A villain spends his whole first appearance insulting or belittling his opponents. After a humiliating defeat at the hands of The Hero he starts to become nicer to those who have won and now considers them to be a Worthy Opponent. Sometimes it may take repeated losses to cause this in the case of a particularly stubborn villain.
- In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Viral, who starts off as utterly contemptuous of our heroes, respects his opponents more and more with each consecutive defeat.
- In Romeo X Juliet Hermione stops hating Juliet after learning she truly loves Romeo
- Kagato in Tenchi Muyo! expresses admiration and respect for both the hero, Tenchi, and the goddess Tsunami, who granted him his power. See the page quote for Graceful Loser.
- You're Under Arrest!: Strike Man comes to regard Natsumi as his arch-nemesis, whom he dubs as "the infamous Homerun Girl," after she repeatedly knocks each of his pitches out of the park. Their alleged rivalry is one-sided, as Natsumi thinks he's a nutjob, and would rather not have to put up with him.
*watches in awe as Natsumi runs up a flight of stairs, while carrying her motocomp*Strike Man: (in admiration) "Great Day in the morning! I stand in silent awe of the explosiveness of your glutinous biceps! I'M GLEEFUL TO BE YOUR NEMESIS!!"
- It gets lampshaded in episode 25, "Run, Strike Man, Run!":
- Discussed in Soul Eater; when Maka begins her second battle against Chrona, she taunts Chrona's weapon Ragnarok by pointing out the way he's talking about her suggests this trope.
- Many of the major villains in Fist of the North Star, particularly Souther and Raoh. Ryuga is notable for not necessarily having anything against Kenshiro - his battle with him was more of a Secret Test of Character.
- Kyurem from Pokémon: Kyurem vs. The Sword of Justice defeats Keldeo even after Keldeo reached his Resolute Form, but he doesn't kick him while he's down. Instead, he lets him back up and commends him on his power.
- Maken-ki!: Reached mutually between Azuki and her rival, Yan-Min.
- When they first met, Yan-Min was dismissive of the Maken-ki, beliving them to be weak compared to herself and thought even less of Azuki for challening her. But near the end of their match in chapter 17, Yan-Min finally acknowledged Azuki as her equal, in terms of strength and her tenacity. So as a show of respect, she used her strongest technique to end the fight: "Reichen".
- Azuki won the match, but later admitted it was only because Yan-Min had held back. And said she wouldn't be satisfied until they had a proper rematch. Kai Kuragasa also experssed his admiration of Yan-Min's ability and formally addressed her as, "sempai."
- Variable Geo: In the final episode, Miranda gives Yuka an ultimatum: either surrender her body to her, or watch as she killed her best friend, Satomi, by making her bleed out from the inside. When Yuka asks Miranda why she suddenly wanted her body, Miranda openly acknowledges the fact that Yuka's fighting ability and overall power likely exceeded her own, during Miranda's prime. Making her body the ideal specimen for her designs.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Seto Kaiba thinks little of Yugi until the latter (or, rather, his Superpowered Evil Side) hands him his first Duel Monsters defeat. Since then, each one sees the other as a Worthy Opponent, with Kaiba considering Yugi the only one worthy of being his rival.
- Dio Brando in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure always viewed Johnathan Joestar as his hated archenemy since they were boys. But after his vampire form is defeated (long story) and he's left with only a head, he yells at his minion to NOT mock the one guy awesome enough to defeat DIO. Even though he intends to chop off Johnathan's head and attach his own to the new body, he wants the make his enemy's death as painless as possible. Sadly, this respect isn't enough to make him spare Joestar's descendants from his evil.
- In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Tohru earns the respect of the Dragon Busters after delivering a Curb-Stomp Battle to the entire gang (though this doesn't stop several of them from trying to bribe Kanna to find out her weaknesses).
- After Sonic beats Knuckles in a sanctioned prison brawl in Prison Island Break Knuckles respects Sonic enough to form an alliance with him in the interest of escaping prison. Saying it's a case of Defeat Means Friendship is stretching the term a bit.
