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Friendly Rivalry

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"The Scarlets aren't our enemies, you understand. More like rivals. Friendly rivals."
Ludlow, Green

Not all rivalries are bitter. Some are competitive, with both parties being driven by a healthy desire to one-up each other and, regardless of the outcome, they'll continue to push themselves in anticipation of their next eventual showdown. As such, they develop a mutual respect for each other's talents, even in defeat. If taken to extremes, their rivalry can border on exclusivity.

It's a staple of Fighting Games and martial arts media, usually involving the protagonist. Their rival can be anyone from the deuteragonist, or their Best Friend, or even a former enemy. Woe be to any enemy who stands against either of them, because then the unfortunate adversary will have both friends to deal with and much ass will be kicked that day.

Other rivalries may revolve around sports, performance arts, business, or... anything, really. Some can even be portrayed comically, with both parties competing over something mundane, or pointless.


Compare and often overlaps with Worthy Opponent, Spirited Competitor, and Mirror Character. Related to The Only One Allowed to Defeat You. Contrasts with The Rival, who serves more as a foil and is usually antagonistic. Can overlap with Vitriolic Best Buds if there is some teasing involved in the rivalry, or Bully Turned Buddy, if one of the rivals was an outright bully before turning friendlier. See also Opponent Instruction.



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    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Kate Kane is implied to have had a boxing-related one with her girlfriend and roommate, Sophie Moore, when the two were West Point cadets. Kate is hinted to have beaten Sophie in an official boxing match at the Academy, and Sophie later wins a private, illegal bare-knuckle bout against Kate.
    • Superman:
      • Superman and Batman went through a lengthy phase of this in roughly the middle third of their friendship. These days, it's down to the occasional joke between them — but the rivalry seems to have been handed down to Superboy and the third Robin.
      • Lois and Clark also show a bit of rivalry as reporters at the Daily Planet. Lois is the type of person who openly welcomes a bit of healthy competition and sees it as a challenge, and the two often try to outscoop one another. They are also Happily Married.
      • Superman traditionally has this kind of relationship with Vartox and Captain Marvel. They're friends, but just by virtue of being some of the only guys around who can actually give each other a good fight (and because of the ever-present Conflict Ball), they seem to end up punching each other around a lot anyway.
      • While the friendly rivalry between Conner and Tim evolved into full-on friendship, Jon and Damian have a very conventional friendly rivalry, being Vitriolic Best Buds (although Damian's stunted social skills meant that it took a while for him to warm up to Jon).
      • In speed, Superman and The Flash have a back-and-forth rivalry over who's the fastest. The ebb and flow of the rivalry will always vary. Sometimes Flash will leave Superman in the dust while telling him that any past race Superman won was just for charity. Sometimes, they'll be evenly matched or be close enough that one isn't really massively faster than the other. Or sometimes Superman will really exert himself to be able to catch or surpass Flash. Depending on the Writer, you might also have scenes where the Flash will express frustration that he feels Superman was deliberately holding back in all their races. However, the two of them are still portrayed as friends despite their back-and-forth over the years.
    • Wonder Woman:
      • Wonder Woman (1942): Starting in Issue #1, it's established that Diana and Mala are best pals on Paradise Island and train together, but have different viewpoints on rules and are fiercely competitive with each other in athletic abilities (which on Paradise Island mostly means martial arts and running).
      • Wonder Woman (1987): Diana and Artemis' relationship starts out as antagonistic due to them being from different Amazon tribes and worsens when Artemis replaces Diana as Wonder Woman during The Contest. After numerous battles together and having saved each other's lives, the two become friends though they still occasionally disagree for one reason or another.
  • Andy and Cooper from The Internship started out as best friends and later became frenemies who both competed to become better than the other. This rivalry was a cover-up for deeper feelings they have been harboring for each other.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The Hulk and Thor are depicted as this nowadays. They fight alongside each other but both of them think they're the strongest — which causes their rivalry. Although their relationship was originally depicted as Headbutting Heroes, their relationship has grown over the years and both are on friendlier terms now.
      • Thor and Hercules are an even better example. Though they have fought on occasion, and there's still a little rivalry, ultimately, they understand and can talk to each other in ways they really can't with the other Avengers.
  • This is how Spider-Man and The Human Torch's dynamic was for years. They became less competitive with each other as they grew older, but there's still an element of ragging on each other/trying to outdo each other there, only now mixed with actual respect — to the extent that Johnny left instructions for Peter to replace him on the team in the event of his death.

