Somebody, usually our Loser Protagonist heroine, is throwing a party. Perhaps it's her first "grown-up party", maybe it's a fairly major birthday, like her sweet 16th or her "now you're a teen!" 13th. However, someone else (usually the Alpha Bitch) has found out about this and scheduled a bigger, better and unsupervised party on the same day and time as the Cool Loser's party.
Of course, everyone at school goes to the Alpha Bitch's party, tempted by expensive freebies or a famous band she's somehow managed to wrangle, leaving our heroine and her few closest, strongest friends sitting alone with her parents, surrounded by unused party stuff and miserable.
However, something happens at the Alpha Bitch's party; perhaps the party-goers don't actually have fun, maybe the police show up and close it down for being too noisy, or her parents close it down and ground her for trashing their house. Everyone heads over to the Cool Loser's house, and end up having a much more fun party.
The trope doesn't always follow this format; variations do show up — maybe it is the Cool Loser who schedules a party against the Alpha Bitch's when the Cool Loser isn't invited, for example. It also isn't an exclusively teen trope; versions with adults have been seen, but it shows up a lot in shows aimed at tweens that feature teens.
This isn't exclusive to partying; whether deliberate or not, any event scheduled to occur at the exact same time as a similar event qualifies as this type of gambit.
- Archie Comics (2015): Happens in the first issue of Reggie & Me, where the teen population of Riverdale leaves Reggie's party because Veronica is throwing her own on the same night. Archie later tries to clarify that Veronica didn't mean for that to happen, but Reggie is upset all the same.
- Giraffes On Horseback Salad: When she learns that the Surrealist Woman is planning a party in the California desert, Linda rents out a nearby farmhouse and schedules her own party at the same time to try and overshadow it.
- The Karma of Lies: After Marinette is convinced to spend an entire week preparing a party for Lila and the rest of the class, Lila manipulates the others into throwing a picnic of their own at the same time. When confronted about this, Marinette's Fair-Weather Friends claim that they intended to attend both, since her party was going for longer... while ignoring the fact that they didn't invite her to said picnic despite holding it at the park right outside her family bakery.
- In Leave for Mendeleiev, Chloe throws a party in an effort to cheer up Adrien, inviting the whole school. After an argument with Aurore over her harassing Marinette, she snaps that they can just leave; Aurore happily takes her up on that offer, and as both girls are leaving, Kim shouts that they should all head to the pool. This triggers a mass exodus; even Adrien ditches Chloe despite how she organized the whole thing for his sake in the first place.
- Inverted in Accepted, in which the ones who make the gambit are the sympathetic protagonists, and their party is legitimately far more awesome than that of the dumb frat boys they are screwing over. Even after the frat tries to shut them down, they just party harder.
- In The Dead Zone when Johnny foresees most of his son Chuck's class dying by fire when the restaurant their graduation celebration is to be held in is struck by lightning, Roger Chatsworth doesn't really believe it will happen, but they invite everyone to come to his house for an alternate party instead to humor Johnny. Everyone who accepted the alternate invitation survives, while most of those who stuck with the original party dies horribly.
- Invoked in Wax and Wayne. As Steris points out, the Yomen-Ostlin wedding invited almost every aristocrat in the city so that they could not only insult everyone they didn't invite, but stop them from starting their own party by preemptively stealing all the guests.
- In order to get back at Renata on Big Little Lies, Madeline invites a bunch of moms and their kids to Disney on Ice on the same day as Renata's daughter Amabella's birthday party, knowing that it will hurt Amabella because Madeline's own daughter Chloe and several of their friends will miss it. Madeline is right, and Renata calls and asks her to reconsider, but she smugly refuses.
- Greendale Community College decided to have a Sadie Hawkins dance. Britta, ever the activist, found it sexist, and decided to hold a Sophie B. Hawkins dance at the same time. She meant Susan B. Anthony, but refused to acknowledge her wrongness, and tried to hire a Sophie B. Hawkins look-a-like to attend. Someone (possibly Pierce) managed to get the real Sophie B. Hawkins to show and saved the dance.
- Frasier is a victim of the adult version of this trope when his nemesis in the apartment upstairs throws a cooler, more fun Christmas party than Frasier and invites everyone in their building. As Frasier's party involves poetry recitals and obscure Christmas carols, everyone chooses to go to the other one - until Martin pulls a few strings with his friends in the police department and gets it shut down because so many people in one apartment is a fire hazard.
- While separated Niles attempts to throw a party for his high society friends only to learn Maris is throwing an even bigger party at the same time. Niles calls her to demand she reschedule but ends up folding and agreeing to attend her party instead.
- "The One With the Girl Who Hits Joey" has this trope reversed a bit. Ross had freshly moved in to his new apartment, and got ostracized by all the other tenants because he didn't feel like giving a large check to help throw a retirement party for the janitor. Eventually, he gets sick of this and decides to throw a party to get everyone to like him. It happens to coincide with the very retirement party to which he didn't contribute and even Phoebe, whom he invited, ended up at the janitor's party. Ross is arguably the jerk in this instance, even if you sympathize with his initial decision.
