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Intergenerational Rivalry

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Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Two characters of vastly differing ages become rivals. One could be as young as a child, while the other could be anywhere from a teenager to an old senior. This is especially common in works targeted at children, as adults tend to be less interested in competition with kids.

Often, this trope is used to show a conflict of experience versus talent.

The rivalry will usually persist through the duration of the entire work or minimally a story arc. Most often, the younger rival will be the protagonist or more major character and defeating the older rival will be one of their goals.

If it's a Comically Lopsided Rivalry, the younger one will likely be eagerly challenging someone well out of their league, but if the older rival loses to the younger one frequently, they're likely to become bitter and the relationship will be antagonistic. This could be Played for Laughs or Played for Drama depending on the tone of the overall work.

Both Friendly Rivalries and Arch-Enemies can count. If the older rival is particularly antagonistic, they'll likely come off childish and petty. If they are a good sport, they will probably be portrayed in a positive light and may even become The Mentor to the younger one.

If the older rival is a mentor, they're likely a Badass Teacher, Cynical Mentor, Sink or Swim Mentor, or Stealth Mentor. Basically: a mentor who teaches by fighting with their student. Both rivals may also be the students of the same mentor.

In a To Be a Master plot, the older rival is likely The Champion. In revenge-centered stories, the adult is likely the initial aggressor.

Sub-trope of The Rival. See Intergenerational Friendship.

Compare to Would Hurt a Child, Surpassed the Teacher.

See also Kids Versus Adults, Archnemesis Dad, Pick on Someone Your Own Size, Older Hero vs. Younger Villain, and The Generation Gap.

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Hunter Hunter: Hisoka engages in rivalries with both Gon and Killua despite being an adult to their twelve years. He starts out vastly stronger than them and wishes to challenge them properly at full strength.
  • One Piece:
    • Luffy, a rookie pirate, and Smoker, a marine captain who witnessed the death of the King of the Pirates, Gold Roger, before Luffy was even born. Their rivalry is of the potential-threat dynamic. After seeing Luffy smile in the face of near-certain public execution, something he had only ever seen Roger do, and then go on to survive via a nigh-impossible lightning strike destroying the execution platform, he's convinced that Luffy has what it takes to become the next pirate king, and sets out to the Grand Line to stop him before he gets too much stronger.
    • Roronoa Zoro and Hawkeye Mihawk, a mastery dynamic. Mihawk is a veteran pirate and the world's greatest swordsman, a title Zoro is vying for. Mihawk sees a lot of potential in the young pirate and actively encourages him to train in order to surpass him, even taking him on as a pupil, moving the two closer to a student-teacher dynamic.
  • Rebuild World: The Private Military Company Drankam is filled with We ARE Struggling Together political squabbles reflecting a large scale one of these. The teenage Boisterous Weakling hunters led and represented by Katsuya, and the Old Soldier veteran hunters represented by Sergeant Rock Shirakabe. The young hunters face favoritism and coddling from the civilian management because they're what's marketable, while the veterans have their rewards drained to pay for equipment for the young hunters that the veterans feel they haven't earned.
  • Yotsuba&! features a Sitcom Arch-Nemesis variant between the title character and "Yanda" Yasuda: while Yotsuba's only five and Yanda's close to her father's age, the two repeatedly bicker with and tease one another throughout the series. Yanda gets a kick out of taunting Yotsuba, while Yotsuba in turn never hesitates to fire back.
  • Zombie Land Saga: Played With between Ai and Shiori. Chronologically Ai is around a decade older, but she remains sixteen due to being revived as a zombie. The two play their rivalry straight however as Shiori's goal is surpass Ai's insurmountable legacy that made Iron Frill the heavy hitter it is, creating a Superior Successor dynamic between the two.

    Films - Animation 
  • The Incredibles: Syndrome is in his twenties, while Mr. Incredible is in his forties, and Syndrome has a vendetta against Mr. Incredible and wants to kill him because he's mad about being rejected as Mr. Incredible's sidekick when Syndrome was a kid. It becomes a lot more personal when Syndrome endangers Mr. Incredible's family.
  • In Luca, Ercole Visconte is a teenager who bullies Luca, Alberto, and Giulia, who are all children. He later tries to kill them.

  • In Warrior Cats, Fireheart becomes arch-enemies with Tigerclaw, who is old enough to be his father. Tigerclaw occasionally uses Fireheart's relative inexperience to try to spread doubt about the younger cat's credibility; meanwhile, Tigerclaw's established reputation in the Clan means that it's hard for Fireheart to make the Clan leader believe that Tigerclaw is a traitor.

