author's commentary under the comics stresses the point that Kagami lost because "you can't be the greatest fencer in the world if you DON'T FOLLOW THE RULES OF FENCING!"
  • In Yugioh EQG, Flash figures out that Trixie cheats in her duels by hacking into the Duel Disks of who she wants to challenge to look at their decks, then constructs a deck specifically designed to counter them. Flash sneaks two Pendulum cards into Twilight's deck to even the playing field, and this allows Twilight to win.
    • In the sequel Yugioh EQG: Shadow Gates, Grable and his two lackeys sneak into the finals after knocking out Cloak N Dagger before his duel with Flash, steal his Pendulum Cards and challenge Flash to a 3 on 1 duel. They also rigged their duel disks to give them the exact same opening hand to trap Flash in an inescapable lock so he can't attack any of them. Flash breaks the lock by summoning a new Xyz monster to clear their fields and eliminates all three in just one hit, greatly injuring them in the process.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Cars, on the last leg of the final lap of the Piston Cup tiebreaker race, when Lightning takes the lead and is about to win the race, longtime second-placer Chick Hicks, determined to at least come in ahead of his longtime rival Strip "The King" Weathers once before the latter's retirement, desperately PIT maneuvers the King, sending him into a horrifying rollover crash that astonishes everyone. When Lightning sees what's happened, he, not wanting his idol's career to end the same abrupt and unceremonious way that his mentor Doc Hudson's (aka the "Hudson Hornet") did, stops short of the finish line, allowing Chick to win the Piston Cup, and goes back to help the King finish his final race and retire with the dignity he deserves. The fans, media, and sponsors all become touched by Lightning's act of true sportsmanship and cheer him on as the race's true winner, and Dinoco even offers him the sponsorship they'd promised the winner (which he ultimately turns down), while Chick, despite finally beating the King and winning the Piston Cup, is denied said sponsorship and the fame and glory of the victory, and is booed off the stage with his trophy by everyone for his act of cheating and unsportsmanlike behavior.
  • Minor example in The Lion King (1994). After Nala pins Simba for the first time, Simba tries to get back at her by pouncing on her while she has her back turned on him. He ends up accidentally sending them both rolling down a nearby hill, and Nala still ends up pinning him anyway, now even more smug about it than the first time.
  • In Monsters University, one fraternity is disqualified in the first round of the Scare Games because it was discovered that they were cheating (the challenge involved avoiding hazards and they used a gel to protect them). Later, Sulley secretly cheats to win the last round, rigging the device so that Mike will get a flawless result no matter what he does, and decides to confess when his teammates' disappointment in him makes him feel guilty.
  • Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas is a demonic killer who uses a casino-themed Death Trap, and he blatantly cheats. For example, when he rolls a two, he slams his fist on the table, knocking the dice so they read a better number. While this does help him win at gambling, this results in him having to face Jack mano-a-mano, where he's finally taken down.
  • The bullies at the end of Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown use some really nasty tricks (even life-threatening to the Peanuts gang), but at the end can't reach the finish line due to their raft sinking.
  • In The Swan Princess, Bromley cheats twice, first playing chess with Derek and again during the training session with the musicians, and he still loses both times.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Blind Side, a defensive lineman on the Opposing Sports Team deliberately kicks Michael when he's down and after the play has already ended, and the referee not only ignores the kick but penalizes the Wingate Crusaders when Coach Cotton complains. This triggers Coach Cotton's Papa Wolf moment, which motivates Michael to lead the Miracle Rally.
  • At least one of the opposing teams in Remember the Titans gets a big leg up from blatantly racist referees. The Titans, of course, go undefeated. Of course, in this case, it's justified because one of the Titans' coaches threatened to expose the refs' rigging of the game to the press if they didn't start calling the game fairly, so the refs backed down.
  • Effectively the moral of The Big Short:
    Mark Baum: What bothers me isn't that fraud is "not nice," or that fraud is "mean." It's that for fifteen thousand years, fraud and short-sighted thinking have never, ever worked. Not once. Eventually, you get caught, things go south. When the hell did we forget all that?
  • Zigzagged with Sebulba, Anakin's pod racing rival from The Phantom Menace, at least according to a few Expanded Universe sources. He clearly cheated to win; his racer's design violated many rules and was often equipped with weapons that he could use to disable or destroy his opponents' racers. However, losing to Anakin clearly did not teach him a lesson or keep him down for long. When Anakin put his racer up for sale, Sebulba was the one who bought it (through an intermediary, of course, because he knew that Anakin would never deal with him), made a few improvements, and continued his cheating ways; all he could say when he learned that Anakin had left Tattoine was "good riddance". Eventually, however, this trope may still apply, as his underhanded tactics did lead to him upsetting someone he shouldn't have, with unfortunate - and lethal - results.
  • Kickboxer's Tears, starring Moon Lee, had Moon fighting an elite boxer opponent (imagine Rocky with kickboxing). When the opponent resorts to cheating by sprinkling hot chili on his gloves, causing his punches to blind Moon and paralyze half of her face, Moon responds by retaliating with a flurry of kicks and backflips, culminating in her shoving her knees into the back of his neck and spine, turning the cheating champ into a human vegetable for life.
  • Goal 2 both subverts this trope and plays it straight. In the first minute of the Champions League Final, a (fictional) Arsenal player dives to win a penalty, the subversion being that he scores the one he dived to win, but then, with his team 2 goals ahead with less than five minutes left, his teammate wins a penalty fairly and he misses. Cue Miracle Rally from Real Madrid.
  • The penultimate Chariot Race of Magadheera between the hero, Kala Bhairava, and the princess' evil, power-hungry cousin, Ranadeev Billa, has Billa cheating by arranging for mercenaries to sabotage Bhairava's chances of winning and attempting to make Bhairava crash into a pool of quicksand when the race course reaches a desert. Bhairava wins, nonetheless, and the disgraced Billa is forcefully exiled from the kingdom as a result.
  • James Bond examples:
    • In Goldfinger, Bond uncovers Goldfinger's attempts at cheating during games of gin rummy and golf, making him lose.
    • Similarly, in Octopussy, Bond subtly reveals Kamal Khan's attempts at cheating in backgammon, beating him with his own loaded dice.
    • In A View to a Kill, during a horse race, Zorin uses remote-controlled obstacles to trip up Bond's horse, then has thugs jump onto the track and attack Bond. Bond fights them off and still pulls ahead. However, when Bond decides he's had enough and abandons the race, Zorin declares himself the winner.
  • In the Disney Channel Original Movie Hounded, Jay Martin (played by Tahj Mowry) is a smart kid who prepares a presentation to apply for a scholarship to a prestigious school. His main competitor is Ronny Van Dusen (played by Shia LaBeouf), the lazy son of the school headmaster, Ward Van Dusen (played by Ed Begley, Jr.) and the scholarship is the only one of its kind available. After Ward confiscates Jay's presentation notecards, he tells Ronny to use the notes as a reference and come up with a better speech. Ronny, being lazy, copies Jay's speech word-for-word and presents it ahead of Jay. Jay doesn't do his speech, as it would sound as if he's the cheater. It seems as if the trope is averted in that Ronny gets the scholarship. However, by the end of the film, the truth is out, and Ronny is shipped off to military school (under the command of Jay's Drill Sergeant Nasty older brother, Mike), while Ward is demoted to secretary, with his father-in-law, whose ancestors founded the school, coming out of retirement and retaking his old position as headmaster, and Jay is rightfully awarded the scholarship.