    Fan Works 
  • Scarecrow and Elderane have this in the Avantasia Protag AU series. They tease each other and try to one up each other over silly things, but are friends who won't hesitate to rescue the other if danger appears or work together when the situation calls for it.
  • Advice and Trust has a romantic variant. After they get together, Asuka finds the idea of Shinji catching up with her Synch test scores to be a genuine thrill as it constantly pushes her to improve. Shinji has similar feelings about it, though not to the same extreme due to lacking Asuka's lust for battle.
  • Due to his more serious mindset in Challenger, Ash develops a fairly friendly rivalry with Paul. They still trash talk each other and battle any chance they get, but it's also clear they respect each other as well.
  • In Jessica, Cameron and his friend, "P," play Pokémon Black and White simultaneously to see who finishes first. Cameron leaves P in the dust.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines and its sidestories, this is shown with several characters. The most prominent in the main story is Ash with A.J., who develop a degree of respect for one another after Ash breaks A.J.'s winning streak. Since then, A.J. always awaits eagerly their next encounter, and a sidestory reveals that he considers Ash a friend.
  • The relationship between Varric and Dorian in Skyhold Academy Yearbook might be best described this way. They snark at and denigrate each other periodically, and play ridiculous over-the-top pranks on one another — but they also look out for, help, confide in, and respect each other a great deal. Eventually, they jokingly refer to one another as "the brother I never wanted."
  • Contrasting with their canon counterparts, Naruto and Sasuke are closer to this in Son of the Sannin. While they remain highly competitive with each other, the two respect each other's skills much more and their canon animosity is virtually non-existent. It also helps that Sasuke has Itachi to help curb down his ego, so when Naruto finally catches up to him and defeats him in the Chunin Exams, he's able to cope better with it.
  • Cadets Kate Kane and Sophie Moore are girlfriends in Well-Matched, but have zero problem beating the tar out of each other in a championship boxing match. They're good sports about it afterward, and still just as much in love. Cadet Scrap, which Well-Matched is a prequel to, has a similar premise, with the same characters duking it out in a private Lighthearted Rematch and remaining on good terms.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Book of Life, Manolo and Joaquin remain close friends despite their feelings for Maria.
  • The end of Dragon Ball Super: Broly hints at the beginning of a friendly rivalry between Goku and Broly after formally befriending each other.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Bazil Broketail:
    • Despite befriending Relkin in the end, Swane still occasionally acts this way towards him, invariably eager to prove that he is no worse as a man and a soldier.
    • Burthong towards Bazil. They duel in the tournament and Bazil ends up only barely winning the fight, to Burthong's disappointment. Afterwards though, they both compliment each other's skills and part on good terms. When they meet again later, they recall their previous battle and it seems both are looking forward for a rematch.
  • In David Weber's The Honor of the Queen, relations between chancellor Prestvick and Protector Benjamin Mayhew were described as this concerning interpretation of monarchical power limits.
  • Lissa Dragomir and Ariana Szelsky acted friendly while competing for the throne in Last Sacrifice.
  • In the backstory of the X-Wing Series, Corellian Security Force agent Hal Horn and smuggler Booster Terrik weren't friends, but had a mutual respect for one another even after Hal finally caught Booster and put him away on Kessel for five years. Hal's son Corran, the protagonist of the first four books, speculates that had his father known that Booster had helped catch the pirates who murdered Wedge Antilles' family, Booster might not have done the time. Of course, Corran manages to piss off Booster his own way after falling in love with and eventually marrying his daughter Mirax.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Most Game Show contestants. Unless they are the kind of person who takes games way to seriously they probably don't have any real malice towards the other team.
  • Zach and Hodgins on Bones were like this. They both wanted to be honorary "King of the lab".
  • Early in CSI, Nick and Warrick competed over who would solve 100 cases and make CSI 2 first.
  • Game of Thrones: Jorah Mormont with Barristan Selmy. They both have much in common and are quite similar in terms of character, but each has his issues with the other. And while always friendly or at least polite with one another, they're both quite frank in expressing their reservations about the other.
  • The Great British Bake Off: The contestants almost never show any antagonism towards each other, being incredibly friendly and helpful.
    • Contestants who finish their bakes early will frequently pitch in and help those who are struggling to complete their own bakes within the time limit, as when Richard and Chetna of Series 5 stepped in to help colleague Martha recover from a mishap during the Pastry Showstopper. In Series 7, Jane, Kate, and Tom stepped in to calm Candice down and help make her chocolate loaf look presentable as she was becoming increasingly upset and panicking.
    • In one incident in Series 1, David's oven shorted out and Ruth offered to share her own (which would have hurt her own cooking due to having to open the oven door more than necessary), though it didn't ultimately prove necessary to do so.
    • Sarah-Jane and Cathryn in Series 3 became close enough that they actually went into business together after the series ended.
    • Jane and Candice in Series 7 had something of a rivalry between them, most notably when they both decided to make lime and coconut meringue pies for their signature bakes. Despite this they remain good friends and constantly cheer each other on. The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue even revealed that they were going on a baking road trip together.
    • Steven and Sophie in Series 8 quickly identified each other as major rivals and nearly as quickly became friends.
  • Inspector Gideon Pryke in the Jonathan Creek episodes "Black Canary" and "The Case of the Savant's Thumb". While his style is very different from Jonathan's, he's always happy to have someone else intelligent look at the case, and he and Jonathan are usually neck-and-neck in the deductions ... until Jonathan gets the "Eureka!" Moment and Pryke misses it.
  • Making It, much like The Great British Bake Off, is all about the mutual celebration of the contestants' favorite activity. Everyone is supportive of one another and even critiques from the judges are extremely mild. Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman lampshade this friendliness and occasionally jokingly try and drum up some drama.
  • MasterChef Australia distinguishes itself from the other countries' versions of MasterChef (especially the U.S. version) by its almost complete lack of antagonism between the contestants. Bench-mates have no problem sharing ingredients with each other, engage in friendly banter and offer words of encouragement to each other even as they try to cook the better dish.
  • Jason Lee Scott and Tommy Oliver, the Red Ranger and Green Ranger of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. The rivalry part was mostly present during Tommy's time as Rita's brainwashed minion and a later episode where they were competing in a martial arts tournament. In Power Rangers Zero, where their roles are reversed (Tommy is now The Leader, as he had been in MMPR after Jason's departure, whereas Jason returned as the second Gold Ranger), Jason even admits that he was fine giving up the leadership role because he knew the team would in good hands with Tommy.
  • The contestants of My Kitchen Rules tend to get along quite well with each other, particularly during the Instant Restaurant rounds, which is usually more like a group of friends having dinner together. Most even root for the teams whose turn it is to cook, and hope they do their best, even though they are still competitors.
  • Moze and Suzie from Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, once they stop being bitter enemies. They're friends, but still fiercely competitive. Best exemplified during the episode where they attempt to join a school club together but turn everything into an intense contest.
    Moze: I don't think we're supposed to turn everything into a death match.
    Suzie: Yeah, I know. We've been kicked out of every club.
    Moze: I'm having fun!
    Suzie: Me too!

  • Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC were the two biggest Boy Bands of the late 1990s and early 2000s with a vicious Fandom Rivalry, but the two groups themselves are close friends and get along quite well. JC Chasez even produced a song for Backstreet Boys' album Unbreakable and has written solo material for AJ McLean. In 2021, members of Backstreet Boys and NSYNC combined for the quartet Back-Sync.
  • The Beatles and The Rolling Stones had this kind of relationship. The Beatles helped the Stones early on get a record deal, and then threw them a Lennon/McCartney song ("I Wanna Be Your Man"), when the Stones needed a hit. It got to the point in the late '60s that if one band had a single that still doing well in the charts, the other would hold off the release of their next single a couple of weeks, so it wouldn't interfere with the sales of the other band's release.
  • Hüsker Dü and The Replacements largely due to being from the Twin Cities and making same genre of music. Probably The Minutemen can be added into this as they had a friendly, teasing relationship with both bands, which makes the Friendly Rivalry three cornered.
  • Harry Chapin and Jim Croce were firm friends, but not beyond teasing each other about similarities in each others style and occasionally putting each others songs up against each other on release. Apparently Harry broke down and cried when Jim died and said "The best part of me has gone" and slipped into a mercifully short depression.
  • Fryderyk Chopin and Franz Liszt apparently were both friends and rivals, as shown by this strip by Kate Beaton.

  • The Brewing Network: The Sour Hour has one with The Session, though it's pretty much one-way. Jay Goodwin encourages people to leave iTunes reviews that say his show is better than The Session, and he reads reviews he likes on air. On The Session, they're barely aware of this.

