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Unknown Rival

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"Hey, wait a second. I know who you are now! You're that guy! The one who kept getting pissed off at me for not remembering...something."
Xykon (about Roy), The Order of the Stick

Two characters can be competing for the same goal, without one of them even aware of the competition. Maybe the reason they haven't picked up on the rivalry is that it is hard to take their rival seriously. Maybe the rival simply hasn't shown up onscreen at the same time. It might just be that the rival is so much weaker, that they can't be considered a serious threat. Whatever the reason, the rival is competing for the same thing as the other character. Objectives for competition may be the fair maiden's hand, simple revenge, a pot of gold, the title of "World's Best Whatever", or the extra-special MacGuffin of the week.


This is common with non-evil antagonists, giving writers a character who can be a source of tension without necessarily being a bad guy. Compare But for Me, It Was Tuesday. See also We Meet Again, which is usually followed by a "Have we met before?", much to the would-be-rival's chagrin.

Supertrope to Enmity with an Object in that there's no way an object can be aware that someone has a grudge on it.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Part-time model Sakiyama Kaori in Airmaster becomes an amateur wrestler, semi-berserker streetfighter solely to challenge Aikawa Maki. Downplayed in that she is too loud and crazed to fully ignore, to the point everyone memetically mentions her full name when she appears.
  • Sakaki never notices Kagura's self-proclaimed rivalry, even when it is proclaimed to her face, in Azumanga Daioh. Despite that, Kagura doesn't take their rivalry personally and is nice to Sakaki even before they get to know each other. Kagura eventually moves on to establish a genuine rivalry with Tomo, as both have similar levels of energy.
  • Black Clover: Played for Laughs. After seeing Asta fight, Leopold declares him his rival. Asta accepts but also asks Leopold what his name is. He also considers himself to be Yuno's rival as well because they're both Asta's. Yuno, on the other hand, doesn't care and only sees Asta as his rival.
  • Momoko in Chou Kuse ni Narisou considers Nagisa to be her rival, but Nagisa doesn't learn of Momoko's identity until the second half of the series.
  • In Death Note, Near blatantly ignores Mello's attempts to beat him. Ironically, Not So Harmless Mello ends up actually helping in the end, with his own death.
  • In the El-Hazard: The Magnificent World OVA, Makoto is largely unaware of Katsuhiko Jinnai's hatred for him; in fact he considers Jinnai a friend. Whereas Jinnai thinks that Makoto has a secret vendetta against him, given the number of times that Makoto has coincidentally gotten in his way and/or pissed him off.
  • Gintama has Sougo Okita, the 1st captain of the Shinsengumi, constantly trying to kill his superior, vice-commander Toshiro Hijikata, just so he can take over his vice-commander position. Hijikata, in turn, never seems to take notice of any of this (even regarding Okita's attempts on his life as "unfunny pranks").
  • During most of Glass Mask, Maya is unaware that Ayumi sees her as a huge threat to her acting career. And as result, Ayumi sees her as the main rival. Maya, instead, sees Ayumi as an inspiration worth looking up to. It's not until near the end of the Anime series that Maya realizes this when Ayumi, herself, admits it. Once Ayumi confessed that she was thinking about letting Maya fall off a weak wooden bridge and die, but saved her at the last minute, the two end up fighting. Afterwards, they both declare each other rivals.
  • Ryuuka, the pompous rich leader of the Jihiyou rival house in Hanaukyō Maid Tai. In episodes 7 and 11 of the first series Taro doesn't know who she is, even though he met her in episode 4.
  • Yadano Makeru from Komi Can't Communicate sees herself as a rival to Komi, and is constantly trying to beat her in "competitions". Not only does she always lose, but Komi never realizes there was a competition in the first place.
  • Variation: Haitani and Shirai, Urashima Keitaro's best friends at the beginning of Love Hina, disappear for a while once the plot gets going. Eventually, they reappear just to "see how Keitaro's doing", that is to say, mess up his life more. A Running Gag in the manga has the other characters constantly asking who they are and how they know Keitaro.
  • This trope is justified and deconstructed with protagonist Miki Onimaru of Muteki Kanban Musume who can never remember Kankuro Nishiyama, despite his attempting to serve her with a formal challenge to battle nearly every episode. Justified because Miki is The Bully/School Yard Bully All Grown Up who suffers Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! and But for Me, It Was Tuesday. And deconstructed because as a Fighting Series protagonist, Miki always encounters Bit Part Bad Guys/ Very Punchable Men that defy her, she promptly defeats and immediately forgets about; why should Kankuro be different than them?
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Todoroki is The Ace of the class, so Bakugo declares him the one to be defeated. Todoroki does acknowledge Bakugo's skills, but thinks his rival is Midoriya. During the Sports Festival Arc, Todoroki and Midoriya become rivals, while Bakugo becomes the third wheel for their rivalry doing his best just to get the attention of either. Later, when Midoriya and Todoroki become friends, Bakugo is still trying to get Todoroki to be his rival.
    • Bakugo also, in the beginning at least, constantly sees Midoriya as some kind of rival, but Midoriya never notices and treats him as a friend. Eventually after some character development, his view of Midoriya wears down into a more friendly rivalry, and Midoriya reciprocates.
    • Endeavor holds a deep grudge over being Always Second Best to All Might, and when he found himself unable to surpass him, he turned to his children in the hopes they would surpass him and All-Might later on. Despite All Might's attempts to be friendly, Endeavor holds nothing but contempt for him, convinced that All Might looks down on him. When All Might is forced to retire due to his injuries and Endeavor gets the number one hero spot by default, Endeavor finally calms down. He even asks All Might what it means to be the Symbol of Peace, and begins helping All Might's successor train.
    • An unusual example between Mirio and Midoriya, as neither of them knew each other until much later, or that there was even a competition to begin with. Before All Might picked Midoriya, Mirio was top pick to become his successor, but Midoriya didn't find out about this until long after he had already received All Might's power, and Mirio remains completely unaware. Although after finding out, Midoriya does begin comparing himself unfavourably to Mirio, not helped by Sir Nighteye trying to convince Midoriya to give the power to Mirio.
  • Naruto:
    • An interesting variation occurs with Might Guy to Kakashi. Guy is the intense one, and whenever he brings up the "rivalry" Kakashi says something to the effect of "I'm sorry; did you say something?" Kakashi knows full well that Guy wants an intense rivalry, but puts on an act of indifference because he doesn't terribly want to be Guy's rival, and really wishes they could interact normally. That's why, when Kakashi chooses their "competitions", he tends to pick something that will be over quickly and doesn't take any effort, like rock-paper-scissors.
    • Humorously, Guy has Kisame as a genuinely unknown rival of his own. Guy can vaguely remember him, but never remembers his name until Kisame kills himself.
    • Danzou was fiercely envious of the Third Hokage. He had a severe inferiority complex towards Sarutobi, especially during a flashback where he wasn't able to volunteer himself for a suicidal mission sacrificing his life for the rest of his teammates, but Sarutobi did. In his eyes, Danzou wasn't able to live up to his family's and his own beliefs. Not to mention the Second Hokage naming Sarutobi as his successor in front of Danzou, something he had longed for and bitterly desired for the rest of his life. At the same time, he did respect the Third and was even on a First-Name Basis with him. Which is actually kind of a big deal, because he ends up being the first person to use the Third's name - nobody else is shown to be on a first-name basis with him, not even his former squad or his own son.
    • Naruto himself was this to Sasuke at the beginning of the manga, as he was constantly trying to outdo Sasuke, but Sasuke didn't really care about him. As he got stronger, Sasuke eventually acknowledged him. Unfortunately, to Sasuke, if Naruto could challenge him, it meant his own skills were inadequate, which contributed significantly to his Face–Heel Turn.
    • Kiba has become this to Naruto (moreso in the anime, but it's there in the manga, too). Is it simply being ashamed of Can't Catch Up? Or is it just because the whole "The Fox and the Hound" bit is supposed to be funny? Or is it simply because the two are both hot-headed, impulsive and ambitious? Taking it even further, he's even expressed a desire to be Hokage just like Naruto.
  • One Piece:
    • Boa Hancock views Nami and Robin as rivals for Luffy's heart. Not only are they both unaware that Boa hates them for being the sole women on Luffy's crew and are thus that much closer to him, but they also have yet to even meet her in person. Not to mention that Luffy doesn't have romantic feelings for anyone.
    • Buggy perceives Shanks as a sort of Sitcom Arch-Nemesis, who he blames for making him eat a devil fruit and losing his ability to swim. Disregarding the huge discrepancy in strength, Shanks is either completely unaware or selectively oblivious to this, thinking that they're still the same Heterosexual Life-Partners/Vitriolic Best Buds they've always been since they were kids. Though in an title image after Marineford, they are showed eating and drinking at a bar together while laughing, so it seems Shank's opinion may be closer to the truth.
  • In the Pokémon anime, Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains, Team Rocket often fall victim to this:
    • Team Rocket's Meowth sees himself as competing with Giovanni's pet Persian for the boss' attention, although it's clear that the Persian couldn't care less.
    • Jessie rivaled May in Pokemon contests during the Hoenn era, but she almost always failed miserably, leading May to sparsely acknowledge her (especially since she was usually in disguise). Subverted in Sinnoh, where Jessie was a more legitimate competition for Dawn, while Kalos zigzags this, since while Jessie was also competent in showcases, Serena still barely noticed her, if more because they rarely interacted, the latter preferring the friendlier competition.
    • Pretty much any other antagonist in the anime will be deemed by them as their rival and inferior. Most of them however, prove Eviler Than Thou and nonchalantly smack them out of the picture. Again occasional subversions and zigzags exist (both Team Plasma and Team Flare had this attitude to the trio initially, though it turned out to be Underestimating Badassery when they ended up aiding Ash significantly in their defeat).
    • The Team Skull trio, being Not So Different counterparts to Team Rocket, have a similar relationship with the heroes, ironically the odd times Team Rocket meet Team Skull exist as a rare mutual rivalry for either of them.
      • Tupp in particular harbours a deep hatred for Ilima, who outshone him as a Chick Magnet when they were kids. Ilima doesn't even recognise him and, being a Mellow Fellow, apologises if they had some sort of conflict in the past, exasperating Tupp even further.
  • In Samurai Deeper Kyo, Kyo is approached by a man who had survived an encounter with him in the past. After being stunned by Kyo's swordsmanship, he trains constantly to match Kyo's level by cutting up anyone he comes across. When he meets Kyo in the plot, he proclaims that he has returned for revenge and Kyo responds with, "Who are you?"
  • Naga, in Slayers, considers Lina Inverse to be her rival in sorcery, but really just ends up being her sidekick. Naga occasionally surprises Lina with her knowledge of White Magic, is pretty darned good with Black Magic too, and in general is all but stated outright to really be Lina's equal in magic (excepting Lina's knack for the Dragon Slave spell), but she gets no respect from Lina, who treats her as more a one-woman Goldfish Poop Gang than even a sidekick. A big part of this is because Naga, for all her talents, happens to be several orders of magnitude flakier than Lina, which leads to her undercutting her own effectiveness. The fact that Naga introduced herself to Lina by suddenly challenging her out of nowhere, proclaiming they were rivals when they had never even met before is another reason for Lina's lack of interest. The fact that Naga introduced herself by setting fire to the Inn where they were staying and then fell into the fire herself convinced Lina that Naga did not have both oars in the water right from the start.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
    • Kamina seems to have a remarkably poor memory; when the recap episode shows his fight with Viral, he asks Simon if that really happened. This also works for his allies; Kittan is infuriated when Kamina doesn't remember him. Yoko was also this for Nia for a few episodes, taken Up to Eleven when Nia kept on being better than everything than Yoko without even trying. The two of them became friends at the end of the episode after Nia puts her faith in Yoko to rescue her.
    • Meanwhile, Viral spends a fair portion of the series unaware that Simon even exists. Due largely to Simon being the Blue Oni to Kamina's Red, Viral only ever interacts with Kamina when they fight. He's even unaware that Kamina's been dead for some time, and is shocked to learn Kamina hadn't been piloting Gurren Lagann in their fights since.
  • Lambo from Katekyō Hitman Reborn! has tried to kill Reborn on a few occasions, but Reborn refuses to even acknowledge his presence, even when Lambo uses a gun to temporarily age himself up.
  • Tachikawa Satoka from Gate Keepers 21 spends most of her non-BFS-swinging time talking to/critiquing/lecturing Badass Bookworm Isuzu Ayane only to get ignored, or ditched when her back is turned, much to her chagrin.
  • Haruka in Mai Hime and Mai-Otome (all adaptations) apparently has an ongoing rivalry with Shizuru, which Shizuru never seems to acknowledge. Late in the Mai-Hime anime, Yukino calls out Shizuru on it, saying that Haruka knew she could never hope to surpass Shizuru, but just wanted to be acknowledged.
  • Cowboy Bebop inverts this trope with Andy, who is The Rival to Spike for one episode and never remembers Spike, constantly confusing him (and everybody else) with the episode's bounty.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya!: Dedede apparently considers Kirby his archrival, but Kirby is too naive to return the rivalry. This is in contrast to the games, where Kirby is often quick to blame Dedede for evil deeds even when he's not responsible.
  • ×××HOLiC has Doumeki, who more often than not is involved in Watanuki's Embarrassing Rescue. Watanuki views him as a rival (mainly due to Watanuki's convinction that Doumeki is vying for Himawari's affection, which is all in his mind) while Doumeki clearly does not take him seriously. Later, the main reason Doumeki seems to show great annoyance at Watanuki's antagonistic view of him seems to be because he wants Watanuki to trust and... like him more.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Mikoto hounds Touma on a regular basis trying to get him to fight seriously with her, having misinterpreted his mysterious ability to negate her lightning as a sign of some incredible power that he's holding back. His nonchalance toward her and her otherwise remarkable power is a blow to her pride as one of the strongest espers in the city. While no evidence he keeps forgetting her is shown, an instance of this occurs when he receives amnesia, which causes him to forget their previous meetings.
    • Because of Magic Versus Science and The Magic Versus Technology War, various magical organizations or individual mages try various plots to destroy Academy City, which are constantly foiled by Touma and friends. Other than the heroes and a few of Academy City's higher-ups, no one in Academy City is even aware that magic exists or that several science-hating mages want to destroy them.
    • Accelerator and Kakine. Kakine, as the #2 Level 5 esper, desperately wants to defeat Accelerator (the #1 Level 5). There's no indication that Accelerator even knew who he was prior to their fight.
    • Kuroko wants nothing more than to get Touma out of the way so she can have Mikoto all to herself, while he's unaware that she hates him so much.
  • Greta from A Little Snow Fairy Sugar constantly challenged Saga, who was usually distracted by the fairies' antics.
  • Takumi of Initial D, for the first season or so, doesn't seem to really care that his enemies—and his friends for that matter—are quite envious of his racing skills; this is not helped by the fact that his first race came after five years of tofu delivery runs. His first race has him not caring about the racing aspect of drifting.
  • Hikaru no Go:
    • Morishita considers himself Toya Meijin's rival, and strives to create the same rivalry between his students' and Toya's. Morishita's students are somewhat startled by the realization that the Toya school is largely unaware that there's a rivalry going on.
    • Also from Hikaru No Go, Kaga's backstory involved his numerous attempts to defeat Akira. Those ended when he realized, to his shock, that Akira had never considered him a rival - their difference in skill was simply too great.
    • For that matter, after Sai's first (and even after his second) game against Akira, Hikaru did remember the occasion and the guy, but didn't take him terribly seriously and was completely flummoxed by his 'rival!' attitude, since he hadn't even played those games of go and had no idea how important it was to Akira. Of course, most of the show is then consumed with their burning rivalry that was written in the stars.
  • Bakuman。 has a hilarious variation on this: the main protagonist sees genius mangaka Eiji as his rival, but Eiji's not ignoring him because he's conceited. It's because Eiji is such a total fanboy of the protagonist's work that he barely seems capable of understanding why he'd consider him his rival.
    • Eiji is conceited, but in a clueless, Genius Ditz kind of way, and he gets into the rivalry on a couple of occasions, since it is visibly true that they're both less commercially and critically successful, and having a harder time finding their voice than he is, and he wants to encourage them.
    • As Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata's project right after Death Note, it's milking the 'rival' thing Obata used to such acclaim in both Death Note and Hikaru No Go, and as an outrageously meta project, it's playing with it.
  • In Sgt. Frog, rival assassin Zoruru has some beef with Dororo, but Dororo doesn't remember him.
    • Not to mention Tamama towards Angol Mois. In fact, he often wishes death on her in the most gruesome and violent of ways... but she takes little to no notice and is always kind to him. What makes it even sadder is that if Tamama were more reasonable, this could be ended with a simple discussion, because it mainly has to do with Keroro.
  • When Al faces off against Barry the Chopper in Fullmetal Alchemist, Barry gets rather annoyed when Al reveals he's never heard of Barry's infamous past.
    • Though they recognize each other when they meet up again. There's also Yoki, who starts out as a corrupt official who gets exposed and cashiered from the military because of Ed. When he and the brothers meet up again in Briggs, Yoki is outraged that they don't recognize or remember him.
      Yoki: Don't tell me you forgot what happened in Yoswell!!
      Al: Brother, did we meet any hobos in Yoswell?
  • Saki:
    • Touka: while she considers Nodoka to be her great rival, Nodoka doesn't even seem to notice that she exists, which is a testament to her ability to ignore everything except the game itself considering how much Touka grandstands.
    • There's also Mihoko for Hisa, who played Hisa in an Inter-Middle tournament during their last year of middle school, and Hisa pressured Mihoko so much she accidentally opened her right eye- which she keeps closed due to it being a different color from her left- in surprise. Hisa then told Mihoko that her right eye was pretty, and Mihoko wanted to see her again to talk with her. Unfortunately, the next day, Hisa dropped out of the tournament due to unknown circumstances, changed her last name from Ueno to Takei, and did not recognize Mihoko when they saw each other again three years later. However, in the individuals match, after Mihoko opens her eye, Hisa finally remembers her.
    • In the wake of Nodoka returning to mahjong, her old schoolmates from Nara, the main protagonists of Saki Achiga-hen plan on entering the tournament and challenging Nodoka again, but neither she nor Saki notice at first. However, toward the end of the manga, Koromo tells Saki about Shizuno, and just how dangerous Shizuno's innate talent is to Saki's playstyle.
  • There are such characters just in every Gundam series.
    • In the original Mobile Suit Gundam series: Hayato for Amuro. Hayato spends much of the series angsting over how much better a pilot Amuro is and desperately trying to prove that he's just as good (unfortunately for Hayato, Amuro is The Ace and leaves him in the dust from the start). Amuro never realizes any of this is going on, being much more preoccupied with his own issues and rivalry with Char. In a sense this is also the case for Amuro and Char's rivalry, at least at first - Char does recognize the strength of the Gundam and Amuro's growing potential, but doesn't see him as any specific threat and only focuses on him because of the interest Zeon as a whole has in getting the overpowered and undefeatable Gundam out of the picture; in fact, he meets Amuro face-to-face at one point and helps him out of a ditch. Then Lalah sacrifices herself to protect Char from Amuro when they meet in battle again over Solomon. From then on, It's Personal for both of them, even on through multiple series and movies.
    • Yzak Joule to Athrun Zala, and in a degree to Kira Yamato, in Gundam SEED. In their earlier battle, Yzak just viewed Kira (as the Strike's pilot) as a normal enemy that he must shoot down, but then in one battle Kira badly damaged Yzak's Duel and injured him to the point he got a large scar on his face. As a result, he hated Kira down to his deepest heart, counting his scar as his Mark of Shame that reminds him of Kira (and Strike particularly). After the end of the series, he chose to remove his scar, and marking the conflict between him and the Strike's pilot, Kira.
    • In the above's sequel, Gundam SEED Destiny, Shinn and Kira spend the entire series as faceless enemies to each other that only know each other by their Gundams. They do meet briefly, but don't know who each other is. This means that they only know each other by their actions in battle, and Shinn in particular without knowing of Kira's kind shy nature, believes that he's either evil or crazy and either way a very arrogant person that needs to be put down. Kira doesn't think much of Shinn at all, and when Shinn changes machines, doesn't initially even realize it's him he's fighting (while Shinn interesting immediately correctly assumes the guy piloting the brand new Strike Freedom is still Kira). When Shinn meets him again and is told who he is, the idea that this kind man was the guy he was fighting kills any remaining notion that his side was correct.
      • Averted with Shinn and Athrun, and in fact pitted against someone that he couldn't write off as a faceless guy who he could believe to be evil (because Shinn knew Athrun was a good person at heart), Shinn couldn't quite muster up his usual performance.
    • Gundam 00 has many. In the first season, Patrick Colasour is this to Tieria Erde, while Neil "Lockon Stratos" Dylandy hunts down Ali Al-Saachez for personal issues. In season 2, Mister Bushido fills the role to Setsuna F. Seiei, his season 1 rival. Soma Peries is this to Andrei Smirnov after he killed his father Sergei, while Andrei is this to Saji Crossroad for love's sake.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: This is Mikazuki's attitude toward Ein. After Mikazuki killed Ein's mentor, Lt. Crank, Ein swore revenge against the kid, and goes out of his way to attack the Barbados every time they meet. Mikazuki just swats him away like any other enemy and pays him no special attention, until Ein is turned into an extremely powerful cyborg mobile suit and psychotically attacks the group on Earth. Even then, Mikazuki's response to hearing Ein's reason for hating him is "Who is this Lt. Crank?", which drives Ein even more crazy with rage, while Mikazuki seemingly has no emotional investment in the fight beyond it being an obstacle in his path.
    • In Gundam Build Divers, this is Riku's attitude towards Do-ji. During Riku and his friend Yukio's first day, they are tricked into a battle by Do-ji and Do-ji gets his comeuppance when Riku is able to overpower and destroy his Gunpla. While Do-ji frets and worries about his next encounter with Riku and how much his brother sees him as a Worthy Opponent, Riku's been more worried about the very serious Break Decal threat. This just fuels Do-ji's Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain attitude and helps in its deconstruction.
  • Laura from Mnemosyne is considered by Rin to be nothing more than a nuisance.
  • Happens twice to Mugen in Samurai Champloo. In the second episode, Mugen is confronted by the man whose arm he cut off in the first episode, who freaks out when Mugen says he doesn't remember him. This appears to have happened just a week or so earlier and it's hard to imagine that week being so jam-packed with excitement that Mugen would lose track of all the guys he maimed. Second is in the three part finale, where the three brothers crippled by Mugen during the raid on the sugar ship converge on him; leader Umanosuke loses his mind even more than Ryujiro did when he hears Mugen has no idea what he's talking about. Again, it's hardly unreasonable to expect him to remember this since the sugar ship raid is one of the major formative experiences of his recent life. But then again, Mugen's a self-centered blockhead.
  • Soul Eater: To an extent, Black Star to Kid, who only recently has gained any conceivable chance of posing a problem for one of the actual gods in the series. It takes Black Star's efforts putting his life in danger for Kid to a) fight him seriously and b) claim that he has potential. Before this he was fairly indifferent to the assassin's sense of rivalry.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion Asuka often comes across as this to Rei, especially where Shinji is involved, while Rei barely ever acknowledges Asuka's existence at all. Subverted in that Rei's internal monologue indicates that she, at least on some subconscious level, actually does consider Asuka something of a rival, but since this is Rei she is somewhat confused by these feelings as she cannot fully understand them and she gives no outward acknowledgment of this.
  • Ranma ½:
    • Ryōga Hibiki at first glance seems to be this; Ranma basically used to always get the piece of bread that Ryōga wanted at lunch when they were in school together, and then went to China after Ryōga was four days late for the duel that Ryōga had arranged over the bread. In series, though, he's actually The Rival.
    • Tatewaki Kunō gets roughly the respect from Ranma that would put him towards this trope, but he's so thoroughly irritating that Ranma is perfectly aware of who he is.
    • The closest the series comes to using this trope is the anime-only Villain of the Week the Frog Hermit, who is flabbergasted to discover Ranma had never even noticed that he and his father, while dueling at Jusenkyō, had broken the bamboo pole the Hermit was sitting on and dumped him into the Spring of Drowned Frog.
  • Peorth is this towards Belldandy in her introductory arc in Ah! My Goddess. It goes away once the gang gets Peorth to explain exactly why she's so angry at Belldandy.
  • Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu: When Yuuto Ayase met his rival for the second time, Yuuto didn't remember the first time until Shute, his rival, reminded him.
  • Lupin III: Lupin and Fujiko are uniquely mutual examples of unexpected rivalry. Although it is usually a Mandatory Twist Ending for Fujiko to betray (anyone, including) Lupin, there are cases where Lupin refuses to give her the prize at the end. More rarely, he may have planned for her to trick him, having a contingency in place, surprising her.
  • Fairy Tail
    • Evergreen was jealous of Erza for having the nickname "Titania" (townspeople were awed by her strength and called her that, meaning "Queen of the Fairies") and tried to kill her so she could take it. Erza defeats her and says that she never cared about that nickname.
