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Comically Lopsided Rivalry

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Maybe it's to illustrate one of our heroes' quick wit or smarts. Maybe it's to remind the viewer that the character isn't entirely a loser. Or perhaps the writers just love them.

Whatever the reason, many shows create a one-sided rivalry between two contrasting characters. Character A, usually part of the main cast, almost always wins. Character B may score some victories in the conflict, but by the time the credits roll, character A will have outdone B in such a way that there's no response to it. Sometimes, just to add salt to the wound, Character A may reveal they never even considered Character B to be a rival at all.

A particular kind of interaction between Sitcom Arch-Nemeses. Related to Curb-Stomp Battle, but usually much less violent. If the constant loser is a recurring villain, not another main character, then this overlaps with The Good Guys Always Win. Compare Mutually Unequal Relationship.

See A Taste of Defeat (for all cases) and Team Rocket Wins (for villainous cases) if the victorious character's winning streak is finally broken for once.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • Apple Macintosh's famous series of commercials featuring a hip, trendy "Mac" and an out-of-touch, dorky "PC" always ended with Mac having outdone PC, with PC usually none the wiser.

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Gladstone Gander almost always comes out ahead of Donald Duck thanks to his being literally Born Lucky. However Donald Duck has won occasionally such as one of Scrooge's earliest appearances, or when Gladstone managed to win an Undesirable Prize.
    • Speaking of Scrooge McDuck, he, for his part, always comes out ahead of his rival Flintheart Glomgold; even if neither of them get the prize they're competing for, it's usually made clear that Scrooge is better off because he has his family and his ethics.
  • Redhead Josie James from Archie Comics' Josie and the Pussycats was often the target of jealous rival Alexandra Cabot. Despite awesome wealth, including jet packs, and witchcraft powers, Alexandra rarely succeeded in humiliating Josie or in subverting her close relationship with Alan Mayberry. This dynamic extended to the Hanna-Barbera cartoon adaptation, where Alexandra plays the Token Evil Teammate among Josie's Five-Man Band.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Chloe's Lament: Chloe's "rivalry" with Marinette winds up this way after she Wishes to trade lives with her. Chloe mistakenly assumed that doing so would render her the heroine of the new reality and that she'd be universally adored while Marinette would be Hated by All, only to learn that it was her personality that isolated her from her classmates, not her family's wealth... and now that her father is no longer the mayor, her Karma Houdini Warranty is no longer valid.
  • In The Day Everything Changed, Sakura Takahashi hates Kagami Hiiragi due to the latter getting a 96 on a test... while Sakura got a 36. The rivalry stops being funny when Sakura uses steroids on herself and performs a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Kagami.
  • Faded Blue: Side Stories and Missing Scenes: Throughout Chapter 7, White Pearl antagonizes Greg because she mistakenly believes that he's interested in Rose Quartz and is bitterly jealous of her perceived rival. Greg endures this harassment until she hits his Berserk Button by implying that the Crystal Gems are the closest things he has to friends in his life, at which point he verbally rips her a new one.
  • This Fire Emblem: Three Houses fan comic has Ferdinand try to compete with Edelgard despite the fact that he ends up getting a 10 on a test. In canon, Ferdinand is forced to acknowledge that he's no match for Edelgard in his B support with Byleth and his A Support with Edelgard, but the gap between them isn't this vast.
  • Jasper in Gift of A Diamond seems to consider Rhodonite to be her rival and does not have much respect for him. Not only does Rhodonite not feel the same way, but Rhodonite actually convinced Yellow Diamond not to shatter her for complaining about having to work with him on a mission in the first place. Safe to say when Peridot breaks this news to Jasper, she doesn't take it well.
  • I Don't Want to Get Hurt, so I'll Become the Ultimate Defensive Hero: Kyouma Hououin leaps on the chance to declare herself as Kaede's rival, complete with a hammy introductory speech. Kaede responds by asking her who she is, never really taking her seriously. Judging from her interactions with Todoroki, this sort of behavior is pretty common for Kyouma.
  • one day at a time (Nyame): Rose develops a deep grudge against Jason after he curb-stomps her during their first encounter in Bludhaven. For his part, Jason barely acknowledges her as a threat. Whenever they fight, he either curb-stomps her again or has somebody else do it in his stead.
  • The Many Sons of Winter: Rickard Darkstark and Beric Seastark are both Admirals of the Northern navy, and are constantly attempting to show each other up in pointless contests, such as seeing which of them can build the largest and most extravagant ship.

