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"It's a very serious human game."
Kurama, YuYu Hakusho

For the webcomic, click here.
For the Nickelodeon show, click here.

Rock–paper–scissors is a game that is known throughout the world. Extremely simple, but elegant, there are three choices a player can make, and each beats another and loses to the third. If two choose the same, they tie. It's also a tie if there are more than three people who each lose and win at the same time. In the standard game, the advantages are explained as a rock (portrayed by a closed fist) smashing a pair of scissors (two separated fingers), scissors cutting a sheet of paper (an open hand with fingers together), and paper defeating rock by covering it up.

Many variations of the game exist, sometimes incorporating additional elements that may or may not be properly balanced against the usual three. For example, "Fire" may beat rock, paper, and scissors alike (but can only be played once) while "Water" beats "Fire" but loses to everything else (and can be played at any time). You can also modify the game by swapping in different gestures, such as the full-body "Bear, Hunter, Ninja." ("Bear eats Ninja.") There's also the somewhat memetic "Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock" which has expanded the game so each choice has two win conditions and two loss conditions note  for those who want some balanced variety, and the truly insane "Rock-Gun-Lightning-Devil-Dragon-Water-Air-Paper-Sponge-Wolf-Tree-Human-Snake-Scissors-Fire" (each choice beats seven and loses to seven) for those with a Complexity Addiction. If you just have to take it too far, and aren't afraid of brain aneurysms, there is actually a version with 101 choices and 5,050 outcomes.

Any way it's played, the simple and almost childlike qualities of the game make it a prime tool for a random Anti-Climax. Few things cause the tension to fall apart like the heroes suddenly deciding a tense issue by playing games.

The use of rock–paper–scissors to resolve disputes or apportion chores (rather than as a game) is mostly a Japanese Media Trope, but it has recently been commuting over to Western audiences as well, where it may be Played for Laughs. The game is also known, incidentally, as "jan-ken-pon" in Japan and South America, "kawi-bawi-bo" in Korea, "Rochambeau" in the West, "pierre-papier-ciseaux" or "chifoumi" in France, "tsu-ye-fah" in Russia, "chu-va-chee" in Ukraine and "Ching-Chang-Wallah" or "paper-scissors-stone" in parts of England and "scissor-paper-rock" in Australia.

Not to be confused with Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors, which describe a similar "X beats Y beats Z beats X" situation. Neither it is to be confused with Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, which is about which Elemental Powers is best against which. Poor, Predictable Rock is when someone devotes themselves to one of the three options for any conceivable scenario. Scissors Cuts Rock is when a side on the losing end of a matchup manages to win despite its disadvantage. For a similar but simpler game for resolving disputes, try Heads or Tails?


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  • A 1990 PSA from the Canadian organization Companies Committed to Kids "Moe Funky" encourages kids to not play games when making important decisions and to "use their heads" instead. Rock, Paper, Scissors is one of the games depicted.
  • A 2007 Super Bowl commercial for Bud Light involves two guys playing Rock–Paper–Scissors for the last bottle in an ice chest.
    "But I threw Paper..."
    "I threw a rock."
  • Similar to the above, a World Cup commercial for Pepsi has a referee run out of coins for the starting coin toss, and resort to this. It's the players' fault for snagging his Pepsi every time he got one out of the vending machine, although that sort of thing is all right if you're freaking David Beckham....
  • A 2011 "Subway" commercial (With Grown-Ups sounding like kids) involves two firefighters playing Rock–Paper–Scissors to see who gets a coworker's sandwich; but by the time they complete their best-two-out-of-three, he's already polished it off and merely hands over the empty wrapper.
  • A 2016 commercial for Android references this. We see a sheet of paper at school getting bullied by two more sheets of paper. They stop when a pair of scissors intervenes. The sheet of paper and the scissors walk home together afterwards to find a pair of rocks bullying another rock. The pair of scissors is afraid to get involved, so the paper goes in. After that, we see the sheet of paper, scissors, and rock walking away together the best of friends.
  • A 2016 commercial for Coffee-Mate has a man who repeatedly loses to gingerbread mascot Joel Hubbard while playing Rock–Paper–Scissors. The reason: Joel can only do paper, while the man always chooses rock.
  • A 2007 commercial for Sierra Mist has Shrek and Donkey seeing the last Sierra Mist can in a vending machine. They play this to see who gets to drink it first and Shrek wins but unfortunately the Donkey can only do rock because of his hooves.
  • A "Must Drink More Milk" commercial featured a rock, a sheet of paper, and a pair of scissors meeting in an alley for a three-way street brawl. Before they even get started, a laser sword shows up and beats all three of them in one go.
    "Laser Sword beats everything!"