  • The final showdown of Shanghai Noon has Roy facing corrupt Sheriff Van Cleef. Roy's down to his last bullet, so Van Cleef fakes a sense of sportsmanship and lies that he's emptied his guns so that he and Roy both have one shot left. Every single one of Van Cleef's shots miss. Roy's one shot hits Van Cleef in the chest, right through his badge no less.
  • Bad Genius plays with the trope. On one hand, Lynn's piano code is never found out, but the school finds out that she completed a classmate's test for him, resulting in her losing her scholarship. Nevertheless, the students who paid her for it get the grades they need. In the end, the students in on the scheme get the STIC scores they wanted, but Bank is caught, banned from studying abroad, and expelled from the school. He attempts to blackmail Lynn into running another heist with him, but Lynn decides to blow the whistle on the operation herself.
  • In the second match in The Mighty Ducks, Coach Gordon Bombay tries to get District 5's team to win by having his team fake injuries to get. Unfortunately, the team was about as good at faking injuries as they were at playing Hockey and lose the match anyway.
  • The entire point of the educational film Cheating. Johnny gets away with cheating on one test when he asks his friend Mary for help. When he tries again, he's caught by his teacher and both get zeroes on their tests. However, the film goes all-out Disproportionate Retribution by also stripping him of his Student Class President title and ostracizing him from his peers. When featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, it's parodied when Crow copies Gypsy's paper and Tom Servo wants him dead for it.
  • Averted in the Romantic Comedy IQ. Ed Walters, an uneducated mechanic, falls in love with Catherine Boyd. She's a doctoral candidate at Princeton and is only interested in men who are academically gifted. With some help from his mentor, Albert Einstein, he attempts to pass himself off as a genius. He cheats on a cognitive function test and also presents a previously unpublished paper written by Einstein as his own. His ruse is eventually uncovered, but despite this, he still ends up with Catherine in the end.

  • Several times throughout the H.I.V.E. Series do Otto and Laura compete to steal the answers to upcoming exams. Justified in that they both know they would do fine without the answers, they are only doing it for the challenge. When they do this with the rest of their squad, however, thirty-six Alphas are captured or killed, four of whom were directly involved with the heist, and Otto is himself expelled.
  • In Unseen Academicals, the titular Academicals play a game of football against Ankh-Morpork United, which includes Andy Shank and his thuggish friends. Said thugs proceed to cripple the Academicals' best player, while a supporter poisons the Librarian, who is playing goalkeeper. This backfires spectacularly on them when the replacement players ( Mr. Nutt and Trev Likely) manage to win by playing by the rules (in a manner of speaking). The bad guys also failed to take into account that even if they won the match, they would have made enemies of both the wizards and the Patrician. With enemies like that, they would have most definitely not prospered for long. The Librarian alone is likely to break a lot of bones belonging to the people who messed with his bananas. This is lampshaded by one of the professional players on the AU team, who would have been more than happy to play a clean professional game and beaten the amateur Academicals through skill alone.
  • Icarus, a chariot driver in Detectives in Togas. He manages to push his opponent Ben Gor from his chariot - but the horses keep running well without their driver, and without his weight, they're much faster.
  • Despite using performance-enhancing drugs and shortcuts, George Hellebore in SilverFin ends up being beaten in a cross-country race by young James Bond, who, while using the same shortcuts he is, manages to beat him with his naturally developed athletism.
  • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Malfoy and three other Slytherin students try to scare Harry in the middle of a Quiddich match by dressing as Dementors. Harry's team still wins the match; Harry, rather than panicking, uses his Patronus charm successfully for the first time (scaring the four of them half to death); and they're nabbed by a very angry McGonagall and given detention.
  • Towards the end of The Berenstain Bears and the Big Road Race, the orange and yellow cars have both been eliminated from the race, leaving only the green, blue, and extremely slow red cars. The red car is going so slowly that the driver of the green car describes the situation as a "two-car" race. After pulling a dirty trick that blows the blue car's tires, the driver of the green car decides to be a Last-Second Showoff and orders a burger at a fast-food restaurant. Because of the determination of the red car's driver (who is all but said to be Brother), the burger ends up costing more than money.
  • This is a recurring theme in the Extreme Monsters book series, with the Extreme Monsters' rivals Team Pendant always attempting to win the games by cheating and the Extreme Monsters prevailing simply by not stooping to their rivals' level. The most notable instance happens in the third book Meet Mr. Hydeous, where Doc's nephew Gerald competes in the winter games under the guise of Mr. Hydeous, a monster alter ego obtained from drinking a botched diet formula his uncle created, and ends up disqualified and banned from further participation when it is revealed that his monster form wasn't affected by his Neutralizer Wristband (a Power Limiter monster athletes are required to wear during competitions to prevent their abilities from giving them an unfair advantage over human athletes).
  • In the gamebook The Return of Zaltec, the final boss battle is unbeatable without solving a certain puzzle. However, the battle page tells the player to turn to a certain page if they beat the boss (which is impossible). If the player cheats and turns there, they are given a (fake) mediocre, unsatisfying ending.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted by Married... with Children when Al Bundy uses a mistakenly issued senior citizens discount card to get into, and eventually win, the senior Olympics, beating out an honest competitor who had refused to do the very thing Al was in the process. Lampshaded at episode's end with the narration "I bet you thought Al was going to let the old guy win. Well, then you haven't been paying attention these past years."
  • The Brady Bunch: The fifth-season episode "Quarterback Sneak" deals with the ethics of cheating and thwarting cheaters. Here, Greg, quarterback of the Westdale High football team, suspects that Marcia's new boyfriend, Jerry Rogers (the quarterback from rival Fairview High), is out to steal his team's playbook as his team is struggling to find a way to beat Westdale at the latter's homecoming. After a failed attempt to swipe the playbook during his first visit to the Bradys, Jerry invites himself over again and succeeds in the theft. Greg — instead of reporting to his coach the first theft attempt (especially since Bobby had seen Jerry try to steal the playbook, and thus would have been a reliable witness) — had prepared by creating a phony playbook. The boys laugh about how they've "put one over Jerry," but Mike overhears the boys' revelry and brings them down to earth by saying what he's done was just as dishonest and was unfair to the Fairview players and coaches who were playing by the rules. Eventually, the Fairview High coach finds out about Jerry's theft and kicks him off the team; it is not known what, if anything, happens to Greg ... although he is able to lead Westdale to a 20-7 victory.
  • In the hit UK Realty Show Don't Tell The Bride where Grooms arrange their wedding without their bride's knowing went through the unthinkable when the Bridal Party went through the Groom's Emails using his Ipad, the bridesmaids slipped up on the secret trip to Paris where the service was to be done and so the Producers checked and cancelled the wedding.
  • Game shows have had more than their share, but one lesser-known example comes from the 1980-1981 NBC game show Las Vegas Gambit, a Q&A-type game married to blackjack hosted by Wink Martindale. In an episode that pitted male-female teams of people previously strangers to each other, Martindale asks the question, "From what direction does the east wind blow — east to west or west to east?" The team answers, "West to east," which Martindale momentarily doesn't hear, and asks the team to repeat their answer. Perhaps realizing they gave a wrong answer, they try to change it to "east to west," but the off-stage judge — having heard the original response — signals to Martindale, who immediately snaps at them to repeat their first answer ... which they sheepishly do. To date, it is one of the only times Martindale has been upset (albeit briefly), and even that incident was quickly forgotten. The episode in question, by the way, originally aired in the summer of 1981, and was rerun on November 27 of that year ... the show's last broadcast day. (Incidentally, that airing is far better known for Martindale appearing — during the show's final act — in a box, announcing that the show had been canceled and that The Regis Philbin Show would take over the following Monday.)