    • God Serena, the #1 Wizard Saint and strongest of the Four Emperors of Ishgal, views himself as the up-and-coming rival of Acnologia on account of possessing multiple elemental Dragon Slayer magics, going so far as to abandon his home country and become one of the Alvarez Empire's Spriggan 12 just to get a shot at gunning for him. Acnologia views him like he does most humans: beneath him, and only worth noticing because he's a Dragon Slayer, all of which Acnologia intends to kill off to destroy the legacy of the dragons. When they finally face off, Acnologia murders Serena faster than he or any of the onlookers can react, only remarking that's another Dragon Slayer down.
  • Inverted and later played straight in Eyeshield 21 where initially Kotaro considered himself to be Musashi's rival... but he only knows Musashi by reputation, and has no idea what he actually looks like or where to find him. Later, though, after Musashi's identity is known, Kotaro ends up becoming the normal kind of unknown rival himself to Musashi. It's revealed at one point that the legend of "Eyeshield 21" wasn't just something Hiruma made up; there's a real Eyeshield 21 who is also star running back on his high school football team. Sena doesn't learn just who it is until the penultimate story arc, though there was a fake-out along the way and he had a few hunches.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: When Kenichi is training to fight against YOMI, an old enemy known as Shinnosuke Tsuji (The crazy hair guy that was Kisara's henchman.) appears, claiming he'd been training hard to fight his rival again. Kenichi doesn't remember him, and neither does Kisara.
  • Tajima is this to Hanai in Big Windup!; Hanai uses his one-sided rivalry with Tajima as motivation to improve, while Tajima competes against himself.
  • In Food Wars!, Italian-Japanese student Takumi Aldini considers Soma Yukuhira his rival. Despite the fact Soma does know about the rivalry, the universe constantly tries to downplay it that it always looks like Takumi is being over dramatic about a "serious" rivalry for no reason, much to his chagrin (and his younger brother's amusement).
  • In 3-gatsu no Lion, Nikaidou treats Rei as his greatest rival since childhood. Meanwhile, Rei, while acknowledging his determination in respect, does not show any signs of taking Nikaidou's claims of being his rival all that seriously.
  • The so-called Fundoshi Mask from Kyou Kara Ore wa!! is this for Mitsuhashi. Before the series, Mitsuhashi completely ruined his life in self-defence, including giving him the Embarrassing Nickname, but when he shows up again Mitsuhashi can't remember of him until circumstances lead to the poor bastard getting bandaged in a way that resembles having a fundoshi as mask (how he got the nickname in first place). When he shows up again, Fundoshi Mask decides to wear his 'mask' to be recognized immediately... and Mitsuhashi still can't remember him in the slightest.
  • Natsume in Hidamari Sketch is Sae's self-proclaimed rival, but she's really doing it because she has a Tsundere crush on Sae.
  • Occurs in the backstory of Mahou Sensei Negima!. When Asuna arrived as a New Transfer Student at Mahora, Ayaka declared that they were rivals. As Asuna was an Emotionless Girl at arrival, it took her several years to notice. This, of course, means that, given her lack of authority figures, Asuna was basically raised by The Rival, to the extent that what emotions she did develop were developed in response to an annoying Ojou bothering her all the time. Explains a lot, really.
    • Also, Takane D. Goodman to Negi Springfield. In the Mahora Festival arc, she's all about "punishing" Negi for being an irresponsible teacher and is kinda boisterous about showing how much better she is. Needless to say, she's always defeated (and naked) almost every time she insists on picking a fight with him. By the end of the manga, it's mostly her being an unsufferable tsundere towards Negi and wanting to marry him.
  • In the supplementary manga of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, no sooner did Fate become a New Transfer Student did she gain a schoolgirl rival in Alisa after the latter overachiever of a student learned that the former was way too advanced for the curriculum.
  • In Yu Yu Hakusho, Kuwabara was this to Yusuke before the story began, as shown in flashbacks. Kuwabara was obsessed with defeating Yusuke, but it took a few fights before Yusuke even started to remember his name. When the series begins, Yusuke still doesn't consider Kuwabara a serious rival, since he easily wins every single fight. Eventually, Kuwabara abandons the rivalry and becomes friends with Yusuke, more focused on getting through the Dark Tournament and then the Black Chapters crisis alive.
  • In Space Dandy, the protagonist is pursued by Dr. Gel of the Gogol Empire for reasons unclear. Dandy never seems to really acknowledge them or even seems to realize that he's being pursued by an alien empire.
  • Suzuki the Supermarket Clerk wants to one-up High School Ninja Girl, Otonashi-san in their part-time clerk job, but she consistently outdoes him without even being aware of this.
  • Oingo and Boingo in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, who try to kill Jotaro and company, but just end up defeating themselves without the group ever realizing they even exist. The rematch with Hol Horse and Boingo is sort of a step-up, because at least Polnareff realizes that Hol Horse (and only Hol Horse) is trying to kill them. Iggy also attacks Boingo, but only because he accidentally hit Iggy with a crate and not because he found out Boingo's a Stand user.
  • Emi and Takeshi from Your Lie in April are both this to Kousei, at least before they reunite in the story. Surpassing Kousei, who always took first place from them as a child, seems to be their only motivation to compete in piano competitions at all — however he never noticed them back then and doesn't recognize them when they reunite.
  • Speed-o'-Sound Sonic in One-Punch Man is essentially this to Saitama. Though Saitama gives him some acknowledgement and understands his intentions, he doesn't seem at all interested in him and forgets his name shortly after their first encounter, seeing him more as a pest than a serious opponent.
  • Played with in Cardcaptor Sakura. It's not that Sakura doesn't know Syaoran is rivalling her for the Clow Cards, she's even a bit genuinely intimidated by it, just she doesn't understand why it's a rivalry for the large part. She even thanks Syaoran for helping her collect some or even gives him ones she believes he earned more. This complete lack of animosity eventually wears down Syaoran's competitive streak until he's more just her ally.
  • Sixshot of Transformers Energon became incensed with destroying Optimus Prime after believing he killed his brother Shockblast. However while he had near successes, he remained hidden inside a control booth of Cybertron the whole time, usually disobeying and clashing with Galvatron in doing such. This conflict culminated in a coup against Galvatron from which he recovered and killed Sixshot, ironically before Optimus even knew of his existance. This was somewhat poetic, since it was actually Galvatron who killed Shockwave via Unicron.
  • Yuri!!! on Ice: Jean-Jacques Leroy is revealed to be this to Victor Nikiforov, to a point of him being outright delusional. In his monologue in Episode 9, he reveals that he thinks that Victor left ice skating because he was afraid of facing him again in the next Grand Prix Finals. Episode 10 implies that Victor actually left because he got infatuated with Yuri Katsuki on the night of the Grand Prix Final banquet, and he isn't actually sure who J.J. is or what his nickname stands for.
  • Gabriel DropOut has this with between Gabriel and Satania, the latter of which considers the former's actions (tardiness, sleeping in class, and doodling on textbooks) as high level acts of villainy, and strives to one-up her someday. Gabriel, on the other hand, doesn't give a damn about Satania.
  • Overlord (2012): Nazarick's assistant butler Eclair (a talking penguin) is forever declaring his intent to topple Nazarick's leadership and rule over it. While he says this to anyone who'll listen, even the Guardians play along with him despite their fanatical, kill-those-with-insufficient-loyalty mentality (although it's possible they see him as untouchable because he was made by one of the original players). If Ainz has even heard of him, he doesn't show it (though it helps that Eclair's plan once he's in charge involves keeping the place absolutely spotless).
  • Sonic X: Shadow the Hedgehog goes around committing crimes. Since he looks similar to Sonic, everyone thinks Sonic has gone rogue and he becomes wanted by the police. Sonic evades the authorities and eventually confronts Shadow, angrily demanding to know why Shadow framed him. After effortlessly beating Sonic up, Shadow says he didn't even know Sonic existed until they met and he's insulted that people could mistake them for each other.
  • Dragon Ball: After Master Roshi/Jackie Chun was forced to destroy the moon, Man-Wolf was trapped in his wolf form and swore revenge. When they face each other, he says Jackie will pay for what he did, but Jackie has no idea who he is. Man-Wolf gives a long rant about why he hates him, but Jackie gets so bored that he almost falls asleep. Man-Wolf furiously attacks him, but Jackie doesn't take him seriously and effortlessly dodges and counters his attacks, then beats him up while paying more attention to the ladies. Though after Jackie wins, he cuts him a break and helps him return to his human form.
  • Fist of the North Star: Despite Juda's obsessive hatred of Rei, Rei paid him little mind. It isn't until Rei finds out Juda's former enslavement of Mamiya and his betrayal of the Nanto Roku Seiken that their hatred becomes mutual.
  • Little Witch Academia: Chloé considers herself of equal standing both academically and socially to Diana, and frequently says as much to anyone who will listen, hating that Diana always seems to get the spotlight. Diana never appears to know she exists.
  • In Millennium Actress, Eiko is an older, established actress who is relegated to side roles once the young Chiyoko breaks onto the scene— and it's something of a one-sided rivalry because Chiyoko doesn't seem to bear Eiko any ill will.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: With at least one exception in Season 8 where Sweet S. nearly discovers Big M. is a villain before Huo Haha manages to convince her otherwise, the Supermen are completely unaware that Big M. and Little M. are trying to invade their home planet and send out most of the monsters they fight - even if the evidence is right there in plain sight.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Nightwing comic, Nightwing has a "nemesis" in the form of Shrike who isn't quite unknown (they both underwent assassin training in their childhood, but Nightwing was undercover and Shrike wasn't) but Shrike is the only one who considers them archenemies. Even during their fight, while Shrike is trying to stab Nightwing to death, Nightwing just ignores him.
  • The X-Factor comics circa mid-1990s had a great deal of fun with this one:
    1. Dick Chalker was a mutant who could turn himself into a manlike dinosaur creature. He used his powers to commit murder, robbery and postal fraud, and inspired hatred of mutantkind in the rest of the Chalker family.
    2. Dick's cousin Rick Chalker decided to act on this hatred of mutants. In true Mad Scientist fashion, he successfully replaced his hands with enormous, razor-sharp propeller blades. Calling himself the Number One Fan, he was ready to kill every mutant in the world...only to discover that he couldn't open the door out of his lab with them. When he tried to slap himself on the forehead in frustration, he cut the top of his head off.
    3. The third cousin, Professor Vic Chalker, created a massive robot battlesuit to avenge Rick. In making the first version of the suit, he forgot to take his measurements so he couldn't fit in it. In making the second version, he didn't give it enough of a power supply and it ran out of juice five seconds after he started it, becoming trapped inside in the process. In making the third version, he gave it enough power but forgot to waterproof the suit. He fatally electrocuted himself after he took the suit out in a rainstorm.
    4. Dick, now calling himself "Carnivore", decided that Rick and Vic's deaths were on his conscience and decided to avenge them by killing every mutant on Earth so none of them could abuse their powers the way he did. Unfortunately, as he stepped out of his house to commence his killing spree, he was immediately killed by a truck.
    All of this led up to an X-Factor annual issue where a mutant-hating former classmate of Strong Guy's showed up, having devoted his life to the dark arts and become a servant of Mephisto. In order to defeat X-Factor, he brought back their three greatest enemies from the dead — the three brothers who had died over the past three issues, none of whom had so much as been seen by X-Factor. So in the massive, climactic battle, an unknown rival resurrected three more unknown rivals. When the villains introduced themselves, Polaris asked if they were sure they had the right X-team.
    Strong Guy: That figures! Only we could have a bunch of "greatest enemies" that we never heard of.
  • Dr. Blink: Superhero Shrink: Dr. Blink sees Dr. Larry, another psychiatrist/writer in much the same line of work, as his rival (at least until he's talked down by Tracy and Emma). However, Dr. Larry is unaware of this since Dr. Blink never does act on his feelings.
  • Fantastic Four:
    • The unnamed villain in the giant-sized fiftieth issue was some sort of scientist who had spent decades plotting revenge against Reed. (As in only Reed, he clearly had nothing against the other members of the team.) Why? He didn't say, and seeing as he sacrificed himself to save Reed after Becoming the Mask, fandom likely will never know.
    • In James Robinson's arc on the team, a scientist who calls himself the Quiet Man embarks on a massive plan to tear the FF apart, capturing Reed and prepared to frame him for an alien invasion of Earth. Why? Because the Quiet Man had been madly in love with Sue in college but never got the courage to ask her out before Reed did and has wanted payback ever since. Even Reed points out how incredibly stupid that is.
  • Supergirl:
    • In the Many Happy Returns arc, Super-villain Rebel craves for killing both Supergirls (Silver Age Kara Zor-El and Post-Crisis Linda Danvers). As long as either of them is concerned, though, he is a pathetic nuisance with delusions of grandeur. When Rebel tries to harass Kara for the last time, she shows him how insignificant he is and what the real difference of power between them is. He runs away.
      Rebel: So whattaya say we just finish this off with one final dance?
      Supergirl: Don't you get it, Rebel? You're not important! You never were! You were just — something to do! Something for Supergirl and me to bounce off of for a while until people and events of real consequence came along!
    • It's implied the Supergirl Xenon hates so much was Linda Danvers, but a Linda far older and more powerful. That Xenon is deliberately unclear as to which Supergirl he's talking about frustrates Linda and Kara.
    • Supergirl (Rebirth): Cat Grant has a panic room in her office because "She's the sworn enemy of Lois Lane and needs a place to hide." She seriously thinks this, even though Lois couldn't care less for Cat.
  • Superman:
    • Lex Luthor with Superman. Superman is of course aware of how much Luthor hates him but not the level Luthor takes it to. It's been shown that Luthor honestly believes Superman is just as obsessed with Luthor as Luthor is with him, thinking Superman reforming the Justice League was a direct shot on him, and being convinced during 52 that Superman was pretending to be Supernova to strike at him. The truth, of course, is that while Luthor is a threat, Superman doesn't spend every minute of the day worrying about him but trying to help others and even have a normal life.
    • Amok, an Icelandic supervillain whose only appearance is in Superman: The 10 cent Adventure. He was stopped by Superman four years earlier. Understandably, this became the defining moment of his life. Just as understandably, Supes saw it as another five minute battle against a bank robber, and never gave it another thought. Amok is quite shocked to realize this.
    • Big Ron Gomz insists that he is number one on the JLA Most Wanted list, that he knocked Superman through a building, put the Martian Manhunter in a coma, and that he's the guy who broke Batman's back, but none of the Doom Patrol members he tussles with has ever heard of him.
    • Krypton No More: One-time super-villain Protector declares he will bring Superman down. He is quite annoyed because Superman doesn't take him—a one-time villain and superpowered thug—seriously.
      Protector: Is it possible you've already forgotten me, Superman? What a shame — For as you can see, I haven't forgotten you!
    • In Last Daughter Of Krypton, Simon Tycho tries to capture Supergirl and gets his butt kicked. Kara quickly forgets about him afterwards, but Simon becomes obsessed with being defeated by "a little girl". Determined to not let her "win", Simon finds and breaks into her submarine Sanctuary to fight her, and Supergirl gets him locked up provisionally while she decides what to do with him. Nonetheless, she does not dedicate another thought to Simon, not even when her base gets blown up and he dies.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Slyde. For a moment he had Spider-Man on the ropes! Read the issue (Spider Man Unlimited v3 #1, for the record), it's very entertaining. And in this case, Spider-Man does know who Slyde is; you don't have a guy as a decently recurring enemy for years without remembering him. He just regards him as little more than an occasional nuisance.
    • There's a similar scene in Ultimate Spider-Man, when Shocker manages to capture Spider-Man. Throughout the series, he was played up as a joke, a character who didn't even really qualify as a supervillain that Spidey would easily subdue in the opening pages of an arc to show "business as usual." While he has Spider-Man hanging upside-down he reveals that from his point of view, things weren't nearly so funny, revealing a level of anger and humiliation made only worse by the fact that Spider-Man never gave him a second thought.
    • In Eddie Brock's Venom's original backstory, he was just a reporter whose shoddy journalism was exposed by Spider-Man. Eddie Brock claimed to have interviewed the Sin-eater, but it turns out the guy was just a compulsive confessor, and Spidey caught the real criminal. Eddie snapped and held a grudge against Spider-Man that only got worse after bonding with the Venom symbiote. At this time Spidey had never even met Eddie face to face.
    • This Trope was combined with What Measure Is a Mook? in the story "Light the Night", a rather dramatic multipart story involving Electro. A subplot of the story dealt with a mugger who Spidey had caught on numerous occasions, but could never remember from one time to the next. The guy hated Spider-Man, not so much because he kept getting punched out and webbed to the wall; he even said he wouldn't mind so much if, for once, Spidey remembered who he was! Eventually, the guy tries to pull a grandiose stunt and rob a high-class party, pretending to be a super-villain (doing a rather lame job of it), and when Spidey shows up, again, he seems enraged by his "arch-enemy's" presence, but Spidey has no-idea who he is. It becomes a moot point a minute later, as Electro tries to pull an even bigger stunt that threatens to wipe out the entire city block. Still, the story ends somewhat happy for the guy; he runs into a beautiful socialite from the party who doesn't recognize him as the criminal, and they hit it off quickly. But when Spidey walks by them on the last page - in his civilian identity as Peter - he still doesn't recognize him. (Maybe he just had a forgettable face...)
    • During one story, he is attacked by C-list villain Will O'the Wisp. Spider-Man's response is "And you are...?" Wisp gives a rundown of every encounter they've had, to which Spider-Man repeatedly responds that he doesn't remember any of this. Subverted by Spidey's narration, where he reveals that he knows perfectly well who Will O'the Wisp is, and is just messing with him.
  • The Acts of Vengeance storyline was all about this. During the Crisis Crossover which focused primarily on The Avengers but involved most other heroes, members of the super-hero community were subject to attacks by villains they had never fought before or barely even knew- ie. the Mandarin, normally Iron Man's arch-foe, instead battled the X-Men. In fact, most of the villains in question didn't even know the true reason; some had simply been hired out by the masterminds behind the true plot, others had been duped into doing so. (The true scheme was a plot by Loki to destroy the Avengers once and for all by recruiting a council of powerful and influential villains, but they fell apart due to infighting.)
  • Kearson DeWitt put Iron Man, or rather Tony Stark, through six kinds of hell during the "Armor Wars II" storyline; he was commissioned by the Marrs twins to take Tony out, but for him it is clearly, indeed emphatically personal. He rants and raves at Stark for some cruel injustice that was done to him - but when the story finally comes to a head, and - after a long and devastating battle - DeWitt's face is revealed to Tony, he does not recognize him. Atypically for the trope, this shocks him profoundly. The idea was that DeWitt was one of the many guys Tony crushed during his selfish rise to power and while DeWitt remembers it clearly, Tony never even knew the guy's name.
    • In the later three-annual-crossover "Assault on Armor City", it is revealed (in retcon, natch) that DeWitt is the son of an unrecognized engineering genius, whose designs - DeWitt believes - were stolen by Stark and formed the basis for Iron Man, while the true inventor died 'a broken and penniless man'. It's kind of a bum move which pulls the sting out of the original story.
  • An Incredible Hulk Annual has a story of Coyote Cash, an arch-criminal who's foiled repeatedly over the years by various versions of Hulk, beginning with the Hulk accidentally crushing his get-away car while escaping from the Army. After a 3rd release from prison, he tracks down Rick Jones and destroys his house with a bazooka. While he makes a triumphant speech about "being ready for the Hulk", Hulk—who had been house sitting for Rick while he was on vacation—emerges from the rubble in trademark anger.
    Hulk: I hope you're ready now, you stupid two-bit hood!
    Cash: I... I give up!
    (Cash is meekly dragged away by police as Hulk watches)
    Hulk: I wonder who that guy was? It's a funny world, when you can be minding your own business and along comes some stranger to complicate your life.
  • Justified in Kick-Ass. Big Daddy doesn't actually have any personal connection to John Genovese; that's just a story he made up for Hit Girl to justify raising her as his sidekick. Big Daddy is actually just a comic nerd who wanted to be a superhero and chose Genovese as his arch-enemy more or less at random.
  • Sam & Max: Freelance Police poke fun at this with Mack Salmon, a very angry fish in a bowl who has a bone to pick with the duo for "setting in motion the events which caused his current state." Neither of them knows who he is or what he's going on about (neither does the reader); they decide to just smack him around like any other ineffectual villain they come across.
  • In The Batman Adventures, Joe Chill spent the rest of his life in fear of Bruce Wayne taking revenge on him for the deaths of Thomas and Martha. Thing is, in this continuity Bruce never discovered the identity of his parents' killer. When Batman is unmasked while he is trying to save Chill from falling off a balcony railing, the latter panics and falls to his death. Batman is utterly baffled by this since he didn't recognize Chill.
  • Iznogoud: Everyone knows that Iznogoud wants to be Caliph instead of the Caliph... everyone, that is, except the Caliph.
  • Deadpool takes every opportunity he can to one-up Wolverine in some way, while Wolverine couldn't give less of a damn, and views him as a complete nuisance at best.
  • In the first arc of his 1990s comic, Deathstroke found himself in battle with a new version of the Ravager. In a final confrontation, Ravager unmasked and noted how Slade didn't recognize him. He's Bill Walsh, who trained with Slade back in the army but always in second place. He'd also had a crush on Adelaide Kane who became Slade's wife. At first, Slade can't believe this entire rampage of murder is "over me stealing a girl 20 years ago" but Walsh reveals it's even bigger. Getting a closer look, Slade realizes Walsh was Jackal, the terrorist who had slit the throat of Slade's son, Joe, rendering him mute. To top it all off, an injured Jackal then joined the group HIVE and recruited Slade's other son, Grant to become the first Ravager, which got him killed. In their fight, Walsh gloats on how he's been ruining Slade's life for years without Slade even knowing about it. He pays for it as no one gets the better of Deathstroke with a sword.
  • In the Secret Squirrel backup strip in Scooby Apocalypse, when Wily Wolf reveals himself to Secret Squirrel, he claims to be the agent's greatest enemy, and SS professes to have no idea who he is. Wolf thinks SS is mocking him, but he's genuinely clueless, pointing out that lots of people have tried to kill him, and he can't be expected to remember all of them.
  • The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye: Star Saber sees himself as Cyclonus’s Arch-Enemy after the latter defeats him in a duel. While Cyclonus vaguely remembers fighting Star Saber, he doesn't ascribe any significance to their battle and is highly unimpressed when he learns Saber’s still holding a grudge about it when they meet again years later. Just to drive it home, the ensuing “duel” ends with Cyclonus casually killing Saber with a single strike, showing zero emotion while doing so. To him, Star Saber was never anything but a glorified Elite Mook.
    • Hero-to-hero example: Rodimus is consumed with seething resentment for Thunderclash, the Greatest Autobot Ever, because Thunderclash is an Ideal Hero almost to the point of comedy, while Rodimus falls well short of the heroic ideal but is (usually) self-aware enough to know it. While Thunderclash definitely knows who Rodimus is, he never gives any impression of knowing that Rodimus hates him so much, even though Rodders commemorated Thunderclash's imminent death with a broad grin, two thumbs up and a terrible pun.
  • In The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck issue "The Terror of Transvaal", Scrooge gets robbed by an unnamed duck only referred to as a "Viper". After Scrooge tracks down the Viper, humiliates him and has him arrested, the Viper swears to get even with Scrooge. To Scrooge, the Viper is just another greedy thug he butted heads with, but the narration reveals that his name is Flintheart Glomgold, Scrooge's present day rival for the title of World's Richest Duck. Don Rosa's notes on the story suggests that Glomgold has never forgotten this encounter, while Scrooge possibly did.
    "Yet notice that Scrooge never learns Flintheart's name, since his African rival is unknown and unrecognized by him in their later "first" meeting in "The Second Richest Duck" in Scrooge McDuck#15. On the other hand, we have no indication that Flintheart doesn't already know Scrooge in that tale; in fact, the cool manner in which Flintheart receives Scrooge. could be inferred as a sign that Flintheart knew who he was, and knew he was on his way to Africa, having met him on the ship coming over."
  • Transmetropolitan plays this trope for laughs with the character of police dog Stomponato, who suffered an incredible degree of humiliation at the hands of Spider Jerusalem (to the point that he can't hear Jerusalem's name without having a seizure). The entire arc has Stomponato following Jerusalem with the intention of getting his revenge... with Stomp being blinded, beaten and burned in the process. Finally, after tracking him down at the docks, Stomponato leaps for him... and sails right over Jerusalem's head, who didn't even know he was there, and indeed probably has no memory of Stomponato at all
  • Obelix from the Asterix comics doesn't like Tragicomix and is jealous of him being Panacea's fiancee. But Tragicomix isn't aware that Obelix is in love with her, let alone that he's jealous of Tragicomix. In fact, he has lots of respect for Obelix after being saved from the Romans by him and Asterix, and seeing Obelix charging at a Roman army all alone. When Tragicomix sees Panacea again he actually praises Obelix to her for his feats.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Tom the Dancing Bug, wealthy Holligsworth Hound is constantly offended by impoverished Lucky Ducky's existence as an beneficiary of government services paid for by Hollingsworth's taxes. Some strips end with Lucky Ducky declaring "Gotcha!" to underscore Hollingsworth's outrage, but in general he doesn't bother to acknowledge the hostility.

