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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 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 Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other, Belligerent Sexual Tension, 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.

Example subpages:

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    Fan Works 
  • In Transformers Meta, Barricade and Soundwave are this.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: The Series remarks on the relationship between its title characters in "The Case of the Rogue Water Balloons":
    But Calvin and Hobbes were still best friends, and that would never change.
    No matter how much one ticked the other off.
    • Hobbes' segment in "Tales of a Tiger" also has the narrator remark on it:
    "Hobbes, as we all know, is Calvin's closest friend, and not just because they have to share a bed. Despite a truckload of arguments and disagreements, Calvin and Hobbes are both dependent on each other. Calvin sometimes to bring Hobbes back down to Earth when he gets too overconfident and Hobbes needs Calvin to keep his life interesting. Oh, and he also needs Calvin for tuna."
  • Child of the Storm has the Avengers and their allies such as Remus, Sirius, Bucky, and Wanda, enjoying a light variant on this trope with each other - they bicker and snark at each other, but they're like peas in a pod.
    • Harry and Carol develop into this, with a healthy dose of UST.
    • Ron and Hermione are much the same way, though theirs is more Belligerent Sexual Tension.
    • Harry Dresden and Tony Stark meet, then immediately enter into Snark-to-Snark Combat that both seem to enjoy immensely.
  • The Child of Love:
    • Misato and Ritsuko are old friends and poke and snark at each other constantly.
      • In chapter 2:
        Ritsuko: He's examining her? What kind of 'examination' is he giving her now?
        Misato: Cut that out! I'M SERIOUS HERE!!!
        Ritsuko: Hmmm... is the Great Major Katsuragi losing her self-control?
        * click*
        Ritsuko: She gets upset too easily these days...
  • In The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan, just about all of Nova's friendships are built on mutual sarcasm and insults, but of particular note are his friendships with Aegis, Twilight, and Trixie.
  • Courier's Mind: Rise of New Vegas depicts The Courier as an abrasive, temperamental Jerk Ass who is Enraged by Idiocy and is a Nominal Hero at the best of the times. This puts him at odds with his various followers, most prominently ED-E and Boone, who are quick to call him out on his more questionable decisions and keep him on the straight and narrow. Despite this, The Courier really does like and respect them.
  • Empath: The Luckiest Smurf: Besides the Brainy and Clumsy relationship from the cartoon show, there's Empath and Hefty as well as Hefty and Duncan McSmurf. Despite Hefty's dislike for both Empath and Duncan, he pretty much knows that they care for him and will stick by him like glue.
  • Evangelion 303: Misato and Ritsuko have this relationship. They often enjoy poking fun at each other.
  • Rude Awakening Redux: Bafeel and Seekvaira are often shown to have this type of relationship.
  • HERZ: Asuka and Hikari are friends since they were teenagers, but they enjoying poking fun at each other when they hang together. Mocking each other’s husband good-naturedly is almost a requirement during their reunions.
  • Ripples, Waves, Tsunamis: Raijax and Nami, or as they call each other, Bastard and Brat.
  • Everyone is this for each other to various degrees in Story of the Century, especially where L, Light, Misa and Erin are concerned. Inevitable when the first is a Defective Detective and Sociopathic Hero, the second and third are his suspects (not that he's wrong to suspect them), and the fourth is an exchange student who is forced into the story due to being at the wrong place at the wrong time and subsequently being kidnapped by the first. Doubles as A Match Made in Stockholm. They do share a few tender moments between them, but ultimately it ends about as well as you'd think.
  • In Gensokyo 20XX, Yuuka and Eirin are more less this, as they do spend a bit of time being subtly hostile to each other but are nonetheless on good terms and they do care for each other.
    • In 20XXII, we have Kaguya and Mokou. Confirmed that they are roommates.
  • The central premise of the MLP fanfic Unlikely Allies. Trixie drags Twilight along on an adventure to save Equestria. Along the way they constantly bicker with each other over Twilight's need to compensate for something, Trixie's shady past, whether or not Starswirl the Bearded was the father of magic theory or an overrated joke, and practically everything in between... while sneaking into enemy territory, taking down monsters, and fighting the bad guy together. They are clearly enjoying themselves immensely.