  • The Old Master Q movie, Master Q and The Water Margin, had Master Q and his friends, Chin and Potato Head, using this game to decide whom should be a human guinea pig for a time machine.
  • In episode 23 of Happy Heroes, Big M. wants to become the teacher of a superhero class, but another person appears and tries to get the job as well. Big M. decides to settle the matter with a rock-paper-scissors duel, with the winner being the person who gets the job. The other person wins, much to Big M.'s disappointment.
  • The beginning of episode 60 of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf shows Weslie and Wolffy playing a few rounds of this game and having fun.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball:
    • In the original manga and anime, "Jan Ken" is a fighting move — Rock is a punch, Paper is a chop, and Scissors is a Three-Stooges-style eye poke. Also you have to call out which one you're using whenever you attack with it, which leads to a scene where Goku "cheats" somewhat by saying Paper but doing the Rock move instead.
    • During the King Piccolo arc, Goku and Yajirobe Rock–Paper–Scissors for the right to fight King Piccolo's minion Cymbal. Cymbal is not amused.
    • Dragon Ball Z has what is probably one of the most memorable examples of this trope, where the Ginyu Force decide to play rock–paper–scissors to determine who will fight the heroes, and they stalemate by choosing the same option. And then do it again... And then continue to do so for about five minutes. Then, after the winner is defeated... they do it again! As a result, using rock–paper–scissors as a means to deciding important things, and then tying over and over again, became a sort of Call Back in the series, happening again to Goku, Gohan, and Vegeta in the last storyline (Vegeta won, which meant he was allowed to pretty much kill Pui-Pui). It even gets mentioned in the Ginyu Force's theme song from Dragon Ball Kai (specifically, Ginyu calling it a fair way of doing things).
    • Goku and Vegeta also play it before their last encounter with Kid Buu, having drawn him to Supreme Kai's planet for the final battle. Doing this instead of going the safe route and pulling off the Fusion Dance stuns the Kais present, showing how prideful a Saiyan can be.
    • The extended cut of Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods has a scene where the fate of the world lies in Oolong's hands, literally, when Beerus challenges him to a game of Rock–Paper–Scissors with the fate of the Earth at stake.
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • One of the tests Genkai has for choosing her apprentice is rock–paper–scissors — in truth a game that looks like it, but actually tests for spiritual awareness. Kuwabara, being subconsciously psychic, gets the highest scores, and has a reputation for being a "Rock–Paper–Scissors Master" as a result; throughout the whole series, he never loses a game.
    • During the Dark Tournament, Kuwabara, Kurama, and Hiei (who has to be taught the game) use this method to determine who will go up for the next fight to the death. They all want to win. Kuwabara tried to cheat by throwing in late but Hiei called him out. Kuwabara won anyway.
    • Team Rokuyukai played this game to decide who would end up being the substitute fighter. Chu, the leader, sucks at this game and he lost.
  • In Hunter × Hunter (by YuYu Hakusho's author), Gon bases his abilities off of rock–paper–scissors, which he happens to be bizarrely good at playing. They treat it as a sort of martial arts thing, where watching the opponent's small movements will allow you to predict their choice in a split second and react accordingly, which could be technically true. When he tells the other characters that he'd been doing this, they react as if he had been cheating all along (and Killua beats him in an RPS tournament by feinting with his other hand). Gon's signature move is "Rock", a extremely powerful Megaton Punch. "Scissor" is a Laser Blade and "Paper" is a Energy Ball. Gon eventually calls the technique "Jajanken" ("Fist of Surprise").
  • The first act of Kaiji involves the title character playing a card-based variation of rock–paper–scissors.
  • Naruto:
    • Kakashi and Gai have a rock–paper–scissors contest in an episode.
    • When Kakashi teaches Naruto more about the use of shadow clones, their shadow clones play a game of rock–paper–scissors (with Naruto's clone insisting there be some wager, such as buying the winner a meal), and after dismissing the jutsu, asks Naruto about the outcome.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion. Misato plays RPS with Shinji to divide up the household chores in a fair manner. Shinji isn't happy to discover that this 'fair' method somehow ends up with him being assigned most of the work.
  • Samurai Champloo. Mugen and Jin immediately play Jan Ken (in the variation where the loser has to avoid an imaginary punch) for three rounds to determine who gets to be with lovely courtesan Yatsuha, as opposed to the other, homely ones. It's meant to be comedic; throughout the episode, Mugen and Jin are bizarrely in tune with one another.
  • It also shows up in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable. Ken Oyanagi's Stand, Boy II Man, has the power to turn a rock-paper-scissors match into an Absurdly High-Stakes Game. Whenever Ken wins a round, he takes a third of his opponent's energy, including their own Stand, and if he wins three times, he gains complete control over the loser.
  • In Yotsuba&!, Yotsuba's father teaches her a variation in which the loser is whacked with a rolled-up newspaper. Also, in the camping installment, this is used to determine who gets a turn in a hammock after Jumbo. Yotsuba wins, but the hammock is big enough that they decide that Ena and Miura can get in as well.
  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo has a supplementary comic about a warrior who defeats several enemies in battle with rock–paper–scissors. The battle looks like standard anime martial artist rapid punches, but making the signs for rock, paper and scissors simultaneously. Whenever one of them loses, their heads explode.
  • Inuyasha, Kagome, Sango, and Miroku play a team form of Jan Ken on the road in one episode. Kagome wins a lot.
  • In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, it is shown that the masters decide on Kenichi's training order by using RPS. It's also shown that they're all so advanced as martial artists, they can cheat by very quickly changing which sign they make while swinging their hand down, based on what they see their opponents' signs are — while they're starting to swing. The matches are mainly duels of I Know You Know I Know.
  • Azumanga Daioh:
    • Poor Chiyo-Chan ends up having to ride with Yukari during the first summer break because, as she laments, "I'm bad at rock–paper–scissors!"
    • Then of course, there's Osaka, resident Cloudcuckoolander who throws in late after Tomo has chosen scissors, and picks paper.
      Yomi: We should redo it since someone threw in late!
      Tomo: Who throws in late and loses?!
      Osaka: Wow, you're really good at rock–paper–scissors!
  • Gintama features a "hit-and-cover" variation, in which the loser has to avoid being hit in the head with a hammer by putting on a helmet. This being Gintama, no one plays by the rules at all: Otae whacks Kondou unconscious even after he gets the helmet on, Okita and Kagura's match devolves into an all-out beatdown, and Gintoki and Hijikata get drunk and decide to play the game with swords.
  • Weaponized in a scene of Yu-Gi-Oh! Yugi was racing to get to his friends as fast as possible, who were set to be attacked by Marik's Ghouls, and a pair of Ghouls show up, and begin playing Rock Paper Scissors to choose who faces Yugi first. They intentionally tied with each other over and over and over again to waste Yugi's time. Until Kaiba showed up and made it a 2-on-2.
  • Also in Black Lagoon. During a chase scene, Revy and Shenhua play one round of RPS to decide who gets to destroy one of the Japanese Red Army vehicles that want them dead. Shenhua wins and destroys most of the convoy instead, pissing off Revy in the process.
  • Used in Saiyuki to decide who has to carry the pack when they can't ride in the jeep. Although it's not a fair game, the others all know that Goku always uses scissors.
  • Used in one episode of Haré+Guu to settle a dispute between Haré, Guu, and Wigur. Guu wins, though it's not clear how anyone can tell: like The Powerpuff Girls, her hands are stylized into indistinct blobs.
  • In Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, there is a collective rock–paper–scissors game to determine who's doing chores... which Sanson always loses because he's predictable (he tends to regularly pick scissors). Later in the same episode, when confronted by an enemy mecha armed with a crab-like pincer, Sanson briefly mumbles to himself the rules of the game, concluding with "Rock beats scissors!"... and he picks a big boulder to throw at the mecha, hoping to block its claw. It doesn't work.
  • In one episode of Sgt. Frog, the main characters decide to have a snowball fight following the "official rules", which involves splitting into two teams. Tamama suggests that they add an element of Capture the Flag by having one teammate tied up and rescued by the others on their team, and that they pick who it is by using rock–paper–scissors. This is actually a ploy to get Natsumi out of the running, since she has the most physical prowess, but always loses at RPS.
  • In Bakuman。, during the Beta Couple's critical dispute over which type of bed will they choose as their marital bed, Takagi suggests to Miyoshi to solve this and all their future disputes by using the rock–paper–scissors game.
  • In D.Gray-Man, a trio of Akuma with completely different abilities (ice, sound and wind) play rock–paper–scissors to determine how they're going to kill Allen. It backfires spectacularly.
  • Smile Pretty Cure!'s Yayoi does this after she transforms into Cure Peace. So far, everyone who plays along lost.
  • In Octave, Yukino and Setsuko go on an Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date. Since they're both girls, they janken to decide who rows.
  • Nichijou: Once per Episode, a short clip shows Nano and the Professor playing this. It usually ends with some catch that prevents Nano from winning. Either her hand will fly off, carrying her with it, it will be replaced by a shark, flowers... Nano actually wins several times (the Professor treats the shark like a victory, and she wins in Episode 7), but something bad will subsequently happen to her (in Episode 7, the Professor launched her hand across the room to retrieve the remote).
  • In the Bad Future of Psyren, Maria became the team leader by winning a game of rock–paper–scissors. Thankfully, she's also quite competent.
  • Played for Drama in the Downer Beginning of Kotoura-san. This is the first scenario when she innocently showed off her telepathy, to her detriment. Amusingly, this is also an Actor Allusion with Yayoi above since both of them are voiced by Hisako Kanemoto.
  • In Nyaruko: Crawling with Love!, the characters visit a Maid Cafe that forms a music group with Rock–Paper–Scissors used to determine the "center" (a blatant Shout-Out to AKB48, which does things the same way). But since the finalists are the hyper-competitive and violent Nyarko and Cuuko, they deliver a Paper Cross Counter before it just turns into an all-out brawl. With Rider Kicks.
  • In episode 11 of Log Horizon, Roderick, Charasin and Michitaka played this against each other to determine the victim(?) who would represent the Akihabara production guilds in the Round Table Council's entourage for the Conference of the Eternal Ice Palace.
  • In the 20th Choujin Olympics of Kinnikuman, the first preliminary was Rock–Paper–Scissors. Naturally, the Choujin complained about the stupidity of the event, but Kin's father Mayumi insisted that luck was an important skill to have. The Choujin only stopped when Robin Mask told them to shut up and play. Kinnikuman purposely chooses Crab Base as his opponent, and wins easily because Crab Base has pincers for hands, forcing him to chose scissors. In the second Choujin Olympics arc, Crab Base returns for a pointless rematch, having modified his hands to have multiple digits, only to lose again when Kin beats his paper with scissors.
  • In Kakegurui, the first gambling match uses a modified version of Rock Paper Scissors, where two players pick 3 random cards from 30 drawn by the audience that contain either a Rock, Paper or Scissors on them. Players then play cards from their hands, redrawing another 3 cards each as needed, until one side wins.
  • Kazuma from KonoSuba has apparently never lost a game of Rock–Paper–Scissors in his life, and uses it to decide things from who gets to ride in the back of a coach to who gets to be called the "Boss" of his and Chris's thieving mission.note 
  • Love Live! Sunshine!!: Hanamaru plays "jan-ken-pon" with Yoshiko in the first episode. After Yoshiko introduces herself to Chika, You, Ruby and Hanamaru as the fallen angel Yohane, suspicious of her, Hanamaru drives her to play a round of this game, knowing the real Yoshiko (her childhood friend) would create scissors with her ring and index fingers. And she does, confirming Hanamaru that it's indeed her friend from kindergarten.
  • Ōoku: The Inner Chambers uses a variant in an early arc: The squire (hands on knees) commands the hunter ("finger guns"), the hunter shoots the fox (hands over the head like a fox's ears), and the fox enchants the squire. Arikoto plays it when ordered to enjoy the company of a group of courtesans hired to tempt him into breaking his priestly vows.
  • In Monster Girl Doctor, there's a variant from Glenn's homeland called Horse-Snake-Spider (Horse steps on spider but is swallowed by snake, while spider catches snake). Glenn briefly considers suggesting a round to settle an argument between Sapphee (Snake girl), Tisalia (Horse girl) and Arahnia (Spider girl), before reaching the conclusion that that would be really inappropriate.
  • One episode of Slayers NEXT has the heroes trying to play against an octopus. Of course, the number of limbs gives it a sizable advantage.
  • Yakitori: Soldiers of Misfortune. At the end of Season One, Unit K-321 do this to choose which one of them carries the "Ass" in Ambassador while HALO-jumping off a Space Elevator. Said ambassador is complaining how unprofessional this is when Akira (who lost) gags her by shoving an oxygen mask over her face.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering's joke expansion set Unglued had three cards called Rock Lobster, Paper Tiger, and Scissors Lizard. Each one is a 4/3 artifact creature with an ability that prevents one of the other three cards from attacking or blocking (Rock Lobster prevents Scissors Lizards from attacking or blocking, etc.).
  • The Pokémon cards Misty's Duel and Team Galactic's Wager require the players to play rock–paper–scissors. Misty's Duel comes with the clause "If you don't know how to play Rock–Paper–Scissors, flip a coin instead".
  • According to the rule book, this is how you determine who takes the first turn for a game of Yu-Gi-Oh!.

