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Teeth-Clenched Teamwork

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These guys made five films together. Surprisingly, this wasn't the last one.

"Fine, we'll work together. At the very least, we'll prove it's a bad idea."
Black Mage, 8-Bit Theater
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Sometimes in Real Life, people on the same side don't get along. In fiction, this often occurs when there are multiple villains trying to work together, a mismatched team of heroes, or a situation where former enemies have to team up. The problem with this sort of team is that they have trouble using The Power of Friendship or The Power of Love to win – likely because this is essentially the more cynical version of those tropes. It's still not at the far cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, however, because it still assumes that people can (and should) at least work together.

Generally, the imperfect teamwork generated serves as both a good source of drama and/or comedy, depending on the situation. It's particularly dramatic if the group undergoes a period of Divided We Fall first. It also helps ensure that the group is interesting and varied without raising questions of why they work so perfectly together.

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This dysfunctional teamwork often takes the form of Family Drama (in cases where the team includes at least part of a Dysfunctional Family). The touchstone of enmity is family, after all.

The Leader may often find himself demanding an Ordered Apology.

Compare with Fighting the Lancer, where animosity between teammates actually does lead to a fight.

Contrast Sour Supporter, who is convinced that the team is doomed to failure, but works well with them anyway. If the series goes on long enough (and becomes less cynical), with enough Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments, this might turn into The Power of Friendship or The Power of Love. Conversely, this trope is a good counterpoint to True Companions; it is a way of introducing some conflict and authenticity into works that would otherwise be too sugary.

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Contrast We ARE Struggling Together, and A House Divided where there's lots of infighting on the same side but no teamwork. An Enemy Mine and Colliding Criminal Conspiracies usually results in this trope. Chained Heat is a more specific version of this trope involving being forced to work with someone by some method of a physical attachment. Frequently a by-product of Jurisdiction Friction. Family Drama usually has this within a family. Not to be confused with teams whose members always clench their teeth. Red Oni, Blue Oni and Vitriolic Best Buds are duos rather than teams, but they usually display this trope. May end up as an Inevitable Mutual Betrayal.

Often, this is how Fire-Forged Friends start out. Also compare with Forced into Evil.


Examples

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    Podcast 
  • Dr. Bright and Damien are forced to do this in season two of The Bright Sessions. Dr. Bright reluctantly helps Damien improve his ability and then has him infiltrate the AM's headquarters to get Mark, in exchange for finding Damien someone who can also manipulate minds. Leads to Damien kidnapping Mark when he finds out Mark is a mimic.
  • This applies to two pairs of characters in Guiders of our Dreams. Fang murdered Lexia's family AND destroyed her village, and they are forced to work together for a greater cause, which is to kill the queen of Skiya. After a while, they do start to get along and look out for each other. Zephyr and Orpheus are also like this, but they simply don't trust one another.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Dr. Cube, the evil surgeon and Midori no Kaiju, who just wanted to destroy things, did not get along but worked together because they would be defeated by the Kaiju Big Battel heroes as individuals.
  • Chris Candido and Lance Storm in ECW, under stipulation they had to work together as a tag team or be fired, which came after Storm was kicked out of their group, Triple Threat.
  • Long-time rivals Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit were forced to work together during their reign as WWE Tag Team Champions in 2002.
  • The bizarre situation regarding the NWA World Tag Team Titles in TNA when they were won by a third of Triple X(Prime Time Elix Skipper) and half of America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris) by accident thanks to a shoddy call by a referee. They still disliked The Naturals and Team Canada more than each other but then their preferred partners, Christopher Daniels and James Storm accidentally won the belts from them and had even more trouble getting along.
  • Long time enemies Shantelle Taylor and Angel Williams were forced to team up in Deep South Wrestling against Shantelle's friend Tracy Taylor by general manager Krissy Vaine. Williams proved so insufferable the Taylors ended up dropping all concern about win loss records and company standing just to shut her up.
  • A one sided example in Radiant Rain and Mercedes Martinez, after the two made peace with one another in WSU. Mercedes likes Rain, but simply developed an aversion to tag team matches. Rain doesn't like Mercedes at all and only managed to tolerate her in tag team matches because there was usually someone else she liked even less, however slightly(and they officially made peace)
  • Bobby Roode and James Storm used to be in a tag team called Beer Money before Roode betrayed Storm. So they don't like each other too much but every once and while, find themselves slipping back into their old mannerisms and working together for short periods of time. They even did their old pose after double teaming AJ Styles before immediately resuming their own fight amongst themselves in mid 2012.
  • Basically the appeal of Team Hell No, the scourge AJ Lee accidentally brought on herself as general manager in her efforts to get revenge on Daniel Bryan by putting him in anger management with Kane.

    Radio 
  • Present in The Navy Lark whenever Commodore Povey and the Troutbridge Crew were forced to team up to defeat whatever lunacy the Admiralty foisted upon them. In Season one whenever Lt. Cmdr. Price and CPO Pertwee had to team up to outfox Povey's plans to drill them out of the Navy.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • Some versions of The Krampus have his partnership with Santa Claus be this, enslaved by Santa rather than it being genuine friendship like in other versions. Despite his terrifying appearance, Krampus is actually an example of Dark Is Not Evil, and punishing naughty children is simply his duty.