  • In a Growing Pains episode, Mike prepared cheat notes on the soles of his shoes for an important test. However, when doing the test, Mike found that he was able to do the test honestly since he legitimately knew the answers. However, Mike's notes are discovered at the end and the teacher logically assumes he used them to cheat and it takes the rest of the episode for Mike to convince his parents and teacher of the truth, both to allow him to prove that he knows the material and for his parents and teacher to drive home the point that preparing to cheat is wrong in itself, Mike retakes the test, on top of the desks, barefoot, and in his underwear to make sure he is using no unauthorized materials.
    • In another episode, this philosophy is seriously subverted. Ben has the opportunity to cheat on a test but does not; he ends up getting a bad grade and is scolded by his parents. His friends do cheat, get excellent grades, and are rewarded by their parents. Ben's father is forced to concede that, in reality, cheaters prosper and win very often (saying that "in some cases, they even win the White House", an obvious reference to Watergate), although he does say that being honest can be far more rewarding in the long run.
  • Zigzagged in Cheers. When a crook tries to cheat Sam and his customers in rigged poker games, the Con Artist Harry the Hat agrees to help them because, in his own words, "I don't like the idea of someone else plucking my pigeons." While the crook cheats, Harry manages to win because, well Harry is a better cheater. (And it helped that Coach was helping him cheat.)
  • In the Community pilot, Jeff asks Professor Duncan for every answer to every test he is due to write at Greendale. Duncan responds by quoting the trope name and doesn't give Jeff the answers.
  • In an episode of MacGyver (1985), a race car driver tries to use an illegal Nitro Boost, which causes him to lose control of his car and spin out on the shoulder.
  • In a Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide episode which deals with tests. Alpha Bitch Bitsy Johnson constantly keeps copying off of Moze's papers despite her efforts to block her from looking at them. Eventually, Moze comes up with the idea to just put the wrong answers on her Spanish test and take a failing grade to get her to stop. When Bitsy complains to Moze about it and announces she can always find someone else to cheat off of, their Spanish teacher happens to walk by and overhear her. Bitsy is taken to the principal's office and her name plaque is removed from the honor roll board.
  • In the Side Hustle episode "Thumb and Thumber", Presley squares off with her childhood thumb-wrestling rival, Rago, in a thumb-wrestling tournament where the grand prize is a brand-new boat so she, Lex and Munchy can finally pay off Tedward's old boat after they destroyed it. Rago's mother supposedly kisses his thumb for good luck before each match, which the trio finds totally gross, but she's kissing it with thumb grease, which allows Rago to slip out of his opponents' pins and win each match, which is supposedly how he was able to easily defeat Munchy in a practice round, breaking his thumb in the process, and Presley when they were seven years old, and perhaps win every tournament he competed in. After Munchy catches everything on video before Presley can face Rago in the final round, he and Lex secretly steal the thumb grease from his mother before she can give him the kiss. Without the grease, Rago is forced to prove to his mother he can beat Presley on his own as he did when they were seven years old, but Presley defeats him fair and square and she, Lex and Munchy are able to pay off Tedward's boat, until the trio ends up back at square one when they destroy Jagget's dune buggy.
  • Used repeatedly throughout the CSI franchise, always ending with the cheater (or the cheated) becoming the Victim of the Week (be it because the objective of using the cheat was to kill the other guy, they pissed off someone enough to drive them to murder with the cheat, an opportunist third party with vested interests rigs the cheat so it is fatal, or the cheater (or cheated) is Too Dumb to Live and trigger the cheat just right).
  • While Top Gear's racing competition with their Australian counterparts subverts this handily, since most of the tricks they pullednote  work out as planned, for two events their cheating backfired on them:
    • In the "Synchronized Drifting" event, the UK team tried to stack the deck by appointing Hammond and May as "fair and independent" judges of for both teams. After the Aussies' go, they both attempted to give them a score of 1.1, but Hammond mixed up his score cards and gave them an 11 instead, giving the Australians a combined score of 12.1, which was .1 higher than what they had given Clarkson for his run, handing the Aussies the event.
    • In the "Sheep Herding" event, Clarkson had attempted to slight the Aussie team by giving them Austrian made bikes instead of Australian made ones. The Australians don't even care because the Austrian bikes are "THE best bikes", and are able to run circles around their sheep. Not that they needed the extra help anyway since the Brits are absolutely hopeless with motorbikes.
  • Sidestepped on Head of the Class. Charlie had to take an economics course in order to keep his teaching certification (and his job) but was shown struggling with the subject matter, as it's out of his area of expertise. When he's gearing up to take his final exam, the IHP kids put together a composition book that contained all the formulas he would need to ace the test (they said he would be given two workbooks at the exam - one to write the answers in, one to use as a workbook and he could just substitute their workbook to use). The next day, when they ask how he did on the exam, he says he thinks he did fine - then pulled the workbook they gave him out of his desk, showing he didn't use it. When asked why he didn't use it, knowing he could lose his job if he failed the exam, he said, "I wouldn't be the teacher you deserve if I did."
  • In the Knight Squad episode "Do the Knight Thing", the students from the sorcery school are battling with Phoenix Squad for the chance to stay at Knight School. The sorcery school students constantly use their magic to cheat and ultimately are disqualified for doing so.
  • When cheating takes place in Saved by the Bell: The New Class, expect the whole scheme to become undone before the end of the episode. Below are some examples:
    • In the Season 2 episode "Tommy the Tenor", Brian decides to join the Glee Club after seeing Rachel getting accepted into it. Unfortunately for Brian, he's Hollywood Tone-Deaf, so he gets help from Tommy, who shows no desire of entering it, by lip-synching his piece during his audition, while Tommy, hiding in the nearby hallway, sings for real, resulting in Brian not only being accepted into the Glee Club but getting a solo part as well. When the school board director comes to hear the Glee Club rehearsing, Brian enlists Tommy's help once again, but this time the plan fails because Mr. Belding and the school board director encounter Tommy in the hallway on the way to said rehearsal and, assuming Tommy is there for moral support, drag him into the Glee Club classroom, forcing Brian to do his solo part, well, solo. It goes as well as one would expect.
    • In the Season 3 episode "Driving School", Maria is failing her Driver's Ed class as she's getting her car for her 16th birthday, so she gets Screech to tamper with her Driver's Ed test score to get her passed. Later on, she hits Mr. Belding's car while driving her own with the other students, and Mr. Belding finds out at the end despite the best efforts from Screech and the students to cover it up.
    • In the Season 5 episode "Her Brother's Keeper", Ryan and Eric learn of a movie trivia contest where the winning prize is a jet ski. Ryan can't enter due to being an employee of the sponsoring franchise that's behind the contest, so he gets Eric to enter in his stead, training him via having Eric watch many movies to get him prepared. When that fails to work, Ryan resorts to cheating by having Eric wear a concealed earpiece while Ryan, hiding out of sight, whispers answers on a coordinated device for Eric to repeat to the contest proper. Too bad for them Screech spots Ryan in the act on his mall security guard shift as the scheme is ongoing, prompting Screech to stage an Engineered Public Confession using the same means Ryan uses for cheating before he proceeds to bust Ryan and Eric on the spot, which gets Eric disqualified.
