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Friendly Rivalry
aka: Friendly Rival

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"The saga of your idiotic rivalry continues..."

"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 advisary 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 and Spirited Competitor. 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.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bakuman。 is loaded with them. Every character is competing with one another, but you'd be surprised how well they get along.
  • Tycho Science and Princess Lal'c in Aim for the Top 2! Diebuster. As the top two ranked pilots, they constantly traded friendly jabs at kill counts.
  • Touko and Sayaka from Bloom Into You are best friends who regularly compete for the top exam scores. While Touko always wins, she maintains that she's only able to push herself to stay on top because of the competition from Sayaka. It's played with to some extent, since it turns out that Sayaka is in love with Touko, and it's implied that she's not actually interested in the competition, but plays along just to help Touko maintain her high scores.
  • Hunter × Hunter has many examples of these although it's usually seen as more than just friendship.
    • The two main characters Gon and Killua have this relationship to the max! Being the only kids in the Hunter Exam they instantly become the best of friendly rivals, and in the 2011 anime they even have a friendly race to the finish line.
      • Although Killua did have his moments of bitterness in the final stage of the Hunter Exam towards Gon that could say otherwise, but in the end he does outright say he just wants to be friends with Gon.
  • Naruto:
    • Sakura and Ino become this upon Sakura's discovery that Ino also has a crush on Sasuke. At first they'd actually drifted away from the "friendly" part, specially after Sakura also declares that she feels like she's under Ino's shadow and wants to step out of it, but regain it after their match in the Chunin Exams.
    • Guy and Kakashi, as proclaimed (multiple times) by Guy. Kakashi, true to character, is rather apathetic about the whole thing. However, there are several times when Kakashi's shown to be Not So Above It All and actually enjoys their zany challenges. This especially applies later in the series when he becomes more relaxed and open in their friendship.
  • Eyeshield 21: Sena has friendly rivalries with both Shin and Panther; in the case of the latter the two of them are practically friends, despite being on opposite teams. The same can be said of Ootawara and Kurita, and Sakuraba and Monta; one gets the feeling that if they played at the same school they would be the best of friends. Quarterback Youichi Hiruma isn't particularly civil to anyone, but his rivalries with Ojou quarterback Takami and Seibu quarterback Kid is about as close as he gets. He and Hakushuu quarterback/safety Marco verge on Friendly Enemy.
    • An interesting case is Hiruma and Kid, who for some reason (considering Hiruma's personality) get along splendidly. They both think the other one is the best quarterback in the region. Even in the final arc, Hiruma still trolls Agon by saying Kid is a better quarterback than him.
  • Harlem Beat: Kuwata from Yotsuya Unohara team has no qualms about teaching Naruse or conversing about team management with Kobayashi; both from rival team Johnan.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Negi has this relationship with Kotaro. Likewise, his father Nagi has this relationship with Jack Rakan.
    • Nodoka and Yue are best friends and, in their own words, "rivals in love". They spend more time encouraging each other to get close to Negi then the do perusing him on their own.
  • In the manga incarnation of Higurashi: When They Cry, this is the way Mion thinks of Keiichi. She also has a major crush on him too.
  • Tomo and Kagura of Azumanga Daioh, both having learned that Sakaki doesn't particularly rival back — she just wins and gets on with her life — seem to settle into this by the end of the third season.
  • In Fairy Tail, Natsu's rival started out as Gray until their relationship gradually turned into this, while his former Evil Counterpart Gajeel became his new rival and he gained new Evil Counterparts in the short-lived Zancrow and Sting. Though Natsu may end up forming a friendly rivalry with both Gajeel and Sting, too.
  • Hitomi and Merle have one in The Vision of Escaflowne. One that Merle doesn't exactly win at.
  • In Kiniro Mosaic, there is Alice to both Karen and Karasuma in regarding to Shinobu (since Shinbou admires Karasuma and Karen really admires Shinbou). Regardless, she maintains a good relationship between the said two characters and any negative feelings are often Played for Laughs.
  • Variable Geo: Yuka and her best friend, Satomi, have known each other since childhood and have been competing against each other in full-contact for just as long. The series even concludes with the opening exchange between them, during the final match.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, despite the competitive nature of the hero show and that the heroes themselves acknowledge each other as rivals, they remain friendly with each other, provide support and advice when the need arises and even throw a surprise birthday party for one of their own.
