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Nice Job Breaking It, Rivals!

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"Where be these enemies? Capulet! Montague!
See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love."
Prince Escalus, Romeo and Juliet

Two characters are fighting over something and in the process, the thing they are fighting over gets broken, damaged, or destroyed. Often overlaps with Nice Job Breaking It, Hero. May be seen as poetic justice. Usually implies a moral about how fighting is bad. A frequent variation is to have two Genre Blind characters try to wrest a piece of paper from each other, only for it to split.

If the thing that is "broken" is a contest that either would normally win, this may lead to a Dark Horse Victory. Compare No MacGuffin, No Winner, where this is done intentionally (and sometimes by a third party). The rivals may try to save face by claiming "We Win, Because You Didn't". Contrast Let's You and Him Fight.

Needless to say, it happens in real life all the time — from kids fighting over a toy and breaking it to governments fighting over a province and reducing it to a wasteland.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the original Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, when Nanoha and Fate fight over one of the Jewel Seeds, they accidentally activate it, almost causing an explosion. Fate then risks her life to contain it and therefore ends up claiming it.
  • In Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F', Goku and Vegeta are so caught up in showing off their new transformation that they forget to take Frieza seriously, which results in him backstabbing Goku and then blowing up the earth when their respective guards are down. Because of his ability to survive in space, with that move, Frieza would have won if Physical God Whis hadn't offered to reverse time and give Goku another chance.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a Peanuts strip, Lucy fights with "Royanne," the girl who claimed to be Roy Hobbs's great-granddaughter, over a baseball bat. Snoopy solves the dispute by sawing the bat in half.
  • One Calvin and Hobbes Sunday strip involves the duo attempting to make a snow sculpture of two snowmen shaking hands in a show of the spirit of compromise. However, Calvin makes his snowman's arm too short, prompting Hobbes to ask him to make it longer. Calvin refuses and the resulting negotiations quickly devolve into the two mutilating each other's snowmen and getting into a Big Ball of Violence. When the dust settles, the snowmen are completely destroyed.
    Hobbes: (as both are lying dazed amid the ruins of their snowmen) I don't think this sculpture is very good.
    Calvin: It's a compromise.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In the film version of James and the Giant Peach, this happens between Mr. Grasshopper and Mr. Centipede when they start fighting over a piece of food, which ends up falling overboard from the peach.
    Grasshopper/Centipede: Now look what you've done!
  • One-Man Band has a pair of musicians constantly trying to one-up each other in a bid to earn a coin from a passing girl. They end up frightening the poor girl so much that the coin gets dropped and falls down a drain. The angry girl proceeds to borrow one of the musicians' violins, puts on a performance of her own, and earns her money back and then some.
  • In the The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue Radio and Ratso end up breaking the WFC-11-12-55 tube replacement after a struggle to see who should get the honor of putting it into Wittgenstein.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the movie The War, two groups of kids fight over a treehouse. The treehouse is pretty much wrecked in the fighting.
  • This is how the Ring is destroyed in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (though not the book). After Gollum wrests the ring from Frodo, Frodo tries to take it back. The result is that Gollum falls into Mt. Doom, still clutching the ring.
  • Towards the end of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, the men who were after the $350,000 fight over the money while on an unstable fire escape. The suitcase opens accidentally, the money spills onto the streets, and the men fall from the fire escape and get injured.
  • In the 1967 European film Flashman, the Scotland Yard officer and his Lebanese counterpart fight for jurisdiction over the vial containing the stolen invisibility formula and the one containing the antidote. They end up breaking at least one of the vials.
  • In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rey and Kylo Ren both use the Force in a tug-of-war over the Skywalker lightsaber. They end up pulling it in half. However, by the time of the next movie, The Rise of Skywalker, Rey has managed to repair the lightsaber.