    Fan Works 
  • In Kira Is Justice, O is this, being Mello's counterpart. Justin doesn't even know of him, and the closet thing that O had done so far to challenge him was to send SIS agents to Chicago-partially to bring out L.
  • The Immortal Game has an inverted example. The Cadet claims that he and Sir Unimpressive have been archenemies for years even before the war. Unimpressive doesn't remember him at all.
  • Earth and Sky: While Apple Bloom knows that Diamond Tiara doesn't like her, it's unlikely she realizes that DT views them as archenemies.
  • Baldwin Coster is this to Rhuna at the World Martial Arts Tournament in Dragon Ball X. He doesn't even recognise her, although in his case it's because he's so full of himself that he doesn't bother to remember faces. Add in his sexism and Rhuna's a blank doll to him. In the ensuing fight, Rhuna took extra special pleasure in reminding him who she was.
  • Dirty Sympathy Daryan Crescend is one to Apollo for Klavier's affections. While he later finds out that Klavier is cheating on him, he never finds out that Klavier is cheating on him for Apollo and that Apollo sees him as an obstacle and danger to Klavier.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Tron Bonne sees herself as a rival for Mega Man's affections, but both Mega Man and Kalinka don't even know who she is.
  • Raven to Celestia in My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic III, That is until she kills Twilight Sparkle.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim:
    • Zim is completely unable to remember the names of Dib's new teammates, Steve and Viera, constantly referring to them both as "Not Dib". And that's when he can even remember who they are.
    • Arnold Quis, aka Agent Spider Monkey, is this to Dib in the Swollen Eyeball Network, as Dib barely knows he exists and doesn't know just how much he hates him. And when Quis' spiteful actions get him kicked out of the SEN, he blames Dib, who isn't even aware of it. This is lampshaded by the title of his first major appearance, which is "Rise of the Unknown Rival".
  • Rivals Series: Yuuri is this to Viktor; Yuuri has devoted a decade of his life to breaking Viktor's winning streak and unseating him as the best skater in the world, after Viktor tactlessly insulted him when he was a fan. While Viktor deeply respects Yuuri's abilities and acknowledges him as his only equal, he interprets their personal relationship in a completely different light.
  • The More Things Change provides several examples:
    • Ryo Muhoshin craves for killing his hated rival Ryoga Hibiki due to (perceived) unforgivable slights. He spent years tracking him down and found out that Ryoga didn't even remember him.
    • Tanya Noori. Ryoga has absolutely no idea of why she wants to kill him.
  • The Westerosi:
    • Cersei Lannister becomes paranoid of and obsessed with destroying Jade Hasegawa because she suspects Jade is the "younger, more beautiful queen" in the prophecy who will overthrow her. While Jade sees Cersei as an opponent because Cersei won't cooperate with her, she doesn't worry about her because she is more concerned with helping Westeros survive the Long Night. Jade doesn't know about the prophecy and doesn't care about the Iron Throne or any of Westeros' political power struggles.
    • Euron Greyjoy is also obsessed with defeating Jade, seeing her as a rival in magic, and believes she is also working to defeat him. When Jade is in the House of the Undying, they are able to see and hear each other during one of Jade's visions. Euron lectures her on resorting to going to the House of the Undying for the secret of defeating him. She says she has no idea who he is.
  • For Love of Magic: For the few scenes she's in, Hermione tries to set herself up as Harry's academic rival but the boy is barely aware of her attempts.
  • RWBY Alternate: Ruby adores her older half-sister Yang, but Yang feels jealous of Ruby due to the Parental Favoritism she gets from their dad. Yang's attempts at one-upping her sister go unnoticed, until Yang goes too far during a fight and nearly kills her sister.
  • A Knight's Tale as Inquisitor plays with this trope in a strange way: while Arturia is aware of the Elder One's existence and threat, she hasn't gotten a clue just what the hell they can even be at all. The Elder One on the other hand, is fully aware of Arturia's past, implying they were there themselves and given the sheer contempt they have for the King of Knights, It's Personal.
  • Fixing RWBY: Arslan is bitter towards Pyrrha because she always comes in second place against Pyrrha in tournaments. Pyrrha, however, hasn't noticed Arslan's disdain. She doesn't even really care about winning.
  • Handmaid: Jane Seymour to Anne Boleyn. Jane views Anne as a rival for Henry's affections because, while she's a secondary lover like Jane, any child Henry sires on Anne will be legitimate due to her status as Henry's handmaid. Anne, however, is in love with Katherine of Aragon, and is sleeping with Henry and having his children to secure Katherine and Mary's positionsnote . She doesn't care about Henry turning his affections to someone else, and doesn't interfere with Jane's relationship with Henry because, by the time it started, Anne was already in the midst of her second pregnancy. This backfires on everyone after Henry's increased time with Jane causes her to become pregnant with Edward while she's still his mistress, prompting Thomas Seymour to try and murder Anne so Jane can replace her. While Anne survives, she miscarries her and Henry's son. After Thomas and Jane are arrested and set to be executed (the latter after the birth of Edward), both Anne and Katherine admit they should've payed more attention to Jane instead of dismissing her as another one of Henry's flings.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf:
    • The Wolf is rather put out to find that his warning to the Westerosi at large has been ignored and that they haven't started preparing for a Chaos invasion.
    • Conversely, the Wolf seems to have difficulty remembering some of the people he deals with, only vaguely remembering he'd seen Tyrion once.
  • Fates Collide: Nero sees Ruby Rose as her rival and vows to defeat her for having the power to summon roses, which she believes should belong to her alone. When she finally confronts and challenges her, Ruby has no idea who she is, and pays more attention to her other opponents Cinder and Amakusa.
  • Hachiman actually has three in My Hero School Adventure Is All Wrong As Expected:
    • After Hachiman defeated Bakugo in every one of the Quirk assessment tests (solely for the joy of rubbing his victory in the explosive blond's face) and proved instrumental in the villain's defeat at U.S.J., the volatile teen has considered the 1-A Class Representative to be something of a Worthy Opponent. This has actually helped to curb some of Bakugo's more abrasive tendencies and kick-start his character development several months faster than canon by showing him alternative ways for Heroes to accomplish their goals.
    • Todoroki also thinks of Hachiman as a goal to surpass due to his success during the U.S.J. event and even views him as a threat to his chance of victory in the final tournament rounds of the U.A. Sports Festival. Todoroki even goes so far as to pull a Cavalry Betrayal on Hachiman's group at the last minute of the tournament's second round, stealing their points and walling them off from all other teams to make sure they couldn't progress.
    • More than his strength, what Deku admires most about Hachiman are his mental and social attributes. Deku can't help but think to himself that his planning skills fall short of Hachiman's after seeing the strategies and contingencies the other teen is able to easily formulate and implement during times of conflict. Socially, his classmate's ability to incite the rest of his group during the sports festival and U.S.J. incident was so great that, when combined with the inspiring figure Hikigaya portrayed during the singles bout, Midoriya couldn't help but favorably compare Hachiman to the Symbol of Peace himself. For a more comedic example, what Midoriya actually finds most impressive is Hachiman's ability to casually talk to girls and converse with Bakugo without getting his head bit off.
  • A variation of this in Julie Horowitz's Mummies Alive! fics; back in Ancient Egypt, Ja-Kal's wife Tia arranged for Nefer-Tina to be raped just because she saw Nefer-Tina looking at her husband when Nefer-Tina had no intention of acting on her feelings and there was no sign that Ja-Kal even knew about her.
  • In Doctor In The Underworld, while the Doctor expresses his disapproval of Viktor after learning about his role in starting the war as he decides to try and end the vampire/lycan conflict, it is unclear if Viktor was ever even aware of the Doctor’s existence, as he never mentions him when talking with Selene about her ‘crimes’, Selene speculating that her memories may have been so jumbled that Viktor didn’t ‘remember’ the Doctor.
  • Fate/Harem Antics: After Rider crushed Zouken Matou under rubble and then Assassin killed him, his grandson Shinji becomes terrified of the two and goes into hiding, paranoid that they will come after him next and praying that they don't find him. He's hiding for nothing, as those two barely, if at all, noticed him, and they certainly don't give him a second thought.
  • Arrow: Rebirth: Oliver is sent back in time to immediately after he first returned to Lian Yu, with Felicity following a few days later. Felicity is outraged when she learns Oliver won't immediately resume their relationship, as he's still in love with (the still alive) Laurel. Felicity then plots to murder Laurel so that she and Oliver can be together again, only to be murdered herself by a third party before she can get anywhere. Laurel meanwhile, is not only unaware that Felicity hates her, but seemingly doesn't even know who Felicity is.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Penguins of Madagascar, Dave's disdain for penguins started out when the Penguins stole his glory back at Central Park Zoo back when they were younger. They never really met the guy until this movie and Skipper especially has trouble remembering his name.
  • In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Kovu never seems to have any idea that Nuka resents him. In fact during the few scenes the two are shown interacting, Kovu never shows anything but love and care towards his brother.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2: Lord Shen has spent the greater part of two decades meticulously preparing for his eventual battle with Po, but Po sees Shen as just some random baddie to stop. Po is completely unaware of the deeply personal role Shen played in his history, having only learned he existed a few days before meeting him. Even after he learns the truth, he refuses to make their conflict personal, which absolutely baffles Shen.
  • In How to Train Your Dragon, Hiccup is completely oblivious to how jealous Astrid is of him suddenly outperforming her in training. When she confronts him after he officially becomes top of the class, he has no idea how mad she is or why she's getting so physical with him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Odd example from The Fifth Element: Korben, the hero, and Zorg, the villain, never actually meet in the entire movie, despite being clearly the good guy and the bad guy. It's not even clear that the two of them realize they're in competition with each other over the stones. The closest they ever get to interacting is either when Zorg orders one million of his employees fired, a pink slip shows up in Korben's mail tube in the next scene, or when Korben and Co. enter one elevator as Zorg steps off the one next to it. The pink slip part is about as impersonal as it gets, as well. An underling tells Zorg that due to possible economic troubles, they want to fire 500,000 employees, possibly in one of the smaller cab companies where no one will notice. Zorg, being a Card-Carrying Villain, orders one million fired instead.
  • Street Fighter has a situation similar to the above Superman one. Chun Li pledged her life to bring down M. Bison for having her father shot. But for Bison, it was Tuesday.
  • Salieri in Amadeus hates Mozart with a passion. However, he never lets on that he does, and actually is rather nice to the younger man when they are in each other's company.
  • This is the case for the first half of The Man with the Golden Gun. James Bond is tracking down Scaramanga on the basis of the bullet carved with his number which was sent to MI6 and interpreted as a threat. The bullet was actually sent by Scaramanga's assistant Andrea, who wanted Bond to kill him, and Scaramanga even admits when he meets Bond that he has nothing against him.
  • In Big Fish, Ewan McGregor's character unknowingly grew up with a rival who was constantly overshadowed by him. They end up fighting over the same girl when they become adults.
  • In Country Strong, much drama comes from Kelly Canter worrying that Chiles Stanton is going to replace her as the hot new thing. Chiles meanwhile is oblivious to this.
  • Sort of happens in Black Swan. While Nina feels threatened by the new dancer Lily, Lily's not really threatened by her.
  • Enter the Dragon has the Big Bad confront two minor characters before he ever meets the protagonist of the movie, played by none other than Bruce Lee. Oddly enough, Lee was sent there for the specific purpose of bringing the villain down while the two minor characters were at the tournament for unrelated reasons.
  • In A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Mike merely thinks Antonio is a jerk to everyone. He doesn't know that Antonio is jealous that Dito is blowing him off to hang out with Mike.
  • In Repo! The Genetic Opera, Paris Hilton plays Amber Sweet, a spoiled brat heiress with pretensions of being a gifted singer. Amber believes she is due to replace Broadway legend Sarah Brightman's character, Blind Mag, a world-famous opera singer who headlines the Genetic Opera for the all-powerful Gene Co company. Mag must know who Amber is due to her association with Amber's father, but Mag doesn't even acknowledge Amber.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Ant-Man shows that Hank Pym and Howard Stark had a bitter falling out after the former found out the latter was trying to replicate his shrinking technology to use in military weapons. Hank is so bitter about it that he refuses to contact Howard's son Tony to help him with a mission. Then in Captain America: Civil War, Hank's protégé Scott Lang is furious at Tony for locking him, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and the Falcon in prison and tells him that Hank was right about the Starks. On the other hand, this is the first time Tony has ever met Scott and he has no idea who he is or what he's talking about.
    • In Guardians of the Galaxy, Drax wants revenge on Ronan for murdering his family. He's outraged when he can barely get Ronan to pay attention to him. Ronan effortlessly beats him up and boasts that he won't remember Drax after he is dead.
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming: In the wake of the Chitauri invasion, Tony created a government agency to oversee the cleanup of all the disaster areas. However, this leads to Adrian Toomes, who was employed by NYC to do just that and invested a lot of money in the operation, to lose the contract and not be compensated. This causes Toomes to develop a hatred for Stark and get indirect revenge by using stolen alien and Avenger technology to create weapons to sell for profit. Interestingly, Toomes is savvy enough to exploit the "unknown" aspect of the trope by using it to stay off Stark's radar and sell his weapons with him none the wiser.
    • Black Panther: Prince N'Jobu had teamed up with Ulysses Klaue to steal Wakandan technology as part of a plan to arm oppressed African-Americans. However he was killed by his brother, King T'Chaka, when he found out and N'Jobu attempted to hold Zuri hostage to avoid punishment. This results in N'Jobu's son, Killmonger, developing a burning hatred for the Wakandan royal family and spending the rest of his life training to get revenge on them. T'Chaka's son King T'Challa on the other hand was completely unaware of the incident in question and didn't even know that Killmonger existed until he revealed himself decades later.
    • In the Final Battle of Avengers: Endgame, Thanos is this to most of the Avengers since he's not the version that dusted half the universe. He gets a couple of It's Personal moments with the characters but just rolls with it even though he doesn't know why they specifically want to kill him.
      Wanda Maximoff: You. Took. EVERYTHING. From me.
      Thanos: (almost bewildered) I don’t even know who you are.
  • In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan from Kirk's perspective the encounter with Khan was a one-off event that happened 15 years ago and ended with Khan and his people voluntarily leaving to peacefully set up their own colony free of Federation control. Meanwhile, the colony suffered a massive natural disaster and complete ecological collapse almost immediately afterwards and Khan watched his wife and most of his friends die horribly with no way to leave the planet. Khan is enacting 14 years of pent-up revenge for something Kirk is completely unaware of.
  • In Casper Meets Wendy, the Big Bad Desmond Spellman is this to Wendy. He wants to destroy the Good Little Witch because he is currently the world's most powerful magic user, but the Magic Mirror which decides such things has foretold that Wendy will usurp him. Wendy, meanwhile, is only about twelve years old and has no idea who Spellman even is, much less why he's trying to kill her.
  • Enchanted: Queen Narissa ploted to destroy Giselle because she thought Giselle was going to remove her from her throne once she married her son Prince Edward. Until Narissa reveals herself at the climax, Giselle had no idea about any of this and sincerely wanted to become friends with her.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Wonder Woman (2017): General Ludendorff and Dr. Maru spend almost the entirety of the movie completely unaware that Diana even exists, let alone that she's working with Steve to foil their plans.
    • Aquaman (2018): When David Kane meets Aquaman, Kane says as a pirate, he's dreamed of fighting the protector of the ocean for some time and considers him his Arch-Enemy. Aquaman is just meeting him for the first time and has no idea who he is and doesn't care. After Aquaman defeats him and refuses to rescue his father from death, Kane reinvents himself as Black Manta, obtains some Atlantean technology, and forces Aquaman to take him seriously.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: Everybody assumes Magneto is trying to kidnap Wolverine, presumably to experiment on him because of his Healing Factor. When they meet face to face, Magneto reveals he doesn't care about Wolverine and was really after Wolverine's companion, Rogue.
    • Deadpool 2: Deadpool assumes Cable is an assassin sent to kill him, until Cable reveals he doesn't care about Deadpool and was really after Russell Collins.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy takes this to an extreme. Mild-mannered and mostly confused Arthur Dent is captured and accosted by Agrajag, who claims that he keeps being reincarnated only to be killed by Arthur Dent every single time, including the times he was a bowl of petunias, a bystander at a cricket match, and one in a time and place Arthur has yet to visit. This, as one may imagine, has left Agrajag rather unhinged, so that when Arthur insists that he's not doing it on purpose and the universe is just "playing silly buggers" with them, Agrajag point-blank refuses to believe it.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian stories, he and Thoth-amon never actually meet and Conan is never the direct object of Thoth-amon's attacks. In The Phoenix on the Sword Thoth sends a demon to kill the man who enslaved him after he lost his powers who is leading an assassination attempt on then king Conan, actually inadvertently saving him although he also tells the demon to kill everyone with his erstwhile master, thus putting Conan in danger again. In The God in the Bowl Conan just happens to be robbing the museum where a deadly gift from Thoth-amon to a rival is being kept. In The Treasure of Tranicos Thoth-amon is after one of several parties after the title treasure, Conan, once again just happens to inadvertently get in the way. In The Hour of the Dragon Thoth-amon is just mentioned by a group of Stygian priests seeking a way to combat him after his return to power.
  • In Warrior Cats, (spoilers for Rise Of Scourge and The Darkest Hour) Scourge desperately wants to kill Tigerstar, who has no idea who he is.
  • In Austin Grossman's novel Soon I Will Be Invincible, the relationship between the hero Core Fire and the villain Dr. Impossible is like this.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has a couple of possible examples.
    • Cersei very definitely sees Margaery Tyrell as a rival, but it is not clear whether Margaery is actually trying to undermine Cersei or not. It is certainly true that Margaery's family is trying to increase their power at Cersei's expense, but it is unknown if Margaery is knowingly assisting in their schemes, or is genuinely trying to be friendly with Cersei and is upsetting her largely by accident. The latter seems unlikely, since she is shrewd enough to immediately see through Cersei's plan to get her damned in trial by combat, and calls her a "vile, scheming, evil bitch". Cersei's main reason for antagonizing Margery is because of a prophecy that says she will be brought down by a younger and more beautiful queen. The reader is well aware that this could just as easily be Daenerys, whom Cersei has never even considered.
    • Viserys Targaryen is one for Robert Baratheon: Viserys sees himself as the Big Good to Robert's Big Bad, but Robert (correctly) sees Viserys' sister Daenerys as more dangerous (though for the wrong reasons). Despite this, Robert still considers him a threat, but would likely reconsider this if he knew just how staggeringly incompetent and useless Viserys really is, making this a strange example of Viserys being a Partly-known Rival who deserves to be treated as an Unknown Rival, and probably would be treated as an Unknown Rival if Robert actually knew anything about him. Viserys is also convinced he's been staying just ahead of Robert's assassins for his whole life, but Robert had never actually tried to have him killed since he got to Essos.
  • In The Fountainhead, Toohey considers himself Howard Roark's arch-rival. When he confronts Roark and asks him, "Why don't you tell me plainly what you think about me?", Roark replies, "I don't think about you."