  • Dragon Ball: Goku's love for competition stems from his Saiyan ancestry, so he's always in search of new opponents to test himself against. In the early Dragon Ball series, Yamcha, Krillin, and Tien were his primary sparring partners, but he soon surpassed each of them. It wasn't until the Dragon Ball Z saga that Goku finally found opponents such as Vegeta, Majin Buu, and Beerus, who were strong enough to allow him to truly push himself beyond his limits.
  • Kale from Happy Happy Clover has been friends with Clover ever since they we're little. However Kale would mostly challenge Clover to various games and actives. He does't take losing very well at all, but he really cares for Clover and his friends.
  • Shinichi Kudo and Heiji Hattori from Detective Conan, once Heiji figures out that Kudo and Conan are the same person. They're close friends who clearly respect each other (their minds are often completely in-sync whenever they do work together on cases), but Kudo's ego and Heiji's competitiveness occasionally ends up with them competing to see who can solve a case first.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, it tragically ends up as only one part thinking they had any friendship in-between, Zenitsu admired Kaigaku as his colleague in training despite all the volley of insults the two threw at each other, turns out Kaigaku really hated Zenitsu and betrayed their master to seek more power as a demon, then mocking their master’s suicide by Seppuku in order to atone for Kaigaku’s betrayal, that made Zenitsu lose all of the little respect he had for Kaigaku, fighting and killing him.
  • In Battle Tendency, the second part of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Caesar Zeppeli and title character Joseph Joestar have a friendly rivalry that is tragically cut short when Wammu kills Caesar.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Fate and Signum started off as Worthy Opponents on opposite sides of Good vs. Good conflict. Once the circumstances forcing them to fight were resolved, they spark up a friendship that is still going strong ten years later (Fate is even noted In-Universe to be the only person who can make Signum openly relaxed outside of the Yagami family).
    • All of the major Inter-Middle Championship competitors in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid have a shared friendship based on their mutual love of competitive martial arts and their desire to defeat each other in the tournament.
  • Slam Dunk has a borderline example, with Takenori Akagi and Jun Uozumi, who compete on who's the best Center in Kanagawa, but they greatly respect one another, to the point they end up hugging each other after their final match, crying Manly Tears. Even further, Uozumi actually comes to root for Akagi during the match with Kainan, and in the manga he shows up during the nationals to help Akagi out of a tight spot in the match against Sannoh.
  • Bartender: The bartenders don't really consider each other to be competitors since their styles are so different, and often send customers that would be better catered to by another bartender's style to each other. That said, they are relentless in their desire to one-up and out-do each other.
  • Uma Musume runs on this trope, blending Romantic Two-Girl Friendship with a fierce competitive spirit on the track. The girls support each other as friends, and cultivate rivalries in order to push each other to become as strong as possible.
  • A lot of Ash's rivals in Pokémon are this:
    • Gary Oak wasn't this at first due to his huge ego and actually loved to bully/belittle Ash whenever the two meant. However, Gary starts to mellow out considerably in the Johto series and never really picks on Ash anymore finally becoming this trope to him. However, this trope finally becomes deconstructed by the third main series where Gary decides to become a Pokémon Researcher like his grandfather and he and Ash just became full on friends.
    • Ritchie is the first true friendly rival to Ash in the series. In fact, he is very similar to Ash in every way from a similar appearance to having similar Pokémon (Ritchie also has a Pikachu and Pokémon that Ash has either had or has such as Butterfree and Charmander). The only difference is that Ritchie is a cheerful, mellow Nice Guy while Ash is a Hot-Blooded Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
    • Harrison from the Johto league is this as well. He even helps Ash against Team Rocket after the league ends (after he beat Ash).
    • Morrison from the Hoenn league is definitely this. He's basically an even more Hot-Blooded version of Ash and the two of them will often compete over very small things. When Morrison had to face Ash in the Pokémon League, he was devastated as he had to fight against his good friend. To the point where Morrison lost the will to fight. Ash had to push Morrison out of that funk so that his friend could give him a good battle and it works.
    • After Morrison is defeated by Ash, Tyson steps up to the plate as Ash's friendly rival. Like with Harrison, even after beating Ash in the league, Tyson remains friendly and helpful to Ash.
    • Paul from the Diamond/Pearl series is definitely a subversion. Paul is meant to be the polar opposite of Ash meaning he's a guy who believes only in power in order to win instead of bonding with Pokémon like Ash does. Because of this, Paul has grown to despise Ash and verbally assault him whenever the two meet. Though he does end up seeing Ash as a Worthy Opponent after the latter beats him in the Pokémon League, since this happens near the very end of the series where Ash and Paul may not even see each other again, the fact if they're friendly rivals now is still debatable.
