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Vitriolic Best Buds

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"A very good measure of how good your friends are is how much you can insult them without them taking offense."

When two people who bicker and argue constantly are still the very best of friends.

Many true friends are openly warm and affectionate with each other, keeping a united front in public and having their arguments in private. Such friendships are not this trope.

These guys bicker constantly. They're always sniping at each other. They snark relentlessly. They duke it out on equal terms, hurling insults at one another with prejudice, maybe ever since they were little kids. But underneath the verbal fencing is a rock-solid friendship that no Smug Snake, Manipulative Bastard, or Hate Plague could hope to chip at. A Friend in Need may be needed to make this manifest. Often, they have opposite morals, personalities, or fighting ability which is presumably the cause of the vitriol, since they see in each other the kind of flaws they just can't stand to ignore (or maybe it's just because they're both Deadpan Snarkers). Such characters may go for a Friends All Along fight if one is introduced before the other.

This trope can often serve as a warning that something may be wrong as well. When one of the Vitriolic Best Buds suddenly stops responding to insults or flinging barbs of their own, the other may pick up on the sudden change in behavior as a sign that something is not right.

Woe betide any outsider to this unusual 'friendship' who thinks that because one is constantly snarking on the other, it gives the outsider the right to make snide comments about the other as well; usually, they will quickly (and painfully) learn that "no one makes fun of them but me." This is more a given when the vitriol is mutual between both friends, but in the variation where only one is vitriolic it may be a Pet the Dog moment or proof that aw, look: They really do like each other!

Compare Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other, Belligerent Sexual Tension, Friendly Rivalry, Like an Old Married Couple, Romantic Ribbing, With Friends Like These.... Contrast with Headbutting Heroes (who just cold-out despise each other despite being the best of heroes), Teeth-Clenched Teamwork (where the relationship between teammates is genuinely strained) and Friendly Enemy (where two people who are on separate sides of a conflict aren't all that hostile to one another). Some types of Villainous Friendship have a similar dynamic. Inverted Trope of Overly Polite Pals. If the two characters fight because they genuinely hate each other, that's Headbutting Heroes.

NOTE: Due to a rewrite of this page, many examples will still refer to previous "type one and type two" dynamics. "Type two" is the version of the trope described above, while "type one" is a variation in which only one friend is vitriolic while the other friend is completely oblivious to the vitriol and much, much friendlier. If you come across such an example elsewhere on the wiki, please correct it to be clear without the type label.

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  • In Happy Heroes, Smart S.'s relationship towards Careful S. is a sibling variation. Smart S. mostly acts with jealousy and snarky smugness towards Careful S. while Careful S. mostly avoids his attempts to get under his skin, but they still genuinely care about each other and will protect each other if needed.
  • Noonbory and the Super 7: Jetybory and Lukybory often play together, and Jetybory accepts Lukybory as the honourary eight Super Sensor, but they are also the two most likely to fight with each other, especially in the second season.

    Comic Strips 
  • Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse. Despite — or perhaps because of — the fact that Ignatz throws bricks at Krazy's head every day, Krazy is madly in love with Ignatz. For his part, Ignatz is a Friendly Enemy who hangs out with Krazy all the time and displays Jerk with a Heart of Gold tendencies.
  • Nate, Teddy, and Francis from the newspaper comic, recently turned into a series of kids' books, Big Nate.
  • The titular Calvin and Hobbes, who even go to the point of violently beating each other up. This seems like a trend in Calvin's relationships, since he also has undeveloped Slap-Slap-Kiss with Susie.
  • Crankshaft has a case where the vitriol came before the best buds. Crankshaft and his neighbor George Keesterman have been enemies since the beginning of the strip, with Crankshaft seeming to take great joy in destroying Keesterman's mailbox with his school bus. Despite this, in recent years it's become increasingly common to see Crankshaft and Keesterman casually hanging out together with the same elderly friend group at the local coffee shop.
  • This is the primary dynamic between the characters of Madam & Eve; for all of their snarking and passive-aggressive sniping, they enjoy each other's company and support each other. Word of God says "Madam & Eve fight a lot, but they secretly like each other, even though neither of them will admit it."
  • Peanuts: The entire cast takes part in this to some degree, with Charlie Brown of course receiving the brunt of it, but despite all the fighting between them they are quite a close knit group.
    • What about Snoopy and Woodstock?
  • Pearls Before Swine's Rat and Pig. Rat will abuse Pig to the point of literally throwing him under a bus, but underneath it all he does care for his little buddy, as evidenced by one strip where sat by an unconscious Pig's hospital bed.
  • In one Thimble Theater Poopdeck Pappy, the father of Popeye, says that the reason he made his one friend, the diminutive "Pookie" Jones, is because they used to be fierce enemies until one day Pappy suddenly considered Pookie and realized that he simply wasn't worth hating, so he made friends instead. Upon hearing this Pookie flies into a rage. Pappy holds him away At Arm's Length as he punches at him furiously, chuckling, "Ain't he cute?"
  • Tiger often shows the title character engaging in schoolboy brawls with his buddy, Hugo.