    Comic Books 
  • Babylon 5: One comic adaption features a futuristic rock–paper–scissors called "Laser, Mirror, Starweb", where laser (a single finger extended) cuts starweb (a hand with all fingers spread out), starweb covers mirror (a hand with all fingers together), and mirror reflects laser.
  • Batgirl: In a flashback in the Batgirl (2000) issue "The Doll's House", David Cain proves young Cassandra's fluency in body language by having her beat a linguistics professor in rock-paper-scissors 98 times in a row. When re-introducing herself to the professor years later, Cassandra reminds him who she is by flashing the three symbols at him.
  • Captain Biceps: The French parody comic (featuring a Top-Heavy Guy who fights expies of other superheroes) once had a run-in with the Punisher. After shooting, stabbing, and punching each other for an entire page, they finally settled it with this game (Biceps won).
  • The Powerpuff Girls: Issue #23 of the DC run, "Amoeba Las Vegas", has the Amoeba Boys winning Townsville from the Mayor through sheer dumb luck with a shell game. The girls try to win it back with Bubbles challenging the Amoebas to a game of Rock–Paper–Scissors. Bubbles throws "rock" and wins when Tiny throws "scissors." (As Bubbles has no fingers on her hand, it's not clear what she threw as Buttercup made the call of "rock." But the Amoebas were dumb enough to buy it.)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Collide: Dr. Wily and Eggman go with a rock-paper-scissor game to decide their newly-built fortress be called "Death Egg III" or "Wily Flying Fortress". After repeatedly tying, they decide to go with "Wily Egg".
  • Teen Titans: Robin and Speedy decide who gets to finish off a villain this way.
  • Wonder Woman: In Wonder Woman: Black and Gold, due to their competitiveness Diana and Nubia decide who will have what portion of a competition they're teamed up on with Rock Paper Scissors, to avoid arguing and wasting time.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side has a cartoon where three cavemen play this and kept tying (because paper and scissors hadn't been invented yet).
  • The Sunday, July 5, 2015 strip of Wumo had a spokesperson for rock, paper and scissors announcing that the three are not enemies of each other and have come to sign a peace treaty.

    Fan Works 
  • Boldores And Boomsticks: An utterly exhausted Casey and Lillie play Grass, Rock, Bug to decide which of them uses the shower first. Lillie wins, so Casey has to use it first.
  • Fantasy of Utter Ridiculousness: When a spell card duel isn't enough to settle who would end up escorting Megas's crew during their visit to Gensokyo, this is what Reimu, Marisa, Patchouli, Alice, and Reisen finally resort to. Just to shake things up a little, Marisa introduces dynamite in mid-challenge, and after an initial argument, everyone uses it at some point or another to try to gain victory. Eventually, Patchouli wins.
  • Parodied in Inspected by #13, where the Wizarding world has an overly complicated version called Parchment, Stone, Wand, Dragon, Merlin. Games have been known to last hours because purebloods always seem to go with Poor, Predictable Merlin. Harry wins the revised Triwizard Tournament (due to budget cuts) by going with Parchment, which confuses Merlin.
  • From the Professional Wrestling series The JWL: Leo Kruger and CJ Parker used this method to determine who would start against Festus Dalton on Episode 67.
  • In The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, when the four are deciding who should confront the crazy Last Wizard with what they (correctly) think is the way to cure him/her, they hold a quick few games of this. George wins.
  • Naru-Hina Chronicles: Lee wins against Gai at a game of this, making his sensei so proud of him.
    • Lee also plays this game against Miho several chapters later. This time, he loses, causing him to cry.
  • True Potential: Anko and Kahyō play a game of this (or janken as they call it) to decide who will kill Raiga. Zabuza snorts at this and requests to have the winner mention to Raiga that his executioner was chosen by a game like janken, given that it's "the kind of thing that would piss him off before he dies."

    Films — Animated 
  • In Franchise/Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods, a pair of Roman soldiers are seen playing the game just as they're flying in mid-air from being punched by the Gauls.
  • Referenced in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths when Aurora tries to kill Green Lantern by summoning a giant pair of scissors. He comments, "I've played this game before." and summons a giant rock that plows through the scissors and then knocks her into a wall for a KO.
  • In Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro, Lupin and Jigen play rock–paper–scissors to decide who'll fix a flat on their car.
  • In Rio, Armando and Tipa are ordered by their boss Marcel to feed aggressive cockatoo Nigel. They play Rock-Paper-Scissors to decide who does it. After one such match (in which Tipa won by choosing rock over Armando's scissors), Armando quickly makes up an excuse by claiming "scissors cuts rock", and Tipa ends up feeding Nigel a chicken leg.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A variation in Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) where the two cons play "Potatoes" to work out which one of them will undertake a risky attempt to escape the besieged police station and get help.
  • In the climax of Shaolin Daredevils, the five main heroes are surrounded by the military police, after having killed the main villains. They decide one of them will act as a diversion to lead the MP away, and eventually decide to use this game to see which one of them gets to play Heroic Sacrifice. Unsurprisingly for this type of film, it's the protagonist who ends up being the chosen victim.
  • Tremors: Valentine and Earl regularly use Rock–Paper–Scissors to decide things, such as who's going to make breakfast. Later, they use it to decide who will make a dangerous heroic dash to save everyone.
  • Tremors 2: Aftershocks: Picked up again in the sequel, where Earl's new sidekick has apparently never heard of the game. When it get used to see who takes the heroic risk, Earl loses, but then lies about the rules ("Rock rips through paper!") and goes in anyway.
  • In Volcano, the children are playing rock–paper–scissors to pass the time. Subverted, in that a little boy is believed to have played "paper" but he actually says, "That's not paper. That's lava. What beats that?" Cue the tense silence until the hero's daughter says, "My dad. I hope."
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), after seeing Raphael and Leonardo spanked by Shredder, Donatello and Michaelangelo do RPS, with the loser having to take him on next. Note that the Turtles could only use the standard version of this trope, as nearly all variations (e.g. Lizard/Spock) require more fingers than they've got.
  • In Insidious: Chapter 2, Elise's assistants settle a disagreement with a round of "Hunter, Ninja, Bear".
  • In Operation: Dumbo Drop, Captains Doyle and Cahill use a variation to decide who's in charge of their mission to transport a elephant across Vietnam. They then use it to determine who has to shove tranquilizer pills up the elephant's butt.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: Korg is an alien made of rock, and he introduces himself with a line about not wanting to hurt anyone — unless you're scissors, in a rock–paper–scissors joke. He then goes on to say that the reason he's a slave is because he tried to start a revolution but didn't print enough pamphlets; basically, "paper" beats "rock". Later, this is extended into a Brick Joke: at the end of the film, Korg mistakenly thinks he has killed his friend Miek — an insectoid alien who fights with a pair of knifes mounted on bionic arms — by accidentally stepping on him. Hence, that "rock" has defeated "scissors".
  • Bordello of Blood: In the opening Monologue, a Mummy and the Cryptkeeper play this to complete. The Mummy wins before cutting the Cryptkeeper's left hand.
  • In The Hanoi Hilton, two prisoners play the game to kill time. In the first round, they both draw finger guns, and laugh.

  • In one of the Doctor Who Expanded Universe novels, a character plays rock–paper–scissors with an Eldritch Abomination to avert The End of the World as We Know It.
  • In one of the Xanth novels, this results in a terrible and tragic misunderstanding. A dragon and a merman are friends and decide to resolve a dispute using "Earth, Water, Fire." Predictably the merman picks water, and the dragon picks fire. Each declares he has won, and incensed at his friend's cheating (and his drowning attempt), the dragon eats the merman. Later he learns that while dragons believe that "Water covers Earth, Earth smothers fire, and Fire evaporates water", in Merfolk society "Earth blocks Water, Fire melts Earth, and Water douses Fire." He's quite broken up about the fact that he ate his friend over a misunderstanding.
  • A chilling example in Altered Carbon is the protagonist Takeshi Kovacs playing Rock Paper Scissors with a copy of himself (long story) to see which one gets erased and which one gets to live.
  • Animorphs:
    • An ill and delirious Ax learns the game from Erek. He expresses confusion on how it is that paper beats rock — rocks don't breathe, so why would they care? — and (though probably only due to his delirium) states that he owes Erek a ridiculous sum of money due to this misunderstanding.
    • It seems like Ax might have been too sick to remember Erek's explanation afterwards, because his friends had to reintroduce him to the game in a later book. "Apparently, it is a human method for making decisions. If this game was really the way that they made most of their major decisions...well, it explained much."
  • Twilight has two characters settle a dispute with rock–paper–scissors. Since one of them could tell the future and the other read minds, they didn't bother actually playing.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: In Battle of the Labyrinth, Percy plays a Hundred-Handed One, Briares, and wins using a Finger Gun, a trick his stepdad taught him ("gun beats everything"). Briares, having a hundred hands, picked all three traditional choices at once, so cheating was the only way Percy could beat him and get his help.
  • In The Seventh Tower, two characters are mentioned to be playing "Stone-Hide-Knife".
  • In Middlesex, Lefty and Desdemona play Rock-Ax-Snake (Ax breaks Rock, Snake swallows Ax, Rock kills Snake) when she's trying to persuade him to marry one of the two eligible girls in Bithynios. Lefty wins both rounds, so he doesn't have to marry either of them.
  • Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: In the fifth book, Cynthia, Shelby, and Katelyn play a game to decide who goes first, in relating what happened with their characters, Flora, Selvi, and Bianca, respectively.
    A three-way bout of rock-paper-scissors resulted in a happy whoop from Cynthia.