    Films — Animation 
  • The classic rivalry between Karmic Trickster Bugs Bunny and hopeless Butt-Monkey Daffy Duck forms a key subplot of Looney Tunes: Back in Action. When Daffy remarks to Bugs, "All you have to do is munch on a carrot, and people love you," the rabbit has a Heel Realization that everything that comes to him naturally, Daffy has to struggle to attain. Thus, when the world needs a hero to save them from the Acme Chairman's Evil Plan, it's Duck Dodgers who saves the day in a Throw the Dog a Bone moment.
  • Megamind never won against his Arch-Enemy Metro Man in their many previous battles, which is why he's so surprised when his plan to vaporize Metro Man actually works. In reality, Metro Man faked his own death because he felt forced into the role of the hero and the Comically Lopsided Rivalry became a routine to him.
    Megamind: Our battles quickly got more elaborate. He would win some, I would almost win others.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Great Leslie and Professor Fate in The Great Race. Leslie is charming, upstanding, and unfailingly successful in his daredevil exploits. The nefarious Fate's attempts to do the same: less so. Professor Fate is frequently seen trying to sabotage Leslie before the race, but his schemes backfire on himself. During the race he occasionally manages to cause trouble for Leslie, but even then he's usually Hoist by His Own Petard.

    Literature 
  • In Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain, The Brain sees Emperor Mollusk as a Worthy Opponent in a mutual bid for galactic conquest. Mollusk thinks he's just a cliched cartoon villain meddling with scientific principles he doesn't understand and imagining a Friendly Enemy situation that doesn't actually exist.
    Mollusk: I don't get what we're doing here. What is this conversation about?
    The Brain: I'm taunting you.
    Mollusk: Why?
    The Brain: Because it's part of how this is done. You're at my mercy, so now I taunt you. I subject you to a game of verbal cat and mouse until you have no choice but to admit I am your superior. Or maybe I am slowly peeling away the layers of your psyche to expose a mental weakness, some crippling vulnerability that I can exploit.
    Mollusk: Or maybe you're wasting my time.
  • These were common in The Railway Series, with smart, hardworking engines such as Edward, Toby and Duck always having the last laugh on arrogant, reckless ones such as Henry, Gordon and James.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory cranks this up with Sheldon's rivalries, not so much in Sheldon always winning (he loses a couple of times) but in how the show bends over backwards to ensure he gets his way the rest of the time. The rest of the smart guys don't bother getting into arguments with him and usually decide to save themselves a headache by agreeing with him from the start.
  • Drake & Josh: this is the situation between the two titular step-brothers and their sister Megan. Every time she is involved with them (even if it's essentially a cameo and the story doesn't have anything to do with her), she wins in the end and mocks them.
  • In Ghosts (US), Isaac had a rivalry with Alexander Hamilton back when he was alive. The only thing is that Hamilton barely knew he existed.
  • In That Mitchell and Webb Look, Simon always wins against Julie in "Numberwang," despite the incomprehensibility of the game's rules.

    Music 
  • Eminem's beefs are notorious for being lopsided, with some hip-hop fans even refusing to consider him a great battle rhymer due to the fact that none of his opponents have come close to his ability or prominence. In fact, a lot of his most infamous beefs are with Teen Pop artists, Electronic Dance Music artists and other people who would never have come back at him on wax.
    • Benzino is a striking example. Benzino declared himself Eminem's Arch-Nemesis and released numerous Diss Tracks about him. While Eminem's blistering responses are some of the strongest work in his discography, they go way into overkill, publicising Benzino and dignifying him far more than he deserved. As the beef wore on, Eminem became exasperated with the amount of time he was spending writing about such a boring rapper, and later tracks in the beef are increasingly irritated pleas for Benzino to get a life.
    • After Eminem dissed Mariah Carey in 2009, Nick Cannon's decade of attempts to get Eminem to respond to one of his diss tracks resulted only in Eminem dissing him in sublims (usually along the lines of 'come back when you can rap in time') and, once, sending him a couple of insulting tweets in response to Nick trying to smear him as being gay. Eminem eventually mentioned Nick on a track again in "Lord Above", jeering at him for not heeding his warning about Mariah being insane.
    • Eminem's "Killshot", a Diss Track aimed at Machine Gun Kelly, takes the position that Kells is so Beneath Notice that getting dissed by Eminem will be the highlight of his career.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The T-bone suplex seems designed for them. Take Shelton Benjamin's "feud" with Maven. Shelton immediately hits the move and pins Maven, rinse and repeat.
  • Chris Benoit's "feud" with Orlando Jordan consisted of Jordan tapping out to the crippler crossface in increasingly short intervals of time.