    Live-Action TV 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In WWECW, one of the first major rivalries was the face faction ECW Originals (comprised of ECW veterans such as Tommy Dreamer, Rob Van Dam, and Sabu) vs the heel faction New Breed (led by Elijah Burke, better known as TNA's "The Pope" D'angelo Dinero). Originally the feud was over the direction of ECW, before it became about propping up CM Punk (who was from Burke's generation, but was well-beloved by ECW's audience), who eventually sided with the Originals after a two week-stint with the New Breed.
    • This was actually rather common in WWECW, due to it serving as a sort of proto-WWE NXT, where younger wrestlers gained experience on television by working with older, but still relatively popular wrestlers. Chavo Guerrero Jr., Christian, Matt Hardy, and Mark Henry all became ECW Champion and served as major opponents to the younger wrestlers there who cut their teeth on the show, of which CM Punk was one of many.

  • 42nd Street: Broadway veteran Dorothy Brock feels threatened by newcomer Peggy, who is extremely talented and also much younger. It doesn't help that circumstantial evidence gives Dorothy the idea that Peggy is after her love interest as well as her job. When Dorothy is sidelined by an injury, however, she reluctantly agrees to coach Peggy to take her place as the star of the show; they gradually get past their animosity, with Peggy being both genuinely grateful for Dorothy's mentorship and happy for her when she and her love interest elope.

    Video Games 
  • Devil May Cry 4: Nero and Dante form a student-teacher rivalry through the course of the game. At first Nero is hunting down Dante for killing Sanctus, the holy leader of Fortuna. Dante constantly teases and goads Nero into trying to fight him, seeing a lot of potential in the young devil hunter. Of course Sanctus turns out to be Evil All Along, which gives Dante and Nero a common goal. By the end of the game, Dante entrusts Nero with his brother's sword, Yamato, and the two part ways implying they'll meet again. Come the sequel, Nero is trying to prove himself that he can handle protecting the human realm to Dante, who has grown colder towards him believing he can't defeat the Big Bad, Urizen.
  • League of Legends:
    • Sarah "Miss" Fortune and Gangplank, the former having met the latter when she was still a child. Gangplank murdered Fortune's parents, and originally saw her as nothing more than a harmless victim. This dynamic changed after Sarah got her revenge by leaving him for dead and taking over his pirate empire in Bilgewater. The two are now in heated competition to be Bilgewater's sole pirate lord.
    • Aatrox and Pantheon. Aatrox is a centuries-old Darkin, a parasitic being who bonds to human hosts, and Pantheon is the (former) aspect of war, essentially making him part god. The two have canonically defeated the other in battle, the victor leaving their opponent for dead each time. Aatrox despises all forms of godhood, seeing it as the cause for his eternal suffering, and seeks to eliminate Pantheon in his quest to destroy the heavens. Pantheon wishes to end Aatrox once and for all, both for nearly dying to him the past, and in his quest to protect humanity from the toying of the gods, Darkin and aspects alike.
  • In Love & Pies, Edwina, a middle-aged woman, is around Freya's age and they knew each other in school, but Edwina expresses her resentment towards Freya's daughter Amelia, who's around her mid-to-late 20s, wanting her to lose just like Freya. Amelia likewise stands up to Edwina's insults, hoping that she can save her mother's café. This turns out to also be a Sibling Rivalry after Edwina's father Sebastian tells Amelia that he is her father.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: Snake/Big Boss with a young Revolver Ocelot, who is ten years younger. Their rivalry is something of a student-teacher dynamic. Ocelot suffers a humiliating defeat early on and vows to earn his payback against Snake. The latter meanwhile gives him advice on better handling his weapons, and sees a clear potential in Ocelot to improve. The two face off numerous times throughout the game, each party getting stronger and more experienced every time. Eventually the two face off in a final duel, with Ocelot managing to fake out Snake by giving him a revolver loaded with blanks. Content with his need to further improve, Ocelot is able to part on amicable terms with Snake. As the series progresses, the two become staunch friends and allies.
  • The Sims 4 has Naoki Ito — a young, up-and-coming businessman — being enemies with the elderly Shigeru Nishikade, who opposes Naoki's plans to "modernize" Mt. Komorebi.
  • Yakuza 0: Kazuma Kiryu and Daisaku Kuze. Kuze is Kiryu's senior in the Dojima family, thinking Kiryu at first to be nothing more than young rookie and a tool for the clan. Though after suffering a humiliating defeat in front of the other leaders of the Dojima clan, including Sohei Dojima himself, Kuze swears revenge against Kiryu, and spends the rest of the game trying to take him down, their fights getting more intense with every rematch.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Dual Destinies: Athena and Apollo face off in court against Simon Blackquil, who is ten years their senior. While it's overall non-antagonistic, he still likes to make vague death threats and morose jokes at their expense, leveraging their naivete against them.

