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Loser Gets the Girl

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"Whosoever loses, should He be graceful, shall possess the love of Jane Foster!"

"If you would prove your love, you should do your worst."
Jocelyn to Ulrich, A Knight's Tale

Two men get in a fight, or at least a highly charged physical confrontation, over a woman they're both attracted to. One of them wins, so naturally she spurns him and goes for the loser.

Sometimes it's the winner's arrogant assumption that because he won the fight he's "won" the girl that dooms his chances. Other times, the severity of the injuries he inflicted revolts her.

Though the genderswapped version is of course possible, it appears to be rare-to-nonexistent in practice. Authors with traditional views about gender roles probably won't have women in this kind of confrontation, while more feminist writers are likely to shy away from Unfortunate Implications about female combatants somehow being unattractive. But see Wounded Gazelle Gambit.

Because this often leads to the After-Action Patch-Up or, more seriously, the After-Action Healing Drama, this often can be the result of the Florence Nightingale Effect. It can also be used as a subversion of Did Not Get the Girl: the Loser Protagonist thinks she's out of his league, but then she comes back to him. It may serve as the conclusion of an Everything but the Girl show. The loser is frequently The Woobie, especially when his love interest is intended as an audience identification character. See also Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor.


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     Comic Books  

  • Archie's not a good student, not exactly handsome or well-built, and is usually a clumsy, poor athlete. Yet Ron & Betty fight over him, and he has no problems getting dates with any other random girl in Riverdale.
  • Monica's Gang: Back when Jimmy Five's parents were students, Mr. Five had a rival and the two fought for her affections. Mr. Five lost the fight and she pitied him.


  • A gender-flipped version of this occurs in Harry Potter fic One Misfired Spell Later when Harry's girlfriend Hermione gets into a rivalry with Fleur over Harry that culminates in a duel over who gets to date him. Fleur beats Hermione badly, only for Harry to make it clear that it's up to him who he dates, he's not going to dump Hermione just because she got beaten up by a girl three years older than her, and that he wants nothing to do with Fleur.


  • A variation in Big Fish, where Edward Bloom lets Don Price beat him savagely because he's sworn to Sandra not to hurt him.
  • In A Knight's Tale, Jocelyn invokes this as a means for Ulrich to prove his love for her. While winning for their lover is something any knight would do, only one truly in love would lose to prove their love.
  • In Next, Nicolas Cage is a man with the ability to see into the immediate future, and he knows none of his pickup lines will work on the woman he meets in a diner. Not even beating up her stalkerish ex-boyfriend gets him a good result, only allowing the boyfriend to sucker-punch him.
  • In the spoof film Epic Movie, the main character Peter is portrayed as a loser in his high school "Mutant Academy" because his mutation only gave him chicken-like wings compared to others larger angel wings. Because of this, he doesn't have a chance with the very sexy and attractive shape shifter Mystique, portrayed by Carmen Electra. However, later on in the movie, after it's revealed he's gonna be the king of Gnarnia, she walks up to him, calls him being king "so hot" and says they should get out of there and drags him into a tent. She then makes out with him, before asking him want he wants her to shape shift into. He asks at first for bigger breasts, a larger ass, and a badonkadonk. However he then takes it back for a "Mamabrow" (Unibrow) and "Big Flabby Grandma Arms/Bingo Wings like a fat blue Britney Spears"...he does drool at the new transformation and they start to get in on before it thankfully fades to black... So he got the girl, even if in a very disturbing way.
    Mystique: So... you're gonna be the king of Gnarnia?
    Peter: That's what they say.
    Mystique: Mmm...I think that's so hot. (Grabs his arm) Why don't we get out of here? (She chuckles and pulls him into the tent. The next shot between the two is her throwing him down on a bed and making out with him.)


  • Tommy Forester and Alum Bey get in a fight over Bridget Comfrey at the beginning of Stardust. After Alun beats up Tommy, who is comforted by Bridget, the narration says, "Neither of them was quite certain who had won, who had lost."
  • The Knight's Tale from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales contains a variation. Cousins and former friends Palamon and Arcite fall out and duel for the love of Emilia. Arcite wins, but is struck dead in a literal Deus ex Machina, after which Emilia and Palamon are united.

