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Tiger Versus Dragon

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"What do a fictitious reptile and an extinct carnivore have to do with martial arts, anyway?"

A Sub-Trope of Animal Jingoism and Red Oni, Blue Oni.

The Chinese have an interesting idiom: "the tiger and the dragon". This refers to two spirits so wildly different and yet at the same time similar, mortal enemies intricately linked together by destiny. Both the Dragon and the Tiger are symbols of Chinese Buddhism, with the tiger lunging straight ahead to bulldoze through his opponents, while the dragon is revered more for patience and wisdom from which he then derives fighting power. With neither able to conquer the other, these kingly beasts represent a balance of power, "hard" and "soft" styles coming together to form a harmony between Yin and Yang. They can also be seen as the Dragon representing Spirit/Heaven, and the Tiger representing Matter/Earth. This is why you see lots of Dragon/Tiger tattoos. They're as Eastern as Yin and Yang. Bonus points if they're in the same picture as a Yin and Yang (which isn't Buddhist, per se, but Taoist).

Whether it's just competing companies, martial arts, board games, or whatever, the dragon and the tiger will likely be used to represent these similar-but-different forces. The person representing the dragon will usually be wise, tempered, patient, humble, plucky, and/or any other traits usually seen as "laid-back". The person representing the tiger will probably be passionate, driven, enthusiastic, wild, and/or other traits seen as "Hot-Blooded". The dragon is often represented by the protagonist or by another good character if the tiger is represented by an antagonist. However, reversals are not unknown, Dragons Are Demonic and Soft-Spoken Sadist are things after all, usually with a Hot-Blooded hero, and Wicked Cultured Villain with Dissonant Serenity.

Either way, once they work together or fight against each other, there will definitely be sparks flying.

Often manifests in an Animal Battle Aura. See also Red Oni, Blue Oni, for when the contrast is just contrast and not actually representing a Tiger/Dragon battle. See also Animal Jingoism, for when other animals contrast against each other. If it's just animal of the dragon by himself, then it's Dragons Up the Yin Yang. If there's also a snake/turtle and a phoenix it's The Four Gods; bonus points if the tiger is white and the dragon is blue or green without the additional two however, as they also boast clashing elements due to symbolizing opposing Chinese elements, being Metal and Wood, respectively.