  • In Association Football, the rivalry between Japan and Australia has been made up of constant ribbing and fierce games, with both teams tied for wins as of writing. Japan was a prominent supporter of Australia's move to the EAFF Cup, and players happily perform in each other's leagues.
  • Men's singles figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu, despite being The Dreaded of his field, is known for being nothing but nice and friendly to his rivals. When he moved to the Toronto Cricket Club to skate, he fully expected to have an acrimonious relationship with Javier Fernandez (whose quadruple jumps partially fueled Hanyu's decision to move) in the style of the fierce rivalry between Evgeni Plushenko (who Hanyu idolizes) and Alexei Yagudin. His expectations were unfounded — Hanyu and Fernandez got along so well they got awards from their home countries for it, and a quick YouTube search will turn up clips of them being sweet and affectionate friends. In interviews, Fernandez has stated that their friendship and rivalry pushes both of them to constantly improve. The first person Fernandez told about his decision to retire was Hanyu, at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics — their last competition together. Hanyu burst into Manly Tears and told Fernandez, "I can't do this without you." Unfortunately, after the 2022 Beijing Olympics, Fernandez made some remarks on Spanish media that indicates he thinks Hanyu was lying about there being a hole on the ice (which Hanyu's skate got caught on, and of which there were media pictures) and making excuses. Fans unearthed evidence of Fernandez trash-talking Hanyu in Spanish-language sources and being nothing but complimentary in English-language sources.
  • Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, two of the world's top-ranked professional golfers, became good friends after they both participated in several junior golf events together while they were kids. They still hang out together when not competing against other in PGA Tour events and even take vacations with their fellow pro golf rivals Rickie Fowler and Smylie Kaufman.
  • Gymnasts Simone Biles of the USA and Larisa Iordache of Romania consistently go head-to-head in major all-around competitions, with the 2014 World title coming down to half a point between them (Iordache took silver to Biles' gold). This doesn't stop them from maintaining a strong year-round friendship, including constantly tweeting each other affectionately and congratulating each other after a great set in competition.
  • Happens a lot in hockey, at least among individual players (friendly rivalries between teams are almost non-existent). One of the more famous ones was the rivalry between Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, arguably the two best players to ever play the game, period. Though the arguments between fans about which player was better can sometimes result in Serious Business, Gretzky and Lemieux always admired each other on and off the ice, to the point where Lemieux suggested playing in the 1987 Canada Cup with Gretzky taught him how to become a winner, eventually resulting in him and his Pittsburgh Penguins winning The Stanley Cup in 1991 and 1992. The fact that Gretzky and Lemieux only played in the same Conference for one season (1996-97, Lemieux's last season before coming out of retirement in 2000-01, and Gretzky's first of 3 seasons with the New York Rangers before his own retirement in 1999) and never playing a playoff series against each other (and rarely more than 2 games per regular season) probably helped.
  • British middle-distance runners Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett had a notable rivalry, breaking each other's world records on a regular basis. While the press often tried to present their rivalry as a bitter one, it was actually very amicable. In retirement, they are now close friends.
  • MMA fighters Nina Ansaroff and Amanda Nunes, who are engaged, have stated they intend to fight each other before either of them retires.note 
  • Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jeff Gordon is perceived to be a heated rivalry within NASCAR, but overall, it was rather friendly. Although Earnhardt didn't like the outsider coming into his domain, both drivers respected the other's accomplishments and the ribbing was good-natured.
  • In the NBA, LeBron James, most identified with the Cleveland Cavaliers but now with the LA Lakers, and Dwyane Wade, who spent most of his NBA career with the Miami Heat, are best friends off the court. Rather infamously, the two, along with Chris Bosh, decided to make an alliance when they became free agents and all joined together on the Heat for four years.
  • For all the talk of who really is the greatest quarterback of all time (with both in contention, to say the least) and the hyped-up rivalry talk across the NFL (with plenty of Fan Dumb), Peyton Manning and Tom Brady speak highly respectfully of each other and seem to genuinely enjoy playing against one another. Maybe helped by the facts that the two are actually never on the field at the same time (both playing on offense) and football is a sport where a harsh tackle can quickly make you eat your words.
  • Tennis:
    • In the current tennis world, the most famous and friendliest rivalry is between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. A very friendly rivalry.
    • In earlier decades, among the most famous examples in that sport were John McEnroe and Björn Borg, and Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