    Live-Action RPGs 
  • Mind's Eye Theatre, the LARP ruleset for the Old World of Darkness, used Rock/Paper/Scissors as its primary mechanic. Certain powers would allow players to unlock a fourth option: "The Bomb," which burns paper and shatters rock, but is defeated by scissors (which cuts the fuse.) The bomb is modeled with a closed fist with the thumb sticking up.
  • The Otakon LARP resolves mechanics by two players playing Rock–Paper–Scissors against each other.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Pete & Pete: In a two-part episode, a particular schoolyard villain, Papercut, used this as his gimmick, forcing kids to play Rock–Paper–Scissors with him and lose or else (everyone knew he always choose "paper", but they were too afraid to use this against him). In the end, the kids banded together and came up with things like "Meteor" and "Volcano" against Papercut.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Fitz and Simmons would occasionally play "Ro-cham-beau" during the first season, indicating that they did this a lot during the academy.
  • Altered Carbon. In the Season One finale, Takeshi Kovacs has himself illegally cloned and double-sleeved to put the Big Bad off their guard—one Takeshi will be having sex on a pleasure island while the other secretly infiltrates the Supervillain Lair. They play rock-paper-scissors to establish who does what. After the mission is over the law only allows one of them to live, so they play it again to decide who that will be.
  • On The Amazing Race, racers will sometimes do this to determine which of them is going to do a Roadblock if they're fairly evenly matched physically and it's still early going, so they're not worried yet about hitting up against the individual-racer Roadblock limit.
  • Arrested Development has an episode showing GOB and Michael deciding company business through RPS (with Michael being Poor, Predictable Rock), although the climax of the episode occurs when GOB, wielding ribbon cutting ceremonial scissors, comes at Michael who is holding a fake "Solid as a Rock"... rock. Rock beats Scissors, but the entire embarrassing ordeal is covered by the Paper.
  • In one installment of the FOX game show Beat Shazam, the winning pair in the bonus round plays rock–paper–scissors to determine whether they will try to double their money and risk losing half, or walk away.note 
    Jamie Foxx: $314,000 and we're doing rock, paper, scissors.
  • The Big Bang Theory featured "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock". Note that this variant was invented by Sam Kass in the mid-nineties.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: In one episode, Jake settles a dispute with Rosa with rock-paper-scissors and loses. She reveals that he always picks paper, so he demands a series of rematches, picking paper every single time. He finally relents and admits that his Reverse Psychology was not working.
  • On Cheers, Norm and Cliff play RPS to see who would (not) tell Rebecca that her former boyfriend is gay, leading to this exchange:
    Norm: All right! My rock smashes your scissors!
    Cliff: Oh no, not these scissors, pal! This is a special titanium steel alloy developed by NASA for the space program. These scissors would smash your rock to smithereens!
    Norm: No, no, no, not this rock! This rock happens to be kryptonite from the planet Krypton! Maybe you've heard of it, huh?
  • Cowboy Bebop (2021). In "Darkside Tango", Faye Valentine prefers variations like Hunter-Bear-Ninja and Foot-Cockroach-Atomic Bomb. Spike insists they do the old school version, and wins because by this time he's worked out that Faye always picks the last of the three.
  • An episode of CSI has Warrick and Nick make eye contact and play a round from some distance after Grissom states that someone will need to dive into a murky pool to see if anything's underwater. Nick loses and volunteers.
  • In the Netflix series Death By Magic, host Drummond Money-Coutts plays this as part of a magic act. He picks a guy on the street and plays a game of this with him, losing the first time. He then stands back-to-back with the guy and says that he will predict what the guy is going to pick and matches his choice three times in a row. He then places a bag over his hand and asks the guy to predict which symbol he's chosen. When the guy picks rock, he removes the bag to reveal that he is holding an actual large rock.
  • The finale of The Detectives has a running gag of the two of them trying to decide who does the unpleasant job by playing paper, scissors, stone, but this fails because both of them always do scissors. Then at the end, they "draw" the imaginary scissors in a gunfight.
  • In Doctor Who, it shows up a few times, most notably when the Doctor and Romana teach the Movellan robots the game to show them the flaw in being completely logical beings.
  • Eat Bulaga! has a segment called Jackpot En Poy which is a rock-paper-scissors tournament for a cash prize.
  • Farscape:
    • Occasionally used to solve disputes between Crichton and D'argo over who will be the Big Damn Hero. D'Argo, being a Rubber-Forehead Alien, didn't know the game until Crichton introduced it to him and took a while to understand the rules.
      D'Argo: But rock rips through paper!
      Crichton: D'Argo that's not how it works. Paper. Beats. Rock.
      D'Argo: Well it's not realistic!
    • When John gets split into two identical copies of himself, they play RPS over and over again. They always tie, which is used to illustrate the fact that the two are completely equal and identical. Even in the Video Will of the John that went with Talyn and died. There's also a hilarious short scene where D'argo tries to play RPS with himself and is frustrated and confused that he keeps on tying. Probably foreshadows the above, come to think of it.
  • On Friends, Rachel and Monica use rock–paper–scissors to decide who gets the last condom in the box. Rachel wins. In another episode, Chandler and Monica make thanksgiving dinner for the gang only for them to be late for various reasons. They play this to decide who goes in to apologise first. Joey uses fire, only to be beaten by Phoebe's water balloon.
  • Fuller House: The brothers that the girls meet when they go clubbing settle everything this way.
  • An episode of the topical news quiz Have I Got News for You used this to decide a tie breaker at the end of the season, presumably because it was humorously trivial and cheap for a game show, and because it was a game Ian Hislop would know.
  • In "Shall We Dance?" on Imagination Movers, Nina has an extra ticket to the ballet, so the Movers and Warehouse Mouse play rock–paper–scissors to determine who gets it. Mouse throws down cheese and everyone tries to figure out whether or not that beats Smitty's rock, they are then interrupted when the ballet's two big stars show up with a problem, and the game is eventually rendered moot when the entire group receives an invite to be guests of honor once they solve the problem.
  • A season two episode of Joan of Arcadia had Joan and her brother have an epic battle of rock–paper–scissors, which culminated with the song "Eye of the Tiger" playing in the background. Joan, unfortunately, lost.
  • In one episode of Leverage, Eliot and Hardison do RPS. Haridson loses twice, to which Eliot replies that he has a tell. The one time Hardison wins, it is implied Elliot let him win to get the nicer job of distracting a pretty police officer over climbing into the police impound lot.
  • An early episode of The Mentalist has Patrick Jane use Rock–Paper–Scissors to demonstrate to a local sheriff how skilled he is at reading people. Jane accurately predicts what the Sheriff is going to throw, and chooses the appropriate winning move in each game shown.
  • In Series 4 Episode 2 of Misfits, Rudy challenges Curtis to a rude version, penis-scissors-vagina, in order to determine which of them may romantically pursue Ally. Curtis picks scissors which Rudy unrealistically beat by picking vagina.
  • One Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch in episode 25. Several World War I soldiers use rock–paper–scissors to decide which one will kill himself (long story). However, they call it "Fisties" and Rock is called "Stone".
    Major: Now...scissors cut everything, don't they?
    Sergeant: Not stone, sir.
    Major: They're very good scissors.
  • My Hero (2000) had an episode where a conflict between superhero and supervillain that appeared to be heading towards a dramatic duel at the conclusion... Yes, it was a game of Rock Paper Scissors.
  • The MythBusters build team will occasionally use RPS to decide who gets to pull the quick-release or trigger the explosives.
  • Done a few times on NCIS between Tony and Ziva. In one episode, it's to decide who was going to keep the map and do the navigation in the woods. Tony wins, but starts walking in the wrong direction.
  • In NUMB3RS, after two others RPS, Charlie begins to explain some mathematical strategies to FBI agents. He stops short and say he'll save them in case he "has to throw down with them" someday.
  • In an episode of the Edutainment Show Odd Squad Agent Olive plays this while disguised as a vilianous clown.
  • The Professionals. In "A Stirring of Dust", Bodie and Doyle do this to decide which of them will be first to enter a room where a top-class hitman is waiting.
  • Appeared in the QI episode "Fingers and Fumbs," as a double-or-nothing wager if the panelists used the special forfeit "F-word" (no points for guessing which one). Stephen Fry spent a good five minutes explaining winning game strategies — and then lost or tied every single game.
  • Reba has Van play this game once against his wife to decide who would tell Reba something touchy. Too bad for Van his system is easier to break than an actual rock.
  • Supernatural: Sam and Dean often use Rock–Paper–Scissors to decide which of them will do something unpleasant or dangerous (like crawling into a vent shaft to find signs of a creature)—except Sam, knowing Dean, plays strategically and usually wins. In one episode, Dean wins, which turns out to be a clue that they're in an alternate timeline.
  • On some occasions of Takeshi's Castle contestants would decide who would get over the wall and into the next round and who not only helps the contestant over the wall but could also be eliminated at that very early stage. There was also a one-off challenge in the third Japanese Special that has contestants playing Jan-ken-pon against a guard while doing a dance beforehand.
  • Tales from the Crypt: The same Monologue in Bordello of Blood but with the Grim Reaper, before the Assassin tale.
  • That '70s Show had a variant created by Hyde called "Cockroach Foot Nuclear Bomb." He explains it here.
  • Similarly, the presenters on Top Gear played it to determine who would have the "honor" of driving the Caterham-7 kit car they'd just assembled.
  • World's Dumbest...:
  • In an episode of Would I Lie to You?, Richard Osman claimed he preferred to play his own version called "Worm-Pigeon-Shotgun", where Worm beats Shotgun (by crawling into the barrel and causing the gun to jam), Pigeon beats Worm and Shotgun beats Pigeon. It was a lie.
  • In Hawaii, there used to be an entire game show dedicated to RPS. It didn't last long, however.
  • A Rochambeau tournament is one of the ESPN-created side events that occurs at the World Series of Poker in the "The Nuts" segments. Which they've stopped doing recently. Ah, well...