This can be used either for depth, exploitation, or just because it is cool. For another example of Eastern Animal Jingoism, see Tanuki/Kitsune Contrast. Compare and contrast Primate Versus Reptile, a Western mammal vs. reptile motif.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • When Junichi and Yuuhi of Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka square off in one episode, the dragon and tiger appear above their heads.
  • In Ask Dr. Rin!, two of the people who are supposed to be Meirin's guardians, Tokiwa and Asuka, are reincarnations of Byakko the Tiger and Seiryuu the Dragon respectively. They are the two big competitors for Meirin's affections.
  • In Beelzebub, reflected in their Meaningful Names, Tatsumi Oga is the dragon and Hidetora Tojo is the tiger. The later rival Izo Aiba, also has tiger themed attacks.
  • In B Gata H Kei, Yamada the protagonist is the tiger and Kyouka Kanejou The Rival is the dragon.
  • In the Blue Exorcist Anime, this is Played for Laughs in the form of Ryuji "Bon" and Rin butting heads.
  • Bungo Stray Dogs:
    • Minor example with protagonist Nakajima Atsushi, who can turn into a white tiger, and his Port Mafia rival/counterpart, Akutagawa Ryuunosuke. Minor because Akutagawa doesn't actually have a dragon motif, but the connection is still present.
    • In the movie, the main antagonist has just as much dragon motifs as Atsushi is a tiger.
  • In Cardfight!! Vanguard G, Chrono's ace unit is Chronojet Dragon. The Stride Gate arc establishes it as part of a set of 12 Gear Chronicle units based off of the eastern zodiac. The only other grade 3 of the set, both the Big Bad's ace and The Man Behind the Man, is Chronofang Tiger.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Main protagonist Spike is down-to-earth, laid-back, can act kinda dumb, jumps into trouble and identifies with a parable of a striped cat. Major antagonist Vicious is the calm methodical bastard rising to the leadership of the Red Dragon Syndicate who still uses a katana in gun fights. For bonus points, it's mentioned that one of the Red Dragon's main oppositions in organized crime is a rival syndicate called the White Tigers.
  • In Fist of the North Star:
    • Kenshiro and Raoh are sometimes represented by a dragon and a tiger, respectively. Kenshiro is stoic and does not seek power, Raoh is more hot-blooded and ambitious.
    • When Kenshiro and Rei are fighting in front of King Fang when he's holding Airi hostage, they use techniques from their respective schools to attack each other, but are actually moves that make them fake death. The name of these techniques? Hokuto Ryu Geki Ko (Dragon Attacks Tiger) and Nanto Ko Ha Ryu (Tiger Destroys Dragon).
    • Ryuken and Koryu were known as the Dragon and the Tiger of Hokuto.
  • While dragons are a major part of Future Card Buddyfight, Gao is more associated with straight-up dragons than most other fighters. One of his biggest rivals is Noboru, who is associated with tigers by the symbol on his shirt. (It's not a kitten.)
  • In a series where nearly everyone is named after animals, the two main characters of Gakuen Babysitters are Ryuuichi (the dragon) and his toddler little brother Kotarou (the tiger). Subverted, however, since they get along very well, and their personalities don't exactly match the trope. Ryuuichi is a Nice Guy, Friend to All Children, and bordering on Team Mom for the other toddlers. Kotarou is an almost expresionless kid who doesn't speak much, although later on he began showing a lot more emotions.
  • Hajime no Ippo: Takeshi Sendo, the Naniwa Tiger versus Ryuuhei Sawamura, the Owari Dragon. Both are feared street fighters who have never lost a fight and possess incredible fighting instincts. And yet, their fighting styles are very different, as are their personalities. They eventually wind up in some kind of Vitriolic Best Buds relationship, which occasionally gives us funny scenes.
  • Spoofed in Hayate the Combat Butler, with Nagi getting the Battle Aura of a dragon, and Ayumu countering with...a hamster. She never quite escapes the association with the little rodent.
  • Hyakko gives most of its characters Eastern Zodiac associations. Torako and Tatsuki, don't get along initially and their personalities (chaotic and energetic vs. calm and dignified) continue to be contrasted throughout the series.
  • Volume 8 of Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl focuses on two girls named Torayama and Tatsumi, who compete to be Student Council President. Torayama (the "tiger") is abrasive, passionate and slightly irritable, while Tatsumi (the "dragon") has a cool and nonchalant demeanor. They're equally gifted and hate each other with a passion (yet like each other much more than they want to admit).
  • Kuroko's Basketball: The two blood brothers Taiga Kagami (another rare protagonist who represents the tiger) and Tatsuya Himuro are this, which is symbolized by their given names ("Taiga" obviously rhymes with "tiger", and "Tatsuya" has "tatsu" in his name), which becomes even more apparent due to both, most often than not, calling each other by their given names. Both of them are Foils to each other in several different ways. Kagami plays in a team with a very offensive playstyle, he's gifted with talent and his playstyle emphasizes more on power than technique, and his partner Kuroko is a short pass player who supports Kagami in every game. Himuro plays in a team with a very defensive playstyle, he's not as gifted as Kagami, but he has refined his basics so much that he can beat many players with his skills, and his partner Murasakibara is a large and powerful Center whom Himuro supports.
  • Subverted in Legend of Heavenly Sphere Shurato Ryuu-Oh Ryoma and Ten-Oh Hyuuga happen to be best friends, despite their armor motifs.
  • In a strange case, Rio Wesley from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vi Vid has both dragon and tiger motifs. Rio's shooting spells and bombardment spells are usually dragon-shaped, while most of her close-ranged spells are named after a tiger theme.
  • In My Bride is a Mermaid, Sun's dad and Lunar's dad have dragon and tiger auras respectively whenever they spar.
  • Seen in Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow, where Nadare Rouga employs the jutsu called Ice Release: Tearing Dragon Fierce Tiger (Ice Style: Dragon vs. Tiger). Kakashi Hatake subsequently counters the attack with the Water Dragon Jutsu.