  • The Bible: In the Book of Job, Satan works to undermine Job's faith by ruining his life, intending to prove to God that Job's piety is superficial. Job variously lays blame for his misfortune on bad luck, unkind fate, or his own mistakes, and resists the temptation to blame God, but he never even suspects that Satan might be engineering his misfortune.
  • In the Marla Mason series, the chaos witch Nicolette is obsessed with becoming Marla's nemesis, while Marla considers her nothing more than a minor nuisance. In the novel Lady of Misrule, several characters outright tell Marla that her refusal to take Nicolette seriously has motivated her to become a far greater threat than she might otherwise have been, as she is trying to become so dangerous that Marla won't be able to ignore her anymore.
  • In the Gotrek & Felix series, the Skaven wizard Thanquol spends decades plotting how to defeat the titular duo after they hunted him for so long and destroyed all his plans. When he finally catches them he finds out that they have no idea who he is, or that the various Skaven attacks they had blundered into over the years were even connected.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Saruman has always envied Gandalf for being the more popular of the two (which was in no small part thanks to him being humbler and wiser). Gandalf on the other hand always respected Saruman and apparently had no idea how much his fellow Maia resented him, being sincere and personable right up to the moment Saruman revealed his true colours and attacked him.
  • The Black Tulip: Cornelius van Baerle is completely unaware that he's become Isaac Boxtel's archenemy, and only vaguely remembers him as a next-door neighbor when he finally sees him at the end of the novel..
  • Wendy Mass' short story "The Stars at the Finish Line" averts this - the protagonist's academic rivalry with a girl he has a crush on has nabbed him excellent grades. When he mentions this to her close to the end of the story, she acts confused...then laughs and reveals that of course the rivalry was mutual; she was just messing with his head.
  • In The Dinosaur Lords, Falk considers Jaume to be his rival and contantly attempts to one-up him, undermine him and, above all, prove that he's worse than Falk. Jaume, on the other hand, has no idea of this and considers Falk to be little more than his co-worker, though one who ascended through ranks admirably fast.
  • Alexis Carew: In the backstory, Rashaed Coalson for Dunholm Carew, which leads to a one-sided family feud. When it was Dunholm's turn to pick first on land claims during the colonization of Dalthus, several times he happened to pick out claims that Rashaed wanted. Dunholm insists to the Coalsons to this day it was pure coincidence, but Rashaed became convinced Dunholm was deliberately screwing him and taught the hatred to his sons and grandsons. Later Rashaed sabotaged the colony's antigrav hauler when it was headed to the Carew estate to bring Dunholm's wife to Port Arthur for treatment, leading to her Death by Childbirth. Later his son Daviel made a high-speed pass over Alexis's parents' buggy, spooking the horses to a crash that killed both of them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • Although Angel knows precisely who Lindsey is, he doesn't take him very seriously as a threat during the show's final season, while Lindsey sees himself as Angel's archrival. They eventually team up against a bigger threat, and in the end, when Lorne shoots Lindsey on Angel's orders, the only thing Lindsey's angry about is that he apparently wasn't important enough for Angel to kill personally, which was simultaneously a little sad and deeply, hilariously pathetic.
    • Subverted with Sahjhan in season 3 who wants revenge against Angel, who has no idea who he is. In season 5 it's revealed Sahjhan really just wanted to keep Connor from killing him in the future, which he does.
    • Played for Laughs in "Harm's Way". Someone has set Harmony up for murder, and eventually it turns out to be...some other vampire chick who works at Wolfram and Hart. Apparently, she's ticked that Harmony got the job she wanted just because Harmony already knew the boss.
  • Arrow does this a few times:
    • In the first season, Oliver was unaware Malcom Merlyn was behind many of the actions of the year and was also the murderous Dark Archer. Even when Ollie suspected Malcom, he thought the Archer was just Malcom's enforcer, which nearly got him killed when he confronted Merlyn on his own.
    • For his part, Malcom didn't know until the finale that his son's best friend was the vigilante fighting him all year.
    • In the second season, Ollie doesn't know until mid-way through the year that his various challenges are from former ally turned enemy Slade Wilson.
    • Oliver believed Isabel Rochev was a partner and shrewd businesswoman. It's only after Isabel takes over his company that Oliver finds out she's working with Slade, out for revenge after Oliver's father broke off their affair.
    • Finally, Oliver considers Sebastian Blood a good ally, not knowing he's the murderous Brother Blood, another agent of Slade's. Laurel figured it out, but no one believed her and Blood eventually discredited her so thoroughly that even she was left doubting herself.
    • The fourth season has Oliver discovering that many of the threats he's been facing over the years were secretly the work of Damien Darkh and HIVE who are upset the Arrow has spoiled their plans.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The Trio start out this way. They gradually are noticed more and more, culminating in Warren's accidental killing of Tara. That got the Scoobies' attention. Specifically, Willow's. Is Warren taken seriously as a villain? Yep. Is he alive? Not so much.
    • And then there was Harmony who no-one took seriously at first. She eventually got the gang's attention... well for a moment, but once Buffy saved Dawn, Buffy completely forgot about her. Harmony continued to think Buffy was after her though, even asking Spike to harbor her. Harmony even hid in a coffin when Buffy came to Spike's crypt once thinking that Buffy had found her and was going to kill her. Buffy was actually there to question Spike as usual and had no idea Harmony was even still around.
  • For most of the first season of The Flash (2014) Barry is totally unaware that ally Harrison Wells is actually The Reverse Flash who's out to use Barry in a wild scheme to change history.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Ramsay Snow/Bolton was this initially with Jon Snow. Before becoming Warden of the North, Ramsay was rather interested in Jon Snow, who didn't even know much about Ramsay beyond being a Bolton bastard son. Ramsay mentions Jon Snow to his father, citing that despite his bastardry, Jon is still a Stark and is a threat to their rule. Later, he tells Sansa (whose eyes light up upon hearing this) that her half-brother Jon Snow has become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, citing this as proof that bastard children can rise high in the world. Locke, the man he sent to assassinate Jon, gets it even worse; he's killed off by a third party before Jon realizes he isn't a friend, and leaves so little impression everyone immediately forgets he existed.
    • Joffrey absolutely despised Robb Stark. While Robb in return wants to kill Joffrey he considers Tywin to be his true threat. Fitting form, Joffrey considers Robb Stark's death his greatest victory even though he didn't play any role in it.
    • Viserys Targaryen to Robert Baratheon. When Robert hears that Daenerys is pregnant, he goes berserk and calls for her assassination, but when giving the order he throws out "and that fool Viserys", almost as an afterthought. Viserys however saw Robert ("the Usurper") as his Arch-Nemesis.
  • In Power Rangers Wild Force, Jindrax sees himself as having a grand rivalry with Taylor. Taylor... doesn't. After their Enemy Mine moment before Jindrax and his partner Toxica ride off into the sunset, Jindrax expresses regret that their "famous rivalry" is over, and Taylor graciously says "Well, you were a... worthy opponent, I guess."
  • Merlin (2008):
    • An interesting example is Nimueh. Though she is a formidable opponent, most of her evil plans are done from a distance, and Prince Arthur never discovers who she truly is after she pulls a Decoy Damsel on him. She interacts only once with King Uther (who would be her major foe) but then dies in the season finale without any sort of confrontation with either Uther or Arthur. In fact, it's unclear whether they even know that she's dead.
    • It happens again with Morgana. As of the end of series 4, Arthur has no idea that Morgana killed Uther, resurrected Lancelot, enchanted Guinevere to cheat on Arthur, or brainwashed Merlin into trying to kill Arthur.
    • A Love Triangle variation occurs when Princess Mithian arrives at Camelot in the hopes of marrying Arthur. At this stage Guinevere is in exile, and although Mithian eventually tumbles to the idea that Arthur isn't interested because of another woman (asking "who is it that trumps a princess?" and "what great family does she come from?"), Guinevere never learns of Mithian's existence at all. Mithian does return in season 5, but it's unclear in Gwen knows that Mithian was Arthur's former fiancee or if she just thinks of Mithian as a political ally that Arthur feels duty-bound to help.
  • MADtv took quite a few shots at Saturday Night Live, but the only time SNL ever even referenced MADtv was a Weekend Update bit where Seth Meyers made a joke referencing his brother Josh being a cast member on that show.
  • Community:
    • Dr. Rich gained one in Jeff due to his Nice Guy persona and gifted ability at pottery.
    • Jeff and the Black Rider during season two's Paintball Episode(s).
    • This extends to Real Life where Community views itself and Glee as Dueling Shows. They make fun of them and its fans constantly bash Glee. Glee has never mentioned Community once and its fans seem unaware of the rivalry entirely.
  • On The Colbert Report the following exchange takes place:
    Colbert: Ted Nugent has condemned your generation as lazy and apathetic. Your response?
    NYU Student: Who's Ted Nugent?
  • Arrested Development The Bluths and Stan Sitwell
  • Saturday Night Live The 2015-2016 Saturday Night Live season has a sketch where Kyle Mooney declares it his life's mission to displace Kanye West as the greatest rapper of all time and his plans to beat him in a rap battle. The punchline is that at the end of the sketch, Kanye is entirely unaware Kyle is challenging him to a battle.
  • Mad Men:
    • Ted Chaough (pronounced like "Shaw") declares himself the rival to Don Draper. Draper had never even heard of the man when they first meet, although Chaough's challenge leads Draper to do some things to prove who's the better adman.
    • When Ken Cosgrove gets a short story of his published in a national magazine, Pete Campbell jealously attempts to get a story of his own published, even coercing his wife into meeting with an ex-boyfriend of hers who's a publisher. When Ken and Pete are named joint heads of accounts, Pete resents having to share the position, while Ken seems perfectly happy to share. Then when Sterling and Draper approach Pete about starting a new agency, Pete asks if they approached Ken with the opportunity first.
  • Not quite unknown, but in The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon spends a good deal of mental energy seething against his "arch-rival" Wil Wheaton. Wheaton, for his part, just laughs off Sheldon's challenges and easily defeats him whenever they come into contact. Lampshaded when Sheldon finds a new target for his wrath.
    Sheldon: You've already signed something for me, Brent Spiner. Your name on my list. From this moment on you are my mortal enemy!
    Wil Wheaton: Don't worry, it doesn't take up a whole lotta your time.
  • Happens a couple of times on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
    • In "The Gang Reignites the Rivalry," the gang are eager to reignite their "heated feud" with a rival bar that ended after a ten-year ban from flipping cups. They march over to mock the owner, Art Sloan, who got them banned a decade ago. Sloan is now a successful restaurant owner, barely even remembers them and has far more important things to do than waste time on some stupid contest.
    • The 13th season premiere has the gang working on plans with new hire Cindy to get more customers. She comes up with a plan to shut down Murphy's, the bar around the corner. Cindy is thrown to realize that not only do the gang not know Murphy's does five times more business than Paddy's but they don't even know this bar exists.
  • In his first appearance on The Suite Life on Deck, Bailey's ex-boyfriend Moose is entirely unaware that Cody a) has feelings for her and b) sees him as a romantic rival. Throughout the episode he is kind to Cody, doing things such as thanking him for trying to make Bailey feel less homesick and being reluctant to arm wrestle him for fear of injuring him. Cody, on the other hand, continually tries to show him up to impress Bailey, only to fail at every event, which Moose sees as fun competition.
  • A few examples on Once Upon a Time:
    • While Emma knows Regina doesn't like her in the first season, she doesn't know that Regina is the Evil Queen who wants Emma dead (or at least out of town) before Emma finds a way to break the Dark Curse Regina put over Storybrooke.
    • Likewise, Mary Margaret is baffled as to why Regina hates her, not remembering she's Snow White and led a rebellion against the Evil Queen.
    • Zelena was outraged to learn she was Regina's half-sister, convinced the woman had taken the power and glory Zelena should have had which led to Zelena becoming the Wicked Witch of the West. She then works various plots to destroy Regina and prove herself the better. For her part, Regina has absolutely no idea Zelena even exists before finally clashing.
    • The show's seventh season returns to the season 1 concept as Henry, Jacinda and Roxie are unaware they are the Author, Cinderella and Regina and that Victoria is Lady Tremaine who wants to crush them for what they did to her back in the Fairy Tale World.
    • Victoria believed Weaver (aka Rumplestilskin/Gold) was a corrupt cop working for her. In reality, he's playing a long game to take her down. Then he regains his memories and now is really after her.
    • Victoria/Tremaine believes her daughter Drizella is also cursed to think she's modern girl Ivy. She has no idea Drizella/Ivy remembers who she is and is working her own secret plan against her mother.
  • Played with on Revenge as Hamptons "queen" Victoria Grayson rightly views newcomer Emily Thorne as wanting to get into this life. However, Victoria is unaware that Emily is really Amanda Clarke, out to avenge the destruction of her father by ruining the lives of the Graysons and their associates. Often, when something bad happens to the family, Emily has managed to hide her tracks so Victoria thinks someone else was behind the scheming. The few times Victoria is suspicious of Emily, she thinks the woman is simply trying to worm her way into the Grayson fortune, unaware Emily's entire goal is to bring them down.
  • Back in 2006, the rivalry between 30 Rock and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip had an element of this, with 30 Rock being the unknown one. Funny how that worked out. See this advertisement, for example.
  • On Suits Harvey Specter is a star lawyer in one of the top law firms in New York City. He represents scores of famous athletes helps close billion dollar deals. During one case he runs into Travis who proclaims himself Harvey's rival and vows to crush Harvey. Harvey never heard of the guy before and is hardly intimidated by this 'rivalry'. Sure enough, whenever Harvey and Trevor face off against each other in a legal case, Harvey wins.
    • In season 7, Harvey and Mike face off against a young up and coming attorney on a case. The man snaps on how he's finally going to show up Harvey and the man is intimidated by him. When Harvey states he has no idea who the guy is, the attorney stares at him and then snorts as he realizes Harvey is serious. He then relates how he and Harvey worked together at the District Attorney's office for three years and he was the one doing serious work while Harvey just did flashy stuff. Donna, of course, remembers the guy quite well, warning Harvey the man is out to show him up and Harvey is thrown how he could inspire hate from a guy without even knowing it.
  • Played with in V.I.P. when a noted Russian-trained assassin is after one of the firm's targets. Tasha, the former KBG agent, talks of how she's fought with this woman several times and they have an intense rivalry going. The killer is defeated thanks to Val (who's only posing as a bodyguard when she's really a goofy Valley Girl) and Tasha informs the killer she's beaten. To her shock, the killer says she's never met Tasha before but "you have beaten me once more, Valerie Irons." Apparently, the woman's pride and ego leads her to believe a "world-class bodyguard" like Valerie must be someone she tangled with before. She's led away as Tasha vainly tries to explain that she's the woman's rival, not Val.
  • In Psych, Detective Carlton Lassiter has been chasing an art thief named Pierre Despereaux for much of his career, always trying to outsmart the criminal he considers his greatest rival. When Despereaux is finally arrested (thanks to Shawn), Carlton gloats at Pierre that he is the victor. Pierre looks at him in confusion and tells him that he has no idea who he is.
  • The Disney series Pair of Kings has Lanny constantly attempting to kill or at least banish his cousins, Brady and Boz (and later Boomer) so he can become king of their island nation. Not only are his cousins oblivious to his scheming, they treat Lanny as a goofy friend, which just infuriates him more.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, local doctor Julian Bashir discovers that the valedictorian of his class is coming to the station. While he doesn't exactly consider her a 'rival', he is rather shocked to find she doesn't even recognize him. This is eventually subverted when she reveals that whoever pointed out the salutatorian to her accidentally pointed to a random Andorian Julian had been talking to at the time; in other words, she did respect Bashir but just didn't realize he was human!
  • Blackadder: In the first season, Prince Harry is too thickheaded to see Prince Edmund's (who is also very thickheaded) very obvious attempts to one-up him and become the heir of the throne. Heck once Edmund became the Archbishop as part of the also obvious political machinations of their father, Harry being mindblowingly religious starts treating Edmund as if he was the Chosen One and asking him for spiritual guidance.
    • Played with in the fourth season as Baron von Richtofen believes himself the Worthy Opponent to Flasheart, talking of their epic rivalry and assuming they'll have a conversation of mutual respect before a duel of honor. Sadly for the Baron, Flasheart just sees him as another German to shoot.
  • In the sixth season of Rizzoli & Isles Jane finds herself being stalked by someone who sets fire to her apartment, sends threatening messages and arranges for Maura's abduction. It turns out to be Alice Sands, a former classmate of Jane's from the police academy who had long been used to coming in first thanks to her demanding father but ended up always behind Jane in training. When Jane graduated top of the class, the woman's father basically disowned her and her life went downhill, all of which she's blamed on Jane, who's amazed as she never even knew the woman in the academy and didn't know they were "competing."
    • When Alice is arrested, she launches into a major speech on how she was always in Jane's shadow and grew to hate the woman. Jane flatly tells her "You know what I remember about you from the academy? Nothing." Despite that, Alice still seems to consider her and Jane as major enemies.
  • Million Yen Women: Shin, who is having trouble getting his novels sold, is established quite early to hate Yuzu Hanaki, Japan's current best-selling author. Later, Ryuichi, a literary critic who loves Yuzu's work and hates Shin's, writes a review praising Yuzu's work and contrasting it to Shin's. After reading the review, Yuzu is shown asking Ryuichi who Shin is, indicating that Shin wasn't even on his radar up to that point.
  • Deus Salve O Rei: Lucrézia absolutely loathes Catarina because Rodolfo, the former's husband nurtures a crush on the latter, despite being married himself and Catarina not really caring about his affections one way or the other, so she looks down on both Rodolfo and Lucrézia.
  • On A.P. Bio, Jack is obsessed with destroying Miles Leonard, the man who got the coveted Harvard job Jack had long wanted. In a phone conversation, it becomes clear Miles has absolutely no idea Jack hates him this much and even considers them friends while the series revolves around Jack's plans for "revenge."
  • In the cold open for "Appa's Lump" in Kim's Convenience, Enrique, one of Mr. Kim's regulars, declares out of nowhere that he is ending his boycott of the titular store and is willing to bury the hatchet with a hug. Mr. Kim is just as befuddled as the audience.
  • The Good Place: At one point, a visual list of Eleanor's shames, quirks, and other embarrassments is brought up. Among many other things, Eleanor has a one-sided rivalry with Barefoot Contessa and Princess Jasmine, while Neil Degrasse Tyson apparently has a one-sided rivalry with her.
  • On Shameless (US), Frank meets Faye, an attractive rich woman and follows her to her mansion. Faye ties Frank up and demands he tell her how he told the cops back in 1993 that Faye's fiancee was his crack dealer, sending him to jail for a crime that never even happened. But Faye's revenge is marred by how Frank is such a massive drunk/addict that even when shown videotape of the trial, he can't recall any of this.
    Frank: Do you have any idea how many millions of brain cells I've destroyed since the '90s? I'm so sober right now, I can't even make anything up!
  • Miguel Diaz and Robby Keene were these to each other in Cobra Kai. Robby resents Miguel initially because his father, Johnny Lawrence has ended up forging a father-son bond with Miguel while he walked out of his life on day one. Miguel, on the other hand, thinks his girlfriend Sam (who is also the daughter of Johnny's rival Daniel Larusso) is cheating on him with Robbie, while, the truth is, Robbie simply started hanging out with the Larussos to get back at his father, because he hates Daniel and Daniel eventually took him under his wing and started teaching him Karate. Subverted by the end of season one, where the two finally come face to face and end up becoming actual rivals to each other, much like Daniel and Johnny.

