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Cock Fight

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Sometimes, Love Triangles are just no fun.

Now Ernie rushed out into the street, his gold top in his hand,
He said, "If you wanna marry Susie, you'll fight for her like a man!"
"Oh, why don't we play cards for her?" he sneeringly replied,
"And just to make it interesting we'll have a shilling on the side."

Two guys have one goal in common: getting the girl. In essence, a Cock Fight is what happens when the vying between the two suitors escalates into open hostility. Often occurs if neither was aware of the existence of the other, or when one has been courting the girl for a while. Typically, the fighters tend to focus on each other with the woman becoming secondary goal or, in a nastier tone, treated as a trophy.

This is a staple of romantic films but it can show up in any type of work. Usually, this happens before the girl's heart is clearly settled between her two suitors but, even when her choice is made and spoken out, there is still a chance for the Cock Fight to turn up since Romantic False Leads are not known for giving up easily. If the losing side refuses to acknowledge defeat, the next step can be If I Can't Have You….

When it comes to the competition itself, it is generally about displaying protectiveness, doing nice things for the girl, strength contests and other kinds of symbolic measurements comparisons, preferably in front of her. More often than not, things can get out of hand — many times up to physical confrontation — if one of the suitors gets too close to the girl in front of his rival, or worse still, if he openly claims the girl for himself.

During such conflicts, the girl can either stay neutral or try to intervene whether or not her choice is made. If she takes the second option, what she does can go from trying to soothe the guys' differences, telling them to shut up and stop fighting over her, or even get the HELL out until they stop being stupid. Alternately, she can encourage the fighting and stir things up worse, or if her choices are constrained by the outcome of the fight for some reason, she can help the guy who she wants to win.

This is a subtrope of the Love Triangle. Highly probable in a Two Guys and a Girl setting. Often happens after a Green-Eyed Epiphany.

Contrast Courtly Love, If I Can't Have You…, and Stalker with a Crush. See also Better Partner Assertion, the nonviolent version of this, Opposites Attract Revenge for what this might lead to, Emasculated Cuckold, for who the loser of such a fight can become, and Lover Tug of War, a rough Distaff Counterpart that is usually more light-hearted.

Sister Trope to Homosocial Heterosexuality, with the difference that the Cock Fight is always hostile and competitive, very often physical, and both men usually don't like nor respect each other at all, at least initially. Also, the woman is often present during these confrontations and can state her choice anytime. See also Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor and Noble Male, Roguish Male for two scenarios that very often go hand-in-hand with this trope.

Not related to Cat Fight, but if two girls have mutual interest over the same dude, they can get into one. It rarely overlaps with a Dogfight. (Ace Pilots are too classy for that.)

This trope is named for the rooster as a symbolically vain and proud male animal which fights over a mate, though the double-meaning is not unintentional.

