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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 are the very best of friends behave like the very worst of enemies.

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 (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 him/her 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, and With Friends Like These.... Contrast with Headbutting Heroes, who just cold-out despise each other despite being the best of heroes, 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.


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 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.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show:
    • Statler and Waldorf aren't averse to taking a break from heckling the show to heckle each other.
    • 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.
  • 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.

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


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