  • Jonathan Coulton has the song Nemeses which is eventually driven by this trope. Once the protagonist catches on, he begins to exploit the trope... though the song's tone suggests heartbreak, rather than triumph.
    Ah yes, my old friend
    You are a master of this game
    The hidden blade when you pretend
    That you don't even know my name
    Well played

    Sometimes it's hard to tell
    If you even notice me
    Maybe it's just as well
    It's better you don't see
    The way I'm running just to keep your back in view
    In your shadow, waiting for the perfect moment
  • During the beginning of Lil Bow Wow's rap career, he made a few songs, calling out Will Smith for not making hardcore gangsta rap songs during his career. Will Smith, who's now more into acting than rapping, was unaware of Lil Bow Wow's jabs, until someone finally asked him about it in an interview. He ended the possible rivalry simply saying "I don't respond to children."
  • Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum started a feud with Primus because he thought their song "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" was mocking his girlfriend Winona Ryder, and at a Soul Asylum concert renamed a song to "Les Claypool's a Big Fucking Asshole". Meanwhile, Primus mastermind Les Claypool pointed out that the song wasn't about her, and Ryder said she didn't mind anyways.
  • Henry Rollins cheerfully admits to having been one (along with a dash of Always Someone Better) to Iggy Pop. Rollins admired the hell out of Iggy, but also was determined to try to outplay and upstage Iggy if they ever performed together. He got that chance 3 times in the 90s. The first two times not only did Iggy blow Rollins off the stage, but he acted like he wasn't even aware of what Rollins had tried to do and humbly thanked Rollins for the honor of playing with him. Naturally, this just made Rollins more determined to upstage Iggy. So, upon learning that there's a third gig where they'll be playing together, Rollins sets up a punishing, months long training course so he can play harder and long than he's ever played before. He gives the performance of a lifetime... and Iggy still blows him off the stage, but at least Iggy acknowledged Rollin's attempt for the first time and had to put some energy into destroying him.
    Rollins: "What are you doing in Denmark?" I-I played tonight! "You did?" Yes, I was the opening band, I saw you staring at me! "You played? I just remember Iggy Pop." [Iggy]'s just like *finger flick* dink.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Perhaps the most well-known wrestling example: Starting in the mid-nineties, Shane Douglas has spent over a decade running down Ric Flair. Flair barely paid him any attention. This didn't stop even after Douglas finally got a program with Flair in WCW in 2000 (and beat Flair twice).
  • During the last year of WCW, Booker T was clearly being modeled as a copy of The Rock with promos, popularity and a finisher ("The Bookend") that was a copy of the Rock Bottom. When Booker joined WWF in 2001, he interrupted the Rock in the ring to run the Rock down and say he was the better man. The Rock's reply: " the blue hell...are you?"
  • TNA, as part of its campaign to compete with WWE, markets itself as a Darker and Edgier alternative to WWE, being more violent and bloodier, even going so far as to make occasional not-so-veiled quips at their "competition". WWE responds by...going about their business as usual, not paying any mind to them.
    • Then there was that ridiculous and pointless storyline where BG James and Kip James as the "Voodoo Kin Mafia" would spend weeks mocking Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Vince McMahon. They would often challenge the three to a fight with $1 million on the line, wait a few minutes, then denounce them as cowards for not showing up. The three never gave any indication they were aware of this, and when Michaels did make a reference to someone "jerking a curtain", even the fans mistook it as a jab at Kurt Angle rather than the James gang.
    • According to some backstage reports, this wasn't simply a "dig at the WWE" angle - this was a genuine attempt by TNA to do a crossover with WWE, the $1 million prize money was apparently real (at a time when many of their top draws worked second jobs to pay the bills). They actually sent a message to the WWE front office, asking if the head of the largest wrestling promotion in America and two of his biggest stars would appear on their show broadcast from Universal Studios. Apparently, Dixie Carter was legitimately shocked when they ignored her, and kept checking at the TNA office to see if Vince had left her any messages.
    • It's educational to compare WWE's reaction to TNA with their reaction to the formation of All Elite Wrestling in 2019. For pretty much their entire history, WWE has basically treated TNA with bemused indifference, just keeping half an eye on them to see if they have anyone leaving who'd be worth signing (most notably AJ Styles in 2016). When AEW started up, WWE went into overdrive in an attempt to drive them out of business by immediately moving WWE NXT from the WWE Network to live TV on Wednesday night to counter-program against AEW Dynamite, going into a frenzy of signing as much new talent as possible while resigning existing talent to much longer contracts in an attempt to keep performers from leaving WWE for AEW, and generally trying to screw with AEW as much as possible e.g trying to keep them from booking large venues such as Madison Square Garden. Mind you, WWE isn't in quite as unassailable a position in the industry in 2019 as they were back in 2002, with a much more dissatisfied employee roster and fanbase, which is possibly just making Vince McMahon much more paranoid than he once was about competition.
  • John Cena's first major feud was as the Unknown Rival to Brock Lesnar. Lesnar injured Cena in a match, leading up to months of Cena putting out videos trash talking Lesnar while he recovered. When he returned, Cena would even adopt a new Finishing Move, the F-U, as a mockery of Lesnar's finisher, the F-5. Lesnar showed absolutely no response to Cena, and when they met again... well, Lesnar beat him again, though Cena actually looked really good in the match, even in defeat, solidifying his status as a rising star.
  • In 2004 H2Wrestling acted as such to Ring of Honor, running directly against it with fired ROH wrestler Teddy Hart. ROH was in a moment of weakness, having lost its distributor to the RF Video Scandal, but for the same reason didn't pay H2 or Hart any mind and Hart made a brief return to ROH in 2009 after H2 went under.
  • The Miz was this to John Cena during their first feud in 2009. Averted since then, however.
    • He got this again in 2011, where The Miz was WWE Champion and was supposed to be the main event at Wrestlemania against Cena. Unfortunately for Miz, Cena and the audience were far more concerned with Cena's problems with The Rock. It wasn't until Miz ambushed and practically murdered Cena that anybody really remembered that he was actually in the equation at all.
  • TNA had its own unknown rival in the form of Pro Wrestling Syndicate, who it actually did acknowledge...after eight years, during a conflict with its much more known rival Global Force Wrestling. Though the Syndicate was very tongue-in-cheek on their own end, nowhere near as persistent or antagonistic as TNA was towards WWE.
  • Within Ring of Honor itself, the Briscoes Decade feud was setup by BJ Whitmer encouraging Adam Page to call out Jay Briscoe while Briscoe was not around in an attempt to make Jay look bad. Page, not really getting the point, went on to confront and challenge Jay on the first show they were both on together after this. Jay accepted, but not before admitting he had no idea who Page was.
  • Brandi Lauren was this to Allysin Kay in Shine Wrestling. Lauren did get Kays (divided)attention after using Kay's own(possible stolen) disguise to help LuFisto retain the single's title belt against Kay, but Kay could never quite remember what it was that made Lauren hate her in the first place. What was worse, the fans couldn't remember seeing Brandi Lauren before, so her whole gimmick in Shine became bragging about how she had been a "star" on bigger shows like EVOLVE and WWE NXT.

  • The England vs. Germany football rivalry continues to rage harder and harder into the 2010s... or at least it does in England. The Germans could not care less about England and are much more concerned with their actual arch-rivals, the Dutch. One thing about the 1966 match that did rankle with German fans for a long time was England's controversial third goal; as a result of that, when in a 2006 World Cup match a bad refereeing call deprived England of a valid goal, there was much celebration of a 40-year-old injustice being righted.
  • The city of Baltimore lost their longtime football team, the Colts, to the city of Indianapolis in the spring of 1984. The fans of the team have since sported a longtime hatred of the team for abandoning them, as well as the owners of the team (Robert Irsay at first, then his son Jim after Robert passed away). Since Baltimore gained a new NFL team (the Ravens), whenever the Colts have visited, they have been introduced as the "Indianapolis professional football team" (pointedly avoiding the nickname "Colts"), among other indignities. Those in Indianapolis have no particular hatred of the Baltimore Ravens (or the city of Baltimore in general); many Colts fans don't even know there is a rivalry, and the rest simply don't care.
  • Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns claim rivalries with all three teams in their division: With the Pittsburgh Steelers as a traditional rivalry; with the Cincinnati Bengals as an intrastate rival; and the Ravens for taking the original Browns from them. Unfortunately, due to fielding a competitive team, those three teams focus more on each other than the Browns.
  • Both fans and players of the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers have a bitter hatred of the St. Louis Cardinals due to the later team's constant success within their division (and for Brewers losing to the Cardinals in their only World Series appearance), but most Cardinal fans did not realize this, as they were more focused on the Arch-Enemy Chicago Cubs and the Friendly Rival Houston Astros. That was until players on the Reds (Brandon Phillips in 2010) and Brewers (Nyjer Morgan and Zack Greinke in 2011) started insulting the Cardinals. The fans became very aware of the rivalry after that.
  • Fans of the San Diego Padres absolutely hate the Dodgers, bitter at how Dodgers fans have a habit of traveling en masse to San Diego for games and often nullifying their home-field advantage, as well as how the Dodgers are simply their closest geographical rivals in general. Unfortunately for them, their hatred can never be reciprocated, as the Dodgers tend to save all their hate for the Giants, their ancient enemy.
  • The Minnesota Twins fandom contend they have had a rivalry with the New York Yankees ever since beating the Yankees in their very first game in 1961. They often push how they go after the Yankees in playoff chases and celebrated how they were World Champions in 1987 and 1991 when the Yankees were mired in the cellar. It's increased as since 2004, the Twins have lost 10 playoff games to the Yankees and consider them prime targets. Ask any Yankees fan and they barely give the Twins a second thought as not even a distraction to the iconic hate between the Yankees and Red Sox.
  • On a similar note, the New York Mets have almost always had to live in the shadow of the regular in-city favorite Yankees. As such they consider the Yankees to be the local tyrants who need to be taken down a peg, and have declared themselves as the Yankees' second-biggest rivals after the Red Sox. Yankees fans, on the other hand, generally have zero opinion on the Mets,note  and a minority are also fans of the Mets who would like to see them win the World Series over any team that's not the Yankees.
  • In the NHL the Nashville Predators and the Columbus Blue Jackets both see the Detroit Red Wings as a major rival. The Red Wings on the other hand are focused on the other Original 6 teams (particularly division rivals - Chicago when they were in the Central; Toronto and Boston now in the Atlantic), the Pittsburgh Penguins, and during the 90s and early 2000s the Colorado Avalanche.
    • The Preds were just getting recognized by the Red Wings as genuine rivals (after Nashville won their third playoff matchup in 2012, but the Wings have since moved to the Eastern Conference. Nashville has to focus on Chicago now... but the Blackhawks have been in a heated rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks.
    • Blue Jackets fans, being in the heart of Ohio State territory, hate the Red Wings and everything else from "that state up north". How a Wings fan sees the Jackets? "Oh, you guys have a team? How cute." It doesn't help that Detroit swept Columbus the one time the Blue Jackets made the playoffs before the 2013 realignment.
  • NCAA Division 2 Lone Star Conference. Midwestern State University and Tarleton State University are hated rivals. Like, Red Sox-Yankees hated rivals. Both of them completely ignore West Texas A&M, who simply believe that both schools are their biggest rivals, and focus on each other. This even got taken to new heights in the 2012 LSC Championship semifinals (basketball), where TSU played WTAMU. WTAMU's fans even tried to invade Tarleton's side of the court. What did Tarleton do? Absolutely nothing. Not even attempt to drown them out.
    • 2012's football season may have changed that. West Texas's student body "declared war" on MSU's student body in the build-up to the football game on the weekend of November 3, due to this game's winner likely winning the conference and the loser likely going to the dreaded Kanza Bowl (highest-ranked non-playoff teams go, but it's on a bad date and the weather is usually terrible). In the six teams played between the two schools' various sports teams that week, the home field advantage has been minimal, and the games have been rather violent where applicable.
    • See Miracle Rally under Real Life.
  • In NCAA Football the Marshall University Thundering Herd plays this to the West Virginia University Mountaineers. Marshall fans consider this an important heated rivalry and the "Friends of Coal" bowl to be a must watch event. WVU fans consider their annual meeting a pointless game against a mediocre, obscure team.
  • The North Carolina State University Wolfpack considers the University of North Carolina Tar Heels to be their rivals. The NC State side of the rivalry is quite heated and intense. UNC, however is too busy with one of the greatest rivalries in the history of college basketball to pay much attention to State, and considers NC State to be, at most, an annoying little brother.
    • Part of this is because the NC State-UNC rivalry used to be bigger than the UNC-Duke Rivalry, but as Duke has risen and NC State has fallen, it has faded in UNC's eyes. This just makes NC State fans madder.
  • In English Football, there was a survey as to who clubs consider their chief rivals. Less than half of the "rivalries" were two-way. For example, Manchester United and Liverpool have one of the most intense rivalries in sport. But don't tell that to Arsenal, Bolton, or Leeds, which consider Man Utd their archrival, or Everton, which considers Liverpool its arch-rival.
  • The Montreal Alouettes, whose traditional rival (Ottawa) was out of commission after folding twice, had a few of these until a third Ottawa team started up in 2014. Their Labour Day Classic game (traditionally a time where the whole league pairs up in rivalry matches) shifted to an East-versus-West game against the BC Lions, a team that has no real rival, but they never treated BC as their new rival. In 2009, an attempt was made to found a team in Quebec City and have them be Montreal's rival because they'd be in the same province, similar to Edmonton-Calgary and Hamilton-Toronto. Montreal basically laughed it off and shut down their attempt, saying any bid to make another team in their province would have to go through them. Now that Ottawa has a team again, however, the fact that it's technically a new franchise hasn't stopped Montreal from igniting the old flames, probably because they're not the original Montreal Alouettes either and actually began as the Baltimore Stallions during the American expansion experiment.
  • In NCAA Division I ice hockey, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has decided that Clarkson University is their main rival, while Clarkson focuses primarily on its rivalries with St. Lawrence University, its main mutual rival, and Cornell University. Ironically, Clarkson is somewhat an unknown rival to Cornell, which believes its true rival to be Harvard, another Ivy League School, although, unlike RPI students, Clarkson students generally realize that Cornell does not consider them a rival.
  • Michigan State University considers the University of Michigan to be their biggest rival. Unfortunately for them, while Michigan does consider it to be a significant rivalry, it plays second fiddle to Michigan's intense rivalry with Ohio State, stemming from the state border dispute over the ownership of the Toledo Strip. In fact, Michigan fans will root for MSU if they are playing Ohio State because they hate them that much.
  • Rex Ryan, head coach of the Buffalo Bills and formerly of the New York Jets, seems to consider Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots to be his Arch-Enemy, constantly calling him out and talking smack. Belichick, on the other hand, hardly seems to even notice Ryan, though being Belichick, it's as much the way he is with everyone, not truly lack of interest (his preparation for all opposing teams is exhaustively intense and informative) - Ryan is nothing more than the next entry on the schedule to him.
  • In regards to South-American national soccer teams, the "Rivalry of the Pacific Ocean" often comes off as Peru having this towards Chile. The otherwise more or less friendly Peruvians tend to rage at Chileans whenever it's time for their national teams to play in Peruvian soil, which often takes Chileans by surprise since they tend to focus far more on their next-door neighbors: Argentina.
  • In what is probably the most extreme example, UConn head football coach Bob Diaco decided to create a conference rivalry game for the team after losing their traditional rival games during the 2013 conference realignment. He chose the University of Central Florida and went on to create the "Civil ConFLiCT" and have a trophy made up. However, UCF has no interest in the rivalry whatsoever, going so far as to leave the trophy at UConn's stadium when they first won the game in 2016. And with UConn leaving the conference shortly after, it seems this rivalry was more of a dead on arrival-ry.
  • Jeremy Stephens, in an attempt to make himself seem like a threat towards then reigning UFC champion Conor McGregor, ended up confusing the notorious one as to who he even was supposed to be in a moment that has become quite legendary in the company's history:
    Journalist: Conor, take a look around you. You got a lot of champions, a lot of grizzled vets. Who do you think would give you the hardest fight out of anybody on stage?
    Jeremy: RIGHT HERE! Right here! The REAL hardest hitting 145-pounder right here! This guy TKOs people. When I knock people out, they don't fucking move!
    [Crowd laughs]