For literal animal fights, see Beastly Bloodsports and Mon. If the fight involves actual cocks (i.e. roosters), they are examples of Cocky Rooster.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Inuyasha. Inuyasha and Kōga over Kagome (Rumiko Takahashi count: 1).
  • Godai and Mitaka over Kyoko in Maison Ikkoku (Rumiko Takahashi count: 2).
  • Ranma and Ryōga over Akane in Ranma ½ (Rumiko Takahashi count: 3). Not that Ranma will ever admit that he likes Akane that way.
  • Tristan/Honda vs. Duke/Otogi in Yu-Gi-Oh!, over Serenity/Shizuka.
  • An odd and incredibly tragic variation in Berserk. The second time Guts and Griffith fought - the first was when Guts actually joined the Hawks and ended in Guts's defeat - was not (directly) over Casca, but it did mark a turning point as her affections and loyalty shifted from (defeated) Griffith to (victor) Guts. Neither had openly displayed romantic or sexual feelings toward her up to that point. Later, after Guts and Casca had become a couple, Guts and Griffith "fight" again. It's less a fight and more of a Curb-Stomp Battle (with Griffith having become a demon god) as Griffith forces Guts to watch as he rapes his lover Casca. The implication is that it's far more about hurting and humiliating Guts than about any attraction for Casca herself. The entire time it's happening, Griffith is staring right at Guts.
  • Greece and Turkey in Hetalia: Axis Powers fight over Japan's affection, though they're easily distracted and not above borrowing a camera and making prints for one another if Japan gets (cute and) angry.
  • Narrowly averted in Junjou Romantica. Akihiko was about ready to storm in his brother's room and give him a good punch in every imaginable part of his body when he found out that his brother was 'going to take Misaki from him', had Misaki not held him from going through the door.
  • Played for Laughs in Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward and Alphonse as children both fought for the right to marry their childhood friend Winry. Alphonse won but Winry rejected them both, saying "[she] couldn't possibly marry anyone shorter than [her]", and she was taller than both at the time. In the actual series, both of them are taller than her and by the end, she is Happily Married to Ed.
  • This is a subplot of Hayato and Randoll's rivalry in the latter half of the Future GPX Cyber Formula TV series as they compete for Asuka's love in the Spanish GP, and at one point, Randoll even makes a bet with Asuka that if he wins that race, he gets her kiss. Both of these doesn't come to fruition.
  • In Akazukin Chacha, Shiine and Riiya are constantly squabbling over Chacha, who remains blithely oblivious. They even literally stomp on each others' toes in the anime's first opening!
  • Tomoe and Mizuki from Kamisama Kiss have a pretty intense rivalry over Nanami's attention and affection. Tomoe also has a even worse rivalry with Kurama over Nanami.
  • In Samurai Pizza Cats, Speedy and Guido fight each other over Lucille.
    • In the original, Kyatto Ninden Teyandee - Yattaro and Sukashii fight each other over Omitsu.
    • In both the original and the dub, this one is eventually resolved by Speedy/Yattaro giving up on Lucille/Omitsu and hooking up with Polly/Pururun instead.
  • Half-brothers Kai and Enjouji do this over Ranmaru in Kizuna. Kai eventually backs off and falls for his bodyguard Masa.
  • While she is not the sole source of their conflict, Mikono is definitely a major reason that Kagura and Amata keep duking it out in Aquarion Evol.
  • Happens between Tamahome and Hotohori in Fushigi Yuugi. In a subversion, it only goes to a direct fight when Tamahome is Brainwashed and Crazy against his companions. Hotohori later backs off.
    • And in the Suzaku hi den novel/OAV's, Hotohori again finds himself in a similar predicament when both he and his half-brother Shu show interest in Houki. It ends in tragedy: Houki chooses Hotohori, but Shu ends up dying in the arms of both of them.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
  • A gender-flipped, downplayed, and ultimately averted example occurs in Rebuild 2.0. Shinji Ikari, for a small portion of the middle of the second act, has both Asuka and possibly Rei gunning for his affections (though Asuka is certain that Rei is and that she simply doesn't realize it). The battleground is... Shinji's palate. Asuka convinces herself that she's giving her all, but, during the climax of the fight (in a re-do of the original and awkward elevator scene, though far shorter and with much lower stakes) Rei, sporting considerably more cuts on her fingers than Asuka, unintentionally reveals that she is the one who's been working harder to please him. After seeing this, and confirming that Rei does in fact like Shinji, Asuka surrenders. The outcome is averted by 3.0. The Rei of 2.0 is either dead or simply absent,and Asuka all but states that she'd rather die than do ''[[DoubleEntendre it with him''.
  • The Last: Naruto the Movie's Final Battle is partly this. Ostensibly it's to save the world, but Naruto also took issue with Toneri trying to forcibly marry his Love Interest Hinata, even going as far as to brainwash her.
  • Horimiya features a rare mixed gender version, where Miyamura finds himself competing with the resident lesbian Sawada for Hori's attention. Hori is less than amused by them fighting over her and just avoids both of them until they start getting along.
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Boy and girl Matsuri's Two-Person Love Triangle kicks off with them fighting over who gets to be with Suzu. Suzu is aroused at them fighting over her, but on Shirogane's insistence breaks up the fight—which works because their wind ends up pulling her shirt up, exposing her breasts to both.

    Comic Books 
  • Deadpool: Thanos and Deadpool are both in love with Mistress Death, but Death only shows attraction to the Merc with the Mouth, much to Thanos' frustration. It got to the point that Thanos curses Deadpool with immortal life. As long as Deadpool lives, he wouldn't be able to interfere with Thanos.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Putting Donald Duck, Gladstone Gander, and Daisy Duck in the same story is a recipe for disaster... and humor. It's interesting to note that in Daisy's eyes she is "officially" engaged to Donald, and the boys' attempts to impress her romantically either go unnoticed or frustrate her to no end. These stories also tend to play up Donald's bad luck and contrast it with Gladstone's legendary good luck, such that the former is desperately afraid of losing his girl while the latter is desperately trying to win the one thing his luck can't provide. Jealousy, envy, and wacky hijinks all around.
  • ElfQuest: Cutter vs. Rayek vying to woo Leetah in the Trial of Head, Hand and Heart arc. Slightly subverted in that whoever wins, Leetah has the final say. Then re-subverted in that she's Recognized Cutter and ultimately can't fight it.
  • Superman: Deconstructed in the storyline The Immortal Superman. In the ninety-thousandth century, three aliens named Naurons arrived in Earth and used their vast super-powers to help people. Unfortunately, the male Naurons started a jealousy-driven fight over their female teammate (completely oblivious to her shouting them to stop). Their war lasted two days, turned the Earth's surface into a poisonous wasteland, and prompted Metropolis to ban the use of any super-power for thirty thousand years.
  • Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Ronno the Merman and "Wingo" the male Harpy fight over Diana's affections pretty much any time they're in the same issue. While she befriended them both as a teenager in the Wonder Girl Impossible Tales her affections ultimately lie with Steve Trevor rather than either of her constantly fighting childhood friends.
  • X-Men:
    • A tragic version of this is seen when Elixir and Wither compete over Wallflower. It didn't end well for anyone.
    • Contrary to fandom's popular belief, Cyclops and Wolverine have seldom fought over Jean Grey; maybe twice in The '80s, and never after Scott and Jean's marriage in the main continuity.
    • In Excalibur, Nightcrawler got in a very violent fight with Captain Britain over Meggan. Captain Britain thought he was invoking this trope, but in reality, courtesy of grinding stress, a bout of alchoholism, a curse, and exceptionally poor phrasing on Nightcrawler's part, he overreacted and took a swing at his teammate. Nightcrawler, for his part, was strongly tempted by Meggan, but steadfastly refused to act on it in any fashion.

