Follow TV Tropes


Super Ringer

Go To

Replacing a player in a contest with an absurdly high-ranking replacement pulled in from nowhere — a Super Ringer.

A typical plot using the trope would play out as follows: Alice is our plucky heroine. Elena is her Latina best friend. Suzie is the Alpha Bitch and Tina is The Dragon in Suzie's Girl Posse. The game is doubles tennis, it's the final and the prize is $1,000 to the charity of the winners' choice. Naturally, Suzie will use it for nefarious ends.

Near the end of the episode, something happens to Elena; she breaks her arm after slipping on a wet floor. She can't play. Surely the evil Suzie cannot be stopped. Alice has an idea. On the day of the game, she comes along with another player.

"Hi, everyone", she smiles sweetly, "this is Maria".

Suzie's mouth drops open and she promptly concedes. Never mind that you can't just randomly change a player who gets injured during an event, you would have to forfeit.

Compare/contrast with Put Me In, Coach!, where a previously-underestimated player shows her talents in the final stretch. A common subversion is for the Super Ringer to get injured or incapacitated forcing the team to rely on the underestimated player.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Averted in Shin Captain Tsubasa, Japan is curb-stomped by Humburg SV, with Tsubasa arriving late to the match. Despite the team's opinions, Hyuga and Matsuyama insist him staying on the bench since Tsubasa isn't even listed in the team's roster. This trope plays straight in the movies, however.
  • In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Saikawa hot-headedly challenges a group of older teens to a dodgeball game for control of the playground. She ends up recruiting Kanna, Tohru, Fafnir, and Lucoa, who as dragons proceed to utterly annihilate the other team.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Gumball Rally: Franco Bertollini is the world's greatest racer and he was hired by Smith as his personal driver for the titular cross-country race. It ends up working against Smith, though, because Franco is an impulsive horn-dog who cares more about seducing ladies than winning the race (even when he is feet away from the finish line).
  • In the M*A*S*H movie they bring in Spearchucker Jones who played professional football with the San Francisco 49ers prior to the war as well as being a surgeon. He is transferred to the 4077th to help them win a football game against a rival outfit. Then the other team initially starts winning anyway. How? Jones notices multiple people he knows on the other team — or, in Radar's words, "Our ringer spotted their ringer."
  • In the Abbott and Costello movie Here Come The Co Eds, a professional women's basketball team is secretly brought in to play a women's college team. (There's heavy betting involved. The college's future is at stake.) One of the college players is injured, so Lou Costello puts on a dress and a wig and goes in as a sub. He's terrible, but after he's knocked out mid-game, he awakens with amnesia and is told, "You're Dolly Dimple, the world's greatest woman basketball player!" Living up to his billing, his team wins. At the end of the game, all of the ringers are revealed. The officials decide that "Five ringers are worse than one" and award the game to the college players (and Lou, who isn't in college.)
  • In Horse Feathers, Huxley College hires two professional football players for an upcoming game against Darwin College. In retaliation, Darwin's president Wagstaff (Groucho Marx) tries to do the same, and ends up hiring a stockboy and a dogcatcher instead.
  • In Diggstown, Caine and Gillon make a bet that Caine's friend "Honey Roy" Palmer (an over-the-hill almost-was heavyweight boxer) can defeat 10 fighters from Olivair County (where the titular town is located) in 24 hours. Gillon manages to pull this trope twice. First, when he brings in "Hammerhead" Hagan, the professional boxer who originally defeated Roy by having him legally move to Olivair County the night before the contract is signed. And second, when he brings in a tough-as-nails prison fighter Minoso Torres from the prison located in Olivair County. Both times, Roy manages to win by getting angry at Hagan and by having Caine anticipate Gillon's last move and bribe Torres to throw the fight.
  • In Old School, during the debate session, Dean Pritchard announces that the captain of the university's debate team is sick and is being replaced by James Carville. Despite the curveball, Frank the Tank manages to out-debate the professional commentator to the point where Carville doesn't have a rebuttal. Then it turns out Frank blacked out and it was his subconsciousness doing the debating.
  • Prom Wars: The Lancaster kids repeatedly hire experts for contests that favor their more academic opponents (like Scrabble and a robotics meet) and claim that their ringers are faculty advisors or transfer students. Sometimes it works, but sometimes the Selby kids win anyway.