  • The World Nobles of One Piece are known as the Celestial Dragons. One of the greatest challenges to their authority, an attack on their lands and the freeing of all their slaves, occurred at the hands of a Fishman called Fisher Tiger.
  • Onmyō Taisenki has two characters, Asuka Yūma and Ōgami Masaomi, whose Shikigami are a tiger (Byakko no Rangetsu) and a dragon (Seiryū no Kibachiyo) respectively. Though they don't battle each other often, it's usually a very fierce fight when they do. Bonus points for Yūma being from the Earth-style clan and Masaomi being from the Heaven-style clan though Masaomi, whose real name is Gashin, is actually from the Jin-style clan.
    • Later, Seiryū no Kibachiyo battles against Byakko no Kogenta, the main character's Shikigami. Then Rangetsu joins the battle, making it a dragon versus two tigers.
    • Though the biggest rival pair in the series, Tachibana Riku and Asuka Yūma, actually avert this, since they both use tigers (Byakko no Kogenta and Byakko no Rangetsu, respectively), though in terms of personality, Riku is the "dragon" and Yūma is the "tiger".
  • In Pokémon: I Choose You!, Ash's Charizard (dragon) has a battle with Cross' Incineroar (tiger).
  • Ranma ½:
    • In the episode "Genma Takes a Walk" has Sōun and Genma falling out, and fighting a duel at the end of the episode. Their first attacks against each other being Genma's "Wild Tiger Exploding Fist" and Sōun's "Flying Dragon Kick to Oblivion".
    • Otherwise averted with Lime and Herb of the Musk Dynasty. Despite having respective ancestry of a tiger and dragon through the magic of the Jusenkyō spring, Lime is Herb's underling and not a rival.
    • Ranma himself has both Tiger and Dragon-theming in his two strongest moves, reflecting both his straightforward and devious sides. The Mōkō Takabisha ("Pride of the Fierce Tiger") is a direct Hand Blast powered by Ranma's pride. The Hiryū Shōten Ha ("Heaven Blast of the Dragon") creates a cyclone by using a more aggressive foe's energy against them.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Kenshin and his master are repeatedly given dragon motifs. Most of their fighting style's moves have the word Dragon in the name. Later on, the final Big Bad Enishi shows up...and is given tiger motifs. This is particularity referenced to their sword fighting style. Enishi uses a style with emphasis on a lower stance (earthly tiger), while Kenshin fights at a relatively higher stance (heavenly dragon). Enishi's is also able to oppose Kenshin's.
  • Saint Seiya:
    • Subverted with the character of Libra Dohko. He is the master of Shiryu, and the one who taught him all of his Dragon attacks, which he of course can masterfully execute himself. However, his zodiacal sign is Tiger and he bears a tattoo depicting one, the same way Shiryu does. Interestingly, the Libra Saint is usually described as the "point of equilibrium" of the Gold Saints. It is quite obvious by the fact that he is one of the most badass of the characters that Dohko has achieved the perfect balance between Dragon and Tiger and that he draws enormous strength from it.
    • It's played straight, at least in the anime, with the other candidate to Dragon Saint, a man named Ohko who follows a tiger motif. Doubling as Rival Turned Evil, but after a Duel to the Death with Shiryu he manages to make peace with him and Dohko before passing away.
  • Subverted in SD Gundam Sangokuden: Brave Battle Warriors — the Three Kingdoms along with Toutaku Zaku's forces are based on The Four Gods, and the dragon- and tiger-themed factions Shou and Gou correspond to Shu and Wu in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, making them allies (or at least the factions that spend the most time not at war).
  • Seen in Sengoku Youko where two of the Four Beasts General are a tiger and dragon demon-human fusions, and the tiger — Douren — in this case has an ongoing rivalry with the dragon — Jinun — to the point that he believes that he would be the only one allowed to take down Jinun.
  • How could anyone forget Shigurui. Kogan Iwamoto and after him Gennosuke Fujiki symbolize the Tiger while Seigen Irako symbolizes the Dragon.
  • In the Soul Eater manga, Death The Kid references this as the main difference between his and Black Star's fighting styles. While Black Star prefers to simply use brute force against his opponents, Kid is more methodical and prefers using strategy.
  • Tai Chi Chasers features this trope prominently, from the two major rival factions (Tigeroids and Dragonoids) to tigers, dragons, and the taijutu (yin-yang symbol) being displayed heavily in the main opening.
  • Ichiryuu and Midora from Toriko during their battle. Their names even translate as "First Dragon" and "Third Tiger".
  • In The Way of the Househusband, Tatsu "the Immortal Dragon" only had one other Yakuza who was skilled enough to be called his rival; Torajiro "the Steelfist Tiger". Tatsu is cool and calculated despite being a Large Ham, while Tora is Hot-Blooded and always ready to let his fists do the talking. The two are retired from the Yakuza life, with Tatsu being a House Husband and Tora selling crepes in a food truck, but they rekindled their rivalry through a Cooking Duel.
  • Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches: Ryu Yamada ("ryu" means "dragon") and Toranosuke Miyamura ("tora" means tiger) are a variation of this. They both have respectively dragons and tigers as their Animal Motifs, and they do have a dynamic where they can be wildly different and at the same pretty similar, but they're Vitriolic Best Buds instead of mortal enemies. Also, Yamada is actually personality-wise more similar to the tiger, while Miyamura is more similar to the dragon.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! cut out the middle man: A single Tiger Dragon.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: In an early season one episode, tiger and dragon images are shown behind Bastian and Jaden respectively. Which is an odd reversal of theme, because Bastian is the brainy strategist and Jaden is the bulldozer in this scenario. Later on, Bastian falls for Tania, who actually is a tiger, and Jaden's past-life love Yubel turns up: who was transformed into a dragon.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL had taken the aforementioned Tiger Dragon and made a baby version of it, Baby Tiragon.
    • In his duel with Tron/Vetrix, Yuma equipped Hope/Utopia Ray with 2 Zexal Weapons: Lightning Blade (Tiger) and Tornado Bringer (Dragon).
  • A Recurring Element of the Zoids franchise is for the protagonists to pilot a Liger and face a theropod-type Zoid as a rival or other powerful opponent.