    Fan Works 
  • Germany and Japan ended up in one over Italy in Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità. If Italy hadn't intervened, it would have become a case of Murder the Hypotenuse.
  • The Night Unfurls: Invoked in Chapter 8 of the remastered version. In order to have a free tankard of ale, Kyril accepts Anna's request to help her friend Grace get rid of Morgan, who is harassing her. To do so, the Hunter deliberately makes a scene, grabs Grace in the forearm, and pulls her in close. Predictably, Morgan is ticked off, believing that this stranger in the grey coat wants the same as he does (not true — he's not interested). Morgan intends to settle the matter by roughing the stranger up, ignorant of the fact that he's Mugging the Monster, and ends up getting wrecked.
  • Lampshaded and averted in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. Iris compares Ash and Paul squaring off at each other in Chapter 18 with two male Pokémon competing for a mate and asks Misty whether this is normal teenage human behavior, but Misty explains to her that's not what's happening. However, and no matter how ridiculous the scenario of Paul somehow "winning" her from Ash in a fight was, the mere idea of it was enough to make Misty throw up in her mouth a little.
  • In the Kung Fu Panda fic The Vow, when Lady Lianne's called back home by her distant father, he immediately foists onto her three suitors and precludes Lord Shen, with whom she has lived for months. However, Shen refuses to be barred without a fight from Lianne after having a Love Epiphany in the previous chapter and proceeds to humiliate his rivals without much effort by scaring the dim-witted ox with his knife-throwing skills, intimidating the nervous owl by displaying his peacock train, and violently threatening the smug monkey who touches Lianne. While Lianne disapproves of Shen's actions, she accepts comfort from him over her troubled situation and has her own Love Epiphany in the next chapter.
  • Past Eons Productions: Walking With Dinosaurs: Male dinosaurs like Gigantspinosaurs would clash with one another in order to gain the loyalty of the females.