  • Nancy Drew (2019): A subplot in "The Trial of the Missing Witness" has George entering a cooking competition against a rival restaurant. Her younger sister discovers that the rival restaurant actually stole a recipe for chowder that belonged to George's family and used it to win the previous competitions. Despite this, George still manages to win.
  • The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: This trope serves as the moral of the episode "Going for the Gold", where Arwin always managed to lose to his rival, Irv Wheldon, who works for the Tipton's rival hotel chain, the St. Mark, year after year in a competition for hotel maintenance engineers. Arwin believes he's not as good as Irv, but the twins, confident he could beat him, find out Irv was cheating year after year, but each time they try to expose him, Irv always manages to cover his tracks very well. During the last leg of the race, after the boys try to even the playing field, only for Arwin to stop them, preferring to come in second fairly than cheat, Irv tries to cut corners by jumping over the railing of the stairs in the hotel lobby, only to end up hurting himself, leaving Arwin to rightfully get ahead of him and win.
  • In the tenth season of the US version of The Apprentice, Trump confronts Anand about allegations that he was texting friends to come buy from him and boost his sales numbers. Anand lies to Trump's face and claims he never did, only to admit his misdeeds when Trump reads the texts aloud. Anand is then fired on the spot. The best part? None of the people he texted showed up during the challenge.
  • Exaggerated Decon-Recon Switch in Kamen Rider Zero-One. Gai Amatsu flagrantly cheats during the Workplace Competition in various ways; being in on the enigmatic Raiders that disrupt the competitions, attacking his rival Aruto constantly (forcing him to use a Restraining Bolt that hijacks him whenever he does), engaging in a tangential conspiracy to take over the mind of A.I.M.S.' Isamu Fuwa alongside Fuwa's reluctant partner and generally waging copious amounts of corporate warfare at all given times. He's playing so much Xanatos Speed Chess he doesn't just counter Aruto's attempts to expose him in the final round, but outright reverses it into positive PR. The cherry on the sundae is when he arms the Humagear of the final round with a ZetsumeRiser on live television and allows it to run amok to demonstrate Raiders as a self-defense tool; managing to pin the entire debacle on Aruto and sway the public against Humagears. Even with Aruto taming the Superpowered Evil Side with a workaround and Isamu defeating Gai in battle repeatedly, Gai wins the competition in the end; exiling Aruto on the spot. Then he finds out the previous CEO linked the trademark for Hiden Intelligence's unique tech (The reason Gai wanted Hiden at all) to the family name rather than the company name, meaning Aruto isn't stripped of anything other than his position despite the losses and Gai now has a useless puppet-company. Gai's cheating was both foolproof and absolutely pointless. Cue Oh, Crap! followed by six whole episodes of back-to-back Curb Stomp Battles headed in his direction as the "winner" devolves into puppy-kicking Stupid Evil and everyone, including the local band of genocidal robo-terrorists, put their differences aside to demolish him in all capacities.
  • During the second semifinal of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest, the juries for Azerbaijan, Georgia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania and San Marino were all disqualified and had a substitute jury vote created for them, based on the jury votes from the (legitimate) jury votes, in both that semifinal and final. According to one of Belgium's broadcasters, they had made agreements to vote for one another.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • 50% of the time, if a Heel attempts a cheating tactic, they will immediately lose.
    • Rush at John Cena with a steel chair or similar object and he will duck under you and hit you with the Attitude Adjustment anyway.
    • One time, Road Warrior Animal slapped on brass knuckles and tried to punch Chris Benoit, but Chris caught his punch and locked him in the Crippler Crossface for victory.
  • Several times, when jobber Iron Mike Sharpe would be on the verge of winning a match, he would pull a foreign object out of his trunks and put it in his arm brace. He would then set up his opponent for a clothesline, who would duck under and hit their finisher on Mike.

    Video Games 
  • Shadi Smith in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. He tries to cheat Phoenix in a game of Poker, but it doesn't work and ends up losing, he then hits the dealer that helped him cheat but screwed up and is then killed while Phoenix is calling the police.
  • Averted in Assassin's Creed II: Ezio (and the player) win the Carnivale games fair and square, even with the minions of his latest target cheating. However, at the awards ceremony, the prize is given to another minion, to the obvious displeasure of the spectators, and making it necessary to steal the prize away from the cheater ( if it makes you feel better, he gets his in the next memory segment).
    • Ezio does technically cheat first, in an earlier event. When the goal is to charm various women in the crowd into giving you tokens they're carrying, Ezio instead pickpockets said tokens en masse. It's possible this is Gameplay and Story Segregation caused by the limits of the engine, and it certainly doesn't compare to sending thugs with knives into a boxing match.
  • In the Wii version of Punch-Out!!, you can pull this on Aran Ryan by using a 3-Star Punch on after blocking his headbutt or a Star Punch during his illegal Last Ditch Move where he swings a horseshoe on a rope. He will NOT get back up from this, and you will win.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Rawk Hawk would clearly be considered a heel wrestler if he was a real one. The underhanded tactics he uses to try to keep his title turn out badly for him; Mario makes his way to the arena despite being locked out.
    • The first opponents, a team of a few Goombas, attack Mario while Grubba is explaining the rules, but they're so weak that they take hardly any effort to defeat two chapters ago, much less now. The Iron Cleft Twins attack after a match, but if you're prepared and have Yoshi, they'll go down easily.
  • In Chapter 7 of Sly 2: Band of Thieves, the Cooper Gang keep trying to ruin Jean Bison's Lumberjack Games by messing with his attempts, but Jean repeatedly threatens the judges into giving him perfect scores. Come the final game, the gang gets desperate and knocks out and replaces the judges. Unfortunately, Jean might be big, but he isn’t stupid. He recognizes the gang and quickly incapacitates them.
  • Inverted in the Touhou Project game Danmaku Amanojaku ~ Impossible Spell Card. Because the main character in this game (Seija Kijin) is a troublemaker and an anarchist, she has become wanted in Gensokyo, and her opponents will go all out against her with attacks that are (true to name) sometimes outright impossible to beat... normally. Thankfully, Seija, being who she is, packs a few handy items for cheating at danmaku duels. Subverting game mechanics to your advantage through the use of said items is thus the very point of the game and the only reason Seija can succeed at all. Turns into Double Subverted when you realize that the Unwinnable spell cards aren't unwinnable at all and, in true Touhou fashion, actually managing them without the help of a bomb (or item in this case) yields the best possible bonus.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, the player can come across Cullen and Dorian playing chess. Cullen wins, and you can then have a game yourself. If you take the option to cheat, he beats you and explains that Dorian cheats as well - taking the "play fair" option is the only way you can win.
  • In the Henry Stickmin Series, specifically in Fleeing the Complex, this is said word-for-word in the fail screen if the Tool Gun option (which causes Henry to open up the console and enter a cheat which allows him to fly and go through solid objects) is selected.
  • Cooking Diary: Creighton isn't above underhanded schemes to climb his way to the top, using a flavor enhancer to beat the player in a competition. It ends up working against him since said formula causes a rather unsightly allergic reaction that gets him disqualified.