  • Sunset Shimmer and Twlight Sparkle become this in Stallions Of Harmony Verse. In their first scene together, they mock and belittle each other, and are clearly academic rivals. However when their attempt to sneak out of Canterlot and help save Shining results in Sunset assaulting a Royal Guard, Sunset assures Twilight that she'll take the fall for the assault , while Twilight assures her that they (and Moondancer) are in this together. As the narrative points out, "Friendship is weird."
  • In A Wizard's Fairytale, Aries Kalgarias (formerly Harry Potter) and Druella Macnair. When questioned by an outsider Aries describes the relationship as a "mutually miserable friendship."
  • In The Ashikabi of Fire, Harry Potter and Homura spend most of their time either cuddling up next to each other or getting into fire-enhanced fist fights. Later Harry, Ron, and Hermione all treat each other like this. Hermione's parents approve of anyone who can stay friends with her after they get into a fist fight.
    • In The Ashikabi of Romance by the same author, Harry and Kazehana are described as being the only Ashikabi and Sekirei to actually court before winging. Namely, Kazehana didn't want an Ashikabi and Harry didn't want to be kissed by an older woman so every time she tried, he punched her in the face. Even after Harry wings her, they spend most of their time arguing over various anime with her chasing him around the room/house the entire time.
  • This is a good summary of Twilight and Church's friendship in I Against I, Me Against You. The other ponies and humans develop similar ones when they start to meet each other in the second act.
  • From Kill la Kill AU, we have Rei and the kids (Ryuko, Nui, Satsuki, and Mako). To quot Nui, in Police Brutality:
    "Then again, she damn well would be because, even though Ryuu one time messed with her booze, changed the password to her computer and wouldn't tell her what it was, and has been an all and out asshole and did just as many assholish things to her, she still cared, even if she does want to kill us sometimes."
    • Earlier, we see Ryuuko and her sisters. Naturally, later in the comic, we have their relationship with her being rather strained due to the former' delinquent antics, yet they are just as upset with the prospect or being separated as she is.
  • Weiss Reacts: Yang and Weiss evolve into this as the series progresses. It's pretty clear that despite the snarking from either sides and the trolling from Yang, they will back each other when worst comes to worst. Weiss avenges Yang when she gets taken out during the Antic War, and Yang is one of the first to leap to Weiss' defense when she is kidnapped by Siegmund Schnee and the person who delivers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to an Ursa that attempts to kill her.
  • In The Pride of Sunnydale, Xander and Buffy spend most of their conversations sniping at each other; Xander and Giles tend to sling insults each others way fairly often as well. Regardless, Xander considers Buffy somewhere between his best friend and girlfriend and thinks of Giles as his father. Contrast with Xander and Angel who constantly insult each other because they can't stand one another.
  • In the supercrossover military fanfic The Terminators: Army of Legend, the relationships between Piermont and Spyro, Alex and Sapphire, and Alex and Tiberius eventually evolved into this after initially being a typical case of Headbutting Heroes. Although they might have become friends, the snarkiness between the pairings never seems to have died.
  • In The Dark Side of the Mirror Verse, the Mirror Mane Six are this. While they often take shots at each other and belittle each other, they're all quick to get angry when somepony gave Rainbow Crash a black eye because only they get to mess with each other. When Twilight becomes Nightmare Spotlight, the rest come to help save her.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog AU Prison Island Break, Sonic and Shadow are this. Most obviously, Shadow has never had any other friends in the prison, but admires Sonic for genuinely standing up to him no matter what. On the other side, Sonic admires Shadow for being one of the few people to not simply succumb to his charisma and raging ego the way everybody else seems to, making him feel like he's earned this friendship.
  • In Wonderful!, Taylor and Sophia are called “frienemies” by their friends and co-workers. They don't get along but they hang together and often fight together.
  • In Children of an Elder God, Misato and Ritsuko are this. They tease and mock each other the whole time, but they're good friends. When Ritsuko woke up from her long slumber, she asked about Misato right away.
    Ritsuko: Hmm. I see you're busy. When you two are done, I need to see Misato."