    Films — Animation 
  • Lumiere and Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast identify themselves as old friends, yet most of their conversations are them bickering Like an Old Married Couple.
  • Takua and Jaller from BIONICLE constantly trade jabs with one another but are undoubtedly best friends. This is most apparent in the animated film BIONICLE: The Mask of Light, starring both of them.
  • Jorge the conquistador Sanchez member and Carmelo the native Mesoamerican Sanchez member from The Book of Life, have a rather complicated relationship with each other. The former often calls the latter savage, and the latter unintentionally bumps around the former. None of this is surprising, considering the complicated history between the conquistadors and Mesoamericans. They're still family though.
  • Donkey and Puss In Boots from the Shrek franchise are like this. As the films went on they become closer allies and best friends but would still bicker and fight over being Shrek's best sidekick.
    Donkey: I'm sorry but the position of "annoying talking animal" has already been taken!
  • In The Super Mario Bros. Movie, this is part of Mario and Donkey Kong's dynamic; they fight with each other for much of the film, but bond over their daddy issues and eventually manage to work as a team.
  • It's implied that Nick and Finnick's relationship in Zootopia is pretty much this as they are business partners... who constantly tease, insult, and even threaten each other. However, Finnick does help Judy find Nick near the end, which also implies that, as much as he threatens him or laughs at him, he does somewhat care about him.


  • Black Jack Justice
    • Not an episode goes by where Trixie and Jack don't bicker and threaten each other at a pace that would make the Gilmore Girls jealous. They even have some pat, oft-repeated gibes for when they're tired, such as "You miss me?" "With every bullet so far". Yet rarely, if ever, does their partnership seem to suffer for it as the two make a stellar team. Button-Down Theo has observed more than once that, for all they dislike each other, they greatly respect each other. They will just never admit it because of how much they dislike each other. The Black Jack Justice novel, detailing how they met, also shows that one of the very few things Jack and Trixie agree on is their view of private detective work as being to work on the behalf of others over themselves.
    • Police Lieutenant Victor Sabien fits this bill with both of them. In fact, when an episode opens with Vic walking in and not insulting them, that's their first, best clue that he's truly upset, at which point Jack and Trixie drop (most of) the snark and try to help him with his troubles.
    • Jack and Freddie the Finger have a relationship of this sort. It's a little softer and more gentle than the rest of the cast, as Jack and Freddy go back a long way, but both are fond of ribbing the other while often hanging out socially for drinks or poker.
  • In The Hidden Almanac, stoic Mord and ditzy Drom can rarely spend time in the same room without bickering, but Mord is genuinely upset when it seems like Drom is going to die (and Drom, for her part, comments that they must be really good friends because she let Mord live the first time he referred to her as "a woman of a certain age").
  • Hannah from Sequinox doesn't often hang out with the rest of the team willingly since they're all less popular than her, and when they force themselves into her social circle she doesn’t have a choice but to grin and bear them. However by the end of the first arc she's come to appreciate them, even if she doesn't often let it show.
  • The Wisenheimer's Podcast between Yotam Perel (Lazymuffin) and Max Gilardi (hotdiggedydemon) thrives on this trope.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show:
    • Statler and Waldorf aren't averse to taking a break from heckling the show to heckle each other.
      Statler: Y'know, I remember being a teenager in love.
      Waldorf: Yeah, but Queen Victoria wouldn't have you!
    • As one Muppets' guidebook from the '90s put it, Gonzo and Rizzo "love to disagree."
  • To a lesser extent, there's also Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street. Ernie drives Bert crazy with his jokes and Cloud Cuckoo Lander behavior, but they're inseparable friends all the same.
  • Jeff Dunham has several of these. Jose Jalapeno on a Stick's entire existence is Mexican jokes and sharing this trope with Peanut, Peanut and Jeff get into it as well, and Walter and Achmed have a similar dynamic, though their interactions are limited for obvious reasons. Oh, and Achmed with Guitar Guy.
  • Far, far back in time, there were a couple of bickering buddies named Danny O'Day and Farfel the Dog. And their convos can be found here. And here. (And then the Nestle commercials came out and - Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other!)