    Films — Animation 
  • Bambi: Bambi and Faline's dance of love through the clouds is rudely interrupted by another stag, resulting in a savage fight.
  • In The Rescuers Down Under, Bernard competes with Jake over Bianca's affections. Though in this case, Jake isn't openly competing with Bernard, just unaware of his relationship status with Bianca.
  • In the "Baia" segment of The Three Caballeros, several men (including Donald Duck and Jose Carioca) vie for the affections of singer Aurora Miranda (Carmen's sister). At one point, two men stage a stylized dance-fight, with the animation morphing them briefly into roosters.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Back to the Future: Pretending to fight and lose to his potential father over his potential mother is time traveling Marty McFly's plan to make sure his potential parents get together romantically so he and his siblings won't disappear due to never being born. Unfortunately, due to some bad luck the plan goes badly wrong and his potential father gets in a real fight with Biff, a strong and mean spirited bully, while Marty is trapped helplessly in the trunk of a car. Biff loses.
  • In the 2001 crime comedy Bandits, bank robbers Joe and Terry both fall in love with the slight odd but adorable Kate and hilariously fight over her in scenes that involve dancing and plate glass windows. In a rather surprise twist, Kate ends up choosing both of them, and they seem to be more than happy to share her.
    Terry: Kate, you should choose. What's it gonna be? Mr. Action Figure Hero Guy? Or brains, and sensitivity, and a lot of other things I could name. So in other words: me or THAT guy?
    Joe: Yeah. Good looking or ITCHY?
  • Barbie has the rivalry between Beach Ken and Rival Ken for Stereotypical Barbie's affection.
  • In Batman (1989) The Joker likes to think that he has this with Bruce Wayne/Batman over Vicki Vale, even lampshading: "Well, miss Vale... another rooster in the henhouse!" upon first seeing him in her apartment.
  • Happens between Batman and Robin in Batman & Robin thanks to Poison Ivy's pheromones.
  • Bridget Jones' Diary: Cleaver and Darcy's hilarious Wimp Fight at the end.
  • In the climax of the New Old West movie Extreme Prejudice, Texas Ranger Jack Benteen and his former friend turned drug kingpin Cash Bailey stage a pistol duel to see who gets to go home with Sarita, who openly states that they're both crazy. She's not entirely wrong, as Cash is implied to be doing this because he's bored and Jack because he's just too stubborn to back down.
  • In Faithful Heart, the hero Jean and the villain Petit Paul get into a fight over Marie. A gendarme tries to interfere and gets stabbed. Paul runs away and thus gets off scot-free while Jean is arrested and spends a year in prison.
  • The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift: The opening involves Sean starting a fight at his high school with Clay over his girlfriend Cindy. She then suggests they resolve their dispute with a street race, which ends with both their cars being totaled, and all three of them bruised, battered, and arrested.
  • In The Green Hornet, Britt Reid and Kato's argument turns violent after Kato implies he's been with Lenore Case (though it's revealed later that he was more concerned with antagonizing Britt). Despite Kato's combat credentials, it's not the fight you'd expect, especially when it ends.
  • The main plot of High School U.S.A. involves an escalating war between J.J. and Beau as they fight for Beth's affections. It culminates in a Compete for the Maiden's Hand drag race.
  • Irréversible: Discussed for tragic irony; near the end of the film (which, due to the reverse chronology, happens before the other main events,) Alex's boyfriend playfully says that he "stole" her from a friend of his (with whom they both remain on good terms nonetheless) to which she says that he can't "steal" her because it's always the woman's choice and "(she is) not an object". This comes after the audience has watched her being used as exactly that and having her choice violated in the most brutal way possible during the film's notorious eight-minute rape scene.
  • The Next Karate Kid: Inverted; Ned gets jealous of Julie and Eric hanging out and challenges Eric to a fight.
  • Prom Wars: Selby student Percy and Lancaster student Geoffrey make jerks of themselves fighting over A&C student Diana, who hates Geoffrey but gets mad at Percy and at boys in general as a result of the fight. She rallies the other A&C senior girls to remind the boys that they shouldn't take the girls for granted and make them sweat some. They issue a series of challenges for the two boys' schools to compete in, while saying that the girls will only go to the inter-school prom with boys from whichever school wins, with most of the boys eagerly participating.
  • Python: John and his former friend Greg (now a sheriff's deputy) are/were involved with the same girl. However, when the giant snake starts rampaging through town and John is inadvertently implicated in the strange deaths, Greg agrees to settle their dispute mano a mano rather than simply abuse his power to be a dick, and is a Reasonable Authority Figure who believes that John is innocent.
  • The opening trap of Saw 3D concerns Brad and Ryan, two friends who were dating the same woman (Dina) and are forced to choose between each other's lives or that of Dina. They spend a good minute trying to kill each other, until they realize that Dina was a two-timing, backstabbing adulterer who was playing them both, causing them to put Bros Before Hoes and get her cut in half.
  • Lampshaded in the Blake Edwards film Skin Deep:
    (two naked men in a pitch-black bedroom are both wearing glow-in-the-dark condoms, and discover they're both trying to have sex with the same woman. All we see are two erect phalluses moving around the room. At first, the two of them are throwing stuff at each other, then, they get interested and start swinging their [glow in the dark] dicks at each other)
    (scene change)
    Man in Bed Answering phone: Uh, Hello? Yeah? Oh really. Okay, I'll come down and bail you out. (hangs up)
    Wife: What happened?
    Man: Jack's been arrested.
    Wife: What's the charge?
    Man: Cockfighting.
  • This Means War (2012) is about two CIA agents and Fire-Forged Friends, Tuck and FDR, using all of the resources at their disposal trying win over Lauren, a woman they both happened to meet on the same night. The fact that there is a very dangerous international terrorist seeking revenge on them for the death of his brother is actually a distant secondary plotline in comparison for most of the movie.

  • Ai no Kusabi has the two Yanderes Iason and Guy fighting over the latter's former lover which Iason refuses to let go of.
  • Amelia Peabody finds watching her husband Emerson fight the 'Master Criminal' Sethos for her quite an 'interesting and stimulating sensation.
  • Apprentice Adept, in Out of Phaze, Mach's lover encourages a rival to challenge him to a Game, puts herself up as a prize for the winner, and then betrays Mach. This is an unusual case, as the woman is actually manipulating the Cock Fight herself, and it's ultimately a way for her to dump her current boyfriend (who she's gotten bored with) without looking fickle (though everyone who sees it knows what's going on, except Mach).