    Pro Wrestling 
  • Shawn Michaels and Triple H do this when they're fighting as D-Generation X to determine who fights first or speaks first... or gets to do anything, really.
  • Dramatic Dream Team: The Ironman Heavymetalweight Title, a Parody of the WWE Hardcore Title's "24/7 Rules," has changed hands this way.
  • Sara Del Rey and Daffney Unger played Rock Paper Scissors to decide which of them would start matches in PWElement.
  • In 2009, The Empire of ACW - American Combat played rock paper scissors to decide who would become number one contender to Heavyweight titleholder Bruce Santee and saw their free bird tactics backfire when George Martel, who had done nothing the entire match, slipped in and got the pin for his "team".
  • During her entrance to the 2015 5★STAR Grand Prix, Kris Wolf played rock paper scissors with a man in the audience, ran off with his sunglasses after winning and presented them to the leader of her stable, Act Yasukawa.
  • On the July 26, 2010 (taped May 22nd) episode of ROH on HDNet, The Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli and Shane Hagadorn) made their way out to the ring with Hagadorn announcing that he had picked three teams for the Kings to showcase their skills against. They Squashed Ice Jackson and Josh Emanuel in the first match, and Adam Cole and Nick Westgate in the second. (The Briscoes defeated them in the third match.) Before each of the first two matches, Hero and Claudio used this method to decide who would start.

    Puppet Shows 
  • A newspaper sold at Hooper's Store on Sesame Street features the headline "Rock Wins! Paper and Scissors are bummed..."

  • On several occasions the panellists on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue have played their own versions using sound effects. The first version was "Cow, Lake, Bomb", wherein cow drinks lake, lake extinguishes bomb, and bomb blows up cow. However, the first time the two teams played their sound effects, the chairman failed to distinguish who had played what, and the game immediately degenerated into a mass of random sound effects being played on top of each other.
    • A later episode featured "Cat, Glass, Pudding", where cat breaks glass, glass ruins pudding, and pudding drowns cat. The teams got confused as to the rules the first time they tried to play it, arguing that glass should actually beat cat, and the game immediately degenerated into a mass of random sound effects being played on top of each other.
    • Yet another episode featured "Cat, Duck, Water" (cat eats duck, duck floats on water, water drowns cat) and "Match, Canary, Fart" (match lights fart, canary eats match, fart gasses canary). Both variants ended with the chairman again being unable to tell which team had played which sound effect, and the game immediately degenerated into a mass of random sound effects being played on top of each other.
    • Still another episode featured no fewer than three variants: "Snore, Cockerel, Microwave" (snoring man is woken up by cockerel, cockerel is cooked in microwave, snoring man unplugs microwave), "Lion, Bees, Dentist" (lion eats beehive, bees sting dentist, dentist shoots lion) and "Chainsaw, Train, Harp" (chainsaw destroys harp, train runs over chainsaw, harp causes flashback which makes train late). Unlike all the previous examples, this time the games were played more or less straight, and the humour came from the increasing absurdity of the combinations.

  • In sports, this is occasionally used in place of flipping a coin.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The homebrew comedy Tabletop RPG Mascot-tan uses rock–paper–scissors instead of dice to determine the results of actions.
  • In Metagaming's One World, each of the Children of the Gods can take one specific form when engaging in combat: Stone, Blade or Fog. During combat a Stone will kill a Blade, a Blade will kill a Fog, and a Fog will kill a Stone.
  • Toe Sham Bo is a card game that combines Tic-Tac-Toe with a rock-paper-scissors mechanic. Each player has a deck of cards in their color, with symbols representing rock, paper, and scissors (as well as special "Undo" and "Bomb" cards). The object is to get three matching symbols (three rock, three paper, or three scissors) in a row in your color; players can play a card on top of another card if the card you're playing "beats" the card on your field (you can play a rock card on a scissors card, a paper card on a rock card, or a scissors card on a paper card).
  • The Blood on the Clocktower role Psychopath makes use of this in order to make the role more difficult to execute, due to it being a publicly evil role by nature- you have to win against the Psychopath in a game of this to execute them.

  • Fistful of Aliens was a short-lived collectible toy series that was basically rock-paper-scissors with a visual aid. Three different alien races (colour-coded red, green and blue) hidden in the hand and revealed simultaneously substituted for hand symbols. Ties were resolved with numerical power indicators on the figures' feet, while "mutants" were extra powerful creatures that combined two colors in one.