    Comic Books 
  • DC Comics martial arts hero Richard Dragon was a Reformed Criminal who took up fighting the forces of evil to get his life in order. His main enemy was his former friend Ben Turner, alias Bronze Tiger, whose aggression led him away from the path of good.
  • In Richard Dragon and Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter the imagery and behavior is switched, with the tiger being the calm rational one and the dragon being the fiery impulsive one, but Dragon and Bronze Tiger fight on occasion and argue regularly even if they are best friends, or at least were. In their fight that kicks off Richard Dragon Dragon claimed to be willing to kill Tiger, who was trying to help him. In both stories Richard is at his lowest and least rational and Ben at his most controlled and rational though Ben started slipping near the end of Kung Fu Fighter.

    Fan Works 
  • In Planet of the Cats it's a motif commonly used symbolically between the two sides (Humans being Dragons and Catians being Tigers, of course).
  • In Compass of Thy Soul, Uchiha Kita is a gentle woman who subtly guides her husband and clan while having the ability to shapeshift into a sea dragon, and Senju Hashirama is a forceful-minded man acting on his passionate drive and whose brother has a big cat motif. Also, Kita feels Hashirama is annoying and thick-headed.
  • Daystar: Taylor's anima banner shows a tiger, and her arch-enemy Lung has the power to turn into a dragon. The unnamed Sidereal notes the appropriateness of the juxtaposition.
  • Callista and Acutus in The Zero Context Series have this dynamic. Callista is able to transform into a cat-like hybrid, and her fighting style can be summarized as 'fast and furious'; she even wore a Detroit Tigers coat in their first encounter to drive the motif home. The dragon-girl Acutus doesn't display much wisdom when they meet, but afterwards shows the patience brought on by 2,000 years of life, a willingness to wait if it means achieving her goals, and the ability to pull off long cons despite the impact it has on her well-being.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Kung Fu Panda series' Ship Tease with Master Po the Dragon Warrior and Master Tigress feels even more appropriate with this Chinese symbology in mind. There's also Po, at the end the calm, collected Dragon Warrior, against Tai Lung, the brutal, aggressive Snow Leopard. Neither of them are EXACTLY Dragon or Tiger, but they're both close enough.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The villain of Avatar, Colonel Miles Quaritch, calls himself "Papa Dragon" and has a fire-breathing dragon painted on the side of his mech suit's gun. Trudy, who sabotages him to help the heroes, has a tiger painted on her own craft.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Word of God suggests that the title is intended to refer to the obvious threat of Jade Fox (the "crouching tiger") and the secret but far more significant threat of Jen (the "hidden dragon"). Mentioned during the Oscars by Steve Martin: he was wondering why there weren't any tigers and dragons. Then he understood it's because they're crouching and hidden.
  • In Dragon Tiger Gate, Dragon Wong and Tiger Wong are brothers loyal to a fault, but they do end up getting into spats every now and then.
  • In Exit The Dragon Enter The Tiger, the spirit of Bruce Lee points to the Brucesploitation actor Bruce Li as his "successor", calling him the "Tiger" to Lee's "Dragon".
  • Fighting Dragon VS Deadly Tiger, also known as Call Me Dragon.
  • The Last Dragon opens with our hero, Leroy, reaching the "last dragon" level of martial arts training, and he is sometimes referred to as "The Last Dragon" by other characters. Fittingly, he is extremely stoic, to the point of being wooden. His rival, Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy Sho'Nuff, is a Hot-Blooded bully whose outfits prominently feature tiger (or at one point, leopard) motifs, and is introduced wearing what appears to be a tiger-skin robe.
  • In Rocky IV, Rocky, previously represented by the song "Eye of the Tiger", faces Ivan Drago. What's even stranger is that those roles are reversed in their fighting styles: Drago is hailed for his raw power and Rocky for his toughness.
  • Tiger VS Dragon, also known as Kung Fu, the Invisible Fist.

  • In Campione!, we have Erica Blandelli, the passionate and Hot-Blooded tiger, and Yuri Mariya, the calm and humble dragon.
  • In David Brin's novel Earth, the on-screen representations of two software packages that end up fighting each other with the fate of the world at stake happen to be a tiger and a dragon.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, Sousuke's Animal Motif is a tiger. Gauron's Animal Motif can be seen as a dragon (derived from his name, Gauron, meaning "nine dragons" in Chinese). Their relationship fits this trope description to a "T".
  • In Harry Potter rival Houses, Gryffindor and Slytherin are a more western version. With a Lion and a Snake at odds instead (though the relationship does get better by the end of the series). Though technically, Slytherin did conceal a Basilisk so the differences in trope aren't too far-fetched.
  • A variant in the children's book A Lion in the Meadow, with a lion in place of a tiger, and a distinctly Western-style dragon. A little boy tells his skeptical mother that there's a lion in the meadow outside their house. She assumes (probably correctly) that he's imagining it, and tells him about a dragon that, she assures him, will scare the lion away. It works too well, and the boy himself is so scared that he hides inside the house. Then the lion shows up, and asks if it can hide with him. He is happy to oblige.
  • A more subtle example appears in Red Dragon. Serial Killer Francis Dollarhyde is obsessed with William Blake's Great Red Dragon and is compelled to kill by his delusions of discarding his humanity and becoming it, while his girlfriend Reba's last memory of being able to see before losing her eyes to an infection is a picture of a tiger and her love is the only thing that keeps him holding on to his last shred of human feeling. The two of them even share a tender moment petting a tiger while delivering infrared film to a zoo's veterinary clinic, which contributes to his ability to resist the call of the Great Red Dragon, however briefly, during the lead up to the final confrontation.
  • John Brunner's Telepathist has Howson, the therapeutic telepath, entering the absurdly detailed Oriental fantasy dream-state of a catatonic patient. After a series of events, he brings the patient out of the fugue by naming Tiger City as the tiger, and his sword, which had slain a dragon, as the dragon. Both objects then turn into their respective animals and fight. Howson wins because "the tiger is the second strongest animal", and the other man wakes up. Subverted, as the patient was also a telepath — he'd put such blatant weaknesses in it because he'd created the fantasy as a sort of holiday, and wanted to be brought out of it easily. In at least one version of the book, printed under the title The Whole Man, the catatonic telepath is caught completely by surprise. He'd set up the laws of magic in his fantasy so that the above fight was possible with minimal Inception-style "cheating" on Howson's part, but he'd expected the people on the outside to send a less experienced therapeutic telepath, who would screw up and get noticed, at which point the catatonic guy would wake up on his own.
  • Toradora! uses this as a frequently recurring motif. The title uses the Japanese word for tiger, tora, and the Japanese romanization of dragon, dora(gon). The two main characters' names also tie into the trope; Ryuuji's name contains the kanji for "dragon", while Taiga's name means "great river" but sounds a lot like the English word "tiger". In episode 3 of the anime adaptation, Ryuuji explicitly states that the dragon and the tiger were the only two animals that could truly be equals. Indeed, the two spend much of the series as perfectly matched rivals or relying on each other. Incidentally, Ryuuji is tall and has threatening delinquent's eyes, but is good at cooking and domestic chores (calm disposition), whereas Taiga is tiny and adorable ... but has a fiery temper, is rude and willing to start fights or cause injury over the smallest conflict, and has issues with social interaction (the tiger's bluntness and hardheadedness).