    Web Animation 
  • Gawr Gura and Murasaki Shion of hololive had a collaborative stream where they played each other in Mario Kart 8. Shion kept winning race after race, and managed to win a bet against Gura whereby the latter would have to say something embarrassing live on stream. Shion needed time to translate what she wanted said into English (Shion's native language is Japanese) as well as send it via Discord, so while Shion was distracted Gura noticed the next race had been green-lighted and started to drive, getting a head start before Shion noticed what Gura was doing, loudly protesting as she scrambled to catch up. Gura still lost the race, meaning she had to say "I love Shion-chan. Let's get married" and it got clipped and posted to Shion's social media accounts.

  • Subverted in Tower of God, where the "Hide And Seek" test was actually about to teams competing in doing a task better than the others, without even coming in contact. Since the test was only a point gathering test serving to qualify the best for the last test, people started going out of their way to beat their own teammates to the point of injuring them to incapacitate them. While Khun lead to his team to sure victory but in the end helped Quant to make them lose anyway, just to help his friends on the opposing team, Paracule and Mauchi tried to make everybody sacrifice themselves for them and even took hostages, while Ho tried to eliminate Bam and Endorsi gathered her fellow Fishermen in one point and attacked them. The end result was that Mauchi failed while Paracule passed, Endorsi was the best Fisherman but Hong Chunhwa also managed to pass, Ho died and Khun succeeded. Success was not determined by the degree of rule-abiding, but by skill of bending the rules, strength and sheer luck.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Rudy, who's struggling with hunting, gets some lessons from his friend/future girlfriend Fiona, but ultimately decides to rely on pheromones to pass, much to Fiona's dismay. When he takes his next test, he's told that pheromones are prohibited, panics and promptly fails.

    Web Original 
  • Dr. Hax makes sure that Chuckle's cheating is rewarded with a CRT monitor to the head.
  • One of the most constant elements of Homestar Runner, and one of the few nods to his original role as the villain to Homestar's hero is that Strong Bad always cheats and always loses. Even in "Kick-A-Ball", where he tries to play fair, he loses because he'd previously cheated by altering the rulebook, meaning that Homestar's "cheating" to win was actually allowed.
  • Snopes has a number of these:
    • One story tells of a group of students who take some time to play before going to school and show up late as a result. They tell their teacher that they had to fix a flat tire. The teacher tells them they missed a test that morning and gives them a make-up test. The question worth the most points (or the first question in some versions): "Which tire?"
    • Another story tells of a student who stopped by the professor's office to find him missing. He then stole a copy of the next exam. The teacher found out the exam had been stolen, but not by whom. So, he cut half an inch off of the other exams and the cheater was discovered as the one with an exam half an inch too long.
    • Another story simultaneously subverts and plays this trope straight. A music student is required to write a symphony as a final exam and finds an assignment turned in by a previous student (sometimes the professor himself). The student then copies the symphony but reverses it. He turns in the assignment, then gets it back with a failing grade and the message "Why did you turn in Beethoven's Fourth?" (The subversion applies to the previous student who did the same thing and apparently got away with it.)
  • Achievement Hunter has had a few instances of this happening.
    • One episode of Let's Play Minecraft had Caleb caught stealing fish out of Gavin and Ray's buckets. It's notable in that he hasn't been in the series except for one instance since then.
    • One episode of Let's Play Grand Theft Auto IV, "Cops 'n Crooks Part 3" had Gavin's flagrant diving piss off Ray and Michael so much they throw him off of Team Lads for a few weeks.
  • Governor Ventoraman in the celebrity edition of Who Wants to be an Alienaire. He only gets past the first 3 questions because Bill or Tutt (the other celebrities) give him the answers. After they decide to let him be on his own for the 4th question, Governor declares that he "knew what the answer was anyway." He promptly gets it wrong.
  • The RED Team is very guilty of this in Moments With Heavy:
    • In "Heavy Goes Bowling", RED Heavy tries to cheat several times to win against BLU Heavy in their bowling match. He is eventually disqualified when he pulls out a gun and tries shooting BLU Heavy.
    • The RED Team rely on their special weapons and techniques to pass their driving tests in "Heavy Takes his Driving Test" (Medic using Ubercharge to plow through, Demoman placing stickybombs in specific spots to move the test along, etc.). Naturally, it's because of their methods that they fail their tests. RED Spy almost passes the test, and botches it because he stops to kill the pedestrian.
  • The "Monster Mashionals part 2" season 2 finale of Monster High has Nefara De Nile break out the De Nile family idols to cheat against younger sister Cleo and her Fear Squad. This has her OWN team turn against Nefara, and to add insult to injury, video of Nefara cheating is shown on a jumbotron. In a final Laser-Guided Karma action, Nefara's stripped of her past awards as well.
  • Skeppy:

    Western Animation 
  • Used as the moral in a "Sonic Sez" segment in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.
  • The All Hail King Julien episode "Jungle Games" has King Julien make a bet with his Evil Uncle with the fate of the kingdom on the line. Both teams begin cheating but only against each other, which ends up allowing a third team to pull ahead of both of them to win the gold.
  • In Around the World with Willy Fog, Sullivan hires a cunning master of disguise known as Transfer to make sure Fog loses the wager by keeping him from completing his trip around the world within the eighty-day time limit. In the end, however, Fog evades every one of the traps which Transfer lays and reaches the Reform Club in time to claim victory. Shortly afterwards, Sullivan is dismissed from his position as governor of the Bank of England for "misappropriation", having used the Bank's funds to pay for Transfer's travel expenses.
  • Subverted in Avatar: The Last Airbender where Toph, Sokka and Aang spend an episode cheating Fire Nation folk out of their money with such varied methods as cheating a cheater in Three-card Monte to a full-on flopsy scheme. They end up in trouble, but only because they indirectly become famous. They never give back any of the ill-gotten goods either.
    • Though played straight because earlier in the episode there's a man playing the "three cups with something in one of them" game, and he picks Toph because she's blind. It's revealed that the reason no one's been able to win is that he was either flipping the object under the cup into his sleeve and sticking another in a different cup than what they'd be watching or leaving all three empty. Toph, an earth-bender who has learned to sense vibrations, detects the sleight of hand and puts one of the rocks back under the cup without him even knowing, cheating the guy.
    • In the The Legend of Korra "And the Winner Is...", Tahno and the Wolf-bats resort to cheating to beat the protagonists in a pro-bending tournament. Thanks to the fact that he bribed the referee, they're declared the winners. The stadium is promptly attacked by the local Well-Intentioned Extremist, who kicks their butts, removes their powers and takes the time to call them out for cheating during his radio broadcast.
  • Bianca from Beverly Hills Teens. Several of her successful attempts to sabotage Larke during a competition are actually seen by the judges as an original touch deserving a first place.
  • In the classic cartoon "Rabbit Transit," Bugs Bunny (offended by the story of The Tortoise and the Hare) challenges a turtle to a race. Bugs cheats like crazy and loses but only because the turtle outcheats him (he had a jet engine under his shell and uses dozens of other turtles).
  • Spike the bulldog in several Droopy cartoons. Whenever the two are on a competition, he tries to sabotage Droopy, but as Droopy is Born Lucky, they end up backfiring on Spike, or even actually helping Droopy win. One cartoon has Spike tricking Droop into signing a document stating that he cheated, thus disqualifying him and making Spike the winner; but, Spike got his in the end: the prize was a kiss from the Queen of Sports - who was hideously ugly.