  • Colas Breugnon has the protagonist reminiscencing on his young love, which eventually drove him to fight his friend Pinon for her affections, to the death (but nobody died, though there was a lot of bleeding). Both competitors are even referred to as roosters.
  • Dollanganger Series book Petals on the Wind has an in-passing mention of this Played for Laughs. Cathy is a widowed single mom with a young son. Paul and Chris vie for her affections by acting like stepfathers to her son and buying him lots of stuffed animals.
    There were times when both Paul and Chris would rush home with the same toy. They'd look at each other, and both would force a smile to hide the embarrassment. Then I had to rush forward and exclaim, "Two men with the same idea." And one would have to be taken back… but never, never did I let either one know whose gift it was that I returned. […] Each day she saw Paul and Chris battling for my attention, each desiring me, each beginning to look at the other with enmity.
  • The Faerie Queene:
    • The brothers-in-arms, Blandamour and Paridell, are goaded by Ate into battling each other as soon as they see the beautiful Florimell.
    • Canacee's suitors routinely battled each other for her hand, despite the fact she rejected all of them repeatedly. It got so bad her brother's friend had to make an example of the three strongest "warlike wooers" by beating them. The lovers left her alone soon after.
  • Variation in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe: In the book, Ruth's husband fights with Ruth's lesbian lover, Imogen (Idgie), when Ruth says she wants to escape her abusive marriage to live with her.
  • Played with in Harry Potter with Lily Evans, James Potter and Severus Snape. What subverts it is that the resentment existed not just because of Lily; Snape hated James because of James' charmed life and popularity, and James hated Snape because he was a budding Death Eater. James couldn't understand why Lily would be friends with someone not only generally unpleasant, but who viewed people of her birth as inferior. Lily eventually cut all ties with Snape when he called her a Mudblood, and in their last talk made clear she could no longer justify or excuse him. Meanwhile, once James matured and became a bit more humble, she fell for him, even marrying him when they got out of school.
  • Journey to Chaos: Siron of Esrah and Culmus of Stratos fight each over Princess Kasile. They're so intense about it that they are not allowed to joust each other for fear of "accidents". In the aftermath of a Rescue Arc, she has to plead with them not to fight each other and even then there's a close call with Stab the Scorpion. When they make their Declaration of Protection to her, they glance sidelong at each other: "Your Highness is safe with me." This state of affairs is even more depressing for Kasile than the typical version; she confides in Eric, her surrogate big brother that she hoped they would become Bash Brothers.
  • In Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, a rivalry of this nature springs up between upper-class lawyer Eugene Wrayburn and schoolteacher Bradley Headstone, over Lizzie Hexam. Particularly in Headstone's case, it's debatable whether love for Lizzie or hatred for the other man is stronger.
  • In Protector of the Small, Kel breaks one up in her role as commander (/referee) of a refugee camp. She bangs the combatants' heads together twice to settle them down, makes them grateful to be sent to a healer instead of a flogging, and gives the woman involved a public lecture and a week of latrine duty for encouraging two much-needed fighters to beat each other up for her own vanity instead of declaring her choice as tradition dictates.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire
    • In her youth, Catelyn Tully was betrothed to Brandon Stark but was loved by a young Petyr Baelish. This rivalry over Catelyn eventually led Petyr to challenge Brandon to a duel for Catelyn, where he got utterly curb stomped. The resulting effect on Petyr's character causes no end of problems for the whole of Westeros.
    • Rhaegar kidnapped/eloped with Lyanna, who was betrothed to Robert. Robert was furious, and this sparked a war. When Rhaegar and Robert finally met at the end of said war, they had an epic battle that Rhaegar fatally lost. Unfortunately for pretty much everyone, Lyanna died anyway.