     Live Action TV  

  • In It's About Time this happens in the episode "The Stowaway". Mlor runs away rather than be forced into marriage to Boss's vain son. Hector won't stand for this, and ends up facing Boss's son in a fight to the death for Mlor. Hector wins with the help of some of his astronaut vitamins (although he doesn't kill Boss's son). Still, Mlor immediately runs to her unconscious would-be groom weeping. Fortunately for Hector, Mlor and her family would in the very next episode return to the future with the two astronauts.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, this happens with Leonard, Penny's ex Kurt, and Penny, though when Penny comes on to Leonard he's Above the Influence.
  • In Jeeves and Wooster, Jeeves plans to get one of Bertie's friend Bingo together with the current object of his infatuation by having another young lady distract him at a crucial point during a foot race, on the basis that she's more likely to be attracted to the "gallant loser" than a man who won a race against a group of septuagenarians. (It Makes Sense in Context.) Of course, Bingo immediately falls for the other woman, Bingo's flightiness being greater than even Jeeves predicted.
  • In the Charmed episode "Happily Ever After", Phoebe's ex-husband Cole gets into an argument with her Boy of the Week Adam, which ends with Cole putting Adam in a painful-looking wrist lock and Adam and Phoebe walking off together.


  • Bobby Bare's song "The Winner" plays with this, given that it's about a burly old brawler describing to a younger tough wannabe the various ways that his need to "win" has cost him so much:
    Now this broken back was the dyin' act of a handsome Harry Clay
    That sticky Cincinnati night I stole his wife away
    But that woman she gets uglier and she gets meaner every day
    But I got her boy that's what makes me a winner
  • Saliva's video for "Click Click Boom" a young skinny guy gazes at a girl whose boyfriend decides to beat and humiliate him in the middle of a concert. She slaps her boyfriend and walks away in disgust and joins the skinny guy.

     Video Games  

  • Allen from Xenosaga, who managed to look so pathetic while getting beaten that he not only got the girl, but reversed the girl's Face–Heel Turn and derailed the Big Bad's plans in the process.
  • Can occur in the Neverwinter Nights 2 module Dark Waters, when you can get shot attempting to defend Heather's honor. Unlike most examples she sticks with the player regardless of whether you win or not.
  • In Bully, after Jimmy beats Johnny, the defeated contender says "alright, you can have her", referring to his unfaithful girlfriend, Lola. Jimmy responds that he can "keep that slut" and Johnny confusedly asks him if the reason he fought him in the first place was just because he wanted to prove that he's tougher than him. Jimmy confirms.


     Western Animation  

  • In the American Dad! episode "Camp Refoogee", Steve wins a critical race against the opposing camp to rescue his girlfriend... who promptly starts making out with the guy who lost the race. Her explanation: "I'm sorry Steve... but I'm kind of a crazy chick." It should be noted that the loser was a murderous militant leader who destroyed the girl's village. And he's an adult, while the girl is Steve's age, i.e. about fourteen. "Crazy chick" indeed.
  • A classic subversion occurs in Popeye. Olive Oyl, having just opened a Blacksmith shop, needs a Strong Man to help run it. Popeye and Bluto naturally spend the duration of the episode trying to best each other, ultimately leading to Bluto lying in a heap on the floor. Olive Oyl proudly declares that Bluto is her choice to operate the shop, much to Bluto's surprise and delight, until he watches Olive and Popeye going off on a romantic vacation.
    • Another episode had Popeye and Bluto trying to get themselves hurt because Olive was the nurse at the local hospital. Popeye "wins" by force-feeding Bluto his spinach and getting the crap beaten out of him.
      • In one version of the story, Popeye's "victory" was pyrrhic because the hospital was for dogs and cats.
      • In the cartoon series where Bluto was renamed Brutus, Olive was a sculptress wanting a beaten model.