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Arrow, Oliver Queen, who starts the series with a dragon tattoo he shared with his lost love Shado, has a few scuffles with Ben Turner, also known as Bronze Tiger. Interestingly, they lose their imagery by the time they meet again in jail in Season 7, perhaps as a way of showing that they're willing to put aside their differences.
  • The Mockumentary Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real has a realistic scenario of a fight between a tiger and a dragon. It doesn't end well for the tiger.
  • Kung Fu (1972): As part of their final graduation exercise Shaolin monks get a tiger and a dragon branded onto their forearms, by having to lift a heavy, red-hot, urn to get to the exit of the testing facility.
  • Survivor: China has its tribes named Fei Long ("Flying Dragon") and Zhan Hu ("Fighting Tiger").
  • Toei Tokusatsu:
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki is a well-meaning and friendly guy who wants to protect everyone. Kamen Rider Tiger is a sociopath who believes in killing the one to save the many. They fight each other! ...Admittedly, they didn't have many confrontations, but still.
    • Super Sentai likes to use this when it fits into the motifs.
      • Gosei Sentai Dairanger has the Red and Sixth Rangers being based on the Dragon and Tiger respectively, with the appropriately contrasting personalities.
      • Juken Sentai Gekiranger has the Tiger as the Red Ranger and the Dragon as the Big Bad.
      • In Avataro Sentai Donbrothers, the Sixth Ranger Jiro has a Split Personality and two different variations on his Ranger powers to match. Normally, he's energetic and outgoing, even overbearingly so; and when he morphs he becomes the dragon-themed Don Doragoku. However, if he feels he's been wronged, then he turns cruel and vindictive; and his Ranger form switches to a tiger motif called Don Torabolt. His Combining Mecha is even composed of both beasts (though the dragon has to capture and muzzle the tiger in the process).
    • And of course this comes up when both of the above franchises have a crossover. In Kamen Rider × Super Sentai: Super Hero Taisen, Kamen Rider Decade and Gokai Red use Power Copying to turn into Ryuki and GekiRed during their fight.
    • While likely not intentional due to the cut and paste nature of adapting different Super Sentai seasons, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers has Tommy Oliver start off as the Green Dragon Ranger with the Dragonzord, then later he becomes the White Tiger Ranger with the Tigerzord. Perhaps inevitably, a three-parter has the villains create an evil clone of Tommy that gets back the Green Ranger powers, leading not only to a fight between the two Rangers, but later their respective Zords. The Dragonzord wins, though it's implied to be because Tommy's energy is being drained and thus the Tigerzord is likewise weakened.
  • Ultra Series: Ultraman Regulos, introduced in Ultra Galaxy Fight: The Destined Crossroad, is a master martial artist. He refers to his fighting style as "Red Dragon White Tiger Fist", and has dragon and tiger tattoos on his shoulders as marks of his mastery.
    • The prequel, Ultraman Regulos, reveals that Regulos got those Cosmo Beasts from studying under two different mentors, the strict disciplinarian Instructor Phoros of the Lightning White Tiger Fist, and the excommunicated, lazy, and passionate Tubahn of the Blazing Red Dragon Fist. The two are literally Yin and Yang and have a fierce and evenly-matched rivalry between them.

  • 8bitduane's rap rendition of the Bad Dudes video game says that the eponymous Bad Dudes are "...the tiger you cannot tame". The enemies are the Dragon Ninja.

    Puppet Shows 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Invoked in BattleTech by the Draconis Combine (Colloquially referred to as the Dragon) coming under assault by the Smoke Jaguars (A different cat to be sure, but their personality is very much the Tiger) during the Clan Invasion.
  • In Eberron, dragons' main enemies are the Lords of Dust, a group of demons consisting mostly of tiger-headed rakshasas.
  • The mat used in the board game Onitama depicts a yellow tiger and a blue dragon snarling at one another, with their bodies forming a shape that loosely resembles the Yin/Yang symbol.
  • In Pathfinder, the nation of Bachuan — which has a distinctly Chinese flavour — has a dragon and a tiger chasing each other around the sun on its flag. It's said that the tiger represents the indigenous people of Bachuan while the dragon represents the now-fallen empire of Lung Wa, to which Bachuan is one of several successor states.