    Live Action TV 
  • That '70s Show: Hyde and Kelso once spent an episode fighting for Jackie's attention. When they get fed up with her jerking them around and tell her to choose, she says she can't. Then she chooses herself.
  • Amen: In one episode, Reuben and a doctor Thelma is dating engage in this. When the man introduces himself as "Dr, etc.", Reuben does so as well (like many ministers, he has a doctorate in divinity). They then chat about how both of their professions require them to make house calls:
    Doctor: Of course, in my case, they call me to save someone's life.
    Reuben: And when they call me, it's because you didn't.
  • The Angel episode "Soulless" had Wes and Gunn get into a physical fight because they were both in love with Fred.
  • Parodied in an episode of The Big Bang Theory; when the gang can't agree who gets to ask out Sheldon's sister Missy, they decide to fight over her "the right way -- the honourable way"... Wii Boxing. Leonard wins, triumphantly walks over to her door and asks her out... and she flatly turns him down. Leonard muses that that was an outcome they hadn't anticipated.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
  • Castle: Richard and Beckett's ex-boyfriend Will Sorensen. Halfway through the episode, Beckett flat-out suggests they just drop their pants and get it over with.
  • Late in Charmed (1998), a fellow half-witch half-whitelighter approaches Paige stating that their love is foretold by several fortune tellers. Only two problems: He's a condescending asshole she wouldn't be interested in anyway, and she already has a boyfriend. He only considers the latter to be an actual problem, and one he can solve via challenging said boyfriend (Henry) to a duel. Henry fights (only because he has no choice, his rival is literally assaulting him with a floating sword), but then also chews him out for assuming he belongs with Paige when he knows literally nothing about her. The duel is interrupted, and Paige settles matters by accepting Henry's marriage proposal.
  • Crashing (UK) has an interesting Gender Inverted example. Sam and Will are two masculine men, competing over a somewhat less masculine man, Fred. Will is Fred's boyfriend; Sam is Fred's best friend who has a crush on him. After the three spend a day together, with Sam and Will increasingly disliking each other all the while, the two go to the bathroom together and have an argument while pissing into side-by-side urinals. This pissing match leads to a shoving match. And then... the energy shifts. Because these are two men with homoerotic tendencies, the implications of them shirtless, covered in rainbow paint, laying hands on each other suddenly occurs to them. Sam and Will don't like each other — in fact, they can't stand each other — but they do seem vaguely horny for each other. They Almost Kiss, before pulling back and waking away without another word.
  • In Firefly in "War Stories", Mal and Zoe are officer and subordinate with zero romantic interest, but Wash gets jealous and starts trying to pick a fight anyway. Then Mal goads Wash into thinking he is interested in Zoe so that Wash won't break when they're being tortured. Later, Wash gets annoyed by Zoe and Mal mocking it.
    Mal: Your husband has demanded that we get it on.
    Zoe: (flatly) I understand. We have no choice. Take me, sir. Take me hard.
    (they gear up to kiss, very awkwardly)
    Wash (grabs Zoe before Mal can kiss her) We'll be in our bunk.
  • Friends:
    • " The One with The Football" sees Joey and Chandler competing for the attention of a Dutch girl who happens to be in the park while the gang are playing touch football. When their competition starts to get out of hand Ross decides to put an end to it by asking her who she'd rather go out with. She chooses Chandler...only to be put off by his gloating and decides she doesn't want either of them. Chandler is briefly disappointed but happily points out that "the Dutch girl picked me!"
    • In "The One With The Male Nanny", David and Mike have a mild fight over Phoebe which involves wrestling with their index fingers.
  • In Gilmore Girls: At a party where Lane's band is performing, Dean attacks Jess for making Rory cry and they get into a massive fight completely destroying the party in the process. However, at this point, Rory and Dean are broken up and both moved on with other people (Rory is now dating Jess and Dean is now dating Lindsay) so it wasn't Dean's business to get involved anyway.
    • Subverted in season 6, when Logan keeps throwing passive-aggressive insults at Jess, but he won't take the bait. Jess opts to verbally cut him off at the knees, instead, and it's glorious.
  • In the Here Come the Brides episode "A Man's Errand," Jeremy punches Ward, who he thinks was moving in on Candy. The two fight until they crash into Lottie's saloon, when Joshua and Jason separate them.
  • How I Met Your Mother: While Robin's dating Don, Barney decides he wants her back, leading Ted to the same revelation. They both get blindingly drunk and beat the crap out of each other, then try to drag Don into a three-way cock fight. He declines, because, unlike them, he's sober. And since she's with Don, they both lose. In the long run, Ted wins.
  • In Malcolm in the Middle, Hal and Lois each set their babysitter up with, respectively, Abe and Craig, and she tries to date them both simultaneously until it leads to this. The two guys being Nerds with Geek Physiques, though makes the fight end up as just a furious slap fight, and she chooses to dump both of them and "concentrate on her career" (despite having managed to lose the baby in all the excitement).
  • The Office (US): Andy and Dwight "duel" over Angela (That is, Andy pins Dwight to a hedge with his car while his back is turned). In a later episode, when characters are musing over bad past breakups;
    Angela: My worst breakup was actually two breakups. Two different men. I was in love with both of them and, when things went bad... they had a duel over me.
    Oscar: Yeah, Dwight and Andy, we were here.
    Angela: No. This was years ago when I was living in Ohio. John Mark and John David.
    Oscar: Angela... you had two sets of different men actually duel over you?
    Angela: I guess I have...
  • A verbal version on Port Charles when Ellen's current boyfriend Matt meets her ex Sebastian. Without ever raising their voices or saying anything particularly rude, the men try to one-up each other by "casually" discussing their accomplishments—Matt's a doctor who went to an Ivy League school, Sebastian's a lawyer who also went to an Ivy League college, the cars they drive, houses that they own, etc. The scene becomes unbearably tense even with neither man breaking their facade of politeness.
  • Saved by the Bell: Plenty of times and usually involving Zack:
    • The staple of the first season had him and Slater fighting over Kelly. By the beginning of season two, she ultimately chose Zack, but you knew this already.
    • A season four episode has Zack and Slater fighting again over a girl, only this time it's a new student named Joanna which culminates into an actual fistfight, something that never even happened in the first season. In the end, she refuses to date either of them since she was disgusted by both their immaturity and for ruining her experience at the school.
    • Yet another season four episode had a one-sided scenario. Zack and Lisa fall for each other, but a jealous Screech tries to sabotage a fashion show she held and fight him over her, which ends in him refusing to do so and Screech accepting their mutual attraction.
    • In the 2020 sequel series, Zack and Kelly's son Mack, and Jessie's son Jamie both become attracted to a girl named Pamela and begin to compete with one another once it's revealed to them that it's the same girl. After a fight, Slater, now Bayside's football coach, reminisce on his quarrels with Zack during high school, and convince the two to stop fighting once its revealed that the girl they fall for could be their future wife.
  • In Supergirl (2015), Mon-El challenges Mr. Mxyzptlk to a duel (cue Mxyzptlk transporting them to a theater stage dressed as Hamilton and Burr), using an artifact to rob the imp of his power, though Mxyzptlk still has enough Super-Strength to put up a good fight. Kara is not amused.
  • The Tenacious D series features this between Jack and Kyle, and it swiftly turns into a cartoonish kung-fu battle.
  • In The Vampire Diaries, Stefan and Damon over the affections of first Katherine and then Elena.
  • Voltes V: Legacy adds a love triangle as one of the changes to the original anime, which culminates into Steve and Mark getting into a fistfight because Steve told Jamie he liked her (while she was dating Mark). In contrast, her anime counterpart, Megumi Oka, was The Not-Love Interest.
  • On Wizards of Waverly Place, Mason is insanely jealous when beast tamer Chase Riprock starts flirting with Alex and refuses to believe Alex that there is nothing between her and Chase. Mason shows up late to Alex's award show to apologize for standing her up, but when he sees Chase sitting at the Russo table he immediately turns into a werewolf and attacks Chase causing a lot of damage to the banquet. Alex breaks up the fight and ends her relationship with Mason not wanting to be with either of them for their violent behavior.