  • Subverted rather amusingly in a non-fiction book called The Art of Coarse Acting, which sounds like a guide to making it big in Awful British Sex Comedy but is actually a mix of how-to guide and memoir about amateur dramatics. Getting a professional in to help because he or she happens to live locally is a stressful and not especially beneficial prospect for all concerned.
  • In the first Phule's Company book, when the Company is going up against an elite Regular Army unit in a competition, with the final contest being fencing, the RA unit just happens to have recently recruited the tri-planetary sabre champion.

    Live-Action TV 
  • During an episode of Workaholics involving a corporate-sponsored basketball game among Tel Ameri Corp employees, Ders gets real-life streetball player Philip "Hot Sauce" Champion on his team, saying he's an employee named George The Janitor.
  • An episode of Kenan & Kel had Kenan and Kel bring on the NBA player who'd been the Special Guest Star as their third player in a game of basketball against some people who challenged them earlier. Their opponents defaulted.
  • The West Wing: In "The Crackpots and These Women," a variation of this trope occurs, in which President Bartlet has recruited a ringer (a former Duke Basketball player and Final Four contender) to help him beat the rest of his staff at a game of basketball. A slight aversion because there's no indication given of who would normally be playing or why they aren't. The episode also makes reference to Bartlet previously having gotten Steffi Graf to be his doubles partner.
  • Family Matters: Stereotypical Nerd Steve Urkel tries to recruit Jerk Jock Eddie Winslow as his partner in a 2-on-2 inner city basketball tournament. Despite showing some very respectable ball handling skills, Eddie refuses and goes with someone else. Undaunted, Steve shows up at the tournament with a tall, muscular woman in a dress and bonnet whom he only calls "Grandmama". Sure enough, the two teams face each other in the finals. But defying trope, Grandmama is injured during the game, so Eddie's partner steps out and Eddie and Steve play each other 1-on-1 for the last point, where Steve jukes right past Eddie for the winning layup.
  • In the NUMB3RS episode "12:01 A.M.", the CalSci basketball team, which hasn't won in years, is being coached by Prof. Fleinhart, who has a serious problem with losing. He brings in two NBA players as ringers, promising them a ride on the space shuttle. They get a ride on the shuttle simulator in a later episode.
  • Married... with Children: Al gets his old high-school football team back together to face their old rivals, who bring in such NFL ringers as Bubba Smith, Lawrence Taylor, and Ken Stabler.
  • In the Defiance pilot, Nolan and Irisa arrive to the titular town and need to earn some money quickly to buy a vehicle and get back to their stash in the woods. They go to Datak Tarr's establishment, where he runs a fighting ring. Seeing the Castithan champion, Nolan gets in the ring to challenge him, putting what little money he has on himself. Datak, being Genre Savvy, invokes house rules and switches the champion to a Bioman, a genetically-engineered Super-Soldier with muscles bulging all over the place. Using his experience during the Pale Wars, Nolan manages to shut down the Bioman by punching his lower back (where this model's off switch is located). Datak, however, claims that Nolan cheated and demands his winnings back. Being nice, though, he leaves Nolan a small percentage of it.
  • In the late 1970's, Mary Tyler Moore 's justly famous MTM Enterprises produced The White Shadow, a drama about a retired NBA player who turns around a basketball team at a tough inner-city high school. Naturally, when the team's fortunes change, the kids start getting cocky, so the coach brings in some friends they met at a car wash. The "car washers" absolutely smoke the kids in the first half... and in the second half, come out dressed in their real work clothes: the uniforms of The Harlem Globetrotters.