  • Douglas and Martin in Cabin Pressure develop this kind of relationship - at the start the insults are rather one-sided from Douglas to Martin, but as the series goes on Martin gains confidence and starts to hold his own - and they have been shown to genuinely care about each other despite it all multiple times.
    • Carolyn also has this relationship with the entirety of the MJN crew, including her son, as well as with Herc, her boyfriend (but don't let her hear you call him that)
  • McGee and Doc Gamble have this type of relationship on Fibber McGee and Molly.
    • McGee and Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve are like this earlier in the series.
    • As are Gildy and Judge Hooker on The Great Gildersleeve.
  • The Jack Benny Program was based on this. Particularly with Phil Harris and to a lesser degree, Mary Livingstone. Jack's whole show was other people taking pot shots at him. Jack Benny became this with Fred Allen, in an attempt to boost Fred's popularity. It worked very well.
  • Frosty Stilwell and Frank Kramer of the Frosty, Heidi, and Frank show have been friends for over 20 years. Not that you'd know it from the way they talk to each other. They've been friends with their co-host Heidi Hamilton for half that time, and are just as snarky with her. But she's far from being the show's Butt Monkey, and gives as good as she gets.
  • Connie Kendall and Eugene Meltsner from Adventures in Odyssey are arguably this (accent on argue). It's worth noting that Hank Murry was in the middle of trying to rob Whit's End at the time, possibly making this Everyone Can See It.
    Hank Murray: Boy, you two were made for each other!
    Eugene Meltsner: We're just friends, actually.
    Connie Kendall: Barely.
  • Ed Reardon and Jaz Milvane of Ed Reardon's Week. Milvane's fame as a film director really took off when he made a film out of Ed Reardon's first (and only) successful novel, without giving him any of the credit, and Ed still resents him deeply for this. They never pass up a chance to snipe at each other professionally and personally, but they've known each other for ages and play weekly music gigs together, and the only being Ed is on closer terms with is perhaps his cat.
  • Tony Kornheiser (of Pardon The Interruption fame) has this relationship with the listeners of his radio show. Listening to the mailbag segment he has at the end of his show, his listeners can be almost vicious with the jokes they make at the expense of Tony, his producer, and his co-hosts. Tony has no problem reading these on the air, and even gets a kick out of it. Example here.
  • The hosts of the The Opie & Anthony Show, especially when they have one or more of their comedian friends on as guests.
  • Lo Zoo Di 105: The DJs constantly snark, quip at or even insult each other, only to shrug it off like it's no big deal. This even includes Your Mom jokes, which would fall into serious "Dude, Not Funny!" category under normal circumstances.

  • Lyon and Valerian of There is no GATE; we did not fight there originally despised each other, due to Lyon finding Valerian as stuck up and dishonest and Valerian thinking of Lyon as a barbaric idiot, though he held his tongue due to his respect for Kytheus. After the interlude *Vale and Ly's Excellent Adventure*, they've evolved into this trope, with Lyon insulting Valerian as usual and Valerian no longer holding back his true thoughts.
  • Caramon and Jacques at the start of Yu-Gi-Oh! East Academy. By the midpoint of the Apophis arc, the Vitriolic part is all but forgotten.
  • Mikias and Natsumi's relationship in Cradle Of Gods may be marked by incessant teasing (on Natsumi's end) and deadpan snark (on Mikias's end), but the two do genuinely care about each other. Nowhere is this more apparent than the Wham Episode of Nise-no-Tengoku, which sees Natsumi essentially sacrifice herself for him and Mikias swearing vengeance on Iande when she is seemingly killed.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine, Leonardo has this relationship with almost everyone, but especially Chuubo, to the point where his playbook actually crosses out his Connection 2 because he has absolutely no connection to the wretched child at all. Of course, when one of your powers is literally fuelled by your desperate need for and complete inability to express or deal with friendship, this is probably inevitable.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 iconics Jozan and Lidda straddle the line between this and With Friends Like These.... She gets irritated by his pious and saintly straitlaced Good Shepherd ways, and he gets irritated by her unrepentant Loveable Rogue ways and love of constant teasing, to the point of near-constant Snark to Snark/Passive Aggressive Combat. But they'll still risk their lives for each other, and at one point Jozan admits to Regdar during a battle that he wouldn't mind having Lidda around to help. D'aww. No doubt they'd then start arguing again afterwards...
  • Warhammer 40,000 example: Leman Russ and Lion El'Johnson hated each other's guts for quite some time after their first encounter, in which the two primarchs ended up fighting each other over an honor issue, fueled by their vastly different personalities, but over time, they became accustomed to each other's personalities and eventually became very close friends. Their rivalries remained, however, so this is the kind of friendship that evolved. Their successors sadly only remember the rivalry part of their relationship, however.

    Web Original 
  • Amoridere seems to have a fondness of these and a notable example would be Toki and Doki, her twin sister, however, downplayed. They have their moments of feuding but, regardless, they will come through for each other. The same thing would go for Toki and her friends, as she cares for them but doesn't hesitate to brawl with them or beat them up, either.
  • In Brig Scarlet Flamingo, Joseph Avery and Frank the Marten have been like that for years and counting. They argue and trade insults all the time and don't shy away from an occasional fistfight. Beneath all that, they are fiercely protective of each other. Not that they would ever admit it out loud, but circumstances have shown that for all his talk of throwing Frank overboard, Joseph is ready to risk his life for him if he does fall there, and for all his mocking of Joseph, Frank is in fact extremely supportive of his decisions (including being a subtle Shipper on Deck for Joseph and Yvonne de Geriese).
  • Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG, 1001-1500:
    1444. My Ally advantage and Arch Enemy flaw can't both represent the same person.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Vitriolic Best Buddies, Vitriolic Best Friends


Sammy J and Randy

Sammy J and Randy have a lot of ups and downs, but one does not stay a comedy duo for as long as they do if their friendship wasn't at least a little genuine.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

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Main / VitriolicBestBuds

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