A character is accosted by a stranger. Maybe he's a burly biker or a rude cop. They start arguing, and just when it seems the biker guy will break the other character's neck...
...they hug and start reminiscing about old times. They knew each other all along!
A good way to add some fake conflict on otherwise boring conversation scenes and to prepare hilarious pranks. A common way for a pair of Vitriolic Best Buds to be introduced.
Contrast We Used to Be Friends.
- In Black Lagoon Eda and Revy glare and snap at each other like bitter rivals the first time we see them in the same room together; they even pull guns on each other at one point. It's not until several chapters/episodes later that we learn they're drinking buddies, and like to hang out with each other in their spare time.
- In the Cowboy Bebop episode "Sympathy for the Devil", Jet yells "Hey fatty!" at a fat man in the bar. It seems like he is trying to distract him or start a fight, but it turns out they're old friends and "fatty" is an affectionate nickname.
- It's much slower than it appeared, and these two actually have conflict, but Mirei and Nono from Hitohira are actually this.
- Kinda what happens between Subaru and Ginga in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS (episode 15): Nanoha orders Ginga to spar with Subaru, who immediately gets a strange expression on her face. The two begin the mock battle and at some point, it starts looking so real, the observers begin to wonder if there's The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry going on under their usual friendly facade... but then, they both smile and Caro comments that in reality, they love each other very much. Awwww...
- The first appearance of Buck's Uncle Frakkus, in Buck Godot: The Gallimaufry. Especially notable as he doesn't just verbally accost his nephew, they actually engage in (apparently) mortal combat! This is, apparently, a standard Hoffmanite greeting.
- The staged fight between Mac and another gorilla in Grease Monkey.
- In Preacher, this happens between Cassidy and Si in the first book. Si turns out to be the Reaver-Cleaver and tries to kill them all.
- This is how the famous 'Plunder island' storyline starts; Popeye and a random stranger begin banging heads and other violent acts against each other. Olive panics and has Wimpy fetch the police, but it turns out that the stranger is an old friend of Popeye's and they were just using a secret handshake of the club to which they both belong. And when the cops arrive, they're upset for the false alarm.
- Happens in Braveheart where the audience believes William Wallace and the big Scottish guy are old enemies when they're actually best friends.
- A bigger version happens when the Scottish and the Irish army charge at each other. When it seems that they would gut each other, they stop right at each faces and start hugging and shake hands and later join forces together against the English army. Too bad they lost the battle.
- The film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has Lupin pointing his wand at Sirius while they trade insults, and then Lupin helps Sirius off the floor and they start hugging enthusiastically.
- Mixed with Carnivore Confusion to odd effect in Kermit's Swamp Years; Horace D'Fly sings the opening theme before being swallowed by Kermit. Kermit then spits him out, and it turns out they're friends and they do this all the time.
- In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn is hurrying to find a herb to heal Frodo when someone sneaks up behind him and holds a blade to his throat. Said person turns out to be his Love Interest Arwen, teasing him.
- The biographical movie Man on the Moon features Andy Kaufman as a comedic inter-gender wrestler. After being shown on TV wrestling women, many controversies are made around him. Jerry Lawler, a real profesionnal wrestler is mad at Andy for dishonoring wrestling, and then makes him leave the ring by ambulance in a profesionnal match. Later, it is revealed that it was all scripted and Jerry turns to be a friend.
- Maverick pulls a gun on a bank manager, causing an employee to think that the bank's being robbed. Maverick and the manager then reveal that they're really friends.
- At the end of the movie, Maverick is held at gunpoint by Cooper and the situation seems tense... until they drop the act, revealing they're actually father and son.
- In My Beautiful Laundrette, the young Pakistani Londoner Omar responds to a group of racist thugs by walking up to one of them and greeting him with a smile; unbeknownst to the other thugs, the two of them used to be lovers.
- In Ocean's Eleven (the remake), Danny Ocean turns out to be old friends with the huge bruiser the villain hires to beat him up.