    Video Games 
  • In Arknights has Ch'en the dragon and Swire the tiger, they work in the same rank as the chief officer of Lungmen Guard Department. and they often throw *Lungmen profanities* at each other.
  • Art of Fighting has a rivalry between its two main protagonists: Ryo Sakazaki (the tiger) and Robert Garcia (the dragon). In fact, the Japanese name of the series is Ryuuko no Ken, or "Fist of the Dragon/Tiger". Their stances occasionally reflect their animal motifs, and they share a super move, the Ryuuko Ranbu ("Dragon and Tiger's Rebellious Dance"), that refers to the rivalry in its name. Ironically, Ryo is called the "Invincible Dragon" while Robert is called the "Raging Tiger" and some of their desperation moves summon a tiger for Robert and a dragon for Ryo. This is lampshaded in
  • The King of Fighters XIV, in the Team Fatal Fury's ending where Joe talks about the tiger and dragon themes of the charactersnote . The "team tiger" is Robert, Ramón, and himself, while the "team dragon" is Ryo, Kensou, and Mui Mui.
  • The main characters of the Azure Striker Gunvolt games, Gunvolt and Copen, are called as such in the loading screens and descriptions. Gunvolt is the "Azure Dragon", an extremely powerful Adept who believes that humans and Adepts can live in harmony, and Copen is the "White Tiger", an extremely skilled and intelligent Muggle with a fierce hatred for Adepts.
  • Battle Arena Toshinden 3 makes an interesting take on the tiger versus dragon theme through Eiji and his evil foil Leon; where their birthdays are Dragon and Tiger signs, and where Eiji comes from Japan, while Leon comes from the US, this is used instead to highlight a greater theme of Tiger Versus Lion and a more intense East Versus West theming, as Eiji wields the Byakko Katana and is a Dragon Sign, and where Leon's name does literally mean lion.
  • Black Tiger involves a hero possibly of the same name fighting the Blue Dragon, the Red Dragon and finally the Black Dragon.
  • Blazblue: In Chronophantasma the Colosseum stage has two gates for competitors, one marked with a tiger and one marked with a dragon. Overlaps with Red Oni, Blue Oni, considering the former is coloured red and the latter is blue.
  • Bleach: The 3rd Phantom: The Kudo twins have a lot of this theming. Matsuri is the tiger and Fujimaru is the dragon, given their swords' canon names note , contrasting personalities, and the fact that they end up on opposing sides after the Time Skip.
  • In Dave the Diver, celebrity chef Wang Pang gets pitted against Bancho, the owner of the restaurant Dave manages to get a job at. In their Versus Character Splash screen, Bancho is accompanied by a dragon motif and Wang by a tiger, befitting their Red Oni, Blue Oni personalities.
  • In DJMax Technika, the music selection Dual Strikers is a reference to tiger and dragon, with the characters for them emphasized in opposite corners of the eyecatch image.
  • Surprisingly rare in Double Dragon.
    • In Double Dragon III, Chin Seimei, master of a Tiger Based martial art clashes with the dragons to avenge his brother, Defeat Means Friend Ship, the dragons are forgiven, and Seimei joins them.
    • Double Dragon for Neo Geo. Duke, Right hand assassin of the Big Bad, uses a martial with a Tiger, and Shadow theme. Duke is stoic compared to the Dragon's Hotblooded.
    • Double Dragon Advance has the Dragons face the Twin Tigers in Chinatown, but they aren't a worthy challenge. From advice of the tigers, the Dragons face Raymond, called the Tiger Emperor in the Japanese version. True to this trope, Raymond is their Worthy Opponent. Like Duke, Raymond is stoic compared to the excitable Dragons.
  • Far Cry 4 has a Nepalese variation of the trope in the form of Tiger vs. Elephant. The spirit of the comparison is the same, however, with the Tiger representing aggression and ruthlessness while the Elephant represents resilience and wisdom. Within the context of the Golden Path leadership conflict, Sabal is the Elephant, usually trying to do the moral thing even if it brings about a disadvantage, focusing on the little picture and preserving tradition, while Amita is the Tiger, doing whatever it takes to get a military advantage, focusing on the big picture, and pursuing progress. Within the context of the skill tree, the Tiger is where you unlock all your shooting skills and stealth takedowns, while the Elephant has all your defensive, healing and crafting skills.
  • In Jade Empire, Lord Lao's furnace has two buttons to activate the configurations, the tiger button and the dragon button, as well as respective configurations (stat increase recipes). The configuration of the tiger grants an increase to focus, while the configuration of the dragon grants an increase to body.
  • In King's Quest V the Final Boss battle is a Shapeshifter Showdown where Mordack at one point transforms into an insectoid dragon. Guess which animal form counters him?
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, one of Link's first quests is to ride the King of the Red Lions to confront a angry, raging dragon named Valoo. It's subverted in that it turns out that Valoo is actually being tormented by the monster Gohma, and he becomes friends with Link when the hero gets rid of Gohma.
  • Like a Dragon:
    • The protagonist of the series is Kazuma Kiryu, a former Japanese gangster known as "The Dragon of the Dojima family" who also has a large tattoo of a silver dragon on his back. One of the first game's antagonists and Recurring Bosses is Futoshi Shimano, a yakuza boss who has a large tattoo of a tiger on his back and wants revenge against Kiryu for supposedly killing the head of the Dojima family. Kiryu beats him twice.
    • Played with in Yakuza 2. This theme is averted with both the protagonist and antagonist, where they carry dragon tattoos in their backs. It's played straight when Kiryu has to actually fight two actual tigers. He beats them. With his fists.
    • The trope is in greater effect in the fourth game when Taiga Saejima is introduced, another protagonist who happens to have a large tattoo of a tiger on his back. While Kiryu at this point has been characterized by his sage wisdom as well as his strength, Saejima is a full-blown powerhouse with monstrous strength. Naturally, they end up fighting shortly after they first meet, and their duel ends in a draw. They later work together to defeat the Big Bad alongside two others without any tattoos but have motifs of the Sparrow and Tortoise. In the fifth game, they end up fighting again to lure out the game's Big Bad, which ends in a draw once more.