  • Inverted in a short story from Tales of Ravenloft. A young bride's sorcerer husband fights another wizard. Each begs for her help, warning her that the other is evil and intends to destroy her using a cursed portal she's discovered. Repelled by how each cares more about beating the other than about her, she uses the portal herself to kill both men, becoming a nastier villain than either.
  • By the beginning of the first Thursday Next novel The Eyre Affair, the armies of Great Britain and Russia have between them reduced the Crimean peninsula to a barren wasteland.
  • Averting this is the reason that the Gods of both Light and Dark use champions in David Weber's The War Gods series. It's not that The Gods Must Be Lazy, it's that they know that if they fight directly, they'll only end up destroying the world that they're both trying to claim.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A particularly tragic example happens in the first season of Heroes. Peter and Isaac get into a fight that is at least partly over a girl they both like. Guess who gets shot.
  • In the iCarly episode "iPie", Freddy and Sam are trying to hack into a dead guy's computer for a pie recipe. It's a slow computer, and Sam tries to take over. They fight over the keyboard and end up knocking the CPU over and smashing it... which turns out to be OK, because the recipe is written on sheets of paper hidden in the box.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Requiem for Methuselah": Flint created the Robot Girl Rayna Kapec to be a companion for him. He guided her and James T. Kirk into falling in love with each other to awaken her emotions, then planned to take over. He and Kirk end up in a fight over her, and during the fight, she is so stressed out over having to choose between them that she malfunctions and dies.
  • Yeralash has an episode where two boys are laying out presents for girls in their class. They take a large, beautiful doll out of the box, and start arguing which girl should receive that. In the end, they tear the doll in half... and then finally agree which girl should get it now.
  • Friends: Chandler and Rachel fight over a gourmet cheesecake accidentally delivered to them (it was meant for a neighbor who was away on a trip). It ends up being knocked on the floor as they both gaze at it, heartbroken. Later, Joey nonchalantly joins them in eating it off the floor.
    Joey (As he takes a fork from his pocket): What are we having?
  • In one episode of M*A*S*H, Hawkeye was planning to go to Tokyo with a date, but events conspired against him. When he packed his luggage, Charles argued that the pajamas were his. Their tug-of-war over them ended up tearing them and Charles decided to let Hawk have them anyway.
  • In the 4th-season L.A. Law episode "Bounds for Glory," Stuart is trying to help Benny resolve a dispute between himself and two other baseball-card collectors. At a highly contentious conference, Stuart picks up one of Benny's priceless cards, saying "You're all nuts! These things come five to a pack with a stick of gum!" Another litigant tries to take the card from him. Guess what happens.
  • Buzz Hickey on Community is estranged from his son, so the Save Greendale Committee tries to reunite them through a game of Dungeons & Dragons. (The son is an avid player.) During their quest to kill an evil necromancer, the party gets separated into two groups who viciously turn on each other when they reunite. The resulting battle kills all characters except the ones played by Hickey and his son who discover that the necromancer escaped during the battle.
  • On The Young Ones, when the lads move into a new house, Rick and Vyv immediately start fighting over which of them will claim one of the bedrooms. Their argument escalates until Vyv sets the bed on fire. They argue for a bit over which of them is now stuck with a burning bedroom, stop and think for an instant, then call in unison to Neil that his bedroom is on fire. As Neil glumly comes to extinguish the flames, Rick and Vyv charge into the room he's just vacated and begin arguing over that room instead.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Dinosaurs two-part episode Nuts to War! is about the two-legged dinosaurs starting a war with the four-legged dinosaurs after the four-legged dinosaurs seize control of the pistachio trees. The conflict ended after a short while and both sides agree to share the pistachios equally, unfortunately the news reports that nearly all of the trees were destroyed in the conflict.
  • Subverted in a Sesame Street sketch involving the Two-Headed Monster finding a two-headed snowman. Neither of the snowman's heads has a nose, so they decide to give it carrot noses. They find that they have only one carrot, though, and begin fighting over it. The carrot snaps in two, and they begin sobbing, but then they realize that they now have two carrot noses for the snowman.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: One comic featured an orc and a Chaos army fighting for control of a vital bridge, using every big gun at their disposal. When the dust clears, the only two left fighting are the two commanders, unaware that they're on the only segment of bridge left standing.