    Video Games 
  • In the Alex Kidd video games, this gets played a lot. This is how some of the boss battles are fought in Miracle World and Enchanted Castle, and in the latter game, it is required to win items as well.
  • Aperture Hand Lab: Deceptive Devin challenges you to "a game of deceit, as old as hands", the game in question being rock-paper-scissors. At your second victory, he'll start cheating by replacing his choices, and the game will register it as his victory.
  • Asmik-kun Land, a Platform Game for the Famicom, has an Unexpected Gameplay Change for its boss encounters that has them play out as iterative games of rock-paper-scissors while your character slowly moves down a board.
  • Battletoads (2020): Whenever the Toads get into a split vote they declare a game of "Toad-Sham-Bo!" with (according to their Shambo-Angle) Toaster beating Instrument, Instrument beating Puppet, Puppet beating Toaster. The first round ends interrupted before a winner is decided, in the second round, The Dark Queen issues one to let the BattleToads bring her along, she ends up losing entirely as each of them bring out the same move against her.
  • The Caregiver: When Naomi decides to visit Naomi, she finds some guy standing in front of the entrance to the apartment building. He says he'll only let her in if he beats her at rock paper scissors. However, even after you do, he still won't let you in unless you bring him some morphine.
  • Cosmic Star Heroine: One sidequest has you play ten rounds of RPS against an opponent. If you win all ten, you get a special item. To make it easier, the opponent gives you a logic puzzle that, when solved, reveals all ten of the moves she'll make.
  • Fortune 499 has the combat system directly using this game, with the difference is that the player can draw cards to manipulate the opponent's chances of picking a given option.
  • Spoofed in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater's secret movie, "The Ultimate Weapon", where Snake manages to combine the three hand gestures into one. Of course, The Boss then demonstrates that nuke beats every thing.
  • In one of The Sims expansions, when a character dies, death comes and you can play a game against him to let the character stay alive. The game looks an awful lot like rock paper scissors.
  • In Pico vs. Uberkids, Pico and two of his classmates join a battle against the Uberkids in a game of Russian Roulette, with the starter being the gun chamber spun and one member from each team doing rock-paper-scissors to decide who pulls the first shot, with more bullets added for each lucky empty chamber.
  • Mario Party:
    • Mario Party 2: Bowser Land has a duel minigame where two players play "Rock, Paper, Mario". Each player has to choose one of the character cards and hope for the best. Mario beats Bowser (because he has experience defeating him in battle), Bowser beats Peach (because he has experience kidnapping her), and Peach beats Mario (because the latter cannot resist the former's beauty).
    • Mario Party 5: There's a lookalike variant in the "Fight Cards" 1-vs.-3 minigame. The signs are "Chop," (which looks like Paper) "Punch," (looks like Rock) and "Kick," but the gameplay rules are very different: rather than one sign beating another and being beaten by the last, the players on the team of three are eliminated if they "tie" with the solo player, or stay in the game if they don't. If everyone on the team of three is beaten in this way within five rounds, the solo player wins; otherwise, the team of three wins.
  • Paper Mario:
    • In Paper Mario: Color Splash, Rock–Paper–Scissors is Serious Business on Prism Island. There are eight stadiums on the island known as Roshambo Temples, which have frequent tournaments to packed audiences. Each stadium also has a local celebrity known as a Rock Paper Wizard.
    • Paper Mario: The Origami King bases a boss fight on this trope. During the second phase of the fight against the Handaconda, Mario has to use the 1000-Fold Arms to play rock-paper-scissors against the boss. If Mario wins, he can pummel the Handaconda with a Rush attack; if he ties, the Handa's attack power goes up; if he loses, he has to defend against an attack from the Handaconda.
  • WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$: One of the games is Rock Paper Scissors against Mario. On the first difficulty level, you just have to beat his hand sign; on the higher ones, he'll switch signs after a couple of seconds.
  • One of the two minigames the Miis can play by using Game Tickets in Miitopia is Rock Paper Scissors. This minigame allows them to earn money, and after each victory, the player is given the chance to quit now or to play again to double the prize. However, one loss amounts to the loss of everything.
  • In Mother 3, Lucas must do this with all the members of DCMC to get Duster to rejoin the party. In fitting with the nature of how dialogue choices affect progress throughout the game, it's literally impossible to lose, too, as the guys will have you re-do a move if their hand beats yours.
  • [adult swim].com brings us Rock Paper Scissors Extreme Deathmatch.
  • Rock–paper–scissors is a common mini-game in edutainment software for children, being both easy to program and with rules known even by young kids. One such game about The Little Polar Bear features a RPS played between a polar bear and a penguin — and not even as anthropomorphic animals. Just think about it for a second....
  • The Japan-exclusive PlayStation game Finger Flashing combines this with a Shmup-type setup: rock, paper or scissor-themed enemies come from the top of the screen, and can only be killed by shooting them with the corresponding gesture. Shooting them with the wrong one causes them to duplicate.
  • In some of the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm games, if two players' attacks collide against each other, this can trigger a "clash" sequence, the outcome of which is decided either by a Button Mashing contest or a choice of rock–paper–scissors between the two players. (Loser takes an extra hit.)
  • In Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, some enemies can be seen playing this before they are alerted to your presence.
  • The GF summons Brothers in Final Fantasy VIII has the two brothers, Minotaur and Sacred, play RPS to determine which one will Fastball Special the other at the enemy. Minotaur always wins. And Sacred never notices that his brother was obviously cheating (Minotaur was a split-second late in the draw).
  • Xenogears has an RPS-obsessed guy early in the game who gives you a badge if you beat him five times in a row. The badge is a nasty combination of Guide Dang It! and Permanently Missable Content because it's part of a set that you can use to trade for a strong piece of armor about halfway through the game.
  • One puzzle in Zork: Grand Inquisitor requires you to play strip rock–paper–scissors.
  • A cutscene in Parappa The Rapper when they prepare for Sunny's birthday. The three friends had to decide who will set up the party, bring presents, or bring a cake by playing RPS.
  • Monkey Island:
    • In Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 5: Rise of the Pirate God, Reginald Van Winslow has been working on a game he calls "Rock, Paper, Fountain Pen", and describes to Guybrush how the game is played: "Well, paper beats rock. And then the player must shame the paper into defeat by filling it full of lewd phrases using the pen."
    • Monkey Kombat in Escape from Monkey Island is essentially a five-item variant.
  • Stage 2 of the MSX Parodius ends with a ship shaped like a hand that challenges the player to a game of rock–paper–scissors. If you lose, it's back to the beginning of the stage; if you win, the ship explodes. A tie leads to a normal Boss Battle.
  • Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom had its "battles" structured around a combination of Rock–Paper–Scissors and "Look away".
  • In Sonic Adventure 2's Tiny Chao Garden, you could play a game that was based on RPS. A circle of cards would go around, each with a RPS Symbol, and at the bottom of the screen were three shooters, again with a RPS symbol on them. You fired the symbol at the circle of cards. If your symbol beats that of the symbol of the card, it's knocked away and you score rings. A tie just makes the opposing card disappear, but you still get the symbol back to shoot again. If your symbol loses, it's knocked away and you lose a life. Lose all 5 lives or run out of time, and the game's over. This minigame also comes in Sonic Advance.
  • Three Mooks are doing this during the side-quest to recover Mr. Freeze's wife in Batman: Arkham City. One of them is apparently smart enough to question if you can do this with three players. It doesn't matter, since they all end up chosing the same thing over and over. And then one of them decides to start tripping the rules...note 
    Inmate #3: Gun beats paper.
    Inmate #2: No, gun doesn't beat paper. Stick to the rules!
    Inmate #1: One, two, three!
    Inmate #2: What the hell is that?
    Inmate #3: Dynamite.
    Inmate #1: For the love of... Again!
  • In the tie-in game for The Tigger Movie, Tigger's Honey Hunt, one of the multiplayer games is this.
  • In the first Simon the Sorcerer game, the Shapeshifter Showdown against the Witch functions as a game of RPS: snake beats cat, cat beats mongoose, and mongoose beats snake.
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants: Lights, Camera, Pants!, if two players are tied at the end of a particular location's set of games, they will engage in a rock–paper–scissors minigame to determine who the winner is.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny, this is how Nanoha and Vita eventually decide who should get the role of attacker against the Unbreakable Darkness. Incidentally, it's mentioned that Nanoha normally sucks at this game, but if you choose her, she gets a lucky win.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII-2, one of the Datalog entries describes how Mog came to serve Lightning. "It was an exciting duel. She threw down scissors three times in a row, kupo! I wasn't expecting that. Maybe I shouldn't have picked swords after all, kupo..."
  • In Army of Two: The 40th Day, Salem and Rios can play Rock–Paper–Scissors to help make decisions, complete with greatly overexaggerated celebrating in victory and much despair and punching in defeat.
  • Yoshimitsu plays RPS with Roger/Alex in their ending in Tekken Tag Tournament. Thanks to their boxing gloves, they're only able to pick rock, which allows Yoshi to win handily.
  • In Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland, if you get Sterk's ending, Sterk suggests this as the method of choosing when Rorona and Totori have an argument over which of them should get to take him out for the day. They insist he has to make the choice. He suggests a compromise that works for both of them.
  • An actual taunt in Team Fortress 2. If the loser is from the opposing team, they explode. Notably, the Rock–Paper–Scissors taunt will never result in a draw, making the related achievements easier to obtain.
  • In Portal 2's Co-op mode, this is one of the gestures you unlock first time playing through. The implication being to decide who does what part in a test.
  • In The Legendary Starfy, three of the main antagonists are named Ronk, Papes, and Snips, obviously based on rock paper scissors. You even play a rock paper scissors minigame against them near the end of the game! In the games ending, after their Heel–Face Turn, the main character's best friend, Moe, says they'll only forgive them if they can beat Starfy in a game of Rock Paper Scissors. They all use the same sign that's associated with them. Being the nice guy that he is, Starfy loses on purpose.
  • In the 400 Days DLC of The Walking Dead: Season One, Eddie challenges Wyatt to a game of this after they run over...something with their truck in order to decide who has to go out and inspect it and who gets to stay inside the vehicle. The odds are in Wyatt's favor, but he can still just refuse to play and force Eddie to check it out regardless.
  • In Holy Umbrella, you have to win two rock–paper–scissors games in a row to obtain the Plot Coupon that lets you Get on the Boat.
  • In Dokapon Kingdom, one of the Random Events that can occur when you land on what would usually be a battle space is the appearance of Roche, a young boy wearing a bear costume who challenges you to 'Roshambo'. If you lose, he takes a quarter of your on-hand cash, whereas winning will get you all of the funds that he's taken from previous matches. If he has no money when you beat him, you'll get nothing, and if he beats you while you're in debt, he'll remove the debt from you.
  • Backyard Hockey uses this to resolve disputes instead of actual fighting - the players are just kids, after all. Whoever loses the match gets sent to the penalty box. Amusingly, this can lead to a situation where a player gets knocked down by an opponent, loses the resulting rock–paper–scissors game, and gets sent to the penalty box for knocking themself down.
  • inFAMOUS: Second Son inverts this premise, as Augustine (Concrete Conduit) is beaten by Delsin (his symbol — the two-headed bird — resembling scissors in design), Celia (Paper Conduit) outwits and manipulated Delsin, and Augustine captured and controlled Celia.
  • In Fairy Fencer F, Sherman gets to join Fang in a hot springs after winning a game of Rock Paper Scissors. In another case, Fang has to go out grocery shopping after losing at this.
  • In Cosmic Star Heroine, one attraction in Freedom Festival is eight rounds of rock–paper–scissors against a woman who always always makes the same choices. However, the only way to find out what her choices are is from hints she gives before each game.
  • Jackass: The Game has a variation of this called "Rock-Paper-Nuts". The main change to this game is that if one player wins a round, the loser is kicked in the nuts. This process is repeated until the set number of rounds have been completed.
  • In Puyo Puyo Tetris, Schezo, Rulue, and the Dark Prince, or rather memories of them, decide on which of them should fight Arle in a puyo match via rock-paper-scissors. Schezo wins, and Arle wonders how that was the way they managed it.
  • Persona 3: You, Junpei, and Akihiko engage of a game of rock-paper-scissors to decide who should talk to a girl on the beach. This sequence is actually rigged that you lose, and thus end up needing to talk to her.
  • In the hot springs sequence in Tales of Arise, the men and the women of the party determine which group will be the first to get to use the hot springs by rock-paper-scissors. Much to Kisara's chagrin, the men win.
  • Splatoon 3 has this as the theme of the first Splatfest, as the series started doing triple-team Splatfests to account for a three member idol group in charge of the news segments. Rock (led by Shiver) was the winner.
  • Raskulls: When Raskull King and Captain J. Turncoat meet each other, the former suggests to play rock–paper–scissors so that they could decide who gets the Shiny Stones. The player gets to pick which of the three should King play, but no matter what you select, Turncoat chooses "Ship with lots of cannons", starting the final boss battle.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Katawa Shoujo, Hisao and Shizune get into a dispute over the much prized veal cutlet bread during Shizune's route, which they settle by playing RPS over it — a game upon which, according to Shizune, "the fate of nations has been known to rest". They tie, seventeen times, before deciding that it would be easier to just share.
  • In Fate/hollow ataraxia, Bazett always wins because she cheats. First, she lets her opponent throw their sign out first, then she uses Fragarach to warp reality and let her attack first, allowing her to always know which sign to use.
  • During one of their Free Time Events in Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Kokichi forces Shuichi to play rock-paper-scissors with the penalty being the loser will be killed. After several hundred rounds, the supreme leader begs Shuichi to finish the game because they've tied every single time. However, it's implied Kokichi somehow rigged the game and tied on purpose.
  • Defied in Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward. After Sigma redo an AB game, he unexpectedly sees the person he paired with chose the opposite choice. Being dumbfounded, Sigma blurts out "the last time" their choice was completely different, wondering how choosing Ally or Betray could have influenced the other person's decision, taking rock-paper-scissors as a way of explaining the improbability of a person suddenly changing their decision even if someone knew what their move would be. Sigma immediately stops himself for even pondering the sheer thought of time travel, since even he himself claims such notion is completely illogical for what transpired.