    Video Games 
  • Inazuma Eleven, Gouenji and Tsurugi loves doing this, though just about every major characters plays this trope straight. Nishiki on the other hand, subverts this trope, only to have Hikaru double subverting it.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night:
    • The Einzbern family attempted this during the Third Holy Grail War. They subverted the Grail system in an attempt to summon Angra Mainyu, the Zoroastrian god of evil, as their Servant. Instead they summoned the origin of the god's myth, a man whose fellow villagers declared he was the reason they sinned and was in no way capable of standing up to a Heroic Spirit.
      • In the Alternate Timeline work Fate/Apocrypha, the Einzbern family instead managed to summon the Ruler-class Japanese saint Amakusa Shirou Tokisada, who does much better job than Angra Mainyu even if he ultimately lost and only surviving because he made contact with the Greater Grail, thus managing to materialize.
    • In the Fourth War, Tohsaka managed to summon Gilgamesh, the King of Heroes, who (if he could be bothered to try) could kill every other Heroic Spirit with zero difficulty. There's a reason Tohsaka greeted him with "Behold! We have won!"
    • Lower-key version: Also in the Fourth War, the Einzberns (and Emiya) managed to summon King Arthur, the King of Knights, who is largely considered the strongest Heroic Spirit in a fair fight. Of course, good luck getting them to fight fair, assuming you can even get them to agree on what's fair in the first place.
    • Also, the Einzberns hiring Kiritsugu at all; Their own brand of Magecraft was unsuited for combat, so in the Fourth War they hire Mage Killer Kiritsugu to deal with the competition. And it works; While Kiritsugu's methods clashed with Saber's ideology, he does make it to the end of the War….up until he realizes that the Holy Grail is actually a Jackass Genie and destroys it.
    • The Einzberns did it again in the fifth war by summoning Herakles, greatest of the Greek heroes, and to top it off made an Artificial Human custom-designed to operate as his master (said master was also the vessel of the Grail, meaning she couldn't be killed by the other masters lest the whole Grail War become a waste) and forced him into the Berserker class, one of the most powerful (if uncontrollable) classes. They failed again, because the Artificial Human hated them and Berserker was a really lousy class choice for a hero whose legend is as much based on wits and skill as strength and endurance.

    Web Original 
  • Achievement Hunter did this when they were challenged by Funhaus to a Smite match, first by swapping out Gavin for another AH member (Caleb) who was good at Smite, then secretly replacing Geoff, Michael and Ryan with three other Smite playing Rooster Teeth employees as well (Jack had played the game enough to be able to hold his own with the ringers so he kept playing). The ringers (and Jack) won handily.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons
    • The entire plot of "Homer at the Bat". We're talkin' softball, from Maine to San Diego, talkin' softball, Mattingly and Canseco, talkin' Homeeer... Ozzie and the Strawb". By the end of the episode, Hilarity has Ensued and all but 1 of the ringers are unable to play for various reasons (notably, Mr. Burns fires Mattingly for not getting rid of his sideburns, even after Mattingly shaves the sides of his head).
      Mattingly: Still like him better than Steinbrenner.
    • In another episode, Homer replaces Lisa with Serena Williams as his tennis partner. Then Marge replaces Bart with Venus Williams. Then Venus replaces Marge with Pete Sampras. Then Homer gets replaced by Andre Agassi. So the family gets to watch a world-class doubles match for free, and try to keep track of which player they "are".
  • In the Futurama episode "Time Keeps on Slipping", the protagonists are challenged to a game of basketball against the Harlem Globetrotters, so the Professor creates some ringers: a team of atomic supermen.
  • In Static Shock, Shenice is introduced as the Super Ringer on the girls' bowling team (it's legit in this case since it was a school team and she had just joined the school) where she proceeds to cream the boys until her parents show up and she gutters the last ball. Turns out Shenice is a literal Super Ringer, who also moonlights as the heroine Shebang.
  • The second season of Wakfu has a Gobbowl team call in a super-powered ringer after their star player was revealed to be a woman and switched to the other team (long story).
  • Subverted with The Legend of Korra: the Fire Ferrets need a new player for their pro-bending team, and it just so happens that they've befriended the Avatar. You know, the master bender who can handle all four elements and has spent most of her life in training? The judges allow it (on the condition that she sticks to waterbending), much to the surprise and dismay of other teams. But she has no experience in the game, and her temperament is not really suited to team sports, so she's mostly a hindrance until she gets a bit of Character Development.
  • In the Hey Arnold! episode "Mudbowl" the fifth graders challenge the (noticeably smaller) fourth graders to an American football match for exclusive use of the park. To stand a chance of winning Arnold brings in Torvald, a fourth-grader who has been held back two or three years.