    Video Games 
  • Jack and the Blacker Baron in Anarchy Reigns are in constant competition with each other, and neither can resist chances to land verbal (and sometimes physical) jabs at the other's expense... but when actually pushed, the two will immediately band together to crush anything that threatens either.
  • Art of Fighting (and related SNK titles):
  • Advanced V.G. features several among its main cast:
    • Yuka and her best friend, Satomi, were both taught by Yuka's grandfather and grew up together as sparring partners at his dojo. So they've been competing with each other since childhood, though their rivalry is downplayed, as they have little interaction in either game's story mode.
    • It's played straight between Yuka and Tamao, who looks up to Yuka as her role model and affectionately refers to her as, "sempai."
    • Jun also competes with Yuka, but her main rivalry is with Erina Goldsmith, with whom she's become close friends. They've competed directly in almost every game and often appear in each other's endings.
  • At the end of Devil May Cry 5, Dante and Vergil settle into this relationship. They work together to keep the demons at bay in the underworld while still taking every opportunity to show each other up or spar with each other.
  • At their best, this is what a rivalry represents in Dragon Age II. While Hawke and the other character may have differing viewpoints, they respect the fact and still value each other as friends, or even more. The other part of it is that Hawke think the other person can do better. So rather than the friend-path "I'm with you all the way," it's more "Come on, you can do better than that!"
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: The two most famous wineries in Skingrad are competitors but won't say a word against each other; Davide Surilie even admits that Tamika's wines are even better than the Surilie Brothers' — albeit less affordable.
  • In Setzer's backstory in Final Fantasy VI, he and Darill were good friends who loved competition with one another. Sadly, she died in a crash long before the story began, setting up Setzer's drinking and gambling issues.
  • Fire Emblem:
  • You can be this to Alex in Growing Up, and if so, she'll also see her neighbor Shane as her friendly rival, even if she gets jealous when he beats her high score in Space Sheep. She even doesn't hold ill will against him when he gets injured in her dare in high school, but blames herself for it because she had to cut classes to visit him in the hospital. If you date her, she'll play Space Sheep with you in Shane's honor and even give you the choice to put his name in the scoreboard. He even becomes their wedding officiator in her good ending if you marry her.
  • Though it started off on a bitter note, Sol and Ky's rivalry in Guilty Gear eventually becomes more brotherly. By the time of Overturenote , they're practically a combination of this and Vitriolic Best Buds. Ky even entrusts the safekeeping of his son to Sol, something that would've been unthinkable earlier on in the series. Slayer also has a friendly rivalry with President Gabriel.
  • A friendly rivalry between the protagonist and Jamie in Harvest Moon: Magical Melody is possible. Since Jamie is always the opposite sex, the option of marrying him/her is always an option. Doing so lands you a rare Non Standard Game Over good ending.
  • Sora and Riku start off like this in Kingdom Hearts. The two would actually keep score of how many wins they had in their competition. But then Riku's jealousy of Sora and his own ambition for strength serves at the catalyst of him falling to the Dark Side. After his Heel–Face Turn, the rivalry in general started to die down and the two became Bash Brothers instead.
  • In the Kirby series, this is what King Dedede's relationship with the titular pink puffball has settled down to in the modern era. While he still proclaims they're "destined rivals" (as per his figurine in Forgotten Land states), and he certainly won't hesitate to take a chance to one-up the pink puffball, at the end of the day he's one of Kirby's most stalwart companions and equally won't hesitate to have his back at the face of any massive crises they may go through. In Kirby and the Forgotten Land, a Waddle Dee even states that the king was "crestfallen" when he failed to find Kirby in the new world.
  • League of Legends: Jayce and Viktor, two young, brilliant inventive minds from the technologically-forward city-states of Piltover and Zaun, respectively, worked closely together on many of their inventing projects, and challenged each other to greater and greater achievements. Things went sour once Jayce, disagreeing with Viktor's growing unconcern with human free will, reported him to the authorities and had him ostracized from the inventing community. Viktor struck back by stealing the power source Jayce was experimenting with to fuel his human-turned-machine goal he called the "Glorious Evolution," while Jayce, wielding his newest and greatest invention, the Mercury Hammer, broke into Viktor's lab and destroyed the power source. At this point, they're just plain rivals, and Jayce, hailed as a hero by Piltover's general population, awaits another confrontation with Viktor.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Smith and King Daltus had one when they were young men, having fought a sword duel during a past Picori Festival that ended in a draw. This is probably the reason why Smith's grandson Link and Daltus' daughter Zelda grew up as Childhood Friends.
  • Masato and Kengo in Little Busters! Though they're both part of the group of True Companions that are the eponymous Little Busters and often show that they care about each other, both are very competitive, to the point where Kyousuke is able to convince Masato to take his side in the baseball game in Rin's route by appealing to his need to prove himself over Kengo. Sasami and Rin also stumble into one of these, though both the rivalry and the friendship are mostly on Sasami's side.
  • Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games:
    • This is apparently the relationship that Tails and Yoshi have in the Mario & Sonic series. This can also be seen with the main duo Mario and Sonic themselves.
    • And Peach and Amy; Daisy and Blaze; most of the rivalries in the games... However, it's averted with Luigi and Shadow, who spend most of the time on-screen glaring at each other.
  • Mortal Kombat: Liu Kang and Kung Lao's relationship originally didn't start out as this, with them being straightforward friends. However, Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks reimagined Kung Lao as being jealous of Liu Kang being The Chosen One which added some antagonism to their relationship. Since then, Liu Kang and Kung Lao have been depicted as being close friends who still compete with each other.