- Fantasy of Utter Ridiculousness: While Suika Ibuki never becomes friends with Coop after her defeat, she becomes more willing to give him the benefit of a doubt once she's back to her old drunken self. During the Megas-Yuuka duel later on, she has this to say:
Suika: "If it's not the Deva, it's the Destructor. You sure know how to pick 'em, big guy!" (takes a drink, then salutes Coop from afar with her gourd) "Cheers!"
- In Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Girard is seeking out someone good enough to defeat him. He embraces Ricky Bobby at the end.
- In The Karate Kid (1984), this is the reason Mr. Miyagi agreed to Daniel fighting: not so Daniel could take revenge on the bullies, but so that he would put up enough of a fight to earn their respect. That Daniel ended up winning the tournament was an unexpected bonus.
- Journey to Chaos:
- A Mage's Power: Tej, a warrior from Kyraa, considered Tiza to be one more girl he could steal a kiss from (via prize from an official duel). After he losses to her, he has to admit that she's a warrior on his level. He still tries to steal a kiss, but that's because he's especially attracted to girl warriors on his level.
- Mana Mutation Menace: Initially, Tiza and Hailey thought poorly of each other; Tiza that Hailey was an Upper-Class Twit and Hailey that Tiza was Dumb Muscle. They came to blows when their enmity reached a boiling point and it ended with a Cross Counter. They didn't become friends (immediately) but they had to acknowledge the other's ability.
- In Mass Effect, the Reapers treat each cycle's resistance to being culled as futile (a speed bump at most), but by the end of Mass Effect 2 their leader Harbinger begins to acknowledge just how unexpectedly difficult humanity and Commander Shepard in particular is making this cycle. Leviathan notes that in the billion plus years of the Reapers' existence, no one has ever given them as much trouble as Shepard. There are multiple times in Mass Effect 3 where Reapers will turn their dreadnought-killing guns away from entire fleets to target Shepard alone.
- The Elder Scrolls
- Hircine, the Daedric Prince of the Hunt, has immense respect for those who survive his hunts, or better yet, turn the tables on the hunter.
- Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Domination and Corruption, possesses this trait. As the lord of Domination, Molag Bal relishes power and strength. Defeating his minions and lieutenants prompts him to commend the victor for their strength, but it also means you just earned the spot of the beings you defeated.
- In Oblivion, the Player Character's role in the Battle of Kvatch earns them respect from the Dremora, a race of lesser Daedra, who were besieging the town.
- This is a fairly regular trope in Grand Theft Auto games, particularly Vice City, where you set up a crew by proving you're better than each of your specialists in their specialty.
- In Sonic Adventure 2, Knuckles and Rouge ended their rivalry over finding the missing pieces of the Master Emerald when Rouge grudgingly surrenders the pieces to him after their arguing and also when Knuckles saved her from falling into the lava which lead to their Almost Kiss. From then on, the two are belligerent acquaintances at best.
- The Count goes through something like this in the Boktai series. The first time he faces you he remarks that you're nothing more than a meal to him, while the second time you face him he treats you as a genuine threat despite still hailing Ringo as his greatest adversary. By the third time, however, he finally acknowledges you as not only a powerful warrior but his new greatest adversary.
- In Devil May Cry 5, after losing to Nero in the final battle, Vergil finally heeds Nero's demands to stop the Qliphoth rather than continue trying to kill Dante. That said, this is Vergil, so strength would be the only thing that would make them listen.
- After three entire games of not remembering Luigi's name, Bowser finally vows to get revenge on Mario and Luigi after Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. It even carries over into the next game.
- In The Legend of Korra, the Big Bad of the final season, Kuvira, refers to Korra as obsolete. After Korra manages to defeat her and save her life twice during the Grand Finale, her stance towards her enemy changes drastically. Korra is able to talk to her about how they are Not So Different and convince her to surrender. Afterwards, Kuvira tells her forces to stand down, and she willingly gives herself up. She admits Korra is capable of a greater power than she ever could hope to achieve.
- In Transformers Animated, Megatron thinks so little of the Autobots that he never remembers their names. In the series finale, after suffering enough defeats, he declares if nothing else he'll destroy Optimus Prime. Optimus notes that that's the first time Megatron ever addressed him by name.