  • In Romeo and Juliet, although Count Paris is technically Romeo's rival for Juliet, he's never made aware of that fact. He dies without ever realizing that the girl he wants to marry loves someone else. Romeo is vaguely aware of Paris's interest in Juliet, but he doesn't learn of it until after Juliet's seeming death; when he does, his reaction is more a feeling of kinship with Paris over their shared loss than rivalry.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Eclipse Phase, the Jovian Republic is terrified of the threat posed by the Titanian Commonwealth, and is convinced that the Commonwealth will nuke them if it gets the chance. The Titanian Commonwealth doesn't actually care about the Jovians, viewing them as a tedious bunch of Evil Luddites who are more of a threat to their own citizens than anyone else, and is more likely to send humanitarian aid than anything military unless the Jovians are trying to start something with a Titanian ally.
  • In the Battletech universe, the Taurian Concordat (size: Roughly 30 systems) considers the neighbouring Federated Suns to be their Arch-Enemy and live in a state of constant mobilization in case the Federated Suns attack them again like they did during the Reunification War. The Federated Suns (size: 300+ systems), on their end, consider the Concordat Beneath Notice and Not Worth Killing (mostly because the Concordat have a history of fighting extremely dirty on home terrain) and are way more concerned with the Draconis Combine.

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon:
    • N in Pokémon Black and White is this to the player character until he beats the champion and challenges you with one of the legendary dragons.
    • In Pokémon Crystal (and Heart Gold and Soul Silver, where the storyline is nearly identical) the player meets a mysterious trainer named Eusine who is obsessed with finding the mythic Pokémon Suicune. Because Suicune seems to show up wherever the player shows up, Eusine starts to see the player as a rival in his goal, and at one point even challenges the player to a Pokémon battle to win Suicune's respect (even though Suicune clearly couldn't care less).
  • Nippon Ichi just seems to love this trope. As befitting of their storyline status, these characters tend to fill the Goldfish Poop Gang mold to a tee. Examples include:
    • Vyers from Disgaea, who was unflatteringly re-named "Mid-Boss" by Laharl during their first encounter and never referred to by his real name again. Ironically, he happens to be the main character's dead father having temporarily returned to test his son's strength and character. Bet getting called "Mid-Boss" wasn't part of his plan.
    • Axel from Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories. Axel becomes this again in Disgaea 4, but with a twist; he hates Valvatorez with a passion, after Val's rebellion made Axel look like a rebel too, and he lost his job and status. The twist is that Valvatorez actually thought Axel was an ally, thanks to Fenrich's lies, and is utterly incapable of understanding that Axel has anything against him, even claiming he's an imposter because the real Axel wouldn't do that.
    • Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice has the Vato Bros, a trio of recolored Orcs that challenge Mao every few stages. Mao sees them as useless weaklings, and even dubs them 'Trio De Losers' due to their Spanish accents.
    • Alexander (referred to as "asshat", or simply "Alex", by Zetta) from Makai Kingdom. While Alex practically built his entire life around his rivalry with Zetta (to the point where he would help Zetta if it meant getting another shot at him), Zetta doesn't really care.
    • Odie in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters basically invokes this trope within half a minute of his first appearance. He shows up and immediately boasts to the hero about how awesome he is, gets angry when she ignores him, and then tries to kill her when he finds out that she honestly doesn't know who he is, calling upon an old farmer and his two dogs.
  • Don Paulo has sworn revenge on Professor Layton. Layton has no clue why until the third game. (Back when they were both in college, Layton was in a relationship with Paolo's crush, who was completely unaware that Paolo was even interested in her. There isn't even any indication that she knew he existed.)
  • Fire Emblem:
    • The Tellius duology has a knight called Kieran, who is the sworn rival of Oscar. Kieran constantly trains so that he can someday outdo Oscar; Oscar largely ignores this and only ever mentions their alleged "rivalry" in order to manipulate Kieran into accepting a gift that he refused to take. Keep in mind KIERAN SECOND COMMANDER OF THE CRIMEAN ROYAL KNIGHTS! is a guy who shouts his name and rank at his opponents in battle, and wants to keep an axe given to him by his mentor on a mantel. Really, his ending for the 10th game sums him up perfectly "Kieran served the royal family with nearly fanatical verve. His voice could be heard from anywhere in the castle."
    • Sylvia and Fury are an amusing example in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War:
      Sylvia: Hey Fury, you don't by any chance have a thing for Levin, do ya??
      Fury: What? I don't. He's just... Prince Levin is an extremely important person to Silesia.
      Sylvia: I seeee. So you don't mind if him and I go out??
      Fury: No, I don't mind... (?)
      Sylvia: Really?? You're not pretendin' t'not like him or somethin' are ya?
      Fury: Pretend? What ar—... why would I need to pretend??
      Sylvia: I don't know. Well, then I'm goin' after him.
      Fury: Umm... whomever is to be the next queen of Silesia needs to have a little grace and dignity like our own Queen Lahna.
      Sylvia: So you're sayin' I'm no good somehow!? How rude!
      Fury: No, I'm just...
      Sylvia: Hmph, Fine! You just wait and see!
      Fury: ....
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses has an example on the Azure Moon route via Dramatic Irony. Dimitri knows full well what a shady group was responsible for killing his father and sparking a genocide, which led him on a crusade of vengeance. What he doesn't know is that Lord Arundel, his uncle, is actually their leader in disguise. Since this figure is posing as an important leader for The Empire, he ends up fought and killed in battle against Dimitri's forces late into the route, with Dimitri being none the wiser as to who he really was.
  • Paul Phoenix in Tekken starts out as the only guy powerful enough to ever end up in a draw against The Hero (sort of) Kazuya Mishima, and he's even designated as The Rival in the first game. However, as Tekken evolved and the Mishima family started to take most of the importance of the story, Paul was slowly thrown out of the picture in the rivalry. He still sometimes considers himself Kazuya's rival, but he's largely ignored, especially since he now focuses his rivalry on a bear, or ensuring that Hilarity Ensues, along with his Bruce Lee Clone friend Law. Paul even technically won the third Iron Fist tournament, since he was the one who beat Ogre. He didn't stick around after the fight, though, which meant Jin got the credit after beating True Ogre.
  • Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, an early FPS game by Monolith (of earlier Blood and later F.E.A.R. fame) featured a Goldfish Poop Gang character named Samantha Sternberg, who would show up, try to kill you, promptly get blown to pieces, and come back again a few levels later for more. This was played for laughs in a plot that was otherwise reasonably serious (i.e. Samantha was the only character to inexplicably survive multiple encounters with the player, whereas nearly every other character would die when you destroyed their MCA). Notably, Samantha was determined to kill your character, whereas your character seemed to regard her as something of a weird annoyance, her appearances garnering little more than a comment that this sort of obsession isn't healthy for her after the second or third time. Then she makes herself a serious threat by attacking you in an MCA, while you're on foot.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, one of your soldiers, Edy Nelson, dreams of becoming a famous singer and actress. However, Rosie is already a fairly popular singer, which rouses Edy's jealousy and prompts her to view Rosie as her number one rival. Of course, Rosie is completely oblivious to said rivalry. Their potentials highlight this as well: Rosie's "Big Sister" potential buffs her if Edy is nearby, while Edy's "Rosie Hater" potential debuffs her if Rosie is nearby. Put the two together and Rosie will be stronger than normal and Edy will be weaker than normal.
  • Henry from No More Heroes. When he is first encountered, he kills the Rank 5 assassin Letz Shake before the protagonist, Travis Touchdown, has a chance to in a pre-organised fight. However, after the player defeats Henry in a final bonus battle, Henry reveals himself to be Travis's twin brother (although the ambiguous plot of the game means that this is not necessarily true).
  • Inverse example: Street Fighter IV has Rufus, an obese but agile American warrior who spends the tournament pursuing Ken. However, he doesn't know what Ken looks like beyond the vaguest physical description (blond hair, Caucasian, known to wear red) and is prone to mistaking others for Kennote . Played straight in that Ken doesn't have the foggiest idea who Rufus is.
  • "Dynamite" Dan of the Daiku no Gensan series views Genzo as his rival. Genzo barely even knows he exists, and views him as just another of the Kuromoku-gumi annoyances he has to deal with.
  • In Iji, Komato Assassin Asha considers Iji to be his complete and utter nemesis after she beats him; Iji makes no comment except for a remark about being bountied. This changes after he kidnaps and later (possibly) murders her brother.
  • Katamari Damacy has Kawaiiko Ichigo, who's incredibly jealous of how the King of All Cosmos calls her klutzy cousin Honey cute. So far, there's no sign Honey is even remotely aware of their so-called rivalry — and given the series' nature, it's unlikely that's going to change.
  • Paper Mario has Jr. Troopa, a baby Koopa Troopa that never left his eggshell. After being trounced by Mario in the first chapter, he swears revenge, and returns to face Mario at the end of nearly every chapter. Goombario's tattle always seems to ridicule his persistence, and he never really plays any significant role in the plot. Mario's performance as the Heroic Mime adds much humor to Jr. Troopa's appearances and monologues. The player even has the chance to rub this in further before the second fight with him, as they can choose "No" when asked if Mario remembers him. Naturally, this doesn't please him.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Gilgamesh and Bartz play this out in Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy. Bartz has lost his memories of his home world, and doesn't remember Gilgamesh, who shows up and demands a duel. The icing on the cake that Gilgamesh doesn't even seem to realize that Bartz has absolutely no idea who Gilgamesh is in this continuity; Gilgamesh misinterprets Bartz's look of confusion at his arrival as his being dumbstruck at seeing him again. Bartz only accepts his challenge because he feels it'd be a fun way to pass the time.
      Gilgamesh: Steel yourself! For I am not the Gilgamesh you remember!
    • World of Final Fantasy gives poor Gil the exact same problem with the exact same person. World's setting pulls from almost every game in the series and combines them into their own, contained continuity. Gilgamesh, however, is the exact same character across the entire franchise - World included. Consequently, Gilgamesh remembers fighting Bartz in V, but this Bartz hasn't fought Gilgamesh.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, Dist is not actually this to Jade, but Jade likes to pretend he is - mostly because it really, really annoys Dist, which Jade clearly finds hilarious.
  • Lt. Carter Blake in Heavy Rain tries to see himself as a rival to Norman Jayden due to the fact that he dislikes and resents him like all cops. However, due to the fact that they're working together, Jayden doesn't acknowledge him as a rival.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, Ulysses is this to the Courier. Ulysses is obsessed with the Courier for destroying the budding nation in the Divide by delivering a package that caused the nukes hidden underneath to detonate. The Courier, however, is completely unaware of the part they played in those events and has no prior knowledge of Ulysses, and even as it becomes increasingly clear that Ulysses himself had some hand in the events of just about every DLC, the Courier never learns who he is until directly speaking to him in the final DLC.
  • In Baten Kaitos Origins, Giacomo is one to Sagi, after the Power Trio kicks his ass during the excape from Mintaka in the beginning of the game. Sagi, meanwhile, just feels sympathy for Giacomo's obsession.
  • Team Fortress 2 invokes this trope with its "Nemesis" gameplay mechanic. Specifically, if you kill another player 4 times in succession without being killed by them in return, you will be designated their nemesis and have a flashing icon displayed over your head. Only that player will be able to see this icon (and if they kill you, they receive bonus points) and it won't appear over their head when you spot them. And, even though the nemesis in question will be notified that they're dominating that player after the fourth kill, enemy players' names are not shown outside of the kill feed (except when disguised while playing as a Spy), often leaving the only way to identify a player you've dominated as being the guy who repeatedly charges you brandishing a melee weapon.
  • Nancy Drew: The Captive Curse:
    • One of the (many) criminals Nancy's put in jail vows revenge and tells her they will meet again. Nancy's response?
      Nancy: Well, there's a waiting list. I hope you're patient. Goodbye, Anya.
    • There's one case in the Nancy Drew games in which someone who vowed revenge actually attempted it. Dwayne Powers, the bad guy from Stay Tuned for Danger, returns as the true mastermind in Ransom of the Seven Ships. Downplayed overall, however - Nancy forgot the person's name, but she does remember why they vowed revenge on her. Somewhat amusingly, his original motivation as a bad guy was also because of this trope - he targeted Rick Arlen, an actor he used to be an agent for, because Rick jumped ship from his talent agency as soon as it started going under, going on to be successful without so much as a hint of remembering Powers or his help in getting where he is now.
  • Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time has Cyril Le Paradox and his clan as self-proclaimed rivals to the Cooper Clan as they are also a clan of "master thieves". However, neither Sly nor any of his past ancestors were even aware of the Le Paradox clan or them being a family of thieves. More than likely, the Le Paradox family just sucked so bad at being thieves they weren't really worth mentioning.
    • In a more personal example, Sly is unknowingly in a hostile rivalry with Penelope over Bentley; Sly sees Penelope as a close friend, but she hates him to the point that she's planning to murder him. Penelope also hates Murray for the same reason, and intends to both murder him and wreck his beloved van. When they find out, they take offense, and Penelope ends up a friendless miser and fugitive.
  • In Super Robot Wars UX, Doctor Minami regards Doctor West as his greatest rival, but West has no idea who he is. It turns out Minami hates West because West doesn't know who he is.
  • Touhou: Played with in dialogue between Alice and Reimu. When Alice re-challenged Reimu during the Extra stage of Mystic Square, the latter didn't remember who she was. This becomes a bit of a Running Gag: when Alice re-appeared in Perfect Cherry Blossom, Reimu still acts like she doesn't know who Alice is; during the Magic Route of Imperishable Night, Reimu doesn't even seem to acknowledge Alice is there with Marisa; and, she gets only slightly better treatment in the Tasogare fighter games in as far as dialogue is concerned, even though there is still never a formal addressal.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, Sera introduces herself by sending an invitation to the Inquisitor via arrow. When the Inquisitor arrives at the appointed time and place, they encounter a hostile Orlesian mage. The mage seems to think he's the Inquisitor's Arch-Enemy and that the Inquisition must have spent much of its resources tracking him down. Seconds later, Sera appears and plants an arrow right between his eyes. The Inquisitor (and player) never even learns his name.
    • The Big Bad refers to this trope by name when you first meet him; "I will not suffer even an unknowing rival." Until that point he'd been hiding his existence and acting through agents, some of which the Inquisition had thwarted.
  • Persona 4: Ai Ebihara is one to both Chie Satonaka and Yukiko Amagi. With Chie, it's because the guy Ai has a crush on confessed to having a crush on Chie instead. This devolves into a small Cat Fight in the anime adaptation, though Chie still has no idea why Ai holds a grudge against her. With Yukiko, it's because they are both popular rich girls in the same small town. If the player has them run into each other, it turns out Yukiko has no idea who Ai is. Ai ends up walking away in annoyance.
  • In Borderlands 2 DLC, Professor Nakayama immediately assumes the Vault Hunters are in Aegrus to stop him. He reacts badly when Hammerlock explains that they're on a hunting trip and have no idea who he is. Eventually he gets so annoying that the Vault Hunters eventually start going after him just to ensure they can get some time to actually hunt.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
    • At the end of Kass's series of Shrine quests, he reveals that his late teacher was one to Link. Said teacher was a Sheikah man who helped Princess Zelda research the ancient Magitek being unearthed at the time and fell in love with her. But Zelda was oblivious to his affections because she had fallen in love with Link. This, combined with Link's lack of noble heritage, made Kass's teacher bitterly resentful of Link. But Link is never shown interacting with this guy in any of the flashbacks, which seems to indicate that he was no longer helping Zelda's research by the time Link was assigned as the Princess's bodyguard. Granted, Link's Heroic Sacrifice to defend Zelda made Kass's teacher a Graceful Loser in the end.
    • The Champions' Ballad DLC implies that Kodah was this for Mipha. Both of them were in love with Link when they were younger, but Mipha's diary (which has entries about how she was jealous of how much time Link spent with Zelda) makes no mention of her.
  • In Hunt Down the Freeman, Mitchell has a grudge against Gordon Freeman for fucking up his face, to the point that Mitchell amasses a massive army of freed children with the express intent of allying with the Combine so they can give him a shot at Freeman. Then it's revealed that the one responsible for beating him to near-death was somebody else simply dressed up in an HEV suit, leaving Mitchell to assume it was the guy in an HEV suit, as part of a Batman Gambit to draw the Combine's forces away from City 17 long enough for Gordon to slip back in relatively unnoticed. He notes as much when this is revealed, stating to himself that Freeman doesn't even know Mitchell exists and has been holding a grudge against him for twenty years.
  • Ensemble Stars! has something of a variation: Wataru loves to insist that Keito is his sworn rival, while Keito doesn't see it that way at all and always denies it when he claims that. However, unlike most examples, it's Wataru who is doing the trolling, as he knows for a fact that Keito doesn't like him but loves to tease him anyway.
  • Played with in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle with the Phantom, who proclaims himself as Mario's rival and claims to have hated him ever since his Donkey Kong days, despite having been created literal minutes ago.
  • No Straight Roads: At several points throughout the game, the rap artist DK West challenges his younger brother Zuke to a rap battle, due to his troubled history with him and a favor he's done for Tatiana. Zuke gets rightfully pissed off at DK West, since he has more pressing matters to deal with than settling their rivalry, but ends up getting dragged into the battles against his will anyway. In the end, Mayday steps in and points out to West that Zuke never actually intended to ruin his life in the first place, getting the brothers to reconcile.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: Onslaught: Darth Savik holds a personal vendetta against the Republic character who had previously defeated her on Corellia. However neither the player nor the character even remember her: on Corellia she appeared only as a simple named NPC mob like hundreds of others that you have defeated, with no lines or any role in the story whatsoever. The player had an option to lampshade this, pointing out that the day they fought changed Savik's life forever, but for them was merely a stepping stone on the way to do bigger things.
  • In Soul Calibur VI, after their first encounter leads to Mitsurugi's defeat, Mitsurugi declares Geralt of Rivia his rival. Geralt just wants to get back home, and has little time for or interest in his would-be rival. Geralt canonically beats Mitsurugi every time, but does begrudginly admit after the last that Mitsurugi is an incredibly good fighter for someone without magic or alchemical enhancements.
  • Yakuza 2: Daigo Dojima thinks of Ryuji Goda as his rival, and wants revenge for the five years he spent in prison because of Ryuji's machinations. Ryuji, on the other hand, considers the most important thing in his life to be taking down series protagonist Kiryu, and thinks Daigo is a snot-nosed punk who should learn to keep his nose out of the affairs of his elders and betters. Daigo's attempts to make Ryuji acknowledge him quickly come across as screaming "NOTICE ME, SENPAI!"
  • In Yandere Simulator, nine of the ten rivals for Senpai's affections don't even realize Ayano is also interested in him...and only realize too late she's willing to go as far as murder to make sure the rival doesn't get him. (The tenth rival, however, is fully aware of Ayano's true nature and plans on taking her down.)