  • "Cut Across Shorty" by Eddie Cochran has Dan and Shorty engage in a foot race to settle the question of who will win Miss Lucy's hand. Unfortunately for Dan, Miss Lucy decides to settle the question herself by telling Shorty that she wants him to win and instructing him to cut across before the race even begins. The rest of the way she goes about fixing the race presumably involves concealing from Dan that this is what happened.
  • "Ernie, the Fastest Milkman in the West" plays the trope perfectly straight, but Ernie's rival Ted gets a Jerkass Has a Point moment of Lampshade Hanging when he mocks the concept of competing with Suzie as a prize (see page quote).
  • Princess♂ by FAKE TYPE. is about the titular "princess" sparking a town-wide fight over them, simply For the Evulz.

    Musical Theatre 
  • Almost happens between Lord Tolloller and Lord Mountararat over Phyllis in Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe, but narrowly averted when Phyllis reminds them of what's important and what's not.

    Video Games 
  • Upon entering one area in Baldur's Gate II, you can find a pair of Upper Class Twits engaging in a cock fight over a girl. After one kills the other, the girl expresses boredom and walks off, much to the puzzlement of the "winner".
  • What makes two people who are friends and comrades in battle fall apart? Being mutual lovers of the same girl. This is the fate of Akihiko Sanada and Ken Amada in Persona 3 Portable. Granted it's only relevant in Tartarus and is optional but oh, those wars. (And Ken is surprisingly able to hold his own, despite being younger than the standard.)
  • Played for aww-ness in the backstory of Kingdom Hearts, Sora and Riku always compete for Kairi's affection (she supports the friendly rivalry, oblivious to the reason). But things don't go that smooth later... at first.
  • Played for Laughs and briefly at that during the romanced Garrus/female Shepard tango scene of the Citadel DLC of Mass Effect 3. You can potentially use a Renegade interrupt to make Shepard spin away from Garrus and slide intently up to Lt. James Vega, who is watching the scene take place. Vega makes an approving noise, before Garrus aggressively pulls Shepard back to him.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, at one point the protagonist gets thrown in jail and has to be rescued by two party members. When the pair need to distract a female guard, one option is to stir up a fight between two male guards who are both interested in her.
  • Taken one step further in one Game Mod for Friday Night Funkin', Friday Night Funkin' Minus, when three guys are fighting over a girl instead of two. Half of Minus's plot is that Beta, Blue, and Mean Boyfriend are friends who are in love with Girlfriend, and they are having a friendly competition for her her affection.
  • Radiant Arc:
    • In an unnamed village on the Yeion continent, Richard has to fight Jono, a corrupt paladin who thinks he's entitled to have Carrie.
    • After joining the Morians, Derek becomes a Yandere who wants to kill Linky and keep Lexie all to himself. Eventually, he kidnaps Lexie and takes her to the Chaos Tower, and duels Linky on the top floor.

    Visual Novels 
  • Arsenik and Night fight over Ambrosia in War: 13th Day. With the way the game's set up, you have to decide whether it's more in-character for her to cheer on Arsenik, protect Night, or do neither.