- In Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Lando does this with Han Solo when they get to Bespin, telling him coldly that "you've got a lot of guts coming back here after what you pulled." This is apparently not an in-joke between them, as Han looks worried until Lando cracks a smile. (Also, in this case, both the other characters and the audience are aware up front that Han and Lando know each other ... it's just not clear that they're friends, as Han himself isn't absolutely positive Lando isn't still holding a grudge about some unspecified Noodle Incident — which is then revealed to have occurred 13 years ago and explains how Han acquired the Millennium Falcon from Lando in the first place.) Also, it is entirely possible Lando is attempting to get Han and co. to leave Bespin due to the fact that Vader and his Imperial military has already occupied the planet and Lando has been forced to make a deal with Vader to surrender Han and the others. It doesn't go as well as Lando might have wanted.
- Done in Strange Days, where a police officer grabs the hero (who is selling a contraband substance) and scares away his customer, and then they laugh about it and go have drinks.
- In The Whole Nine Yards, Frankie Figgs "escorts" Oz back to Montreal in preparation for Janni Gogolak's arrival to kill Jimmy Tudeski. He finds Jimmy in the hotel room waiting for them. Jimmy and Frankie look like they're about to kill one another, only to reveal that they're friends and are planning on killing Janni when he arrives.
- In the first episode of Game of Thrones, King Robert Baratheon arrives at Winterfell in full royal regalia and surveys Lord Stark and family with a stern look on his face. The audience would be forgiven for fearing that Robert is about to order Stark's head removed, or at least remonstrate with him harshly over some perceived slight. Instead, he breaks into a huge smile and embraces his boyhood friend.
- In one of the earliest Gilmore Girls episodes, a man shows up in Stars Hollow on a motorcycle. When Lorelai and Rory ask if the man needs anything, he replies with something to the effect of "take off your top". After the Girls' initial shock wears off, the man removes his helmet revealing Chris, Rory's father and Lorelai's on-again/off-again Love Interest.
- Between the initial pranks, the insults, the food-stealing and the general snarkiness, an unfamiliar viewer would think House was Wilson's office bully, not his "best-friend", thus using this trope on a weekly basis.
- On Jack Ryan Jack has taken Cathy out on a date to a restaurant. He notices a finger print on her wine glass and calls over a waiter to complain. The restaurant owner comes over to answer the complaint. Jack gets belligerent about the wine glass and the restaurant owner starts arguing with him. Cathy is visibly turned-off by this display of pointless macho posturing but then the two men break out in laughter. The restaurant owner is actually the former police partner of Jack's father and Jack has known him most of his life. The entire spiel about the wine glass was them just playing around.
- In Episode 6 of Leonardo, "The Lightning Box", Mac arrives at his home to find someone waiting for him.
Mac: I wiped the floor with the last person to break in here.
Stranger: You've never cleaned a floor in your life.
Mac: Carlo Cazali! It's been years!
- In the first episode of Sherlock, a mysterious man, hinted to be Moriarty, sends a car for John to meet him after he's met Sherlock and moved in to Baker Street. He calls himself Sherlock's "nemesis" and offers John money to feed him intel on Sherlock and John refuses. John later mentions this incident to Sherlock and Sherlock lambastes him for not accepting the money. It turns out the man was Sherlock's brother, Mycroft.
- In the Supernatural episode "Folsom Prison Blues", Sam and Dean get arrested so they can investigate a haunting at a local prison. While there, the brothers are harassed by the prison's Warden. Then, around three quarters through the episode, it's revealed the Warden is actually their friend Deacon, who asked them to investigate the prison in the first place, and helps them bust out.
- Not to mention the pilot episode. We have a scene of two little boys escaping a burning house and their mother dying, cut to 22 years later. The younger of the boys (now an adult) and his girlfriend have some exposition conversation, go to a party, go home, and that night, he hears a noise downstairs. He goes down, gets into a fight with the intruder, who, after wrestling him for a few minutes, starts making snide remarks, revealing himself to be the older brother. Somewhat subverted in that Sam didn't know it was Dean at first.