  • Pokémon: The rivals from Gen III onward are very friendly to the protagonist, either being neighbors that want you as the new kid to feel welcome (Brendan/May and Wally in Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald, Calem/Serena — alongside your overall friend group — in X and Y, and Hau in Sun and Moon) or close childhood friends (Barry in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, Cheren and Bianca in Black and White, Hugh in Black 2 and White 2, Hop in Sword and Shield, and Trace from Let's Go, Pikachu! and Eevee!). This is in stark contrast with the first two rivals, Blue/Green and Silver, who would regularly insult and belittle the player.
  • Senran Kagura games are about four schools (well, three schools and one band of runaway ninja) competing to out-ninja the others, so there is a lot of this trope going around.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In contrast to his much more bitter relationship with the likes of Shadow or Jet, Knuckles eventually ends up having this relationship with Sonic over time. Their usual spats lack any real malice and are treated more like playful teasing.
    • Sonic tries to invoke this on Shadow in the hero path story of Shadow the Hedgehog, but Shadow is rather annoyed about it. However, he reciprocates in the Pure Hero — Dark ending, where he decides that he is the most powerful hedgehog in the world.
  • In Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, Danette is Revya's childhood friend/rival. In her ending (male), it is heavily implied that they will become intimate.
  • In the Star Fox series, Fox and Falco are this to one another. Despite being teammates, the two have a tendency to snark at one another's skills and try to show each other up given the opportunity.
  • Street Fighter:
    • Ryu and Ken are one of gaming's earliest and longstanding examples. They've been training together since childhood and have remained competitive with each other throughout the series. Ken's story in Street Fighter Alpha 2 concluded with them having a friendly match, when he saw Ryu was still shaken by his duel with Sagat (in SFI) and the ramifications of his victory. Ken is also one of Ryu's Rival Battles in SSFIV. In games that have special intros, you'll often see Ryu and Ken either tapping fists or doing something else that shows they're not in it to kill each other (like Ken playfully putting Ryu in a headlock before he gets tossed to his own side of the screen).
    • In the earlier parts of the series, Sagat was an enemy of Ryu and hellbent on getting revenge for being scarred by his Shoryuken, which served as a permanent reminder of his defeat at Ryu's hands. This was retconned years later, to make it so Sagat had actually been the winner of the match. Ryu still scarred him but it was an upsurge of Satsui no Hadou ki that inspired it and it happened after he had lost. However, he still comes around during Alpha 3 after running into Dan (whose father was killed by Sagat in the ring years ago) and having a Heel Realization, so Sagat now sees Ryu as his inspiration to delve deeper into his own spirituality as a warrior and relishes the opportunity to face him again.
    • Sakura and Karin's relationship began as a one-sided rivalry on the latter's part, as she previously suffered a defeat at Sakura's hands. After settling the score in Alpha 3, Karin realizes her victory was a fluke and remembers Ken's words (from earlier in her A3 story) that the outcome of a match isn't as important as the match itself. Karin then changes her tune about Sakura, with Namco × Capcom pairing them up and later games like SFIV implying the two now enjoy a much healthier rivalry like Ryu and Ken do. Sakura's appearance in Season 3 of Street Fighter V would solidify their status as close friends; Karin regularly invites Sakura to the Kanzuki estate, which leads to the two squaring off nearly every time they catch up, but also lends an ear and offers some counsel when Sakky is unsure about where her life's path is leading her.
    • The Street Fighter III series has two more examples. The first, Yun and Yang, are twin brothers who protect their hometown of Hong Kong together but also consider the other to be their greatest rival (though Yang's unrequited and unvoiced pining for his brother's girlfriend Houmei may also factor into this). The second pair, Ibuki and Makoto, have a special intro in 3rd Strike, but also appear together in several pieces of official art (often alongside Elena), where it's suggested they're schoolmates and possibly close acquaintances. Ibuki regards Makoto more neutrally in SSFIV (likely because the game is set before the III series), where she instead partakes in a friendly spar with Sakura for her Rival Battle.
    • Ibuki's aforementioned encounter with Sakura seems to have also developed into one of these, albeit largely off-screen. When Karin requests the kunoichi's services and brings Ibuki into the fold in V, she does so almost entirely based on all the positive word of mouth she had heard from her chats with Sakura.
    • SFV sheds some light on the wrestling promotion which Rainbow Mika is a part of by way of adding Yamato Nadeshiko, a character who was previously only seen in artbooks and mentioned in Mika's backstory as her main rival, as her tag team partner.
  • Touhou Project:
    • Reimu and Marisa's relationships with other characters often end up becoming this. It is not unusual for both Reimu and Marisa to mercilessly beat down their enemies in battle, only to hang out and engage in witty banter with them later. When they're not investigating incidents, Reimu and Marisa get along fairly well with others, but both will jump at the chance to settle scores and see how much their former enemies' skills have improved.
    • Reimu and Marisa's relationship with each other is like this as well. They're good friends and Marisa readily admits Reimu is stronger (proudly calling herself the second-strongest person in Gensokyo), but she still tries to become stronger and resolve incidents faster.
  • In Wildermyth, a given pair of heroes can become rivals through player choice, events, or in-game interaction. Their interaction tends to be aggressive, but they're still comrades who work together to accomplish the party's goals, and their rivalry inspires them to try to outdo one another in battle — when one of them performs a successful stunt, their rival gains an increased chance to stunt as well, indicated by the status "Oh Yeah? Watch This!"