    • However, Barry definitely plays this trope straight most likely to make up for Paul. Barry's personality is very similar to Ash being very hot-headed and impatient but is always eager to battle Ash whenever the two meet. Interesting enough, Paul and Barry are also this where despite Paul completely demolishing Barry's team in the Sinnoh League, he still shows Barry some respect while the latter looks up to Paul.
    • Trip from the Best Wishes series is another subversion but even moreso than Paul. While Paul hates Ash for how he raises his Pokémon, Trip hates Ash because he's from Kanto. And, like with Paul, it took getting beat in the Pokémon League to see Ash as a Worthy Opponent but happens near the end of the series.
    • Like with Paul, the series gives Ash other rivals to fit this trope right. In this case, Stephan and Cameron. Stephan is Ash's ongoing rival throughout the series and Stephan is very nice toward Ash despite the latter constantly getting saying his name wrong. Cameron is the usual "Pokémon League rival" for Ash where his personality is actually the exact same as Ash: hotheaded, impatient, and very, very stupid.
    • All of Ash's rivals from the XY(Z) series is this (Tierno, Sawyer, and Alain). Tierno sees Ash as a fun opponent to go against and Swayer looks up to Ash greatly respecting his battle style even before the two had a proper battle. However, points go to Alain who had personality similar to Paul (being mostly apathetic toward others) but is a major Nice Guy toward Ash. Once Alain sees how Ash battles and that he has access to a unique form known as Ash-Greninja, Alain made it his mission to challenge all of the gym leaders and battle Ash in the Pokémon League finals. He got his wish and it should be noted that Alain's personality always brightens up whenever Ash is around.
    • Gladion and Hau from the Sun/Moon series. In Gladion's case, he isn't affiliated with Team Skull in the anime like he was in the games and is much more calmer and reserve. And like with Alain, Gladion does have enjoyment when battling Ash. What helps even more with this friendship is how Ash also acts like an older brother to Lillie (who is Gladion's younger sister who he is fiercely protective over). And Hau is much like Ritchie being a Nice Guy that is similar in personality to Ash. The only difference is that Hau tends not to take losses well but doesn't let that get in his way of his friendship and rivalry with Ash.
    • As for other main characters, Dawn has always had friendly rivals (aside from Ursula), while May had Solidad and Drew (who only became so after seeing May's progress).
  • Saeki in Asteroid in Love sees the Earth Science Olympiad as this. She is willing to give her all, but doesn't have any hard feelings against those competing with her.
  • Seen a lot in Ace of the Diamond, and not only among rival players, but also among teammates who compete for the same position:
    • Protagonist Eijun Sawamura and Satoru Furuya are both pitchers with radically different styles and personalities whose main goal is to be The Ace of Seidou. They bicker a lot and sometimes even compete over silly things (like a tire for running), but they respect each other's skills and support the other when they're on the mound. It gets to the point that, when Sawamura gets the #1 jersey, Furuya sincerely congratulates him for it.
    • The Kominato brothers, Ryousuke and Haruichi, are another example. While Ryousuke acts like an Aloof Big Brother and constantly chides Haruichi for "always following him everywhere" (going to the same school, playing in the same position, and even choosing the same bat), deep down he's proud of his little brother, and it's implied that he puts the act to help him toughen up. Haruichi for his part looks up to Ryousuke, and is determined to surpass him as a player one day.
  • Asta and Yuno from Black Clover. It seems to be the opposite at first given Yuno's somewhat condescending nature, but it's quickly made clear that it's this by the end of the first chapter. Despite their opposite personalities and innate talent, Yuno respects Asta greatly for his determination and has seen him as his savior since they were kids. Through their rivalry, the two push each other to become stronger.
  • Food Wars!: Protagonist Soma Yukihira seems to actively be this with almost every chef he faces. Despite his boastful and somewhat irreverent nature, he's such a Nice Guy that it's almost impossible to make enemies with him. He can hold a normal conversation with Erina Nakiri in spite of her protests, has Ikumi falling for him, becomes good friends with Takumi, gets orientation from Akira, talks friendly with Alice during their match, compliments Subaru's motorcycle and convinces him to not give up on cooking just for losing one, and later hangs out with both Akira and Ryou after their Autumn Election match. In fact, you can tell he's pissed when Akira pulls a Rival Turned Evil and joins Azami's administration despite having the skills to fight against it like he and the others did.
  • Kaguya and Shirogane from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War are academic rivals who always compete for the top spot during the end of semester exams, but this doesn't keep them from enjoying each other's company or having a rather large mutual crush. In fact, the rivalry exists because of the romance. Kaguya completely ignored Shirogane's Dogged Nice Guy routine in their freshman year, so Momo (who was annoyed by his constant mopping) suggested that he present himself as someone who could stand as her equal in order to get her attention.