    Visual Novels 
  • Parodied in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney:
    • Butt-Monkey Gumshoe announces himself to be Phoenix's rival, who is both confused and flattered — but mostly amazed.
    • Even more so with Winston Payne, who is hardly remembered by Phoenix and completely ignored by fellow prosecutor Edgeworth.
    • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, Phoenix's reaction to Gaspen Payne claiming that his older brother Winston is Nick's "longstanding rival" is suitably incredulous.
      Phoenix: ("Longstanding rival"...? When were we ever rivals, let alone "longstanding"...?)
  • In Fate/stay night, Issei considers Rin to be his arch-nemesis. Rin never responds to his enmity, which only makes him more suspicious and jealous. And on a less humorous note, Shinji has this going on towards Shirou, but this grudge reaches extreme levels fairly quickly.
  • Little Busters!: Sasasegawa Sasami and Rin. Sasami interprets their constant battles as them being fierce rivals and takes them very seriously. Rin interprets their battles as Sasami being annoying and can never remember her name.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend has Nishikikouji Tohri in Holiday Star and the drama CD. He's always trying to go after Shuu, and he's never able to even encounter him. Yuuya tells Shuu about one of his attempts, once.
    Shuu: Nishiki...kouji... The client from four years ago? No, that's not right. The other witness from the third toucan trial... isn't right either, is it?
    Yuuya: You really don't remember? It's rare for Iwamine-sensei's world-renowned preeminent memory to be so troubled.
    Shuu: You're making too much of it. I won't remember each and every thing about anybirdie I have no interest in.
    Yuuya: Somehow or another, it looks like Nishikikouji Tohri has some catastrophically one-sided feelings. Life doesn't always go as planned.

    Web Comics 
  • Jango Fett from Darths & Droids is the Unknown Rival to Obi-Wan Kenobi, complete with Obi-Wan saying "Sorry? Do I know you?" as Fett prepares to gloat about his plans for revenge. Although unlike many of the other examples on this page, Obi-Wan really has never before met or seen Fett, or indeed had any inkling of the man's existence. Fett is well aware of this too, and takes great pleasure in watching Obi-Wan squirm while trying to figure out why this random bounty hunter is trying to utterly ruin him.
  • Las Lindas has Alejandra to Mora. This is more a Deconstruction of the trope, since Mora doesn't really care and is more worried about keeping her farm up and running, Alejandra's near-overwhelming desire to crush Mora into dust mostly just harms her mental state and her company's reputation and financial state.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Main character Roy Greenhilt is the Unknown Rival of the Big Bad Xykon, who's vaguely aware that there's a guy called Redpommel or something who swore revenge on him for some reason or other. Even after Roy personally thwarts his plans and destroys his body and lair, the most he gets from Xykon is the page quote. Double Subverted later when Xykon makes a Call-Back to his last encounter with Roy... except it was All Just a Dream. When Xykon actually faces Roy again in the desert, he's already forgotten everything about him.
    • Interestingly, Redcloak, who isn't the Order's main target, actually recognizes them every time they meet, and even gives Xykon a recap of their previous fights when they arrive at the pyramid. Even he is a bit fuzzy on who they are beyond a recurring enemy, though. The Monster in the Darkness doesn't recognize them at first, but remembers the name of the Order, and when in the desert, actually recalls Roy (alias Flopsy).
    • Also the case with Ian Starshine, who thinks his own plan to topple Tarquin is significant to the latter, to the point that he (falsely) believes that Elan was sent by Tarquin to infiltrate the Order of the Stick to get close to Haley and then, by extension, Ian himself. The real reason Ian was being held by Tarquin? Bozzok was paying him to. Other than that, Tarquin didn't care about him. Tarquin does later frame Ian for assassination, but it's over a petty argument and to "test" Haley, more or less the opposite of what Ian imagined. Although Tarquin does state he vaguely remembers Ian at one point (but not his name), so he may be partially right.
  • In The Wotch, Cassie is this to Anne. Anne is oblivious to most of the goings-on in her world and just sees Cassie as a friend, not realizing that she's jealous about Robin's affection and Anne's magic power, which Cassie thinks Anne did nothing to earn. Though Cassie later wins Robin, she's still upset about the magic thing.
  • In Something*Positive, Ollie sees Davan as his Arch-Enemy. Davan wasn't even aware that Ollie hated him until Ollie recently confronted him and declared that they were enemies. This is because Ollie blames Davan for derailing Ollie's theater career years ago when it was really Ollie's own incompetence that did it. Davan is actually a bit upset by this.
  • Van Von Hunter has a recurring character named Vengeance Joe who swears revenge against the title character... for failing to introduce himself when they passed on the street.
  • Bravoman: Anti-Bravoman tries to play himself up as a dark anti-heroic rival to Bravoman, who goes about without noticing him, when he does find Anti-Bravo, he befriends him and still remains ignorant to Anti-Bravo trying to set up a rivalry. When Bravoman goes to an alternate Dimension where Anti-Bravoman has leveled the world all in the pursuit of power he tells Anti-Bravoman that he can be a real threat, and to keep up the good work.
  • Inverted in Shortpacked!, Sydney Yus has a whole speech about how Galasso will remember her now, which she insists on saying despite Galasso making it clear that he knows exactly who she is and always saw her as his most dangerous enemy.
  • Played straight in Cosmic Dash where the space pirate Vid Seng, and by extension his larger crew, has a rivalry with Dash Kameku and his cohorts. Dash doesn't see Vid so much as a rival but more of an annoyance... when and if he remembers him.
  • In Dumbing of Age, Becky sees Dorothy as her implacable rival for Joyce's affections. (Platonic affections; Becky is gay and in love with Joyce, but knows that both she and Dorothy are straight.) Dorothy sees Becky as another of Joyce's friends, who's a bit weird around her for some reason.
    Becky: So I betcher wonderin' why you're invited. Well, I keep my friends close but my enemies closer.
    Dorothy: Becky, we're not enemies. We routinely come to each other for advice.
    Becky: Do you prefer cheese pizza or pepperoni?
    Dorothy: Pepperoni.
    Becky: Then you're only allowed cheese pizza, nemesis.
  • Nebula: Jupiter devotes the majority of his waking moments to trying to find a way to kill Sun and take his place as leader. Because he's incredibly obvious about it, Sun knows, but finds him to be so little of a threat that he's just vaguely concerned about the possibility of Jupiter injuring himself in the course of a Zany Scheme to try and kill him instead of holding him as any sort of serious rival.
  • In Questionable Content, Hannelore's archenemy is a woman who lives in her apartment building who left a pair of underpants in the washing machine, meaning OCD Hanners had to get rid of all her clothes, and was later spectacularly rude to her in the coffee shop. The woman did not interact with Hanners the first time, and barely acknowledged her the second time (which was the problem), so she's completely unaware of this.
  • Mechagical Girl Lisa ANT: Lisa is too oblivious to realize that Pink Flash is her enemy.

    Web Original 
  • In Welcome to Night Vale, Cecil will express disgust with the rival town Desert Bluffs whenever they come up in his broadcast and will go on about how awful it is. When Night Vale comes up in Kevin's broadcast to Desert Bluffs, however, he makes no mention of any negative feelings between the towns and says that he bets Night Vale is wonderful and beautiful.
    • Cecil also very vocally declares his disdain for his supposed Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Steve Carlsberg. Steve is actually the human personification of a puppy dog, and treats Cecil with happy excitement.
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: Not quite unknown, but Johnny Snow apparently repeatedly writes to Dr. Horrible, challenging him to showdowns, and doesn't seem to get that the feud is entirely one-sided.
    "Look. Dude. You are not my rival!"
  • PC Gaming magazines seem to be full of articles about why consoles are vastly inferior to PC. An issue of PC Gamer had an article on building a perfect gaming rig for under $600, which concluded with the line "Take that, consoles!" This seems to be a fairly one-sided sentiment on the part of PC gamers. For the most part, people that prefer consoles don't really see a rivalry with PC. This changed somewhat in The New '10s, when thanks to the "PC Master Race" meme, PC gamers got upgraded to "annoying".
  • Back when it was still a parody magazine, Cracked relished in taking pot shot after pot shot at MAD. Not once did MAD ever even acknowledge that Cracked existed. This was averted in Real Life, as MAD publisher William Gaines was so acutely aware of knockoffs that he had a voodoo doll in his office, and each pin was labelled with the name of a different magazine. To Cracked's credit, theirs was the only pin left in the voodoo doll by the time Gaines died in 1992.
  • A variant in Kung Tai Ted. After being attacked by a hitman sent by bitter rival Solomon in his The Angry Dragon review, Ted pledges to find and defeat him. However, he takes so long in doing so that by the time he manages it in Golden Ninja Warrior, Solomon has long since forgotten about him.
  • In SynthOrange's Let's Play of Princess Maker 2, Lizzie Shinkicker earned the rivalry of Wendy because her magic prowess was slightly better then the rest. Every encounter with Wendy was hilariously short, as Wendy was a Squishy Wizard and Lizzie was well-rounded enough that she could often defeat Wendy in one hit from her sword. Cube even comments on Wendy's desire to beat Lizzie as a "suicidal delusion."
  • TV Tropes versus Wikipedia (That Other Wiki if you're feeling bitter about it) with TV Tropes as the unknown one. Well, mostly unknown - they do have an article about us, at least.
    • Played far straighter with Uncyclopedia vs Wikipedia. The former can't stop badmouthing the latter. It is a shitpost site, after all.
  • True Capitalist Radio has Ghost's enthusiastic and entirely one-sided vendetta against Alex Jones.
  • There's a couple of cases in the Whateley Universe.
    • One is Phase and Golden Girl- Golden Girl wants to be the boss of her martial arts class, but Phase continually blows her out of the water by combining his weapons, his damn good powers and his gift for strategy. Phase really doesn't care about Golden Girl beyond 'she's an occasional annoyance', because he has real problems to deal with, while Golden Girl despises Phase utterly.
    • Another is Nemesis and She-Beast - She-Beast's father, Dr Diabolik, attacked a city and ended up killing over a hundred people, one of whom was Nemesis' grandfather. Nemesis blames Jadis personally, and Jadis' only response to her declaration of war was 'Take a number and get in line, bitch.'
  • Anthony "A-Log" Logatto is this to Christian Weston Chandler; A-Log gained notoriety for his commentaries on Chris-Chan's videos, and would also wish harm towards Chris for, among other things, "giving autistics like him a bad name". Despite this, Chris doesn't know who A-Log is.
    • When Chris-Chan lost a talent contest for the video game, Parappa The Rapper, he started a one-sided beef with the winner, a guy named Adam Stackhouse, who (at the time) had no idea who Chris was.
  • The Nostalgia Critic invokes this trope when he made a video telling The Angry Video Game Nerd to stop letting his fans draw comparisons between them.
    Critic: So, please, leave this petty, jealous rage behind you and simply acknowledge that I'm the better man. If you accept this defeat, please respond by leaving absolutely no comment whatsoever. In fact, don't even respond to this video. In fact, act like you have a million other things going on in your life that you wouldn't even have time to WATCH this video, let alone respond to it. Do that, and I will accept your apology.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • After the Freeza saga, there's a Running Gag of the villains either not knowing or not caring about Vegeta.
    • Garlic Jr. is dispatched easily by Mr. Popo without ever encountering any of the main cast.
  • At the end of the pilot of Hazbin Hotel, Sir Pentious attacks Alastor, giving a hammy We Meet Again speech. Alastor's response is "Do I... know you?", although Alastor being Alastor, he might have been just trying to make Pentious mad.
  • In Red vs. Blue, Carolina is obsessed with proving that she is better than Texas and reclaiming her status as Number One on the leaderboard. Meanwhile, Texas doesn't really care about their one-sided rivalry and at times, even seems to pity Carolina, which only infuriates Carolina further. Unfortunately, the rivalry ended up causing the death of a simulation trooper named Biff, and the annoyed dismissal of Biff's death by Carolina drove his friend Temple to declare a war against the Freelancer Project and all participants. In a classic case of From Nobody to Nightmare, Temple and his cohorts end up killing at least half a dozen of Freelancers, who are normally considered to be Super Soldiers of near-SPARTAN levels.
  • The Pittsburgh SOAPranos has Sami entirely unaware that she has a rival soap shop, let alone that it's run by The Mafia and that they've attempted to issue death threats to her.
  • RWBY: Jaune Arc became determined to stop Cinder Fall after she destroyed his school and murdered his love interest Pyrrha Nikos. In "The More the Merrier", when they finally meet, Jaune angrily demands to know why she has caused so much pain and death. She flatly says she has no idea who he is and doesn't care. Enraged, he attacks her, but she merely toys with him and clearly doesn't take him seriously... until he barely manages to graze her mask. Then she gets pissed, beats him up, and says he will suffer for having the audacity to attack her.
  • The Dorkly series Pokémon Ralphie focuses on Ralphie, a former Bug Catcher who Red beat when he first became a trainer. He's now a middle-aged man with delusions about being Red's number one rival and is intent on proving it. Red has become the head of a multi-million dollar Master Ball company and doesn't even remember him, saying that Blue is his only rival.
  • From The Hard Times: ""Rival" Band Totally Indifferent to Your Existence". The band Gift Horse deeply hates the band Weed Killer, and are constantly playing pranks on them and trying to sabotage their success, which always backfires. Meanwhile, Weed Killer consider Gift Horse to buy nice guys that they dimly remember meeting once.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Duke of Nuts", a red squirrel hates Jake because Jake never prints the squirrel's letters in his advice column. The squirrel considers Jake his mortal enemy, while Jake has no idea the squirrel even exists. When the squirrel appears again in the season five episode "Princess Potluck", he is even more fixated on Jake, and Jake still doesn't know who he is.
    Squirrel: You son-of-a-blee-blob! JAAAAKE!
  • Ben 10: Omniverse:
    • Billy Billions has spent a quarter of his life scheming and vowing revenge against Ben for the horrible crime of being more popular than him in grade school. After an attempt to send Ben to Dimension 12 ended up with him going there instead and spending five years in a wasteland, he returns to earth and claims that he is Ben's Arch-Enemy and final destroyer. Ben never even knew he existed.
    • There's also the business with Dr Psychobos and his entire species, the Cerebrocrustaceans and their one-sided rivalries with Azmuth and his species, the Galvans, respectively. The Galvans, while obviously smarter, pay little to no attention to the Cerebrocrustaceans and their delusions of grandeur.
    • This situation is mirrored yet again with Ben and Attea. Attea, with how many times Ben has thwarted her plans, considered him her mortal adversary and vowed vengeance. Ben, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as passionate about their feud and just considers her a tedious obstacle to get by, especially when you compare her to all the other villains Ben has faced...
  • Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars: The Air Marshal considers Bucky to be his greatest enemy. Bucky considers the Air Marshal to be a minor speed-bump on the path to taking down KOMPLEX.
  • Celebrity Deathmatch:
    • There's a weird variation on this in an early episode, in a match between Bill Gates and Michael Flatley. What was the reason for the match? Well, at first, even they had no idea. (Each admitted they had no grudge against the other.) Right before the fight, however, the Nick and Johnny found out it was due to a clerical error in the scheduling. Still, why not? They simply called it "The Battle of the Clerical Error".
    • Played straight in one Halloween Episode where an undead Stacy Cornbread came back leading an army of zombies to get revenge on Debbie Matenopoulos, claiming Debbie had stolen her job. The biggest thing wrong with this was that it wasn't Debbie's fault; she hadn't even appeared on the show until several episodes after Stacy's death and had never even mentioned her. Still, if Stacy came looking for a fight, she certainly got one; Debbie was only too willing to kill her again.
  • Leonardo Leonardo in Clerks: The Animated Series, whose plots against the clerks were always inadvertently defeated, even though they didn't realize (or, more likely, didn't care) he considered himself their sworn enemy. ("Well played, clerks, well played!")
  • On Doug, the titular character thinks of Guy Graham as a rival, particularly because Guy also has his sights set on Patti Mayonnaise. However, Guy is completely unaware that he's such a burden to Doug.
  • DuckTales (2017): Flintheart Glomgold to Scrooge McDuck. Scrooge knows he's a rival, and is even willing to offer him some grudging respect as the "poor man's version of [him]." Donald, however, doesn't know who Glomgold is, even though he was Scrooge's sidekick for years prior to the series; Donald even claims that he can't keep track of all of Scrooge's sworn enemies. It's made clear that while there may be some dislike, Scrooge doesn't care enough to make the conflict personal the way Glomgold does. In season 2, it turns out Scrooge didn't realize exactly who Glomgold is; the shoeshine boy he once tried to inspire hope and self reliance instead turned into one of his most obsessive enemies. It gets even worse when Scrooge realizes that Glomgold had bested him once; when Glomgold was a child, which does start to escalate the conflict.
  • In Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, when Duchess reveals herself to Bloo and talks about her plan to get rid of him, it takes a while for him to figure out who she is and why she hates him. He's even apologetic when he does.
  • Used in the Futurama episode, "A Taste of Freedom" when Fry, Leela and Bender ready their secret weapon against the invading Decapodians.
    Fry: You haven't won yet, Mervin! You didn't expect us to even go to a museum, much less steal this ancient heat-seeking missile.
    Ambassador Mervin: I don't even know you.
  • The original Hunter from Gargoyles wanted to kill Demona as revenge for slashing and scarring his face. During his final fight with Demona, Demona confesses that she doesn't even remember that act, that's how insignificant it was to hernote . The later Vinnie Grigori pursues Goliath throughout the episode "Vendettas", wanting revenge on Goliath and the Manhattan Clan for unknowingly causing a lot of trouble for Vinnie. He ends up shooting Goliath with a cream pie, then walking away with Goliath still having no idea who he is.
  • Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law: X the Eliminator started out as a villain hired to steal Birdman's crest. After years of failure, X becomes an obsessive stalker, initially unknown to Birdman.
  • On Hey Arnold!, Helga is this to Lila, since Arnold has a crush on Lila while Helga has a crush on him. Her rivalry with her sister Olga falls into this as well.
  • Dr. Claw is so focused on Inspector Gadget that he and most of his cohorts pay barely any attention to the meaningless blonde girl who actually solves all the crimes (that is, Penny). Lampshaded in the 2015 CGI version, where Talon (the one member of MAD that does know who Penny is) sees her on his security camera and points her out to his uncle Claw, who in turn says that he has no idea who she is or why Talon is suddenly so obsessed with low-value coins.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, the eponymous character considers Lucius a friend. This is because he's such a pollyanna that he's completely unaware of just how much he is loathed by him.
  • Dr. Destiny in the Justice League episode "Only a Dream". When the Justice League originally busted him, he was just another of LexCorp's many mooks. He wants revenge for this. They have no idea who he is, or why he's so intent on killing them.
  • Kim Possible:
    • Dr. Drakken can never remember Ron Stoppable's name — although he may have just trouble with sidekicks in general, as seen when Kim teamed up with her mom:
      Dr. Drakken: And so, Kim Possible and her... sister?
      Dr. Possible: Is he hitting on me?
      Kim: No, sidekicks really confuse him.
    • This is something of a recurring theme among Kim Possible's enemies. The only ones who can remember Ron's name are the Seniors, and that's only because they ASKED. They're polite that way.
    SSJ: We are being followed! It is Kim Possible, and her sidekick-type-friend whose name escapes me.
    SSS: (leaning out the helicopter window) What is your name again, young man?
    Ron: It's Ron! Ron Stoppable!
    SSS: That's it!
    • Monkey Fist remembers Ron too, but then he's more Ron's enemy than Kim's in the first place.
    • Professor Dementor seems to regard Dr. Drakken as a second-rate wannabe, though at least he remembers Drakken's name.
    • Kim had something of a one-sided rivalry with Yori when it came to Ron and quickly became jealous of her, and still saw the ninja as a competitor even after her Relationship Upgrade with Ron. Yori on the other hand not only treated Kim as an equal, unaware of her jealousy, but she fully supported the two of them dating, believing it was destiny.
  • For Making Fiends, Cheerful Child Charlotte is completely unaware of Alpha Bitch Vendetta's hostile attitude toward her.
  • In Max Steel, minor villain Woody Barkowski claims he is Max's Arch-Enemy. Max snarks that he barely qualifies as comic relief.
  • Mr. Magoo (2019) has Fizz, an evil genius hamster whose schemes Magoo constantly foils by accident.
  • In Over the Garden Wall, Jason Funderberker seems unaware that he and Wirt are both interested in Sara, or else is really mellow about it.
  • The title characters of Phineas and Ferb usually have no idea they're doing anything wrong with their outlandish projects, so they don't seem to understand why their older sister, Candace, is so dead-set on getting their mother to see them. They even help her sometimes, unaware that her goal is to get them grounded for as long as possible. The fact that their father and every member of their extended family except their mother is occasionally in on them probably has something to do with it.
  • Ready Jet Go!: Jet, for the most part, is unaware of Mitchell spying on him. The only kid who knows about it is Mindy.
    • However, in Back to Bortron 7, it is heavily implied that the other kids know that Mitchell spies on Jet.
  • In Rocky and Bullwinkle, the protagonists seem completely unable to recognize the show's only recurring villains, Boris and Natasha. It helps that the villains are spies who deliberately try to stay covert, and they typically only meet the heroes face-to-face in disguise (paper-thin or otherwise; doesn't matter too much when the heroes wouldn't recognize you if you were wearing no disguise at all.) Rocky occasionally remarks that he recognizes Boris' voice, but that's the closest they ever get to remembering the villains between episodes. This even continues into the movie!
  • Inverted in the final season of Samurai Jack with the High Priestess of the Cult of Aku who is Aku's unknown ally. She's quick to claim that she's a trusted and highly valued follower of Aku, but in truth, the villain only visited her cult once and has since then completely forgotten about her. He spends most of the season being utterly unaware of her scheme to kill Jack. He does eventually remember her when her plan ends up benefiting him—albeit in a roundabout way.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Adora defected from the Horde and became determined to stop Hordak after learning the Horde were the true villains and she had been lied to her entire life. Hordak doesn't care about her at all in spite of her stopping his armies as She-Ra, dismissing her as unremarkable and insignificant.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Not quite enemies, but in "Who Shot Mr. Burns?", Mr. Burns is perpetually unable to remember his employee Homer Simpson. Eventually Homer breaks into Burns's office and writes his name on every wall in giant letters, then attacking Burns and shouting "MY! NAME! IS! HOMER! SIMPSON!" at him. Afterwards, Burns has this to say to his manservant:
      Burns: Smithers, who was that cow just yelling at me?
    • The situation is different when Homer changes his name:
      Burns: Ah! Max Power! How's every little thing?
      Homer: You remembered my name!
      Burns: Well, who could forget the name of a magnetic individual like you? Keep up the good work, Max!
    • Homer experiences the other side of this trope with Frank Grimes, who hates Homer's guts, while Homer thinks they're friends, but only in the first act. And then his son, who takes revenge on Homer, "How is old Grimey?"
  • Sofia the First: The heroine Sofia is completely oblivious to the fact Cedric is out to steal her amulet and use its power to gain control of Enchancia. Even when he slips it out in front of her, he has to quickly cover it up. She realizes in time by the season 4 premiere.
  • South Park:
    • In the episode "Crippled Summer" Nathan is this to Jimmy.
    • Head of Homeland Security AKA Guinea Pirate, the Big Bad of the "Pandemic" two-parter is this to Craig. He believes him to be the only person who can stop him, but Craig doesn't even know him and couldn't care less about foiling him.
    • Cartman is this to Wendy in "Dances With Smurfs". He regularly calls her out and shames her publicly only for her to...go about her business. Everyone but Wendy sees this as a big deal. It's not until the end of the episode that she responds and she absolutely destroys him.
    • Likewise, in "Tom's Rhinoplastry," Ms. Ellen has no idea that Wendy sees her as a jealous rival for Stan's affections to the point where Wendy arranges for Ms. Ellen to be captured by Iraqis and launched into the sun. A shame Wendy never realized Ms. Ellen was a lesbian.
  • In The Spectacular Spider Man, when Spidey unmasks Mysterio as Quentin Beck:
    Beck: So now you know, it's me.
    Spider-Man: Right, um, who are you again?
    Beck: You put me away!
    Spider-Man: Wow, really? Heh, cool!
    Beck: Don't pretend you've forgotten, I was the Chameleon's right hand man!
    Spider-Man: Oh right, on the boat! You were...dressed as the crewman!
    Beck: As the waiter!
  • In some episodes of Spongebob Squarepants, the titular character doesn't seem to acknowledge Plankton as an enemy.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Brittney Wong hates Star for being just as popular as her, if not more so. Star is completely unaware of this.
  • Steven Universe: In "Beach Party", the Gems barely even remember the restaurant they've been banned from exists, nor do they care on account of not needing to eat (Amethyst, the only one who likes to eat, says the pizza isn't that good, anyway). Even at the end, they cannot recall what store the family owns after being unbanned.
  • Teen Titans has Control Freak, he thinks he's an important villain, but the Titans don't think much of him. He even calls the Titans "my old" the first time they meet. He is rather peeved when he's not put on the "list of notorious villains" and the Puppet King is.
    Control Freak: They only fought him that one time! I'm a recurring villain!
  • Barry from The Tick, who is annoyed at the titular hero for having 'stolen his superhero name' while the Tick doesn't take him very seriously at all (and considering the things the Tick does take seriously, that's saying something).
  • In Total Drama Pahkitew Island Ella seems completely oblivious to how much Sugar despises her (because Sugar thinks Ella's sweet personality is a facade like hers and want steal her spotlight).
  • When The Transformers Megatron creates a clone of Optimus Prime (which he controls by remote control) and tries to use it to infiltrate the Autobot base, this nearly gives him away. He calls the other Autobots by the wrong names (like addressing Ironhide as "Bumblebee") and acts like he barely knows them, causing them to quickly become suspicious.
  • In Transformers Animated, Megatron has this towards Optimus Prime. He knows who he is, and might have a certain degree of respect for him, he just can't be bothered to learn Prime's name. Megatron saw the Autobots in general as his enemy rather than having a specific nemesis - not even Ultra Magnus as the Autobot leader. He never even calls them by their names unless he has to. It's only by the final episode that Megatron develops a very personal beef with Optimus for thwarting his plans, thus establishing the true rivalry they're famous for.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • The Monarch considers Dr. Venture his mortal arch-enemy and embarks on several attempts to kill him and his sons for no particular reason. Through most of the first season, the Ventures repeatedly undercut the Monarch's claims to be their most hated foe. By the end of the second season, however, their status as nemeses has become much more solidified, though Dr. Venture still doesn't really care for him.
    • Henchman 21 is convinced that he is destined to destroy Brock Sampson, who almost always responds to 21's exposition with "Who are you again?"
    • One episode deals with the late roboticist Mike Soreyama's post-mortem revenge scheme against his former college roomates Dr. Venture, Baron Ünderbheit, Pete White and Brock Samson. In this case, everyone knows who Soreyama is (even attending what they think is his funeral,) but they had no idea Soreyama hated them so much as to concoct a multi decade-long revenge scheme especially when the ultimate reasons for his obsessive hatred turn out to be relatively petty, the worst being Brock attacking him (and everyone else in the dorm room) in an angry drunken stupor.
  • The eponymous Wander of Wander over Yonder repeatedly considers Lord Hater as a buddy, despite the fact he's clear to be the villain. His partner Sylvia is well-aware, and constantly tries to show the truth.
  • In the Where's Waldo? animated series, Waldo and Wizard Whitebeard are completely unaware of Odlaw's existence.