    Spike: Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim!-*Tree or wooden pole falls on him rather than Droopy*-ber.
  • The Fairly Oddparents:
    • Vicky is notorious for this; you name that competition, she will cheat in it:
      • In "Hex Games", she and Timmy battle it out for the title of Queen/King of the Skatepark in a skateboarding competition. After Vicky flattens the wheels of Timmy's skateboard on the larger half pipe and blows up the big ramp, only for Chester to save him, thanks to the new state-of-the-art multipurpose braces he was fitted with when his other braces fell off in a skateboarding accident, Timmy still wins, but Vicky refuses to relinquish her crown, until she is plowed into the ground by Francis following his attempt on the big ramp.
      • In "Miss Dimmsdale", she competes in a beauty pageant in the hopes of winning a $10,000 cash prize and being Mayor of Dimmsdale for a Day so she could torture every child in town like there's no tomorrow. Despite sabotaging all of her competition (the only known contestants besides her were AJ's mother, Mrs. Crocker, Principal Waxelplax and Mrs. Turner), and bribing, blackmailing or, in the case of Timmy and Adam West (alias Catman), almost killing the judges, Vicky still loses and is beaten up by the other contestants after last-minute contestant Mr. Turner shows up and clumsily wins the pageant, proving men can compete in beauty pageants.
    • The Anti-Fairies and Pixies cheat at everything, as noted in "Pixies, Inc." and "Fairly Oddlympics".
    • "The Big Bash" is an aversion: Remy cheats, but ties with Timmy, but the real winner was Cupid, as not only did he cheat everyone out of rule free wishes, but the "Scavenger Hunt" turns out to be his shopping.
    • The chapter book Scout's Honor provides another contest between Timmy and Remy, with the latter cheating using his money. It's thanks to Cosmo and Wanda exposing Remy's cheating that Timmy wins the bet.
  • While generally subverted With Bender in Futurama, in the episode "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back", Bender cheats at poker by using X-ray glasses. However, after winning, he hints too strongly at them, and when he's exposed, he's promptly beaten up by the others.
  • In the Tom Slick short in George of the Jungle, every of Tom's lead opponent (mostly Baron Otto Matic) cheat in every way to win the race and always fail.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Billy decides to replace the fake skeleton in the class with Grim so he can help him cheat on his history test. Turns out Billy was wrong and it was actually a math test, and Grim explains that he knows nothing about math.
  • Subverted in Johnny Test, there is an episode based on the fact that cheaters never win. The cheater does end up winning, but they also fall over a waterfall because they were too busy gloating to notice it. The moral: even when cheaters win, they lose.
  • Kaeloo: In the episode "Let's Play Golf", Kaeloo cheats at golf by distracting the others, Hulking Out and hitting the ball. When the others find out, they accuse her of being a "dirty cheater" and Kaeloo proceeds to hit herself over the head with her golf club as a form of self-inflicted punishment.
    • In Episode 101, Stumpy, Quack Quack and Mr. Cat all cheat in various ways in an Olympics-style sporting event, so Kaeloo gets annoyed and beats them up before crossing the finish line herself and winning.
    • Subverted in Episode 95 where Stumpy's team does win after cheating.
  • Every episode of Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics. The Rottens cheated in absolutely every event and almost always came in last. However, this is one of the few shows in which while the results were subsequently discounted due to the team's cheating, several of their tricks during were accepted as not actually being against the rules, and the Rottens indeed were able to come in first place at the end of the episode, albeit very rarely.
    • There's one 'pity win' episode where the Rottens get away with every single trick they pull.
    • In one episode, an attempt to cheat didn't help them win, but it did get them a bonus to their score for accidentally breaking a world record.
    • Other characters occasionally get called on doing questionable things, but they tend to be less outright cheating and more trying to bend the rules and failing.
  • Mertle Edmonds from Lilo & Stitch: The Series does this constantly through every contest she and Lilo are in and actually manages to get away with it in some cases. In the episode "Yapper", she and Lilo compete in a a dog sho, where she sabotaged Stitch's water bottle by replacing it with a bottle of a particularly strong blend of coffee (if you saw the first movie then you know what caffeine does to Stitch) and ended up winning the contest, but conceded the trophy because the duo helped rescue her dog, Gigi (actually an experiment), from Gantu. Another case was the episode "Slick", where she used the titular experiment against Lilo (not that Lilo didn't use it first) during a fundraiser and once again won, but she overbinged on the prize (a supply of shave ice) making it a case of Not Worth It. The trope is played straight in the episode "Spike", where they competed in a quiz contest between their two families; Mertle uses her friend, Teresa, to feed her the answers through an earpiece, but Lilo and Stitch find out halfway through the contest and use the titular experiment to infect Teresa with his intelligence-reducing quills, making her give Mertle the wrong answers. Come next round, Mertle is on her own and promptly loses.
    • There's another case in the episode "Slugger" where Lilo and Mertle bet their prized possessions in a baseball game (Lilo her Elvis records, Mertle her dolls). Lilo thought it was going to be a baseball like they had done at the start of the episode. But Mertle, upon seeing an experiment that would give her an advantage, changed it to a basketball game and had Gantu brought in as a ringer. In addition, Gantu was placed on Mertle's team and if Mertle won, Gantu would get to take Slugger. Ironically she wound up losing thanks to Pleakley who played a similar sport on his planet and was a natural. The look on Mertle's face when she's forced to hold up her end of the bet is pretty satisfying, especially considering she was a major Jerkass in this episode.
    • In the episode "Sprout", Lilo was the one who tried to cheat. She and Mertle bet that whoever won an orchid contest at the Kokaua Town Fair would have private access to a secret beach for a week. The problem for Lilo was that she didn't have an orchid in time and was ill-prepared, so she took one of Jumba's experiments, a living plant-like one, and entered it in the fair. However, at the fair, Mertle knocked it over by legitimate accident and the experiment grows out of control to a monstrous size. Despite the chaos it caused, Lilo actually won the blue ribbon, but she realized she didn't win fair and square. So she relinquished the ribbon and the bet to Mertle and also accepted being grounded by Nani for a week (Lilo was accepting of a month, but Nani reduced it as she felt that her sister learned her lesson).
  • In the Little Bear episode "Little Bear's Sweet Tooth", Mitzi cheats during the Harvest Day sack race by swinging on the trees and is disqualified so Owl and Emily's Granny teach her a lesson even after she cheers that she won. Therefore, Cat and Emily are the real winners of the sack race.
  • During the music video for the song "Cheaters Never Really Win" at the end of the Little Dogs On The Prairie episode "Cheating", the main characters participate in a sack race but nearly all of them cheat in various ways (Darcy uses balloons to float over everyone, Hollister spills marbles on the ground to cause Gilroy to slip and fall, Patterson keeps his sack over his legs but rides a bike at the same time, etc). All of the cheating methods wind up backfiring on them. Sport is the only one who does not cheat and he winds up winning the race.