    Misato: I was just trying to find out who his girlfriend is!
    Ritsuko: I suppose he had it written on the inside of his underwear or something?
  • Mild example with Steve and Bucky in Ain't No Grave. They actually get along very well, but something about their friendship brings out both guys' inner child and outer smartass, and they tease each other like a couple of middle-schoolers. (Never mind that both men are technically over ninety.)
  • Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations has Mitsuzane and Gou, who are also Sitcom Arch Enemies towards one another. Of course, they're both good guys who fought alongside with Samus, and both men are also Jerkasses and tend to rub each other the wrong way; since Gou is a Smug Super Attention Whore and annoys people including Samus and Micchy himself, the former is no-nonsense and has personal insecurities to cope with. This lead to both men to get in each others nerves even in the most unpleasant situations, which in turn doubles as a Running Gag.
    Micchy: I thought we're going to lose you...
    Gou: *pounds Micchy in the chest* You're such a worrywart!
  • In This Bites!, Cross and Soundbite are this. While not as bad as Zoro and Sanji, they're both snarky, and Soundbite's pranking tendencies often get on the human's nerves, as do Cross's insults. Point of reference for how much they really care: Cross was ready to tear Miss All Sunday apart when she stole him (who, as a point of reference, is not only a future crewmate but also a powerful assassin who he had pretty much no chance of surviving a fight with in a haze of rage), and Soundbite's concern for Cross when he fell ill was as clear as day.
  • Zoro and Sanji were always this in One Piece, but the fanfic And Nothing But The Truth showcases it best, where some of the crew (including the aforementioned duo) are infected with a Truth Serum and leads up to Zoro and Sanji hollering out the following lines... while beating each other to a pulp.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic comic Trixie Vs, Trixie eventually becomes this with The Ghost of Hearts Warming of all things! (It Makes Sense in Context)
  • The Star Wars series Lineage/Legacy by ruth baulding has Obi-Wan Kenobi and Garen Muln constantly wrestling with one another and dropping wry comments about the other's (lack of) intelligence, social graces, etc...yet they have also been best friends since childhood, and would die for the other without a second thought. Qui-Gon and Mace Windu, meanwhile, are very different people-Mace is on the High Council, while Qui-Gon is Famed In-Story for being a rogue. They snark at and insult one another throughout all of their time together, most notably in Exodus. But should anyone mess with Qui-Gon, Mace Windu will be very pissed off. And you do not want Mace Windu pissed off at you.
  • Wayzz and Plagg in The Weight of Jade. Plagg thinks the turtle miraculous wielder's penchant for academic duties (training to be a guardian) and magical healing makes them boring, while Wayzz thinks that the turtle's duties are more important than the cat's penchant for "breaking things." They're pretty civil otherwise.
  • The Star vs the Forces of Evil fan fiction A Habit Hard to Break gives us Marco Diaz and Kar’Margorach (the name given in this story to Marco's sentient demonic tentacle arm, brought back from the canon episode Monster Arm, and eventually turned good guy). With Kar being vitriolic to Marco more often than vice-versa. Still, both get their moments.
    Kar: I just want you to know that I fucking despise you. You're a self-righteous little shit, and when you aren't acting like a brain-dead idiot, you're only thinking with your dick. I can't believe, out of all the assholes I could be stuck to, it had to be you. How the hell you managed to awaken my inner soft-side is beyond me. I remember when I was happy being a vicious curse that that sought non-discriminatory genocide and bowels. But you and your girly pep talks changed all that. Now, I'm a demon curse with feelings. A fucking curse with feelings! Now I care about all the mistakes I've made in the past. I care about others, about you. I know I'm not always the nicest or the most useful, and I hate myself because I know you deserve better than me. So next time you sigh as we rehash the same conversation from a few months ago, about how bad I think I am, just remember that it's your own fucking fault!
    Marco: So, basically, you’re saying...
    Kar: ...Thank you
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, a sidestory with Orange League Gym Leader Luana shows that her Marowak and Alakazam are this. They're rivals to one another and bicker a lot, but work very effectively as a team when they have to.


  • 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