    Web Animation 
  • This game is played several times throughout the Battle for Dream Island series.
    • In "Take the Plunge: Part 1", Pin and Leafy play this in order to decide who gets Dream Island. Apart from a joke where Pin is Flipping the Bird, it doesn't amount to much, as the Announcer informs them that they only get to choose the teams for a much longer battle for Dream Island.
    • In "Getting Teardrop to Talk", Foldy and Stapy play the game in the middle of a challenge so that they can "stress less", which Fries has to interrupt.
    • In "Today's Very Special Episode", Foldy and Stapy play the game again at the beginning of the episode. Marker joins in, and after making several different invalid moves, he eventually plays Four, resulting in Four teleporting in his hand and growing, eventually bursting out.
  • hololive's second generation of English speaking characters included two Australian members. Almost all the other members are based in North America, leading to a number of moments where Australian Slang caused confusion with the other members or even with their fans, the majority of which are also not Australian. One example was how in Australia the game is called "Scissor Paper Rock" when being said fast and "Scissors Paper Rock" when being said with the slower musical jingle.
  • In the 15th season of Red vs. Blue, this is how Red Team decides who's the CO when there's two soldiers of equal rank on a team. At least, that's how Sarge and his Similar Squad counterpart Surge decide when it turns out they're both colonels.
  • Stupid Kids: Boti and Dani play it to decide who should steal Tony Macflane's garland in Boldogat és még boldogabbat (Merry and even more).

  • Mob Psycho 100: A rock-paper-scissors is held as deciding who examines the person being possessed by Keiji Mogami. Reigen bluffs the other competitors by stating he'll pull paper and then scissors, causing the others go with paper as Reigen does only scissors winning the match.
  • The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: Wonderella meets the Lady of the Lake and demands a Cool Sword. Since the Lady doesn't do that anymore, the best she can offer is a pair of invincible shears that can cut through anything. Wonderella turns her back on it dismissively, but regrets it when her city is invaded by elemental monsters of Paper and Rock.
  • Not straight examples of this trope, but two strips of The Order of the Stick deserve mention:
  • Penny Arcade features a Tribes-flavored strip where two people play RPS, except one player brings from nowhere a huge gun. The other says, "Fuck you".

    Web Original 
  • Behold: RPS 101! You read that right. Rock–paper–scissors with 101 hand signs instead of 3. Good luck with that. To boot, clicking on a hand sign in that Flash application brings you to an explanation of why that sign dominates each of its 50 victims. Some are really weird, naturally.

    Web Videos 
  • The lonelygirl15 universe video "Nut Kills Man" includes a variant called "Squirrel Nut Man": squirrel eats nut, man kills squirrel, nut kills man (he has allergies).
  • The Waverly Films Clip of the week, Rock Paper Scissors EXTREME, is the antithesis of the anticlimax definition, since the RPS-ing is the climax.
  • Battle on the Breakwall is a short film all about two teams of four people playing a fifteen-gesture version of Rock Paper Scissors. It turns out to be a Wacky Marriage Proposal that was rejected so the Blue Team can win, the "Gun" gesture shooting down her opponent's rose.
  • Critical Role: The characters occasionally use a slightly renamed version called "Boulder, Parchment, Shears". In the second campaign Fjord, Beau and Yasha attempt to use it to decide which of them will be carried by a Polymorphed ally. Naturally it ends up in a three-way tie that doesn't resolve anything but does reduce the cast to fits of laughter.