  • An ongoing character arc between Gilgamesh Wulfenbach and Tarvek Sturmvoraus in Girl Genius, both vying for the affections of Agatha Heterodyne and neither holding the other's integrity of character in particularly high regard.
    • Played with at least a couple of times where Agatha has shown herself to be willing and capable of stepping in and kicking both of their asses just to get them to behave for a while. Despite this, they do surprisingly little fighting over Agatha.
    • Furthermore, the character bit is justified by the revelation they were best friends as schoolboys. While they did get on each other's nerves back then, they were one another's first true friend and the circumstances that caused the fallout left emotional scars on them. When they are not fighting however, they get along very well and amicably.
    • In addition, Gil and Tarvek are competing heirs between their bloodlines for control over Europa (with Tarvek being the prime successor for the old royal throne, that of the Storm King, who sees Gil's family as usurpers. Not fully wrong, since the Wulfenbach family was a minor noble family before Gil's father, Emperor Scientist Klaus Wulfenbach conquered Europa singlehandedly to restore order after the disappearance of the Heterodyne Boys and return of the Other. Klaus defied and flaunted the rules of the nobility and thus the others, especially the Storm King descendants see this as an insult.
    • As of now, they've ceased most fighting (outside an occasional jab) to deal with bigger issues. Furthermore, they do still care a good bit about one another and hurting one is a good way to get the other to become quite hostile.
  • Amusingly subverted/lampshaded in Errant Story, as Jon interrupts a Cat Fight between his sister and Sarine.
    Sarine: Oh, hello, Jon. We were just having a little girl talk. Sweaty, violent, mostly one-sided girl talk with lots of sword fighting.
    Jon: ... Ah. Now see, guys don't have those kinds of talks. We just whip it out and see whose is longer.
  • In The Dreamer, Alan Warren and Alexander Hamilton often get into snippy fights around each other, often involving Beatrice as the subject.
  • Homestuck had a bizarre instance of this resulting from culture clash. In short: Karkat thinks Dave is dating Terezi, which Dave denies. Karkat also wants to date Terezi, and suggests an unnecessarily complicated form of polyamory as a solution. Dave is mortified that they're even having this conversation. Fisticuffs ensue when Karkat tries to draw a diagram of his plan, the boys spend several pages squabbling over a pen, Dave forces Karkat to draw several penises with said pen, and Karkat tells Dave to stop flirting with him.

    Western Animation 
  • This is the premise of nearly every Popeye cartoon ever made, ever.
  • In Tom and Jerry, Tom and Butch are often in competition over the affection of an attractive female cat.
  • Ulrich and William over Yumi in Code Lyoko. Actually came to blows in "A Bad Turn"... and that's just the beginning!
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, The Joker gets into a brief argument with the Creeper over ownership of Harley Quinn. Subverted in that it's more about "There Can Only Be One batshit-insane clown-based criminal in Gotham City", rather than who is Harley's man.
    • Also, Harley only loves the Joker, who's not interested as usual. And it was not until later that the Creeper becomes smitten with her. Though it is Played for Laughs since Creeper's advances to Harley are similar to hers toward the Joker.
  • Purposely invoked by a hyponotized Smurfette in The Smurfs (1981) episode "Romeo And Smurfette" when she fell under the influence of Gargamel's hypnotic flower, and she chose Hefty and Handy as her primary suitors, which led them and the whole village into a Ship-to-Ship Combat.
  • Played with in The Amazing World of Gumball when Tobias challenges Gumball to a duel for Penny's affections... while Gumball and Penny were trying to study. Gumball initially refuses and only accepts because Tobias would not stop bothering them otherwise (and by that I mean Tobias slapping Gumball in the face continously with a glove.) After it starts, Penny flat-out tells Tobias that she won't like him even if he wins and Gumball asks if he'd given any thought to what Penny would think, all of which Tobias is too delusional to pay any mind. Penny does become annoyed for Gumball still not having won (though when she interferes, she nearly really gets run over by a car, but Gumball saves her. Instead, the car mirror grazes Tobias, which finally has him leave.
  • In the Disney cartoon "Pluto's Heart Throb", Pluto and Butch vie for the affection of a female dachshund named Dinah.
  • This is the premise of the South Park episode Bebe's Boobs Destroy Society, with the entire 4th grade class becoming rivals with each other over Bebe, to the point where they degenerate into cavemen-like speech, and physically fight each other in a massive brawl. In the commentators track for the episode, Parker and Stone mention an incident they witnessed at a party where two drunk guys almost got into an altercation over a girl, but both of them were so drunk that the discourse was done entirely in grunts and shoving. Bebe initially is not sure why the hell it is happening though she actually spends time with the boys for a bit when the girls shun her for her newfound popularity.
  • In the Star vs. the Forces of Evil episode "Stump Day", Tom and Marco, who are usually good friends, get into one about Star and her surprise birthday party, especially since Tom's dating her again. Pony Head even lampshades the whole conflict:
    "Happy birthday, Star, it's the ultimate gift! Two boys are fighting over you."
  • Played with in Ninjago. While the Jay-Cole-Nya Love Triangle was a minor subplot in season three, the two don't outright compete for her affection. In season four, they're more hostile toward each other, but it's more that they're upset about Zane's death, and this grudge gives them an outlet for that anger. When the Tournament of Elements pits them against each other, they decide to use it as an opportunity to settle things. During their fight Cole realizes that their grudge is pointless and forfeits the battle, telling Jay "she was always yours."
  • In Daria, happens a couple times over Quinn, including once in her fantasy.
  • Total Drama World Tour: Duncan and Alejandro pretend to get into one over Courtney as part of their plan to ruin any cohesion Courtney and Heather have, or throw the other under the bus if that fails or backfires.

    Real Life 
  • It's often seen during the mating season, between most animals. And yes, that definitely includes humans, for whom every season is mating season.