- In Torchwood, between Captain Jack and Captain John. They walk towards each other with severe expressions, like they're about to start fighting - then they start making out. Then, they do start fighting each other, so it may be a subversion... Then again, after that, they start catching up about life since the Time Agency....
- In Thane's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2, the player encounters a character named Mouse, who we learn, as the conversation plays out, was a street urchin who served as Thane's contact in the underworld.
- The first level of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception ends with Nathan and Sully getting shot. The third level opens with their killer making sure they're all right: the whole incident was staged.
- World in Conflict pulls a rather noteworthy example in the Soviet campaign. Colonel Orlovsky and Major Lebedjev go through the usual "no-nonsense professional soldier and smug State Sec type" routine, but then it becomes obvious that the whole thing's an in-joke between two old friends. It's also an important Establishing Character Moment for Lebedjev, who is very much not a stereotypical commissar. This becomes an important plot point later on: When Orlovsky orders a general withdrawal because the division is at risk of encirclement, it's regular Red Army officer Captain Malashenko who objects so rigorously that he goes for his sidearm, and Lebedjev is the one to give the order to retreat rather than get hundreds more men killed for no gain.
- Played with in The Last Days of Foxhound with Sergei Gurlukovich and Revolver Ocelot. While they seem to have this dynamic at first, being both comrades from their time in the Red Army, their relationship immediatly turns sour once Gurlukovich learns that Ocelot works now for Foxhound and the USA.
- In Sunstone, many of Ally and Alan's friends are trying to get Alan and Anne, the tattoo artist who is more than a bit curious about BDSM, together. It turns out that they've met and know each other from before, though it's been a while since the two of them have been together, and she ends up becoming Alan's digital artist.
- In Ben 10: Omniverse Grandpa Max has a moment like this with Sheriff Wat-Senn. The scene even zooms in on both of their faces… until they shake hands. Wat-Senn then proceeds to take a jab at Max’s cooking.
- As Jay Sherman is walking the streets of New York in an episode of The Critic, he comes across Mookie from Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing holding a trash can and angrily shouting "Yo Sal, I've got something for you man!" before throwing it through the window of Sal's restaurant. Sal runs outside and happily exclaims "Aw, Mookie, you found my trash can!" before they both laugh and hug.
- In Prep & Landing: Naughty vs Nice, Wayne is warning his younger brother Noel not to antagonize Thrasher the reindeer. As soon as he sees Thrasher however, Noel begins threatening Thrasher, who threatens Noel right back. And then Noel gives Thrasher a box of his favorite candy canes.
- Rick and Morty shows this when Rick visits a fancy resort; an alien assaults Rick and they appear to kill each other, but it turns out the resort is in a death-proof field and it was just an enthusiastic hello. Both get better immediately.
- Star Trek: Lower Decks:
- In "Envoys", Boimler is greeting the Klingon Ambassador, General K'orin, when Mariner attacks the general leading to very brief, but very intense fight that only ends when Mariner gets a hold of K'orin's dagger and holds it to his neck. Cue laughter from both Mariner and K'orin as it turns out they are very old friends who did a lot of semi-classified missions some time ago.
- This happens twice with Tendi in "Something Borrowed, Something Green". First, there's a group of armed men who jump down when she Mariner, and T'lyn first arrive on Orion who turn out to be part of her family's household staff. Then, a woman at a Bad Guy Bar challenges her to a deadly bar game only to turn out to be an old friend from high school who invites her to meet up for brunch as she leaves (though judging by Tendi's reaction to the invitation, she doesn't actually like her).
- In one episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) the Turtles are horrified to see Master Splinter fighting a four-armed giant, Djinn, but it turns out that they're just competing in a qualifying round for the prestigious Battle Nexus tournament, and in fact are old friends, who take the time to catch up after Splinter's victory.
- Something like this happens in Teen Titans. When the Titans go to Starfire's birthplace, she immediately gets into a shouting match with a huge, haggard, tough-looking guard. With the rest of the Titans on their guard, the huge guard starts tickling Starfire, and the two embrace. Turns out he was her nanny.