    Web Videos 
  • The title card for The Nostalgia Critic's "Old vs New" reviews depicts an elderly man and a child fighting each other (the original series' card was hand-drawn, while the reboot has Malcolm as the old man and Tamara as the child) to represent the battle between older films and their remakes.

    Western Animation 
  • Big City Greens: Cricket Green and Chip Whistler. Chip holds a petty grudge against Cricket for chipping his teeth with fake produce, and has since escalated in to trying to drive the Greens out of Big City for thwarting his various business schemes. Chip's rivalry with Cricket makes him out to be a cruel and juvenile individual.
  • Bob's Burgers: Downplayed with Louise Belcher, who is elementary school-aged, and her arch nemesis Logan Bush, who is a teenager. In his debut episode, Logan steals Louise's bunny ears, and Louise gets back at him by hiring a motorcycle gang to threaten to slit his ear if he doesn't give her the hat back, resulting in Logan quickly giving it back in a panic. Throughout the series, Logan and Louise constantly annoy each other (though it's mostly Logan who picks the fights first). A later episode reveals that Logan likes to bully other younger kids and peers at his high school.
  • Danny Phantom has Danny, who is just fourteen, in a rivalry with the only other known half-ghost half-human, Vlad, his father's old college roommate.
  • DuckTales (2017):
    • Scrooge McDuck and Flintheart Glomgold. Glomgold was a child when he met the adult Scrooge in South Africa. He developed a grudge after Scrooge made a condescending gesture to him, doubting his ability to make a name for himself. He has since dedicated his life to one-upping Scrooge and making his life miserable. While what Scrooge did was certainly not his proudest moment, Glomgold's resentment is portrayed as more irrational and obsessive, making him the more villainous of the two.
    • Dewey Duck and Don Karnage. Don developed a grudge after Dewey incited his crew to mutiny and then crashed Don's plane. Don considers Dewey his Arch-Enemy, not paying much mind to the rest of the Duck family. Overall their rivalry is Played for Laughs because of this, and leans towards a pettiness dynamic on Karnage's part.
  • Gravity Falls: Stan Pines, an old man, and Gideon Gleeful, a ten-year-old boy. The two are business rivals, Gideon being an even more exploitive scam artist than Stan is, and at first their rivalry is Played for Laughs due the absurd age gap between the two (though it's slightly Played With due to Gideon being the more evil of the two). Gideon, however, spends all of Season 1 endangering the Pines, which leads to Stan deciding to reveal his fraudulence to all of Gravity Falls, putting an end the boy's good reputation and business.
  • Harley Quinn: Played for Laughs. Harley spends episode 4 trying to antagonize Batman and make herself his nemesis. He instead sends a young Robin to deal with her, and Robin declares himself to be her new nemesis - much to her annoyance.
    Harley: I want a nemesis with some hair on their chest!
  • The Simpsons: Bart and Sideshow Bob. Bob has tried to kill Bart countless times for ruining his chances at fame over Krusty the Clown. He's gone to extreme lengths to make it happen like cornering Bart on a boat in the middle of the night after tying up his family, or abducting him aboard a crop-duster after holding Springfield hostage with a bomb.
  • South Park: Downplayed with Eric Cartman and his rival, Scott Tenorman. In the infamous episode "Scott Tenorman Must Die", Cartman (a fourth-grader) exacts revenge on the Scott Tenorman (a ninth-grader) after the latter tricked the former and sold him his pubes. Cartman constantly tries to trick him out of his allowance. Said revenge is merely petty, or at least, it appears to be at the beginning. Cartman manages to manipulate Scott into accidentally getting his own parents killed, cooks their corpses into chili, and has him devour it. Scott Tenorman later gets back at him in the season 14 episode "201", when it is revealed that Jack Tenorman, Scott's father, was also Cartman's father, and he killed his own father and fed him to his half-brother. By the end of the episode, Cartman is in tears. Except he's not crying because he just found out he got his own father killed, but because he just found out that he's "half-ginger".
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Fourteen-year-old Marco's rival at the karate dojo is Jeremy Birbaum, a elementary school-aged kid. In fairness, Jeremy is a Rich Bastard with an ego the size of a hot air balloon, and cruelty levels that surpass some of the actual monsters in the show, seeing as he teases a homeless guy with money on the hobo's birthday.