    Real Life 
  • In March 2009 New York Radio station WXRK changed from a rock format to Top-40. They then immediately positioned themselves as the The Rival to established Top-40 station Z-100. Since then they've been bashing Z-100 constantly in commercials, including a shameless ripoff of Mac's "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC." ads, and a spot accusing them of supporting hip-hop artist and domestic violence accusee Chris Brown. If Z-100 has noticed, they have yet to show it.
  • This happened briefly in Seattle too in the mid-'00s. A new alternative station popped up with a lineup of DJs that was almost exclusively formerly with the alternative station that had existed in Seattle for around a decade and a half at that point, and their ads and listener testimonials repeatedly made a point of noting how the more popular alternative station sucks now. The more popular station never, ever acknowledged their existence and the upstart alternative station was gone within a year.
  • Almost every political assassination. Bobby Kennedy's last words might as well have been "Who are you?"
  • Enver Hoxha of Albania was pretty much this to the communist world in the Cold War, having split off ties with Tito's Yugoslavia, the Soviet Eastern Bloc and the Chinese-led third world for not being hardliner enough. Albania would go on to build numerous bunkers around the country out of fear of an invasion that never came. Needless to say, his more successful rivals didn't care much for invading.
  • This trope is invoked in any of the Warner Bros. cartoons that lampoon Disney. The studio was an easy target for two reasons: firstly because everyone was familiar with Disney, and secondly because Warner Bros. knew that Disney didn't really care enough about the "rivalry" to make fun of them back.
  • British comedian Jack Whitehall describes himself as this to Twilight's Robert Pattinson, he claims to have had a one-sided rivalry with Pattinson since high school. This is one of the few examples where the unknown is well aware that the object of his rivalry doesn't notice or care.
  • In the First-Person Shooter genre of video games, the developers of the Battlefield games view themselves as rivals against Call of Duty and want to take their throne as King of FPS games away from them. This has created a chasm between Battlefield fans and Call of Duty fans where the former claim that their games are a more unique FPS and CoD is generic and doesn't deserve all the sales and popularity it has as a franchise. Call of Duty's response? Its developers were quite surprised to hear that developers and fans of the Battlefield games even care all that much about it and doesn't see why the two franchises can't learn from each other and make the industry as a whole stronger. To non-fans, the two series are often seen as interchangeable.
  • The relationships between the three big video game makers, Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft is very interesting, as none of them seem particularly interested in each other.
    • Nintendo pays the other two little to no mind, Microsoft generally advertises as being the best option without acknowledging the other options, and Sony, interestingly enough, advertises as being the best, but doesn't mention what they're the best at. Except for the Xbox Kinect and Playstation Move being deliberately designed to capitalise on the success of the Wii.
    • An interesting example of this happened with the reveal of the Xbox One and Playstation 4. When fans complained about many of the features of the Xbox One, Microsoft responded with a very "take it or leave it" attitude and basically said that the customer would have to either buy an Xbox One or be stuck in the past. When Sony took advantage of the bad press and based their E3 presentation around unfavorably comparing the One to their PS4 and emphasizing that the PS4 would not have the same controversial features, Microsoft seemed to suddenly realize they have competition and backpedaled on nearly every infamous feature they'd announced.
    • On the topic of consoles, NEC apparently tried to pick a fight with Sega via their Johnny Turbo comics, solely because Sega was the only other console manufacturer at the time who had a CD-ROM accessory out for their console. They even went as far as disputing Sega's claim that the Sega Genesis was the first 16-bit console in the market and claims that the TurboGrafx-16 was first (which isn't technically correct, as the main CPU of the TG16 was an 8-bit 6502 derivative). Sega most likely didn't care as they did nothing to respond in kind to NEC.
  • The Entertainment industry seems to have a bone to pick with the Internet. Justified, as there's much piracy and whatnot going on online. The users of the internet in general couldn't care less... until they tried to force through SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA, that is. And even ACTA wasn't that well-known until the controversy surrounding SOPA and PIPA in the U.S. got people worldwide to take notice.
  • For the longest time, MMORPG rivalries would always take this form with World of Warcraft being the big guy who had no clue who its rivals were. After WoW established its gameplay and business structure as viable, damn near every MMO to release in its wake took deliberate steps to copy it, with inevitable Take That!s in its direction - only to die themselves within a year or two without ever being acknowledged by WoW, since by that point WoW had also generated so much money that the costs to even begin competing on the same level were astronomical, not to mention that the way the genre works would inevitably make WoW the more appealing option (newcomers to the genre would be more interested in the existing and longer-running game that had more content, and those already playing WoW would be heavily invested in and just keep on playing WoW). Final Fantasy XIV is so far the only other subscription-based MMO to become a big enough threat to WoW's dominance to affect when it releases patches, and even then it took XIV almost a decade to get to that point from starting as just another MMO that rushed to beat a WoW expansion to market and nearly killed itself right out of the gate for it.
  • On Reddit there is usually one or two sub reddits that are more or less a hatedom for popular sub reddits. The larger sub reddits rarely notice unless they represent viewpoints that frequently clash in real life (and sometimes not even then).
  • North Korea had been constantly threatening the United States and South Korea with nuclear war early in 2013. Judging by the comments on news stories about these threats, most Americans were unaware why North Korea was suddenly so angry at them and were not at all intimidated. In general, the entire justification for their military government is the "inevitable" American invasion, when America has barely thought about them for over 50 years and, short of North Korea actually crossing the DMZ, has no reason to do so. This specific case appears to have been something the NK leadership made up so that after the posturing they can claim the Americans backed down. More recently, however, this has been subverted given that the DPRK's improving nuclear tech has increased the fear of their threats having the possibility of actually being followed through with among average Americans, and American politicians are competing with each other over who has the best solution in dealing with the North.
  • In the late 19th century, the thought of annexation by the US was a huge issue to Canadians.
    • Politicians won elections campaigning against it, political cartoons were circulated in Canadian newspapers depicting Canada or Britannia kicking Uncle Sam to the curb, etc. Meanwhile, most Americans weren't focused on Canada, caring much more about the Civil War, the conflicts with the Native Americans, and military interventions in Central America. There were only two times that the United States actually made any attempt toward annexing Canada: once during the War of 1812, and once before the US technically existed. After that, US expansion was uniformly aimed westward, not northward.
    • The leading Canadian politicians of the era kept the state of affairs firmly in this trope. Their goal was to make sure that the United States did not start looking north as a direction for expansion. The Northwest Mounted Police were established primarily to make sure that Canada could justify its claims over the areas that would become Alberta and Saskatchewan and a transcontinental railroad was built to solidify this claim. However, Canada never tried to claim any territory to the south which was claimed by the United States. This resulted in any Americans who tried to look north to quickly decide that it would be too much of a headache when they could go west instead.
    • This still shows up in the way the War of 1812 is covered in history books in respective countries. From the Canadian perspective, this was the conflict in which Canadian farmers beat back Yankee invaders and burned down the White House in revenge (rather inaccurately, since the forces that raided Washington were British regulars with hardly a Canadian among them), while very few people in United States know much about this war. Those that do saw the British as their primary enemy in the war, and the casus beli as British impressment of American sailors. The British don't even remember ever fighting it; it was a sideshow for their series of wars with Napolean.
  • When Hugo Chávez was alive, he fancied himself and the "Revolution" he led in Venezuela as the biggest enemy of the USA, deprecating the "Empire", rejecting American humanitarian help, antagonizing every American functionary he could and insulting whoever was the States' President at the time. Suffice to say, the feeling wasn't mutual (the King of Spain reacted to his antics more than any American President did). The thing was perfectly summed up in a political cartoon which depicts Chavez as a gas station employee insulting car driver George W. Bush while the latter says "Yes, yes, whatever you say... fill up the tank, buddy!" His successor as President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, has continued the pattern.
  • Several political analysts see the traditional anti-American feeling prevalent in South America as a form of this trope. While not denying the controversial policies applied in the region, and the justified hate several citizens of certain countries have against USA, the truth is that more often than not the countries that obsess the most against the USA tend to be the ones who have had the least direct American intervention during their history. Most Americans don't even know about it.
  • When it was discovered that "One Direction Day" and the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary were on the same day (November 23rd, 2013), some of the band's fans were quite upset, going so far as to demand that Doctor Who change the date of the Anniversary Special and claim that One Direction had somehow "picked the day first." Doctor Who fans just either laughed at them (if they were being generous), or asked who One Direction was.
  • Since they weren't invited to the treaties that ended World War I, Andorra was technically at war with Germany for 25 years without Germany noticing. Better yet, America was invited but didn't sign, meaning technically, America was still at war with Germany until they later signed a separate peace agreement. Similarly, Teddy Roosevelt forgot to invite representatives from Montenegro to the peace conference to end the Russo-Japanese War that he was hosting at Portsmouth because he did not realize that Montenegro declared war against Japan in a show of solidarity with Russia.
  • Sarah Palin was this to Barack Obama when he was the US' President. Despite actually calling for his impeachment (which often tries the patience of members of her own party) he rarely even acknowledged a thing she said, brushing off the few questions interviewers asked him about her.
  • There's John Boehner's attempt to sue the president. Needless to say the president doesn't seem to have even noticed this, let alone actually care (he certainly hasn't felt the need to comment).
  • In the U.S., members of the the Green Party really, really hate the Democratic Party, despite, or possibly because of, the Greens being very similar ideologically to the left wing of the Democrats. The Democrats almost never mention the Greens, but many of them did blame Ralph Nader and Jill Stein for their presidential losses in 2000 and 2016. This is probably connected to the party leadership refusing to acknowledge that its own left wing exists unless it's to blame Bernie Sanders or the Occupy movement for something.
  • Baltimore and Washington, D.C. It's common for Baltimoreans to have chips on their shoulders about DC. In DC, by contrast, some people show how PC they are by saying nice things about Baltimore, while most people need to be reminded that Baltimore even exists.
  • The Westboro Baptist Church claims God hates everyone on Earth. Unless they directly picket someone, most people just ignore them.
  • George Orwell was this to Josef Stalin. The whole reason why Eric Arthur Blair used the pseudonym George Orwell was because he was deadly afraid that Stalin would try and assassinate him, and his two most famous works were based on his views on Stalin and his regime. As far as we know, Stalin didn't even know Orwell existed and was far more preoccupied with the Germans and later the Allies to care about some political author from England.
  • Subverted between Internet host Noah Antwiler and pro wrestling's Dixie Carter. At the time, Antwiler was making a series of videos mocking TNA Wrestling, which did catch Carter's attention. Her Tweets trying to figure out the situation were initially seen as insults due to differences in regional dialectsnote , but once things were cleared up by Angry Joe and others, Antwiler pointed out that the head of an entertainment company really shouldn't be spending much time or energy on what a single Internet critic thinks of them.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Schoolgirl Rival, One Sided Rivalry


Sofia and Cedric

Sofia is unaware of Cedric's secret plot to take over Enchancia, and he wants her Amulet of Avalor to himself to do so.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / UnknownRival

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