    Visual Novels 
  • The protagonist of Double Homework has a couple of these:
    • The protagonist and Tamara were always very close due to their competition. They always pushed each other to be better.
    • The protagonist and Rachel had a similar dynamic while they were dating (in fact, he recommended that she try for the Olympics), and they do again after the air clears from their breakup.

    Web Comics 
  • In Dear Children, Devin and Chelle love to argue for the sake of arguing. During the clubroom conversation in chapter 2, it is shown they will debate literally anything, even if they know it has no significance, and they will use their friends (and strangers) to settle heated stalemates. Despite how nasty their comments towards one another get, they still manage to remain friends.

    Web Animation 
  • hololive and Nijisanji are both virtual youtuber based groups with the former focusing on idolsinger aspect and the latter focusing on variety content. However, some members are allowed to collaborate.

    Web Original 
  • Blogger Beware and Cinnamon Bunzuh! covered similar material, namely taking books written in the nineties for children born in the eighties, in the 201st.
  • Acrylic and Fetus from Next Breed of Thief have this. Acrylic, in a somewhat rare bit of humor, refers to Fetus as his "frenemy".

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Pick any episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Especially those that feature Green Arrow.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Applejack and Rainbow Dash are great friends, but that doesn't stop them from competing against one another.
    • Rainbow Dash apparently forms these kinds of friendships a lot, as evidenced by her interactions with Gilda and Lightning Dust.
    • The relationship between Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich started out like this, with the latter emphasized on Pinkie's part. That changes when during their Goof-Off, birthday mare Rainbow Dash gets crushed by Pinkie's pinata (thankfully unharmed), making Pinkie realize that her rivalry with Cheese Sandwich is overshadowing her attempt to make Rainbow's party fun and forfeits. Also, Cheese Sandwich was a shy colt who was actually inspired by Pinkie to throw parties. As a token of their friendship, Cheese gives Pinkie one of his rubber chickens that he calls Boneless note .
    • This is the purpose of the "Equestria Games", which pit athletes from different parts of the kingdom against each other. Rainbow Dash and Spitfire lampshade this with an enthusiastic hoof-bump at the finish line after the relay race.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine and Bertie the Bus are rivals whenever they race, but are also good friends.
  • Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race: Gerry and Pete are basically described as this tripe through their racing team name of the "Tennis Rivals". They have been competitive against each other for decades and don't hesitate to make insulting jokes towards each other but they still remain good friends