    Western Animation 
  • In Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Rabbot Redux", Shake and Meatwad play rock-paper-scissors to call ownership of a luxury room in their new house. Meatwad beats Shake twice in a roll, then pulls out a hurricane as Shake claims his move is a condo complex, that's immediately beaten by Meatwad's Cat-Six Hurricane.
  • In "Is There a Doctor In the House?" from Arthur, Arthur and D.W. try using this as their means to decide which of them will have to change Baby Kate's diaper. It turns out to not be a good means of deciding things for them, as after 15 minutes (shown via a clock on the wall), D.W. is asking for a best-of-35 and they end up not doing it all because Baby Kate has fallen asleep.
  • Aang and Sokka are seen playing a game of literal Elemental version of RPS in an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender. We see that Aang's "Earth" beats Sokka's "Fire".
  • Captain Flamingo: In "Outrageous Fortune Cookie", to stop Rutger's dad from playing a lot of karate video games, Milo challenges him on a game of Rock–Paper–Scissors. If he loses, he will go outside and play football with his son instead. Eventually, he does indeed lose as he chooses rock and Milo chooses paper since paper covers rock. It especially helps that Milo knew about this as it was the cryptic message from his fortune cookie that he got from his take-out lunch.
    Lizbeth: How do you know Rutger's dad was gonna choose rock and not scissors?
    Milo: I didn't. But the cookie did.
    Narrator: Once again, proving the awesome power of PAPER!
  • Code Lyoko, Season 4 episode "Hard Luck": Yumi and Ulrich decide through RPS who's going to be sent back to the Desert Replika and fight William before they lose their vehicle the Skidbladnir. Yumi loses since she chose paper, and Ulrich scissors, letting her go to do the battle.
  • The Cuphead Show!: In "The Devil and Miss Chalice", Cuphead uses this to save the life of Miss Chalice, who lost a Dance-Off with the Devil, and also puts his and Mugman's souls on the line as well. Despite the Devil continually calling Best Out of Infinity, Cuphead keeps beating him until Mugman calls the whole thing off so they can leave with their souls intact.
  • On Dragon Tales, "Prince for a Day" opens with Max and Emmy arguing over which of them has to clean the playroom, Max trying to wheedle out of his regularly scheduled duty because he helped their mother wash the dishes the night before. Enrique shows up and asks how they're going to settle it. They play rock, paper, scissors, but after they stalemate twice, Enrique laments that they're not going to solve anything that way. They go to Dragon Land and after they get back, they tie again, so Enrique decides that they should all clean up together.
  • An episode of The Fairly OddParents! has Timmy transported to a Western setting where he fights the corrupt Sherriff Vicky. Their Showdown At High Noon is a RPS match.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends has characters named after this trope competing together.
  • Futurama has this gem from the incomparable Zapp Brannigan:
    Zapp: It was almost the perfect crime. But you forgot one thing: Rock crushes scissors. ...But paper covers rock. ...And scissors cuts paper. Kif, we have a conundrum.
    Kif: [weary sigh]
    Zapp: Search them for paper. And, bring me a rock.
  • Goldie & Bear: In "A Fish Tale", Goldie proposes a game of this while she, Bear and Bear's father are out fishing together. She throws down scissors twice and suggests that Bear should probably choose rock, but Bear doesn't want to play because he's trying to be quiet and fish.
  • In Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Hal and Guy do this contest when they fight. For some reasons, Hal's scissors cut Guy's rock.
  • Kaz loses the band in a high stakes game of rock–paper–scissors in Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: An Oni Mask is on a toppled totem pole that's just stuck in place between two rock walls. The Enforcers play this to see who gets it, and Finn and Chow convince Ratso that "rocks crush paper". He doesn't figure it out until he's halfway across.
  • In The Jungle Bunch, this is Al and Bob's favorite game.
  • Kaeloo had Stumpy play against Quack Quack, and later Mr. Cat, to see who got to use the bathroom first.
  • In an episode of Kim Possible, Drakkhen plays rock-paper-scissors and tries to pass off rock beating paper, then is told paper always beats rock.
  • An alien variation of it is seen in Lilo & Stitch: The Series when Jumba and Pleakley are deciding whether or not to use Jumba's new invention that has a 76.3% chance of capturing a genetic experiment at large, but a 23.5% chance of causing an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. The round of Paper Rock Glornitz ended up with Pleakley choosing Paper and Jumba choosing Glornitz, which consumes the paper. Jumba uses the device, which resulted in the 0.2% chance of mutating the experiment it was meant to capture.
  • Mack & Moxy:
    • In "Play It Again, Mack," it's suggested as a method to solve silly playground arguments which would otherwise go on forever. "Rock, Paper, Scissors is an easy, fast way to solve disagreements. The less of recess you spend bickering, the more you spend playing with your friends. And that good energy even carries over into the classroom." It even comes with a song...
      The games that we play / You win some, you lose some / But if there's an argument / No need for parliament / So there's a dispute / Here's a way to reboot / Paper over rock / The scissors cut paper / Rock crushes scissors / An argument eraser.
    • In the same installment, Shelfish Sheldon suggests that they play rock-paper-scissors to determine whether or not he gets the Great Helpee, but Mack & Moxy show him what they think of that idea by sending him flying.
      Mack: (shaking his head) When will he ever learn?
  • The Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero episode "Rockullan Papyron Scissorian" is a Game of Thrones parody based around the game. Penn as the King of Papyron tries to negotiate a truce between the three kingdoms.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode "Curses", the girls play this game with the loser having to see if dinner is ready. Using their Fingerless Hands, Blossom states that scissors beats paper. Bubbles complains she always loses.
  • Los Pulentos: One of the songs is called "Cachipún", which is the Chilean name of this game.
  • Regular Show:
    • In the pilot (later remastered as the episode "First Day"), Mordecai and Rigby play rock–paper–scissors (or as Pops calls it, "Quartz-Parchment-Shears") to see which of them will get a discarded chair, but they keep tying. After tying 100 times, they accidentally summon an Eldritch Abomination that can only be dismissed by breaking the tie.
    • Mordecai and Rigby sometimes play rock–paper–scissors to decide who has to do some unpleasant task.
  • Appears in two Robot Chicken sketches. One features a variation of the game and the other takes it literally.
  • The Simpsons: In "The Front", Bart and Lisa resolve a discussion by a game of RPS. The result serves as the trope name (and page quote) for Poor, Predictable Rock.
  • In the Sonic Boom episode, "Let's Play Musical Friends", Orbot and Cubot have their own version of Rock, Paper, Scissors called "Rock, Donut, Thursday". The game makes so little sense that even they can't agree on the rules. They end up defeating the episode's villain this way, as the villain's attempt to comprehend it causes his head to explode.
  • Averted in the South Park episode "Mecha Streisand", and possibly later. What Cartman calls "Roshambo" is really "take turns kicking each other in the nuts until someone falls over".
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward engage in rock-paper-scissors in "Pineapple Fever". They get a tie every time.
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "The Return of Batduck,"note  Plucky, who is disguised as "Edward Hedge-clipper Hands", tries to get past Ralph the Guard and challenges him to a game of Rock–Paper–Scissors. Ralph wins the game by smashing Plucky with a giant rock.
  • Total Drama: One of the challenges in "I See London..." is to strip a Beefeater. Obviously, no one wants to do that, so on Team CIRRRRH, Owen and Noah play rock-paper-scissors for it. After landing three ties in the order, rock, scissor, paper, their fourth move is to simultaneously point at Tyler and order him to do the stripping.
  • In The Weekenders, Tino won 2 tickets to see their favorite band. To figure out who will go with him, Carver, Tish, and Lor play a game of RPS. Of course, everytime they play, it always ties.
  • What If…? (2021) continues the gag about Korg from Thor: Ragnarok.
    • In "What If... Nebula Joined The Nova Corps?" Korg is seen playing rock-paper-scissors with Miek and Groot (who is a sentient tree, and thus the closest thing the MCU has to an embodiment of paper). He plays paper, but claims it's uncuttable paper because it's made of rock. Their boss, Howard the Duck, actually calls the trio "Rock-Paper-Scissors" at one point.
    • In "What If... Iron Man Crashed Into The Grandmaster?", Korg recalls how the Grandmaster once used him as a paperweight, and adds that this was particularly degrading for him because paper is his nemesis.

    Real Life 
  • In Indonesia, there is this version: Elephant crushes Person, Person crushes Ant, Ant drives Elephant crazy by crawling in its ear. Elephant is the thumb, Ant is the pinkie, and Person is the index finger.
  • A U.S. federal judge ordered a minor (but lengthily debated) side issue to be resolved by having the disputants play rock–paper–scissors:
    Upon consideration of the Motion — the latest in a series of Gordian knots that the parties have been unable to untangle without enlisting the assistance of the federal courts — it is ORDERED that said Motion is DENIED. Instead, the Court will fashion a new form of alternative dispute resolution, to wit: at 4:00 P.M. on Friday, June 30, 2006, counsel shall convene at a neutral site agreeable to both parties. If counsel cannot agree on a neutral site, they shall meet on the front steps of the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse, 801 North Florida Ave., Tampa, Florida 33602. Each lawyer shall be entitled to be accompanied by one paralegal who shall act as an attendant and witness. At that time and location, counsel shall engage in one (1) game of "rock, paper, scissors." The winner of this engagement shall be entitled to select the location for the 30(b)(6) deposition to be held somewhere in Hillsborough County during the period July 11-12, 2006.
  • Mongolia has a slightly more complicated team version where each finger beats the one immediately below it, with the little finger beating the forefinger. So there are more combinations, but more of them result in a draw. You're knocked out after the best of three, at which point your next teammate takes over until one team or the other is eliminated. For somebody who isn't used to it, the hardest part is managing to extend the correct finger at speed... And if you're particularly immature, it may take a while for you to stop picking the middle finger every time.
  • Way back when, with the After Dark Screensaver program for Macintosh, there was a screensaver with a Rock, a piece of Paper, and a pair of Scissors walking around, and they'd fight whenever one of them met. However, sometimes Rock would jump through Paper, Paper would whip the screw out of Scissors, and Scissors would sculpt Rock into a statue. When you returned to wake up your computer, the screensaver would inform you of which had the most victories.
  • There is also a crazy Russian variation, where the poem goes: Камень, ножницы, бумага, карандаш, огонь, вода, и бутылка лимонада, и колодец тоже надо, и железная рука, цу-е-фа! (translation: Rock, scissors, paper, pencil, fire, water, and a bottle of soda, and a well you need too, and the iron hand, ro-sham-bo!). No one seems to remember how the figures past "pencil" relate to each other, so a game of this variation is nearly always resolved by loud dispute on what beats what: a pencil, a well or a bottle of soda. It's more a comical rarity, more often the standard three variation is played, accompanied with a faux-Chinese "Tsu-ye-fah!" (or a thousand of regional varieties).
  • There's a somewhat popular addition to the traditional trio called rock–paper–scissors-lizard-Spock. Lizard eats paper and poisons Spock, but is crushed by rock and decapitated by scissors. Spock smashes scissors and vaporizes rock, but is poisoned by lizard and disproved by paper.
  • Speaking of lizards, the mating habits of the common side-blotched lizard make this trope Older Than Dirt. Orange-throated males outcompete blue-throated males, blue-throated males outcompete yellow-throated males, and yellow-throated males sneak past orange-throated males.
  • A soccer referee in England got into trouble in 2018 for allowing the use of rock-paper-scissors (instead of the normal coin toss) to decide which team kicked off in a Women's Super League game.
  • The game "giants, wizards, and elves": wizards turn giants into frogs, elves reflect wizards' spells and cause wizards to turn themselves into frogs, giants crush elves.
  • The game "bee, bear and frog": bee stings bear, bear crushes frog, frog eats bee.
  • In possibly the most expensive game of rock-paper-scissors, Takashi Hashiyama, president of Maspro Denkoh Corporation, used the game to decide which auction house would sell off his art collection (worth about $20 million).


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Rochambeau



When at an impasse in deciding to bring The Dark Queen along, the BattleToads settle on a game of "Toad-Sham-Bo" for a final vote.

How well does it match the trope?

4.62 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / RockPaperScissors

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