    Comic Books 
  • This is how Spider-Man and The Human Torch's dynamic was for years. They become less competitive with each other as they get 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.
  • 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.
    • 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).
  • The Hulk and Thor are depicted as this nowadays. They fight along side 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Starting in issue one 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.
  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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 the above work 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 

  • In David Weber's The Honor of the Queen, relations between chancellor Prestvick and Protector Benjamin Mayhew were described as this concerning interpretation of 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 
  • Early in CSI, Nick and Warrick competed over who would solve 100 cases and make CSI 2 first.
  • Zach and Hodgins on Bones were like this. They both wanted to be honorary "King of the lab".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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 the 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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 Nick Carter has joked that the two groups should do a concert together.
  • Fryderyk Chopin and Franz Liszt apparently were both friends and rivals, as shown by this strip by Kate Beaton.
  • 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.

The Brewing Network: The Sour Hour has one with The Session, though it's pretty much one way. Jay 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 (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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • MMA fighters Nina Ansaroff and Amanda Nunes, who are engaged, have stated they intend to fight each other before either of them retires.note 
  • 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 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 & affectionate friends.

    Video Games 
  • 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 (Brandon/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, Hop in Sword and Shield and Trace from Let's Go, Pikachu! and Eevee!). This is in stark contrast with Blue/Green and Silver, who would regularly insult and belittle the player. Hugh straddles the line, being a childhood friend who can be a bit of a jerk.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Art of Fighting: Ryo and Robert's rivalry is lampshaded in the original game's intro and also by its Japanese title: "Ryuko no Ken" (lit. "Fist of Dragon Tiger"). Which has carried over to the King of Fighters series, where they often have special pre-fight intros and victory quotes for when they face each other.
    • In games where they appear together (KOF included), Ryo also has this sort of rivalry with Terry (this was even the main draw of '94 before they decided to center the story on Kyo). In fact, pretty much all KOF heroes that aren't named Iori Yagami or K' are quite respectful of one another's skills (even if Kyo can get cocky sometimes).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Though it started off on a bitter note, Sol and Ky's rivalry eventually becomes more brotherly. By the time of Overture, they're practically a combination of this and Vitriolic Best Buds. Slayer also has a friendly rivalry with President Gabriel.
  • This is apparently the relationship that Tails and Yoshi have in the Mario & Sonic series.
    • As well as 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fire Emblem:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Setzer's backstory in Final Fantasy VI, him 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.
  • Reimu and Marisa's relationships with other characters in Touhou 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.
  • 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!"
  • 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.
  • 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. Smith's grandson Link and Daltus' daughter Zelda grow up as Childhood Friends.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!"

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

    Web Video 
  • The Sharkasm Crew features one between Cephalo the Pod and Alpha Delpha. It has recently been downplayed as more players of the same skill level as Cephalo and Delpha arrive on the St. Marys scene.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • Pick any episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Especially those that feature Green Arrow.
  • 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
  • Thomas the Tank Engine and Bertie the Bus are rivals whenever they race, but are also 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 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 are locked in a decades-long border dispute over Hans Island. Militarily, the conflict involves 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 get caught up in search engine optimization wars to see which side can get their claim on the island to reach the top of Google's search results.
  • 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 occurance 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.

Alternative Title(s): Friendly Rival


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