  • In the Muppet Babies (2018) episode, "Gonzo's Coop Dreams", Gonzo substitutes for Beep in a game of basketball against the Bad Eggs when the latter injures his wing. Because Gonzo has never played basketball before, he has a difficult time trying to score points. When he finds out that Bunsen and Beaker's Cant Lose Shoes allow whoever wears them to win any game, he distracts Bunsen and Beaker so that he can borrow the shoes while they aren't looking. Gonzo manages to catch his score up to that of the Bad Eggs, but his ruse is exposed when he gets the shoes wet and they malfunction. Gonzo agrees to play fair for the rest of the game, and despite his best efforts without the Can't Lose Shoes, the Bad Eggs still win. Thankfully, the Bad Eggs and Gonzo are good sports, and they agree to play another game against each other soon, this time with Gonzo playing fair the whole game.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • In "Fall Weather Friends", Applejack and Rainbow Dash get so competitive with each other, they attempt to cheat one another during a race. In the end, they both come in last. However, in this case, it's justified as they were cheating each other so much they didn't notice everyone else had gotten ahead of them. They're both formidably athletic, so if they hadn't been busy cheating, they would probably have arrived among the first.
    • The Flim-Flam brothers in "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000". Once the Mane Six and the rest of the Apple family start to outpace the cider machine during the cider contest, Flim and Flam skip the quality control process to get back in the lead. Though this wins them the contest, the resulting product is so terrible that they get run out of town, which would have happened anyway if they lost. At least if they had lost on even terms, it wouldn't have completely ruined their business.
      • Amusingly, had they just run the competition straight up - without allowing for the "honorary family members" to join in - they would have won handily AND had quality cider.
    • In "Rarity Takes Manehattan", Suri Polomare basically cheats her way through the fashion industry- she takes advantage of her assistant Coco Pommel for all the actual work, and cheats Rarity by stealing a special fabric (she told Rarity she'd be using it to make accents, but actually used it to copy Rarity's dress designs and claimed the fabric as her own). While she isn't caught, she doesn't come out well either- Rarity manages to pull off a last-minute fashion line using stuff she found around her hotel room that won the contest legitimately, and Coco Pommel is inspired by Rarity's kindness and quits, leaving Suri with no way to actually capitalize on her reputation for making the fabric since Coco was the one who could actually sew and Rarity was the one who knew how to make the fabric.
    • Zigzagged in "Magic Duel", Trixie returns to Ponyville and challenges Twilight to a magic duel, where the loser is exiled. Nobody knows that Trixie is cheating by using The Alicorn Amulet to increase her magic and do spells only for "the highest level unicorns." Trixie wins the duel when Twilight can't copy her trick and exiles her. Twilight's friends learn about the amulet and are able to tell Twilight, and when Twilight confronts Trixie on her cheating she denies it. Twilight then challenges Trixie to a rematch with an amulet of her own and completely wins by outsmarting Trixie by using the magic she's supposed to be an expert in against her, sleight of hand and stage magic.
  • An Al Brodax Popeye cartoon had Popeye and Brutus in a race. Brutus cheats in a snowy mountainous area backfires, with Popeye shouting "cheaters never win" to him. It echoes and causes an avalanche on top of the two, with Brutus calling out "You and your corny sayings!" which causes another echo and avalanche.
  • The Real Ghostbusters plays with the trope in "Night Game." A war between the forces of Good and Evil manifests as a game of baseball...and Winston finds himself caught up in it! His friends go in to rescue him but have to remain neutral since the game is already in progress. At one point, they point out that Evil just cheated. The umpire replies: "But evil cheats...That's why we call them "evil." Only good is not allowed to cheat. If good adopts the ways of evil, then it becomes evil."
  • Inverted in Teen Titans Go! where in the episode "Artful Dodgers," The Titans cheat during a dodgeball rematch against the Hive (who were playing fairly in every dodgeball game against them). The Titans win by calling the police after being eliminated. Cyborg claims the victory was by default. Jinx also points out that they were cheating before the Titans all got eliminated.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Subverted in spades by Mr. Burns in "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield". He boasted an undefeated record in golf for decades (except one time when he lost on purpose to Richard Nixon) but only because Mr. Smithers was cheating by planting balls for him on the green - without telling Burns. When they're finally caught when he plays Homer, Homer is anxious to tell everyone, but Smithers convinces him to keep quiet about it, promising that Burns will recommend Marge for the Springfield Country Club if he does; Burn thus gets away scot-free. And ironically, even though Burns apparently kept that promise, as the club voted to accept Marge, she decided against joining.
    • Lisa spends most of the episode "Saddlesore Galactica" trying to enforce this trope. Her school lost a Battle of the Bands to a school band from Ogdenville despite the fact that the Odgenville school used glowsticks during the act, as visual aids in the competition are strictly forbidden, and she is frustrated when even the judges of the competition didn't care about the rule violation, especially since without them, Ogdenville would've still won. In the end, she's successful when then-President Bill Clinton got involved - Ogdenville had their win vacated.
  • In an episode of South Park, Cartman pretends to be mentally handicapped in order to enter the Special Olympics; unfortunately for him, he's not actually athletic and comes in dead last.
    • In the same episode, Jimmy uses steroids to win, and then because of what Cartman does, he gives up his medal (given to him by a group of steroid-abusing athletes). He then gives a "Reason You Suck" Speech about why people who use steroids are terrible people, while Barry Bonds grins in the background.
  • In Teenage Euthanasia, while at a funeral convention, Trophy uses her undeath powers to sabotage her rival Sophie Bennett at an embalming fluid competition. When their funeral homes are both tasked with embalming a dead rat, the spiked fluid seems to leave Sophie's rat even worse off, but suddenly backfires and brings it Back from the Dead. Baba then splashes the fluid on Trophy, temporarily turning her into a rat woman.
  • Sam in the Total Drama All-Stars episode "Food Fright"; he wins the challenge for his team, but then in the elimination ceremony, it's revealed that he was caught smuggling pancakes out of fear of going to Boney Island a second time and that he was starving, thereby not only losing the challenge for his team but also getting himself flushed.
  • Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race features the Ice Dancers, Jacques and Josee, as the season's main antagonists, who constantly cheat on challenges and unfairly sabotage other players, making several enemies during the competition. Given their rage upon a Bronze medal win, it makes their elimination at third place all the more satisfying.
  • In one episode of Totally Spies!, Jerry crossly says this straight out to a villain who used robotic implants on the latter's Olympic team to make them stronger and faster: "When will you learn that cheaters only cheat themselves?"
  • Every single episode of Wacky Races. Dick Dastardly has the best car in the show, and if he'd just race honestly, he'd win every time. (Granted, almost everybody in that show cheats to some extent, but it's mostly just to make their own journeys easier. Dastardly is one of the only characters that tries to deliberately impede the others).
    • Ironically the one time he did win a race through straight out racing (despite trying to cheat earlier), he was disqualified because he stretched out the cone of his race car to reach the finish line. Despite, you know, every other racer having similar devices on their cars. Apparently, it's all right to use them during the race except the last leg of it. Then again, it was pretty early in the series.
    • Even more ironically, Dick Dastardly almost won a race through legitimate means (shouting as he did so, "I'm going to win this race fair and square even if I have to cheat to do it!") but stopped short of the finish line because Muttley wanted his autograph. The debut episode had him stop to pose when the narrator exclaimed the race would end in a photo finish.
  • Outright exaggerated in the WordGirl episode "Two Brains' Quartet." Dr. Two Brains doesn't even try to win legitimately despite multiple protests from his henchmen that they could probably win and cheating is likely to backfire. They end up disqualified, but the henchmen plead to perform anyway, and their song is amazing — the mayor outright states that they probably would have won if they hadn't already been disqualified for cheating.
