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Playing Nice for Now

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Two guys or groups are at each other's throats. The Hero versus The Villains, the Jets versus the Sharks, the vampires versus the werewolves... you know the drill. But then the cops or muggles or whatever show up, and bam! Time to put up the friendly faces and play nice with each other. The enemies instantly turn into best friends. And it will last until those nosy people have left the scene. Maybe even a few seconds longer. Then it's back to trying to kill each other again.

Unlike Enemy Mine, the enemies are not teaming up against a mutual enemy, they are merely putting up a little charade to give an impression that they are not hostile to each other.

Compare Chaos While They're Not Looking. See also The Masquerade, Living with the Villain, Villains Out Shopping, Villain Over for Dinner, Safety in Muggles, Such a Phony (when one character talks crap about another but pretends to be nice in their presence), and Non Violent Initial Confrontation. Compare Teeth-Clenched Teamwork which happens when they're forced to play nice and work on the same thing. Compare Go-Karting with Bowser for opponents who have genuinely friendly interludes between confrontations.


Anime and Manga

  • There's a funny moment for this trope in the Hellsing manga and OVA (Original Video Animation), where a meeting between Hellsing and Iscariot goes badly and Alucard and Anderson are about to throw down in an art museum, so Seras defuses the situation by pretending to be a guide and leading a group of elderly tourists into the room.
  • Natsu and Gray from Fairy Tail are always fighting, but will immediately put on huge smiles (and a cold sweat) whenever Erza Scarlett walks in.
  • In The Devil is a Part-Timer!, Maou reveals to Suzuno that he knows her secret and had only pretended to ignore it so long as she did not interfere with the daily lives of him and his associates, which shocks her greatly. Subverted later when Suzuno decides to side with Maou instead against Archangel Sariel.

Comic Books

  • In the Jean Valhardi adventure Le Soleil Noir, the eponymous hero makes use of such a situation, courtesy of a hapless glazier, to escape.


  • In West Side Story (1961), we have the Jets and Sharks putting up a façade for the cops. The cop doesn't buy it but lacks any evidence to arrest them for assaulting each other.
  • This occurs in Kill Bill Volume 1. The Bride and Vernita Green are fighting, but they temporarily stop when Vernita's four-year-old daughter Nikki arrives home from school.
  • Back to the Future. Marty and Biff do this when Strickland shows up.


  • In the City Watch sub-series of the Discworld novels, this is a common effect of the intervention of the Watch, especially if Captain Carrot is involved.
  • Fire & Blood: During the reign of King Viserys I, the two sides of his family pretended they weren't five minutes away from trying to kill one another for his sake, even after one kid on one side had removed another's eye in a fight. The minute he died, all Hell breaks loose.

Live-Action TV

  • In Dexter season 5, Dexter drugs a villain, but the guy gets him with his tranquilized dart as he falls down. They both fall unconscious and wake up in the same ambulance - quickly starting a friendly bickering about the "accident".
  • Seen in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "The Tower Is Tall But The Fall Is Short". Cameron and another Terminator have a Fight Scene that turns into an Elevator Action Sequence, and then into an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment when the elevator stops for a family of civilians. The two Terminators stand there silently for the duration, covering up their wounds, and then go back to beating the slag out of each other once they're alone again.
  • Partial example. In Merlin, nobody except Merlin and Gaius know about Morgana's Faceā€“Heel Turn. Merlin has to play nice and pretend to be overjoyed about her being back, and she has to continue the façade of friendship so as not to raise suspicion. That they keep this up for the better part of a year really says something about either their acting or everyone else's obliviousness.
  • Kamen Rider Kiva had a scene in a hospital where Otoya (dressed as an old woman) and Jiro (dressed as a doctor) are doing some recon despite the fact that they can't stand each other. They almost come to blows, but then some Muggles walk by and they fall into character, with Jiro asking "How are you doing, ma'am?" As soon as the civilians are out of sight, Jiro starts shouting the same thing into Otoya's ear.
  • The Barrier: The protagonists live in a Police State and have a The Stool Pigeon with Nosy Neighbor methods as their next-door neighbor. The protagonists sometimes get in heated disputes with home guests who would be at great risk if they were reported to the authorities, but said disputes tend to only be able to last for so long without attracting the attention of the denunciation-prone neighbor. Cooperation in making her leave and making sure she doesn't come back soon will hence temporarily take priority over everything else.

Western Animation

  • In the first episode of Wing Commander Academy, Maniac and Blair get into a heated argument. Maniac is about to strike Blair when Archer restrains him (using the Standard Female Grab Area no less) and then tosses him over her shoulder. Commodore Tolwyn and the Academy's commandant happen to witness that last part. The cadets claim that they were practicing for an unarmed combat class. Not quite an Enemy Mine take on the trope, though, since Maniac, Archer, and Maverick are all comrades in arms (with a strong rivalry between Maniac and Blair, and a considerable amount of Foe Romance Subtext between Maniac and Archer.)
  • Young Ben and Gwen of the Ben 10 franchise do this sometimes when Grandpa Max gets sick of their constant fighting. The most epic moment was in a five-minute short to go with the "Destroy All Aliens" CGI movie: their usual arguing escalates into a full-scale battle with the full might of the Omnitrix vs. Gwen's magic, even more epic than the one time they fought each other with their powers and meant it in Ultimate Alien. The result is the complete and utter demolition of the area - and being in perfect sync as they feign innocence when Max comes back.