    Web Original 
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, the titular Villain Protagonist attempts to assassinate his Smug Super rival who stole the girl of his dreams, and she's the one who ends up getting shot and killed.
  • SuperMarioLogan also follows this trope as well. In "The Burger!", did Junior and Cody go on a truce and wish for another burger? Nope! Instead, they fight for the last piece thus letting Chompy eat the last piece!
    • This trope also happens in "The Gun!", when Junior tries to clean the trigger, he shot Cody to the point were it leads him and Joseph into an argument.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: In "Three Men and a Comic Book", Bart, Milhouse, and Martin go in on buying the first issue of Radioactive Man for $100 and end up destroying it during their squabble.
    Bart: "We worked so hard, and now it's all gone! We ended up with nothing, just because the three of us can't share."
    Milhouse: "So, what's your point?"
  • TMNT Back to the Sewer: Raph and Mikey manage to rip the Green Mantle in half while fighting over it, splitting its power between the pieces.
  • A Gentlemen's Duel: Over the course of the short film the gentlemen manage to sock the lady in the face repeatedly, destroy much of her estate and part of her mansion... and seemingly kill her.
  • In Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, a parody of the Cold War and the prospect of Mutually Assured Destruction, Duck Dodgers is assigned to find and claim Planet X for Earth because of Planet X's supply of an element needed to make shaving cream. Martian Commander X-2 (Marvin) is trying to claim it for Mars for unspecified reasons. Their efforts to destroy each other reduce the planet to a basketball-sized rock only big enough for Dodgers to stand on, with Marvin and the Cadet (Porky) dangling on the bottom.
  • Again in the Duck Dodgers series, when he and the Martian are fighting over a device used by a pirate crew to disappear from crime scenes to avoid capture.
  • In the Beast Wars episode Transmutate, the titular character is introduced as a powerful but sickly Cybertronian. Because of this, s/he is seen as dangerous to the Maximals, and useless to the Predicons. Only Silverbolt and Rampage from the different factions befriended Transmutate but they started fighting to get him/her to join with their respective side. Guess who tries to stop them from fighting by jumping into the crossfire only to get killed.
  • Celebrity Deathmatch:
    • One episode features a fight between Bruce Springsteen and James Gandolfini, where the two are fighting for ownership of a New Jersey rest-stop that's opening soon. Said fight also features Steve Van Zandt as both guest referee and future employee for whoever wins the fight. Guess who becomes the first fatality of the episode.
    • Also the fight between Corey Haim and Corey Feldman has the two fighting over Harvey Weinstein. Not only do they end up killing themselves, they also end up killing the man they were both fighting over.
  • The Transformers: In "The Golden Lagoon", Beachcomber discovers a hidden idyllic place with an electrum lake in the center, which can grant temporary invincibility if coated with the liquid. He tried to keep it a secret because he knew what would happen should the Decepticons discover it. Sure enough, they did. Later on, the Autobots learned of it, and a major battle ensued. When it was over, the entire area, along with the lake, was obliterated. The last scene was Beachcomber looking at the smoldering ruins of the once pristine area and saying dejectedly, "We won".
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "The Waterbending Scroll", Zuko hires some pirates to kidnap Aang and his friends, only for the pirates to go back on the deal and turn on him once Sokka informs them that Aang is the Avatar, and therefore worth far more than Zuko can pay them. A fight breaks out between the pirates and Zuko's group in which, though no one is killed, leaves them both with nothing as Aang and his companions escape while both sides are busy fighting each other. Iroh even sums this up as he stops the fight and chastises both sides saying, "Are you too busy fighting to see that your own ship has set sail?"
  • The Dexter's Laboratory episode "Let's Save the World, You Jerk!" has Dexter and Mandark teaming up to save the Earth from a group of asteroids, only for them to continuously fight for the glory of saving the world and wind up getting the Earth blown up.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Shell Games", Tony and Patrick's fight over Tony's shell/Patrick's rock ends with it smashed to pieces.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the episode "Fall Weather Friends", Applejack and Rainbow Dash compete in the annual Running of the Leaves race. Their rivalry with each other ends up getting so bad that they focus more on trying to sabotage and cheat each other that they forget about everyone else in the race and eventually causes them to tie for last place.
    • In "The Hooffields and McColts", two friends, Grub Hooffield and Piles McColt arrived in the Smokey Mountains, they wanted to preserve the valley and protect the animals in it. But they disagreed on what was the best way to do this, which eventually had them sabotaging each other and developing into a full-blown feud. This feud lasted for generations, with even their descendants continuing it, despite no longer remembering how it started, and in the process, the very valley they wanted to protect was ruined by them and the various animals were caught in their crossfire. Twilight and Fluttershy eventually discover this themselves and explain to both families how they are fighting over nothing and hurting the land and animals, with both families agreeing to make amends and fix what they did.
  • The Loud House: In "The Sweet Spot", the Loud kids fight over who gets to sit on the best seat in their family van for an incoming road trip, which spans across a night and the following morning. It culminates in them destroying the van, causing the road trip to be cancelled and getting themselves grounded.
  • Kaeloo: In Episode 2, Kaeloo and Mr. Cat are playing doctor and they both want Quack-Quack to be their patient. During their fight over him, they start playing tug-of-war with his body and end up pulling too hard, causing Quack-Quack to get ripped in half. Quack-Quack being unkillable, this doesn't do any permanent damage, but he decides to quit the game.
  • Gravity Falls: In the series finale, the world is nearly doomed because brothers Stan and Ford Pines have held a grudge against each other for thirty years. Stan nearly causes Ford's plan to banish Bill Cipher using the Zodiac Circle to fail because he can't bring himself to shake Ford's hand, as Ford has never thanked him for saving him. When the others finally guilt Ford into saying thanks, it seems like things are back on track... until Ford can't help himself from condescendingly correcting Stan's grammar, causing Stan to snap and break the circle, giving Bill time to destroy the Shacktron and take out half the Zodiac group, dooming the plan for good.
  • Recess: In "The Great Can Drive", most of Miss Grotke's class participate in a can drive for Thanksgiving to show up the Ashleys. However, the competing group's fighting over the last can causes the rest to spill their contents, rendering them useless. Mikey (the only one who recognized the point of the drive was to help feed the homeless) is furious at this outcome.


Video Example(s):


The Destruction of Planet X

Dodgers and Marvin's battle for control of Planet X results in their reducing the planet to a rock the size of a basketball. They somehow manage to stand on it, very closely. Dodgers technically wins in the end, but destroys Planet X in the process, which the Cadet then lampshades.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / NiceJobBreakingItRivals

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