  • In the Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! episode "The Wubbzy Shuffle", Wubbzy becomes sneaky and cheats at Jumpity Jump, Nutty Nut Toss, and Chewy Cheese Checkers. Then, no one but Widget's newly built robot Kicky wanted to play kickety-kick ball with Wubbzy and Kicky wins the game. This was planned for Walden to teach Wubbzy a lesson after cheating at games.

    Real Life 
  • In the 1994 Olympics, figure skater Tonya Harding's ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt ordered an attack on Nancy Kerrigan, another skater and Harding's biggest competition. After the news broke, she attempted to interfere in the investigation. Harding was arrested, charged with $160,000 fine, and banned from figure skating for life.
  • In the 2013 season, the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers was standing just a little too close to the out-of-bounds area as an opposing team's running back was headed for the endzone. While the coach jumped out of the way, it was clear that he'd done it to distract the opposing player, and the coach was fined by the NFL.
  • During the early '80s, the old Southwest Conference in college football had rampant recruiting violations by every member ("if you ain't cheating, you ain't trying"), and Southern Methodist University got smacked with the "death penalty" in 1987 - sanctions so harsh the program has never recovered from them. Neither did the conference; within a decade, the conference disbanded.
  • Major League Baseball:
    • Pete Rose was part of a gambling scandal that labeled him permanently ineligible from Major League Baseball, disqualifying him from the Hall of Fame. As if that weren't enough, he was convicted of tax evasion and spent five months in jail for it.
    • Though players like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens aren't banned from the MLB Hall of Fame, voters have taken an understandably dim view of steroid users and rejected their bids by wide margins. This despite the many other users who fell well short of Hall of Fame numbers even with steroids, proving that it still takes talent to be that good.
      • The cases of Bonds and Clemens are considered especially interesting. The book Game of Shadows documents Bonds's massive ego getting the better of him after his historic accomplishment in the 1998 season — becoming the first player in Major League history with 400 home runs and 400 stolen bases — was completely overshadowed by McGwire and Sosa's home run race (ending up with 70 and 66 home runs, respectively). While the start of Clemens's usage isn't as well documented, the prevailing suspicion is that after four disappointing and injury-plagued seasons from 1993 to 1996, he turned to PEDs to revitalize his career, as he showed a marked return to the form he'd shown in his prime, winning the award for best pitcher in the American League in both 1997 and 1998. Like Bonds, his ego proved to be his undoing.
  • NASCAR has Clint Bowyer's spin with seven laps to go, which is referred to by some as the Spingate Scandal. There's a sizeable contingent of fans, drivers (such as Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who was right behind Bowyer and had the best view), and quite a few commentators who believe that Bowyer intentionally spun himself out in an attempt to benefit teammate Martin Truex, Jr. NASCAR almost immediately announced that the incident was under review, and on the following Monday, NASCAR threw the book at Bowyer and his racing team: Bowyer lost fifty points, throwing him down to 12th in the Chase seeding and already more than a full race behind 11th place. His team (and two others) were also hit with owner point penalties, along with a $300,000 fine, and GM of Competition Ty Norris was indefinitely suspended.
  • If the doping history in the Tour de France with cyclists like Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis is any indication, doping has become widespread in cycling. The doping scandals are further apart than they used to be, where most of the doping scandals in the 2013 media are old ones (Armstrong, Hamilton, Dekker, Rasmussen). This has led to the joke that the best way to become a Tour De France winner is simply to finish. Even if you're in last place, sooner or later everybody ahead of you will be disqualified.
  • Marion Jones was the darling of Olympic Track & Field. However, after getting linked to an insurance fraud racket, Jones was forced to admit she used steroids in order to reduce her jail time. She gave a public speech admitting she cheated and was stripped of all her medals. Since then, Jones has been trying to make a comeback in different sports, but so far nothing successful has come of it. To be just, Victor Conte, her drug supplier, made it clear that she was actually competing on an equal level, because most if not all of the athletes she competed with, were also using steroids. Given that other athletes worldwide tested positive in future Olympic games since the scandal, Conte might be telling the truth.
  • Cheating scandals are not uncommon in Association Football.
    • The most famous cheating scandal in football was the 2006 Italian football scandal known as "Calciopoli", where national powerhouse team Juventus was shown to be in cahoots with other teams such as Milan, Lazio, Reggina and Fiorentina for rigging matches on their favor by picking referees that favored Juventus. The result? Juventus was stripped of their 2004-05 and 2005-06 Serie A titles and was forcibly relegated to Serie B for the 2006-07 season, while Fiorentina and Lazio were denied a place respectively in the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. Milan was deducted 30 points from their 2005-06 campaign, while Reggina merely had a $70,000 fine and had their president banned from all football activities for two-and-a-half years.
    • France was also hit by a football scandal in 1993. Olympique de Marseille was crowned champion in the 1992-93 French First Division for the fourth consecutive time by winning 1-0 against relegation-threatened Valenciennes. However, allegations came afloat that OM bribed Valenciennes to deliberately throw the match so that Marseille can be better prepared for their Champions League final against Milan. Valenciennes player Jacques Glassmann, however, refused to take part in the bribe and helped French police to solve the case. Marseille were stripped of their national title and were relegated to Division 2 for the next season, but second-placed Paris Saint-Germain turned down the offer to take the title for themselves. Despite this, though, Marseille's plans seem to have worked, as they later on defeated Milan 1-0 to claim the first (and currently only) Champions League in the current format won by a French side.note 
  • In the boxing world, Antonio Margarito was a feared power puncher that had knockout power in both hands and a rock hard chin. Even the great Floyd Mayweather Jr. seemed afraid to fight him, or so his critics will have you believe. Margarito was a big middleweight that could make the welterweight division. His most famous victory was against Miguel Cotto, whom he battered savagely that night, breaking his jaw. Then came the night Margarito was to fight "Sugar" Shane Mosley. Mosley's trainer discovered Margarito's people loading his gloves with liquid plaster, which got hard after getting wet. It already had dried blood on it, suggesting it was used many times before. After The Reveal, Margarito got knocked out by Shane Mosley the same night. Margarito, who no longer had punching power, was exposed as a cheater and nicknamed "Margacheato". However, the trope was almost averted when he still landed a big money fight with superstar boxer Manny Pacquiao... only for Pacquiao to beat Margarito up so badly, the injuries ended his career and permanently damaged one of his eyes.
  • In 2013, Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd tried to stall the end of an NBA game by telling one of his players to "hit me" and make him spill his beverage, forcing a time-out. Not only did the Nets lose, but the NBA found out what he had done, and fined Kidd $50,000.
  • The college admissions scandal of 2019, especially after it was revealed that well-known actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin (AKA: Aunt Becky) had taken part in efforts to get a college admission exam rigged so that their daughters could be admitted into a college. Both eventually pled guilty, however, this trope especially applies to Lori Loughlin, who pleaded not guilty at first. Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 2 weeks in prison for her role. She was also fined $30,000, and has to perform 250 hours of community service.


Video Example(s):


Kaiji 2: The Ultimate Gambler

Otsuki's dice tactic is blown wide open by his opponents, costing him his entire fortune.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / CheatersNeverProsper

Media sources: