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Headbutting Heroes

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Bob and Alice are heroes. Bonafide heroes. They beat the bad guys, they save the world, they help old ladies across the street, the whole nine yards.

They also hate each other's guts, perhaps even worse than they do their enemies.

Headbutting Heroes refers to when two heroes thoroughly hate each other, or when one hero hates another hero (it doesn't have to be mutual). This is not the same as the animosity that can form between, say, a Lancer and his superior, since, while they may have animosity against each other, the Lancer deep down respects the Hero and will defer to his leadership. It's also different from Let's You and Him Fight, since the heroes have not been misled to face each other. They really want to duke it out every time they meet, or at the very least they are obviously disagreeable and might try to discredit each other in front of other heroes. They just cannot get along, no matter how others might try to get them to keep it civil.

There need not be actual violence involved in the feud, though. As said before, they might try to discredit each other, or have verbal spats. If there is a threat, they will face that threat, but this will practically never lead to them getting along. In fact, their animosity might even become a hindrance to the situation at hand, and they might get called on it by other heroes sick and tired of their bickering.

The reasons for such animosity are various, but they are rarely very deep. Truly worthwhile reasons for disagreement are also usually reasons they could mediate if they actually sat down and talked it out. However, part of what makes this trope is that the two heroes, deep down, don't NEED an excuse to fight. They just hate each other, and while they might have such a thing as a GOOD reason to fight, it's pretty much secondary to the hatred that has formed between them. Their reasons for disagreement could disappear, they could both grow more mature and understanding, and they'd STILL hate each other.

Examples of reasons for these characters hatred for each other might include:

  • Racism: While this may seem like a reason that makes either or both of the heroes seem VERY non-heroic, it might also be a reason so ingrained in them from their upbringing that it's actually kind of tragic. For example, a Kree hero and a Skrull hero might be two guys who are admired and respected by the hero community at large, but they will NEVER get along because their cultures practically revolve around hating the other one's race.
  • Personality Clash: The heroes don't like each other because their personalities or philosophies just clash too harshly. Perhaps a Martial Pacifist is disgusted by an Anti Hero's more bloodthirsty approach. Perhaps a Lawful Good / Lawful Neutral character is driven nuts by a Chaotic Good / Chaotic Neutral's more, um, chaotic approach. Perhaps The Stoic is irritated by the Boisterous Bruiser's tendency to boast.
  • Never Living It Down: One of the heroes did something in the past or failed in some way that has tainted them in the eyes of others, but while most heroes give him the benefit of the doubt or believe the hero has proven his worth, the rival just won't let it go.
  • Pride: The heroes see each other as a rival to be bested, and any action by the other hero is seen as a challenge or insult. Definitely the most petty reason AND the most permanent one. With any other reason, it might be marginally justifiable for there to be a rivalry between the heroes.

Quite obviously, anti-heroes are VERY prone to this type of relationship with full-fledged heroes. It's almost a prerequisite of being an anti-hero that a full-fledged hero will hate your guts. Sociopathic heroes are also prone to this, for obvious reasons.

Subtrope of Divided We Fall that involves individuals rather than factions. Compare to Teeth-Clenched Teamwork, where, while hating each other, the heroes are willing to set aside their difference for the sake of doing what's right. Fighting the Lancer is when the teammates can't set aside their differences, and comes to blows.

Examples of Headbutting Heroes include:


Anime and Manga Edit

  • In crossovers, Tetsuya Tsurugi and Ryoma Nagare are often going at each other's throats.
  • Kaede Rukawa and Hanamichi Sakuragi from Slam Dunk.
  • Probably Shinjuro Yuki and Kaishou Rinroku qualify as this, although we don't actually know how much Kaishou hates Sinjuro, and they both act pretty much civilized about this and usually even cooperate. Clashing ideologies are at fault in this case.
  • Kazuma and Ryuho of S-Cry-ed may have common goals at times, but once they're taken care of, it's back to fighting each other. Their ideologies and personalities, not to mention their stubborn pride, make for unresolvable differences. The very last episode is a knock-down, drag-out fight between the two of them, with no hint of friendship apparent between the two.
  • In the Mai-HiME manga, Nao doesn't get along well with any of the other Himes, especially not Natsuki and Haruka. Unlike in the anime, however, she never turns completely hostile against the others after joining them.

Comic Books Edit

  • Batman has a tendency to rub many other heroes the wrong way, with some of them actually going hostile on him. Superman is not one of them (which can surprise people, considering how opposite they are portrayed usually), but Hal Jordan and especially Guy Gardner are. Harvey Bullock is sometimes portrayed this way towards him too, but he eventually gets better.
  • And speaking of Guy Gardner, he REALLY has an ability to rub people wrong. Countless people have manifested the desire to beat the shit out of him. Batman actually did...WITH ONE PUNCH!!!
  • The Hulk REALLY has this in spades. He has loads of characters he'll never get along with. Amongst them, Thor is the one with whom he has the biggest rivalry. The Juggernaut, Wolverine and Ben Grimm are also common rivals.
    • As far as the Hulk goes, he and Thor will occasionally get along perfectly well until one sets the other off, and a fight breaks out. Hulk and Ben also have mutual respect for each other. That being said, the Hulk does have a few heroes he absolutely hates, especially after the Planet Hulk / World War Hulk incidents. Reed Richards, Tony Stark, and Professor X being among them. Wolverine and Juggernaut, on the other hand, are purely antagonistic with the Hulk.
  • Wolverine can't go a week without running into a hero who wants to beat him up. If said hero is a government agent or came from the Weapon X program, even more so.
  • The Punisher is a surprisingly dark anti-hero. He kills frequently in ways which are Bloody Hilarious, simply brutal, or just Gorn. Additionally, he readily goes all-out with firearms. As the name implies, mercy isn't one of his virtues at all. This doesn't help his popularity with more idealistic heroes. Since he was first introduced as an adversary of Spider-Man, it's not too surprising that Webhead isn't a fan.
  • Deadpool, due to his frequent work as a mercenary and assassin. Also, because everybody finds him freaking annoying.
  • Namor the Sub-Mariner has this with pretty much THE ENTIRE Marvel Universe.
  • Rorschach is considered a lunatic and subversive by the authorities, and most heroes don't want anything to do with him. Laurie Jupiter, specifically, can't stand him at all. The Comedian gets this a lot, too.
  • Pretty much every hero that has crossed paths with Lobo will not hesitate in duking it out with him. Calling Lobo a hero is a bit of a stretch though.
  • To this day Ms. Marvel still hasn't forgiven Rogue for Mind Raping her to steal her powers back when Rogue was still a villain working for Mystique, and she likely never will.

Film - Live Action Edit

  • Happens in The Avengers, and many have argued that this is part of the movie's appeal: successfully translating the complex dynamics of the heroes' relationships in the comic books to the big screen. It is a very large plot point actually.

Literature Edit

  • This sums up Tal and Millas relationship from book 1-4 of The Seventh Tower pretty nicely, and even in five, there is a certain frostiness to their relationship. Most of it comes from Millas pig-headed aggression towards Tal, who is someone she disliked from the moment she saw him and never quite let go of it, but Tals condescending attitudes towards anyone who isn't a Chosen certainly don't help matters. Milla would have killed Tal if she'd had the chance. Tal simply wants rid of her. Nonetheless, they put their differences aside to fight the greater evil and accomplish their objectives, and while you could put that down to simple necessity, both Tal and Milla put their own lives in danger to save the other when necessary.

Pro Wrestling Edit

  • John Cena and The Rock are both supposed to be "heroes" (i.e., babyfaces-- Cena gets booed more than almost any other face ever, though), and they can't stand each other at all. Same applied to Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker towards the end of the former's career, although that was more due to Michaels' (Kayfabe) obsession with defeating Undertaker at Wrestlemania.

Video Games Edit

  • In Dragon Age II, Fenris openly despises Anders and Merrill, the mages of the party due to his past as a slave in the Tevinter Imperium, an Empire filled with Always Chaotic Evil Sorcerers. Merrill in particular he especially despises due to her use of Blood Magic (which in the setting is considered Black Magic and widely used in the Imperium) and her belief that all elves should care about their lineage (which he doesn't). Being friendly towards her in front of Fenris will push him towards Rivalry and at the end of her companion quest, where she at best will be exiled from her clan and at worst cause its extinction, states that the only regret is that there are people willing to die for someone like her and that the world is poorer with her still alive.
    • Anders hates everyone in the party except for Varric, Isabela, and Hawke. He hates Merrill for her Blood Magic and demon summoning. He and Aveline can't stand each other since she cooperates with the Templars to maintain order in Kirkwall by arresting apostates. Anders despises Fenris just as much as Fenris despises him because Fenris is so blatantly anti-mage. Anders and Sebastian's mutual hostility is rooted in their opinions on the Chantry and Grand Cleric Elthina -- Sebastian thinks she is doing her Maker apointed duty by staying neutral, while Anders thinks she is a weak-willed biddy who doesn't have the courage to take a stand.
    • It's not just in Dragon Age II. In the first game, Alistair and Morrigan hate each other from the first words they exchange and continue to exchange bile-filled insults throughout the entire game, right up until the end.
  • Detective Cole Phelps and DA Investigator Jack Kelso in L.A. Noire.
  • Noel Kreiss to Snow Villers. in Final Fantasy XIII-2. They get over their differences pretty quickly, though.

Webcomics Edit

Western Animation Edit

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