- "The One With the Two Parties" had an odd example that ended up like this even though the same people were organising both parties, and the fact they coincided was intentional. Because Rachel's parents literally couldn't be in the same room, the gang arranged two birthday parties; one in the girls' apartment and one in the boys' apartment, with the 24-Hour Party People evenly split between them. But before long everyone in the former party who heard about the other one started drifting from Monica's uptight formal do, to Joey's more relaxed event.
- Invoked in The Good Place episode "Existential Crisis". Tahani — an accomplished socialite who took great pride in her events — is asked to plan a party for a neighbor's birthday, except it's all a setup by Vicky and the Bad Place demons to torture her by arranging a bigger, more extravagant party to overshadow hers. She gets wind of the scheme through Michael and goes along with her party anyway so they won't know she's clued in to the torture, but she takes it as a challenge to try and outshine the demons instead and puts her all into the preparations despite knowing that it's a setup. She gets so caught up believing she could beat them at their own petty game that she is is then legitimately crushed and miserable when the demons use their powers and control "the Good Place" to make their party an awesome spectacle that overshadows hers completely.
- An episode of Lizzie McGuire had this done impromptu as an inversion after Lizzie was banned from the school dance after being made to confess to breaking a statue (Kate was the one who broke it) or else the dance would be cancelled. After, nearly everyone ditched the dance and headed over to Lizzie's house instead, leaving Kate alone at the school.
- The O.C. reverses this by having Kaitlin throw a party on the night of the Alpha Bitch's scheduled Sweet 16 with kegs. Everyone prefers her party.
- The Office (US)—in "A Benihana Christmas" Angela's overbearing unpleasantness as head of the Party Planning Committee lead Karen and Pam to form the Committee for Planning Parties and plan a more fun party. Inverted in that the ones pulling the gambit are the protagonists.
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch:
- Sabrina ends up making a clone of herself to attend one party, and she goes to the cooler one, because Libby requested it. It had already been demonstrated in that episode these clones have brains of pudding. Sabrina gets back just slightly too late to stop the situation, but just in time to spin it. That Halloween, Sabrina actually goes to the lamer party - a family gathering.
- The next year, she competes with Libby by throwing a party at her own house and it's still not quite played straight, because Sabrina's Masquerade policing is keeping the guests annoyed and/or bored. It's when her efforts fail and everything starts breaking down that the party becomes fun (this is Halloween, after all).
- It happened on The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, although this time with The Brainless Beauty London, who in this case is also the best friend who doesn't understand the concept of not getting her way. She learns her lesson in the end, though, and comes to the other party.
- That's So Raven has this happen in one episode. There, due to the scheming of the Alpha Bitch, people turned up the week before the party instead and Raven had the misfortune to be wearing an embarrassing mud mask and her jammies at the time. Her parents were also in spandex workout suits. In the end Raven, Chelsea and Eddie plan to embarrass The Alpha Bitch (Nikki) back, they manage to get her Covered in Gunge (well, hairspray, water and feathers) just before her party, but Raven had a last minute change of heart and decided not to force her to be seen that way by her party goers. Raven still lets the girl leave her house carrying a bouquet of poison ivy.
- Enforced by WWE's Vince McMahon, who scheduled the first Survivor Series PPV on Thanksgiving Night 1987, the same night that the NWA was airing their first PPV Starrcade, and told the PPV companies of the time to choose between Survivor Series and Starrcade, and further told them that if they aired Starrcade, they would not get to air WrestleMania that spring. Most chose Survivor Series. McMahon did the same thing again by airing the Royal Rumble for free on the USA Network against NWA's Bunkhouse Stampede. Jim Crockett Promotions retaliated by airing the first Clash of the Champions on TBS against WrestleMania IV. Eventually, the pay-per-view companies asked them to stop scheduling shows opposite each other.
- Perros Del Mal Produccioness was supposed to be a spinoff promotion from CMLL in 2007 to further an angle centered around the titular Perros Del Mal Power Stable and shine a spotlight on independent circuit luchadors. Something went wrong, however, leading to Perro Aguayo Jr to break from CMLL completely in 2008 and CMLL to retaliate with counter shows running directly alongside PDM's to undermine the new promotion's launch. CMLL did relent however as PDM struck up a deal with AAA and CMLL got to do a close enough angle when disenfranchised AAA luchadors departed to the independent circuit in mass during 2009.