    Web Comics 
  • One-Punch Man: Speed-of-Sound Sonic is a deadly, trained ninja with a very fitting name, first introduced effortlessly decapitating men in high-tech powersuits. Unfortunately for Sonic, his self-proclaimed rival is Saitama, the strongest being in existence. Sonic can simply never so much as scratch him. His special skill - the super speed - while incredible to most people, still makes him look like he is in slow motion to Saitama, and more often that not he's defeated by a completely unintentional Groin Attack.
  • Inverted on Terror Island with Sid and Stephen; neither of them ever manages to successfully trick the other.

    Web Videos 
  • UrinatingTree's "Legacy of Failure" video on the Washington Capitals sets up their playoff meetings with the Pittsburgh Penguins as this, with the Penguins being the ones to knock the Capitals out of the playoffs over and over again - in ten total playoff meetings, the Capitals have defeated the Penguins once.note 

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog copies Looney Tunes directly in many regards, with Sonic constantly running rings around Dr Robotnik and his cronies in a slapstick fashion.
  • Classic Disney Shorts: Chip 'n Dale always outsmart Donald Duck and Pluto (odd shorts ended on a happier note for the latter two, but even then the chipmunks never "lost").
  • Dexter's Laboratory is an unusual case: though Dexter is the lead character and a genius, he usually loses to his comic rival. Most episodes end with Dexter getting hoisted by his own petard or having an overly dramatic reaction to his situation, and his older dumber sister Dee Dee walking away smiling. There's even an episode dedicated to the parallels between this show and Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner. Dexter does tend to win against his dramatic rival Mandark however, and may even beat Mandark and lose to Dee Dee at the same time.
  • The Dreamstone, which based itself heavily on such slapstick rivalries, always bent things in the Noops' favor, with the Urpneys constantly at the brunt of heavy slapstick. Odd episodes ended on a less downbeat note for the Urpneys, or the Noops suffering some minor unpleasantries, but even then the Urpneys were the losers of the feud.
  • Played With in Family Guy. Peter always wins in his scrapes against Ernie the Giant Chicken, no matter how bloodied and disheveled he himself may end up in the process.
  • Herman and Katnip has a fully one-sided rivalry where Herman always wins.
  • I Am Weasel: Early episodes had this dynamic with Weasel as The Ace with Baboon as the hopeless rival attempting to one-up Weasel in many of Weasel's activities, only to become the Butt-Monkey instead (no pun intended). Later episodes would lean away from this, giving Weasel some dents in his talents and even sharing moments of being the Butt-Monkey with Baboon.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Bugs Bunny is almost undefeated, save for a couple of losses to Elmer Fudd and Cecil Turtle.
    • Tweety Pie and Speedy Gonzales won even more consistently, especially against Sylvester. Similar to Bugs however, Speedy suffered the rare occasional loss.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Itchy and Scratchy parody one-sided rivalry where Scratchy the cat isn't even aware of their rivalry, and does his own thing, while Itchy the Villain Protagonist mouse conspires to kill Scratchy for no reason at all. Scratchy wins once, but Krusty is quick to comment that "they'll never let us air that again!"
    • In The Simpsons itself, Bart and Lisa started off this way in the Tracey Ullman shorts, with Lisa always outsmarting Bart in banter and contests. This formula was continued for a while in the early episodes of the show itself, however Lisa's new found pompousness and neuroses soon led her to suffer her own moments as the Butt-Monkey.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has Mr. Krabs vs. Plankton; Mr. Krabs almost always wins their fights, and even when he loses, Plankton usually doesn't exactly win either.
  • Thomas & Friends usually follows the lead of its books, but deconstructions are far more common, especially as some characters started to have an overhaul in personality.
  • Tom and Jerry has this with the rivalry between Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse. Somewhat Downplayed as, while Jerry usually wins, Tom gets the last laugh a few times.
    • A rare dramatic example appears in the short "Blue Cat Blues", in which Tom does abolutely everything, up to and including selling himself to slavery, to try obtain stuff to please his girlfriend, only to find out that the rich cat he's competing against topped him a billion-fold. Tom hits a serious depression as a result and even decides to kill himself once he sees they married, and the cartoon ends with him (and Jerry, who suffered a similar fate) sitting on some railroad tracks, waiting for a train to run them over.
  • Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner: A series of shorts where the coyote schemes and uses increasingly over the top gadgets (either of his own creation or mail to order) to repeatedly fail to catch the super speedy Road Runner. One of the few, if only, times he catches the Road Runner is when Wile. E. Coyote is shrunk to an inch tall at that. Once he realizes the size difference, he looks at the fourth wall and indignantly holds up signs reading, "Okay, wise guys - You always wanted me to catch him - Now what do I do?"

 
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Battle for the Arcade

When the 'Expensive AF' players book the arcade for a private party just to spite Borussia Dortmund, the boys in yellow and black play for the right to remain there... and find themselves woefully outmatched.

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