    • While Kiryu's main rival Goro Majima's primary Animal Motifs are dogs and snakes, he gets referred to as "tiger" a couple of times, like in the prequel.
    • Subverted in Yakuza 0, with Fei Hu and Long Hua. "Hu" can be read as "tiger" and "Long" as "dragon", but Fei Hu and Long Hua are very Happily Married and are the focal point of a global network of weapons enthusiasts... and can serve you a mean stir fry too.
  • Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story’s Crimson Resolve event shows three rival Magical Girl gangs in the city of Futatsugi, two of which (Ryuugasaki and Torayamachi) have the kanji for dragon and tiger respectively and are particularly fierce rivals, going to war against one another before eventually unifying into the Promised Blood.
  • Monster Hunter
    • In Freedom 2, Tigrex is the tiger to Rathalos' dragon. An interesting case as both are actually dragons with a big cat motif, but Tigrex's tiger motif is rather blatant, and has a wild, charging in berserker style, contrasting Rathalos' rather subtle Lion motif and traditional aerial style with fireballs and poison talons.
    • In Rise: Sunbreak, Magnamalo is the tiger to Malzeno's dragon. Apart from their obvious inspirations, Magnamalo is a solitary hunter that uses sheer power combined with its explosive hellfire gas to hunt, while Malzeno uses elegant speed along with its countless Qurio symbiotes on top of deception. This is even emphasized in their turf war with Magnamalo's power letting it keep up with Malzeno's speed, ending it in a draw.
  • The Shokan (Goro's race) from Mortal Kombat seem divided into two lineages: the Draco and the Tigrar (those in the latter, like Kintaro, have definite tiger stripes; those in the former, like Goro and Sheeva, aren't very draconic but do have some reptilian features). There's a definite class distinction but, in a subversion, they don't appear to be that antagonistic towards each other (at least, not moreso than they are to everyone else, especially the Centaurians).
  • Team Battles in Ninjala always has one team represented by a tiger and the other team by a dragon.
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle has lots of explicit Tiger association with Travis Touchdown — on top of how spelling "Travis" in katakana gets you Torabisu, one Super Mode ability turns him into a rampaging tiger, and he names his bikes Schpeltiger. The other half of this comes in the form of Ryuji, the samurai-esque rank 7 assassin who comes with Dragons Up the Yin Yang, including the ability to summon a giant laser dragon to demolish Travis with. Fittingly, their duel happens to be one of the most dynamically symmetrical in the game — Ryuji's attack strategies are just as plentiful and effective as Travis', and even when Travis wins, he very much considers Ryuji a Worthy Opponent deserving of honor.
  • In Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!, there is a level (set to Thrill) where you act as cheerleaders for the dodgeball battle between a dragon-themed bully kid named Ryuji(meaning Dragon) and a tiger-themed kid named Torao(meaning Tiger). Torao is the one you're cheering for, and both invoke attacks with Auras of their namesake.
  • Morgana and Ryuji in Persona 5 who frequently butt heads the most out of the Phantom Thieves. Morgana is similar to the Tiger, being a cat(-like creature), while Ryuji is the Dragon, his name having "dragon" in it.
  • In Sengoku Basara, eternal rivals Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura are known as the One-Eyed Dragon and the Young Tiger respectively. The anime makes this even more poignant by having them accompanied by apparitions of their animals during the Final Battle.
  • At the beginning of Shining Force III, when Master Gabrial asks you to name the three heroes, he compares them to animals. Synbios is compared to the Tiger, Medion is compared to the Dragon and Julian is compared to a Wolf. Synbios, the Tiger is a Knight of the Republic and Medion, the Dragon is a Prince of the Empire. Both are played against each other at one point by the Emperor.
  • In Street Fighter, Sagat's endless arsenal of Tiger-themed attacks ultimately fall against the Dragon Punch from Ryu. A massive rivalry ensues, and it eventually turns friendly.
  • The Ryu Oh Ki and Ko Oh Ki in Super Robot Wars Alpha and Super Robot Wars: Original Generation series are the only two surviving examples of a series of ancient god-mechs patterned after The Four Gods. Rather than a rivalry, however, they are depicted as opposite sides of the coin, capable of forming a Combining Mecha that can transform between two forms: The Tiger-themed KoRyuOh is a physical fighter, using blades, nunchaku, and Rocket Punches to attack the enemy directly, while the Dragon-themed RyuKoOh uses magic, flames, and dropping mountains on the enemy to fight from a distance.
  • T'ai Fu: Wrath of the Tiger takes this trope literally, as the titular main character is a tiger and Kung Fu warrior who opposes the cruel reign of the Dragon Master, a powerful Lung dragon.
  • Tekken has an interesting application of this trope. In Tekken 5, there is an arena called Dragon's Nest, a temple with a dragon statue set during daytime. The Dark Resurrection Updated Re-release introduces a variation of the arena called Western Gate, which has the same feel, except it is now nighttime, while the dragon statue has been replaced by several tiger ones.
  • In Tiger Road, the Hot-Blooded monk hero can learn to shoot tiger shaped fireballs, the Big Bad, The Emperor shoots Dragon shaped fireballs.
  • Played for laughs in Tsukihime with Akiha and Ciel during a minor confrontation, where they verbally spar before turning on Shiki to force him to choose between the lunches they have made. And saying he can't choose between them is not acceptable.
  • WarioWare Gold: This is featured as part of 18-Volt and 13-Amp's battle rap. Depending on whether you win or lose a microgame, 18-Volt's tiger will either get bigger or curl up in fear against 13-Amp's dragon.
  • In The World Ends with You Mitsuki Konishi's noise form is a tiger, Megumi Kitaniji's is a dragon. Konishi plans to usurp Kitaniji as Conductor, or Composer, even. Also, the brands Tigre Punks and Dragon Couture. The former is all about grunge and grittiness while the latter is more stylized, lofty and Eastern.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • The DEATH BATTLE! episode between the Tigerzord and the Gundam Epyon evokes this trope, with the Hot-Blooded teenager Tommy Oliver piloting the Tigerzord and the experienced war veteran Zechs Marquise piloting the draconic Gundam Epyon. The dragon wins this round.