- AAA used this to get the Reina De Reinas off of perennial holder Taya Valkyrie by announcing a title defense at a show where she hadn't been scheduled to appear, then stripping her of the title for no showing. However, the actual angle used for her no longer being champion was an illegal choke hold used on Ayako Hamada, in a no disqualification match(in other words a Voodoo Shark because even if it was deemed an illegitimate title change the belt should have defaulted to Hamada, who wasn't even part of the decision to decide the next title holder)
- AEW and NXT have had a couple run-ins where their shows fell on dates that coincided. Both sides have claimed this wasn't by any design. NXT also counter-programmed AEW Dynamite on Wednesday nights for awhile, although NXT eventually shifted it to Tuesdays.
- Homestar Runner: The cartoon "The Luau" has Strong Bad throwing a marshmallow roast at the same time as Marzipan's luau. The invitations even say "Same time as Marzipan's stupid Luau". Even then, people's attendance had more to do with the fact that they expected Marzipan's party to suck (since she's a known Granola Girl and willing associate of terminally gloomy bore Strong Sad) than they expected Strong Bad's to be particularly jumpin'.
- The cartoon provides an unusual variation of this trope with its outcome. Strong Bad can't light the wood, because Homestar had apparently urinated on it earlier in the cartoon. Homestar himself gets bored of managing the tofu at Marzipan's luau and attends Strong Bad's roast, but then the tofu catches fire and everyone ends up running to the Luau by accident simply because they spotted "a fire" where they could roast their marshmallows. Everyone except Strong Bad, who ended up just roasting a marshmallow against a single match stacked on top of his wood pile. Marzipan is oblivious to all of this and thinks they are enjoying the tofu.
- Pucca: Ring Ring held a party and invited everyone except for Pucca, who instead got a note stating she wasn't invited and that Ring Ring so wanted her not to show up she'd not even tell the day of the party. Ring Ring also told Pucca not to wear the same dress as her during the party. Pucca and the chefs then held a party at the Goh Rong. Pucca invited everyone. That included Ring Ring but she didn't open the letter, assuming it was fan mail. Both parties were held at the same day and nobody showed up at Ring Ring's (other than the vagabonds but they just ate and left). After several attempts to ruin Pucca's party, Ring Ring finally read her invitation and learned Pucca wanted Ring Ring to tell the day of her party to avoid helding hers the same day.
- Cobra Kai: This is the basis for the Wild Teen Party Aisha plans at the very site Yasmine was planning hers. Yasmine is not impressed.
- This happened with Angelica's 13th birthday party and Savannah's party in All Grown Up!.
- Daria: Quinn gets roped into planning the school dance by Sandi, who then throws her own party, which turns out to be lame. Subverted in that Quinn is the more popular of the two; double subverted in that, once she realises the rest of the Fashion Club won't help her, Quinn foists planning off onto Daria and Jane.
- Hey Arnold! has a near perfect example of "schedule a party against the Alpha Bitch". Arnold is one of the few kids in their class that gets invited to Rhonda's "cool kids" party. Even Gerald doesn't, as Rhonda was worried he'd out-cool her. However, her party is dull and Arnold is annoyed that most of his friends haven't been invited. So he leaves and throws an impromptu "geeks party" at his house. Everyone heads there attracted by the more fun atmosphere. Eventually Rhonda shows up as well, but she isn't allowed in until she declares herself a "geek" (for that night at least).
- A variation happens in Jem when Eric Raymond and The Misfits film and premiere a big-budget movie, solely to upstage Jem's indy effort. The Misfit's movie is a dog and the premiere crowd moves en masse to the lower key theater holding Jem's premiere. (A later episode has Jem/Jerrica nominated for an Oscar for her effort.)
- On The Smurfs, Brainy Smurf throws a "smarty party", but excludes the Smurflings for being too young, so they decide to throw their own party. Eventually, everyone goes to the Smurflings' party after being expelled from Brainy's party for breaking any of the myriad rules he set up.
- Example straight from Fulton, Mississippi, with one slight variation: It's the parents who planned it to ostracize seven kids and deny them their Prom.
- The timing of Christmas doesn't match up with the historical date of Jesus' birth. Instead, it was scheduled when it was to overlap with, and draw people away from, pagan solstice festivals. It worked.
- Cosplayers, ever gone to a convention, looked up the times for gatherings, only to discover that one of your fandoms' gatherings is at the exact same time slot as another one of your fandoms' gatherings? Or worse, discover that one gathering you're attending has a much smaller projected turnout than another, much more anticipated gathering scheduled at the same time? Usually this is not on purpose, as at conventions, official gatherings are typically scheduled by staff who may not be aware that two concurrent gatherings' respective series have a lot of mutual fans, and major conventions usually have several dozen gatherings going on over the course of the con; depending on how many designated areas for gatherings there are and how long the convention is, alternate time slots may not be an option for the organizer.
- During The Gilded Age (1880-1920ish) some of the richest men lived in New York City most of the time, but would move away from the summer. One place they tended to take their families was Newport, RI, where they built summer "cottages" with 30-88 rooms. Planning parties in order to draw the crowd away from another family's party was a tactic some society wives used in order to make sure everyone remembered their name.