    Sports 
  • The 1986 New York Mets were one of the best baseball teams ever assembled. They were also, almost to a man, a bunch of drunks, womanizers, drug abusers, and masters of Jerkassery. More memorable then their fights against other teams (like literal, knuckle-up fights) were the ones among themselves. One of the more fractious ones was between team star Daryl Strawberry and the unofficial team captain Keith Hernandez.
  • The New York Yankees of the 1970's weren't called "the Bronx Zoo" for nothing. Team star Reggie Jackson and team manager Billy Martin nearly came to blows in the dugout and had to be separated. Team captain Thurmon Munson and Jackson did not get along, and that was no secret. And of course, owner George Steinbrenner, fired and rehired Martin multiple times. By some miracle of talent and skill, they found the time amidst all this dysfunction to win back-to-back World Series titles in 1977 and '78.
  • Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant spent 8 years together knowing they each would be more likely to win with the other around, but finally, in 2004, the team fell apart in the Finals largely due to their feud and it was obvious one or the other had to go. Both men did end up winning a title or two afterward though. Now that both men have retired from the NBA they have made an effort to mend fences.
  • In a similar vein, the 1985 Chicago Bears are often considered to be one of the greatest teams in the history of the NFL, but their head coach Mike Ditka and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan did not get along at all. The roots of the problem began when their deceased founder and owner, George 'Papa Bear' Halas, hired Ditka to be the head coach in 1982 over Ryan, who had been with the Bears five years prior and felt he should have gotten the job. Both men were able to stomach each other for the cause of winning, but their animosity came to a head on a Monday Night Football game against the Miami Dolphins, who ended up spoiling an otherwise perfect season giving the Bears their only loss that year. During halftime, Ditka and Ryan finally came to blows and after that year Ryan left for the head coaching job at Philadelphia. Ditka later commented that they were both better together than apart.

    Theatre 

    Toys 

    Visual Novels 
  • M and Mary sign a contract in Shikkoku no Sharnoth in order to destroy the Metacreatures. M is completely dispassionate, while Mary grows to hate him more as time passes. In the end, she finally understands him and saves him in some sense, but contrary to what might be expected this does not develop into a romance.
  • Akai Ito: Uzuki the demon hunter openly despises supernaturals since her big brother was killed by one, Sakuya yields an undying grudge toward the demon hunters due to their act of genocide on her clan, while Tsuzura just want to get the hell out since she hates being the leader of the demon hunters, and don't like people in general. However, they must set aside their difference because Nushi is the real threat.
  • All over the place in Dangan Ronpa, because forcing multiple volatile teenagers into solving murder cases under the threat of death is bound to cause some friction. The Rival characters, in particular, tend to make life even more difficult for their respective protagonists while simultaneously being a valuable asset in the investigations and trials.
  • Fate/stay night is full of this, though it usually lessens as the parties get to know each other or come to a mutual understanding. Rin and Shirou, Shirou and Saber, Saber and Rin, Illya and Rin, Illya and Saber, everyone and Kotomine... but nothing tops the sheer molar-grinding of Shirou and Archer. Shirou cannot stand Archer, as his callous nature and willingness to sacrifice innocent people to achieve victory so long as he saves more than he kills fly in the face of Shirou's ideals of "saving everyone, regardless of the cost to myself". Archer, on the other hand, would like nothing more than to murder Shirou in cold blood so that he can be erased from existence, but typically he can't either because Rin has him under a Command Seal to not hurt Shirou, or because he considers keeping Rin alive to be more important. The one route where Archer manages to Xanatos Gambit his way into being free to act on that desire? Everything goes to hell very quickly.

    Web Animation 
  • Broken Saints gives us a villainous example: Benjamin Palmer and Lear Dunham clearly have no great love for each other, but they need each other's help to execute the Evil Plan. Of course, once Palmer has outlived his usefulness, Lear is quick to dispose of him.
  • Red vs. Blue
    • This is true for pretty much the entire casts, especially at the start of the series, with neither team getting along with each other, let alone with the opposite team. This is downplayed somewhat as the series goes on, with them becoming more or less True Companions, but even then they still have their squabbles, especially with Sarge insisting on acting like the war between Red and Blue is still on, long after both teams had more or less made peace with each other.
    • This is noted to have been Felix's and Locus' relationship during the war. They greatly disliked each other and were extremely competitive, but they were on the same side in a very deadly war, so they worked together to survive it. Now that the war is over they still work together, due to the fact that they make a disturbingly effective team, allowing both of them to make a good living for joint mercenary work. But they still most certainly hate each other, and are implied to want to kill each other, but they both know they will never get another partner who works in sync with them as well as the other.
  • This is the conflict driving RWBY's first season. Three mostly good people are forced to work with a bratty, arrogant Alpha Bitch (although she eventually becomes more of a Lovable Alpha Bitch as she undergoes Character Development).
    • This also applies to Ozpin's personnel circle and the Atlas Military, most notably between Qrow Branwen and Winter Schnee who only barley reluctantly associate with each other and in the first appearance together quickly get into a fight.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Between Asia and Julie vs their Darkness counterparts in 'VRcade'.

    Web Original 
  • The Vindicators of the Whateley Universe. Kismet, the leader, won't admit she ever makes a mistake. Lemure hates her and is only still on the team because of Sizemax. Dynamaxx enjoys playing them off against each other. Captain Canada! is likely to go off the deep end at the first serious stressor.
  • Our Avatars Were In A Room Together The Continuation: When Sol steals the Fireseal and beats up a bunch of knights in order to get to Justice and destroy her himself, Ky is forced to join Sol out of desperation to end the war, despite disagreeing with his methods.
  • In Marble Hornets, Tim and Jay pretty much hate each other when they first start working together (admittedly, Tim did attack Jay, albeit while temporarily insane, and Jay kept Tim in the dark about things he couldn't remember). However, after a while, they eventually develop a strong friendship.
  • The behind-the-scenes work for Bennett the Sage's anime review show Anime Abandon is largely done by Marc the Engineer, who seems to barely tolerate Sage and does his job extremely grudgingly. Outside the show's 'verse, they are genuine friends.

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