    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe: The rival martial arts cliques at Whateley are the Tigers (whose members are all black) and the Dragons (whose members are mostly Asian, though they seem to accept other races more openly.

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs: Very subtle, but appears in a "Chicken Boo" sketch. Chicken Boo is in a karate tournament. He is disguised as "Moo Goo Gai Boo" from the Dragon Dojo, up against Gwai Yan Kee from the Tiger Dojo. The sensei even references the mythology: "The boastful tiger will yield to the serene whisper of the dragon". "Moo Goo Gai" is a Cantonese dish with chicken, so it ends up meaning "Chicken Boo" in Cantonese. "Gwai Yan Kee" means nothing. It just means "white yankee" (technically, "ghost yankee") in Cantonese, which could be a statement about "black belt" mills frequently being run by white guys with no real training. This is also strange because Cantonese don't fight with karate (Karate is Japanese); they fight with a style of kung fu called hakka kuen (which is where all those "Dragon style", "Mantis style", "Crane style", et al come from). Then again, it is Animaniacs we're talking about, so it's not like we should be expecting total accuracy.
  • Inverted on Jackie Chan Adventures: Among the 12 talismans based upon the Chinese Zodiac, the tiger talisman possesses the power of balance and the dragon talisman possesses the power of combustion. The episodes in which the two talismans were found, "The Tiger And The Pussycat" and "Bullies", respectively deal with this. In "The Tiger And The Pussycat", the last episode in the "Talismans" arc, Jackie accidentally gets split into Yin and Yang, the latter of which sides while the Dark Hand tries to take the talismans in Section 13's possession. In "Bullies", after Captain Black is injured by Valmont wielding the dragon talisman, Jackie struggles to control his Berserk Button (somebody mentioning Black's injuries and/or Valmont).
  • In Legend Of The Dragon (first season), the Tiger Warrior Bengial is the Action Girl Red Oni to the Dragon Warrior Ang's Martial Pacifist Blue Oni. She's also more likely to fight Yang's Evil Twin sister, the Shadow Dragon Warrior.
  • Shaolin Wuzang: Cheng and Tang, respectively. The tiger and dragon are their Animal Battle Auras, and they frequently clash over their personalities and upbringings — Cheng is a laid-back farm boy, and Tang is an uptight intellectual from a higher class.
  • * The episode "Other Victories" is Transformers Beast Wars'' features a battle between Megatron in his dragon form and Tigerhawk. At one point, a flash of lightning illuminates them black on a white background, a possible reference to this trope.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), Spider-Man's team includes White Tiger and Iron Fist, who has a dragon motif. White Tiger is a Spicy Latina By-the-Book Cop, a total Tsundere who often stresses over following the rules and gets easily aggravated. Iron Fist is a Stoic Nice Guy who never loses his cool and always just goes with the flow. However, they are both by far the most disciplined and responsible members of their team. It's never stated in the show, but in the comics, White Tiger's tiger amulet that gives her her powers is actually from K'un-L'un, where Iron Fist trained and gained his abilities.

    Real Life 
  • Famous samurai Uesugi Kenshin was called the Dragon of Echigo (Echigo was the province he ruled, now Niigata). His rival, Takeda Shingen, was called the Tiger of Kai (what is now Yamanashi). And yes, this was on purpose.
  • Symbolism with tigers and dragons are common in Asian martial arts, and one Shaolin myth has it that to prove themselves worthy of a black belt-equivalent rank, students would have to fight their way through 100 wooden enemies and lift a 500 pound vase blocking the exit of the testing room. The vase was imprinted with a tiger and a dragon, and was hot enough that it would brand the symbols into the chest or shoulders of the student as proof of success.
  • A dragon is commonly used to symbolize China. A tiger is commonly used to symbolize India. Both are two large Asian nations with rapidly developing economies and both are seen as rivals for the post of "next superpower". Both of them have even fought numerous border skirmishes against each other and have unresolved territorial disputes, thereby pitting them in a state of Cold War.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Tiger Vs Dragon



In spite of the two mechs combining into one, the rivalry between the Dragon and Tiger is reflected in the Dragon-themed Robogoku and the Tiger-themed Robobolt, especially as part of the combination involves Robogoku caging up Robobolt.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / TigerVersusDragon

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