    Real Life 
  • Many neighbor countries have some bitterness to each other, but are still major commercial partners — America and Canada, Brazil and Argentina, Japan and China/South Korea...
  • Following the release of the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo and Microsoft have been this more than any other console makers in history. Nintendo and Microsoft have had no problem allowing cross-platform online play between the Switch and the Xbox One, with Nintendo even allowing Xbox Live functionality in the Switch version of Minecraft. Microsoft has also allowed several formerly Xbox-exclusive indie games to come to Switch, such as Cuphead and Ori and the Blind Forest. Most of all, Microsoft and Nintendo agreed to make Banjo and Kazooie and Steve/Alex playable fighters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with Masahiro Sakurai asking players to check out the Banjo series on Xbox in his video showcase of Banjo & Kazooie.
  • Historical records indicate that William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson weren't above snarking at each other's work, but each still respected the other. Johnson called Shakespeare a half-educated country simpleton and Shakespeare in turn called Johnson's work formulaic. Apparently both found the comments of the other accurate and Actually Pretty Funny.
  • Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse had generational differences (Matisse was a dozen years older) and were rivals by virtue of trying to sell to the same collectors. Each one also considered the other about the only artist who could understand them.
  • Ever since Resident Evil 5, voice actors D.C. Douglas (Albert Wesker) and Roger Craig Smith (Chris Redfield) have had a friendly rivalry with one another.
  • Similarly, David Hayter and Cam Clarke have had a friendly rivalry with one another since Metal Gear Solid, mostly consisting of Clarke poking fun at Hayter while in character as Liquid Snake.
  • Canada and Denmark were locked in a decades-long border dispute over Hans Island, an uninhabited (and uninhabitable) pile of rocks in the strait of the Arctic Ocean that separates the uninhabited northern part of Ellesmere Island (in Nunavut) from the equally uninhabited northwestern reaches of Greenland. Militarily, the conflict involved one side occasionally sending an expeditionary force to raise their flag, installing a sign that says "Welcome to [Country]", and leave a bottle of liquor (the Danes leave a bottle of brandy, the Canucks leave a bottle of whiskey) and the other side coming later to replace the flag and sign and enjoying the booze left behind before leaving their own bottle. Civilians on both sides also occasionally got caught up in search engine optimization wars to see which side could get their claim on the island to reach the top of Google's search results. The two sides eventually signed a treaty to resolve the conflict in 2022, agreeing to split the territory with Denmark controlling 60% and Canada 40% (largely as a way for a couple of NATO members to show Russia how civilised countries resolve territorial disputes during the war in Ukraine).
  • Voice actor Vic Mignogna has one of these going with both Travis Willingham and Todd Haberkorn. He and Todd had a long-standing "battle" in which they would make elaborate YouTube videos making fun of one another (CSI: Mignogna was a classic example from Todd's side), while with Travis it's a friendly rivalry in the form of (playfully) warring fan clubs — Vic's loyal Risembool Rangers and Travis's devoted Miniskirt Army.
  • And then there's Netflix and Amazon. Both have their own production studios and both operate subscription-based video on demand services, but in the end Netflix still piggybacks on Amazon's cloud services, Netflix did not protest when Amazon pulled the streaming rights of some very highly desired shows away from them, and neither has anything bad to say about the other. They're only competing because it's the nature of the business world.
  • Standup comedians Bert Kreischer, and Tom Segura. The rivalry especially became heated when Segura started a fat-shaming meme at Bert’s expense on Twitter which ended up becoming so big, the two began a weight-loss competition. It lead to some fans of either particular comedians to get angry with the other and bash them ruthlessly, failing to realize that the two are actually best friends.
  • Subverted at the height of DreamWorks Animation's fame. It was co-founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg, who originally worked at Creator/Disney, but left after feeling underappreciated, as well as forming a bitter rivalry with the company's CEO, Michael Eisner. When he formed DreamWorks, it was quite obvious he still had ill feelings for them, since they have notoriously tried to copy theirs and Pixar's films (Antz vs. A Bug's Life, Shark Tale vs. Finding Nemo, Madagascar vs. The Wild). Not to mention how their film, Shrek, had numerous Take That!'s directed towards Disney, going as far as having the villain Lord Farquaad be a caricature of Michael Eisner (if the unflattering name wasn't indicative enough). However, in recent years, this trope came to play, as they both negotiated on fair wages for their employees, they each now try to make their own films without trying to outdo the other, and Jeffrey himself returning to appear in some documentaries on the making of some of their films (but it also helps that he started doing them after Michael Eisner was kicked out).
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • While the MCU vs DCEU rivalry has been exacerbated by some creatives and fans, the Guardians of the Galaxy cast and crew are on mutually respectful terms with their DCEU counterparts. James Gunn and Patty Jenkins expressed excitement for each other's films. Gunn in particular has been vocal in rejecting the DC vs Marvel rivalry and incidentally has the prestigious honor of being one of the first few directors to direct movies for both franchises. Likewise, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) and Vin Diesel (Groot) have shared family meetup pics and selfies with Gadot being considered an Honorary Aunt to Diesel's children. This isn't too surprising since many of Guardians creatives have previously worked alongside the DCEU creatives in prior works like Gadot and Diesel starring in The Fast and the Furious movies and Gunn writing the Zack Snyder-directed Dawn of the Dead (2004) remake.
    • Gal Gadot with Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Brie Larson (Captain Marvel). Hemsworth conceded that Wonder Woman could beat Thor in a fight and spoke positively of how his children were inspired by Gadot's performance. Likewise, Larson is a life-long Wonder Woman fangirl and was overjoyed to see Gadot bring the character to life. As for Gadot, she has nothing short of upmost respect for her competitors and publically congratulated their movies.
    • Marvel Studios head honcho, Kevin Feige, has always been supportive towards his rival superhero competitors. As Feige believed the "rising tide lifts all boats" philosophy, he publicly considers good non-MCU movies like Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Deadpool to be beneficial for the superhero genre as a whole. Most notably, Feige didn't mind that Wonder Woman was released before the MCU's own Captain Marvel (2019), and he was actually relieved that Wonder Woman didn't fall victim to the Girl-Show Ghetto since that film's success convinced Disney to keep supporting his push more inclusivity in the MCU films.
  • Within the realm of the Fighting Game Community, there's the rivalry shared between Goichi "GO1" Kishida and Dominique "SonicFox" McLean in Dragon Ball Fighter Z. While Trash Talk is a common occurrence within FGC events and rivalries are often punctuated with them — SonicFox himself has been known to indulge in it from time to time, his rivalry with GO1 is one born out of being the best their game had to offer. There's little animosity to be shown in their matches; both never seem to be anything less than cordial and friendly when fighting each other, and they're known for providing close-fought sets that go the extra mile and more. Their rivalry is best exemplified by their Grand Finals encounter at EVO 2019, where GO1 avenged his defeat from last year to claim his first EVO championship; he proceeded to break down in Manly Tears while SonicFox laughed his loss off and congratulated GO1 for his win, later raising his hand in front of the crowd to cement the amount of respect both have for each other.
  • Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, and Berke Breathed, creator of Bloom County, used to have a years-long rivalry that consisted of the two men drawing increasingly obscene pictures and mailing them to each other to see how far they could push the other's boundaries.
  • Extremely common among U.S. universities, especially when there are two major schools in one state. UF/FSU, GT/UGA, etc. They may be bitter enemies on the athletic field, but they often collaborate academically, and alumni of the rival schools are frequently co-workers, friends, or even spouses of each other. There's still plenty of ribbing to go around, though.
  • The relationship between the Alsace wine houses F.E. Trimbach and Hugel et Fils is definitely like this, with plenty of good humoured teasing between the two along the lines of the Hugel's say that the Trimbach's are fine wine makers, but are a bit fussy and waste their resources on looking for an impossible perfection, and the Trimbach's say the Hugel's are also fine wine makers, but spread themselves a bit too thinly and wouldn't know how to trim (no pun intended!) down their ranges if their life depended on it. Needless to say, both houses find the comments mostly rooted in truth and Actually Pretty Funny.
  • James Bond fans will argue endlessly about whether Sean Connery's Bond or Roger Moore's Bond was better than the other, even though in real life, the two actors were good friends.
  • Most people playing video games in PVP/competitive mode. Typically they don't have any ill will towards each other and may well be good friends in real life.

Alternative Title(s): Friendly Rival